Turkey Hunting in Oklahoma
Comeback of the Turkey
Oklahoma is a success story in the attempt to increase wild turkey populations within its borders. Oklahoma now has hunting populations in all 77 of its counties with liberal seasons and game limits.
The three turkey species that thrive in Oklahoma are the Eastern, Rio Grande, and Merriam Wild Turkey. For all three species, males are about 4 feet tall and weigh around 20 pounds, while females are shorter and weigh 12 to 18 pounds.
• Eastern Wild Turkey lives in hardwood and mixed forest habitat.
• Rio Grande occupies bushy sections of mesquite, scrub oak, and pine forest close to rivers and streams. It prefers heavily wooded regions up to 6,000 feet and lives in large flocks
• Merriam Wild Turkey is native to ponderosa pine and mountainous regions. It likes areas with rainfall between 15 and 23 inches.
Oklahoma has six different turkey hunting seasons. The dates vary yearly so should be checked before hunting plans are finalized. For the 2014-15 year the dates are:
• Oct. 1 through Jan. 15, Turkey Fall Archery
• Nov. 1 through Nov. 21, Turkey Fall Gun, open in specific counties
• April 4 through April 5, Youth Spring Turkey statewide, except for the Southeast Region
• April 5 through May 6, Spring Turkey, statewide except for the Southeast Region
• April 18 through April 18, Youth Spring Turkey, in the Southeast Region
• April 20 through May 6 Spring, Turkey in the Southeast Region
• Shotgun Choke. Purchase well before your trip so you have time to practice shooting to discover which settings will provide a tight shot pattern and the best accuracy.
• Turkey ammo. Manufacturers offer various turkey loads. One survey of experienced hunters showed that most preferred #6 in 3”. Oklahoma requires nontoxic shot for hunting on the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area, Hackberry Flats Wetlands, and Sequoyah and Washita National Wildlife Refuge.
• Hunting Bow and Heads. Use the same bow used for hunting game such as deer adjusted for smaller game. Some bow hunters suggest using mechanical heads since the goal with turkeys is accuracy and tissue damage, not deep penetration.
• Turkey Calls. Calls include push button, box, slate, and diaphragm calls.
• Camouflage gear. A face mask is recommended to conceal any skin that might alert the turkey to your presence.
• Blind (optional). A popup blind is advisable for bow hunters because Turkeys have excellent vision and may spot a hunter if it is necessary to hold.
The public has hunting access to more than 1.6 million acres of land managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). Use regulations may vary in different locations so it is important to read the regulations and study maps available from the ODWC.
A resident lifetime hunting license is $625. As with all licenses, recipients must be hunter education certified. If applicants are not hunter education certified they will receive an apprentice-designated license and must be accompanied by a licensed hunter at least 18 years old. Lifetime hunting licenses are available for residents, disabled veterans, senior citizens and nonresidents.
Hunting license fees include: resident annual license, hunting/fishing, $42; resident annual hunting license, $32; nonresident, hunting, $142; resident, 5-year, hunting license, $88. There is an additional fee of $10 for both the Turkey Spring and Turkey Fall Hunts.
Resident youth license, under 17, hunting/fishing, $19; hunting, $7. Additional turkey hunt fees are required.
Permits are issued by random drawing for regions where unrestricted hunting is a safety issue or a game species needs to be protected from overharvest. There is an application fee of $5. This one-time fee is paid once per person annually and covers entry into all the hunts in which a hunter is interested.
The federal user fees required for those hunting turkey in the following areas are
Deep Fork NWR. $20; Little River NWR, $20; and McAlester AAP, $40.
Permit and area fees for successful drawing applicants for the bonus turkey license is resident yearly fee, $10; resident under 18, $10; resident nonambulatory, $10; resident/military/60-90% disabled vet, $10; resident 100% disabled vet, $10; nonresident including youth, $20.