Oklahoma's Spring turkey hunting opens April 6; youths get earlier shot

Youths will get first crack at hunting turkeys this weekend.

Tuesday, April 6, will be opening day for spring turkey hunting in all but eight southeastern counties of Oklahoma. Youths 17 and younger will have an opportunity to hunt even earlier, as youth spring turkey season is open Saturday and Sunday, April 3-4, in the bulk of the state. 

In the eight southeasternmost counties, youth spring turkey season will be April 17-18 and will open April 19 for all hunters. All spring turkey seasons close statewide May 6. 

Field reports of fewer turkeys being seen generally in western and southwestern Oklahoma have hunters speculating about a less successful spring turkey season. Turkey populations have shown a decline in the past several years in western Oklahoma, and biologists have cited unfavorable weather conditions as part of the reason. Plans are in place for a research project to take a close look at what may be causing these declines in the turkey population. 

New bag limits this spring season restrict harvest to one tom per county statewide except for the southeastern region, where harvest is limited to one tom from the entire eight-county region. This spring’s season limit remains three toms for each hunter. 

ODWC is encouraging hunters to participate in this spring’s turkey hunting season, but many hunters are wondering what they can do to help the wild turkey situation right now. 

“The Department is urging hunters to consider harvesting fewer turkeys this spring than they normally would; instead of a full season’s bag limit of three birds, decide to take only one or two this spring,” said Wildlife Senior Biologist Rod Smith, ODWC’s wild turkey coordinator for western Oklahoma. 

Also, hunters are urged to consider delaying their turkey hunting until later during the season. Less disturbance in the woods in early April will allow better nesting conditions and hopefully increase nesting success. Finally, hunters who normally plan to hunt in the western and southwestern parts of the state could consider going to other regions where turkey numbers have declined less. 

The Wildlife Department reminds everyone that the Outdoors Are Always Open. Turkey seasons will occur as usual on private lands, ODWC areas and Oklahoma Land Access Program lands. But other public lands may have restrictions due to COVID-19, and hunters planning to use those areas should contact the managing agency for the latest information. 

The statewide spring season bag limit is three tom (bearded) turkeys per hunter. To learn the regulations for turkey hunting, and any special regulations about the area you plan to hunt, along with field tagging, E-Check and other turkey hunting requirements, consult the current Oklahoma Fishing and Hunting Guide found online at wildlifedepartment.com, on the Go Outdoors Oklahoma free mobile app for Apple or Android devices, or in print across the state wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.