As usual, turkey hunting has been a little slow the first week of the spring season.
It’s the breeding season and toms are “henned up” with good-sized flocks of birds and not as receptive to calling. High winds in the first few days of the season also have made it difficult for hunters to hear gobbling and for the birds to hear the calls.
But as usual, some hunters are killing birds. Rod Smith, turkey guru for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said he is getting “scattered reports” of successful hunts.
“Some birds will respond (to calls), some won’t,” Smith said. “My gut feeling is things are happening a little slower than usual.”
But as Smith points out, the fact that hunting has been slow is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means it should get better during the last three weeks of the season.
One hunter who bagged a big bird was Kevin Shutt of Midwest City,
Shutt killed a 21-pound tom with a 9.75 inch beard Sunday near Eufaula. But Shutt said the hunting had been rough so far in eastern Oklahoma.
“The turkey population is definitely down. I tried sitting for awhile in areas that were previously productive, but the birds just aren’t very plentiful,” Shutt said.
“My best advice to hunters this year is to be mobile. If you hear a gobble you better get on your feet and go after him.”
Shutt said the gobbler he harvested must have been in the general area where he shot him for at least 2 hours.
“I wasn’t getting a response where I was hunting, but I kept hearing this gobbler in the distance. After an hour and a half of sitting and calling, my dad and I grabbed the decoys and slowly made our way to the gobbling sounds of this tom.
“As we approached closer, I blew a crow call to shock-gobble the bird. We were within 100 yards of him and managed to set the decoys up near the edge of the woods. I positioned myself 20 yards from the decoys and began calling.
“Within five minutes I could make out the distinctive color of this gobbler’s head peering into the woods to find his new girlfriend. He went into full strut as he walked by the opening where the decoys became visible.
“That was all it took. The gobbler made a beeline to the decoys, and was actually bumping the hen decoy as I fired the fatal shot.”
Turkey hunting remains open across Oklahoma through May 6.