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GOBBLER REPORT 2024: Regional Experts Share Latest Views Ahead of Turkey Seasons

spring turkey youth 2024 gobbler report
Youth spring turkey hunting season will be Saturday, April 13, and Sunday, April 14, giving those 17 and younger an early chance to take a tom turkey before the regular spring season opens April 16.



This Saturday, April 13, and Sunday, April 14, will be youth spring turkey hunting season in all of Oklahoma. Youth hunters 17 and younger have the first chance to harvest a gobbler during these two days ahead of the regular spring turkey season, which runs from April 16 to May 16 statewide. 

Wild turkey numbers held steady or improved slightly from last year, said Bill Dinkines, Chief of Wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.  

The Wildlife Department is engaged in a five-year, $2 million research project with Oklahoma State University to research turkey population declines and what can be done long-term to manage turkey populations.  The research is focusing on demographic parameters of turkeys at sites in southeastern and southwestern Oklahoma, and genetic variation in wild turkeys across the state. Specifically, researchers are examining nesting success, nesting site characteristics, and cause-specific mortality of poults and hens.  Researchers are seeking help from hunters again this year. They are in need of wild turkey tissue samples from counties across Oklahoma. For details, email

Also, hunters are reminded that one of the most helpful things they can do to support wildlife biologists in current turkey research, along with conservation and management efforts, is to purchase a hunting license, whether they intend to hunt or not. Each hunting license sold secures federal matching funds normally at a rate many times the price of the license, giving ODWC more resources to fund wildlife conservation.

For hunters preparing to pursue a tom turkey, here are some current regional insights from ODWC biologists in the field. 



Report by Ron Smith, Regional Wildlife Supervisor 

Current gobbler activity: Birds are currently spreading into their usual spring areas. They are breaking into smaller groups and should be visible by youth season. Normal early breeding behavior is in progress with toms strutting and the social order taking shape. 

Condition of habitat: Habitat conditions are improved over the previous few years, with solid green-up across the region. Overall cover is mixed with some of the far western counties showing signs of ongoing drought. Quality nesting and brood cover may be limited, but breeding grounds should provide good visibility. 

Reports from landowners or scouting hunters: Landowners are reporting activity as very similar to previous three years, but added birds have been seen in a few historic locations where they have been absent for a few years. Scouting hunters are reporting good breeding activity with a few areas showing increased numbers. 

Wildlife Management Area best bets: Hunters may find the greatest opportunity at Black Kettle, Packsaddle and Waurika WMAs. 

Tips for success: Spend as much time as possible scouting. Be prepared to hunt throughout the day. Check the Oklahoma Fishing and Hunting Regulations for private and public land regulations. Take precautions for ticks. 

Mistakes to avoid: Use caution when calling and try not to overdo it. Pay attention to their behavior/calling and try to work your way into their system and use it to your advantage without being too disruptive. 

Opening-day expectations: While we are still below historic turkey numbers, there will still be ample opportunity across the southwest region. 



Report by Eddie Wilson, Wildlife Senior Biologist  

Current gobbler activity: Winter flocks have broken up, the toms are with hens. Toms are currently gobbling, strutting, and breeding hens. 

Condition of habitat: Habitat conditions are currently dry throughout most of the northwest. Native vegetation is greening up and winter wheat is in good shape. Vegetative cover is heavy due to good rainfall last summer so there is plenty of nesting and escape cover available.   

Reports from landowners or scouting hunters: Landowners are saying bird numbers are still down overall, but numbers appear to have stabilized over the past year. Winter flocks broke up earlier than normal this year. Some hunters have reported seeing hens starting to nest.   

Wildlife Management Area best bets: Canton, Fort Supply, Sandhills, and Cooper WMAs are all areas to consider when it comes to finding a spring gobbler. Be sure to check out all of the property enrolled in Oklahoma Land Access Program located throughout the northwest. Some of these properties offer excellent turkey hunting opportunities.   

Tips for success: Pre-scout the areas you choose to hunt if you can. Hunt later in the day to catch toms after they have split up from hens in the morning.   

Mistakes to avoid: Be patient when calling birds, give them plenty of time to respond to calls. Avoid calling too often. 

Opening-day expectations: Bird numbers are still much lower than they were five to ten years ago. Success may take some luck, however opening day should provide hunters plenty of opportunity to bag a bird. Be courteous to your fellow hunters and hunt safe!



Report by Brent Morgan, Wildlife Biologist  

Current gobbler activity: Birds are definitely broken up into smaller groups.  Gobblers are really talkative on the roost and just after fly down. Birds are being observed strutting and breeding throughout the day. Some hens are starting to nest. 

Condition of habitat: Conditions look great for most areas in the northeast. With the latest rain and milder than normal temps, green up has started for most native grasses. Recent spring burns have offered great loafing areas with good nesting cover in nearby unburned areas.   

Reports from landowners or scouting hunters: Birds have been observed strutting with hens nearby. Lots of gobbling activity early and midday. Bird numbers are fair with the majority being jakes. 

Wildlife Management Area best bets: Cherokee WMA will have a fair number of birds but will also have a lot of hunter pressure. 

Tips for success: 1. Don't give up too early. 2. Scout your hunting area and terrain before season. 3. Less calling might be better than being aggressive as the birds might be call shy. 

Mistakes to avoid: 1. The biggest mistake would be trying to get too close to the roost. 2. Don't call too much, and maybe try softer calls while scratching in the leaves. 3. Moving around too much while you are calling to a responsive bird. 

Opening-day expectations: Weather looks to be warm and windy, so conditions will not be ideal for hearing a bird. Expect to see quite a few hunters around a gobbling bird.   



Report by Eric Suttles, Wildlife Southeast Region Supervisor 

Current gobbler activity: Turkey mating behavior is very active. Birds have broken up into smaller groups, and toms are displaying for hens. Gobbling is nearing its peak and is best heard in the early morning hours. 

Condition of habitat: Spring green-up seems to be ahead of schedule compared to other years. Trees have leaves, grass is green, and ticks are abundant. A warm and wet spring have helped the region’s habitat look really good. 

Reports from landowners or scouting hunters: Gobbling surveys are reporting toms spread out far and wide across the landscape. Very few survey sites are reporting more than a couple of birds at best. Turkeys seem to be spread out but are accessible in various locations. 

Wildlife Management Area best bets: Honobia Creek WMA, Three Rivers WMA

Tips for success: 1. Hunt in the afternoon. Toms will often be with hens in the morning but will be looking for more after those hens move off to feed or nest. 2. Be still and patient. Oftentimes birds will come in without gobbling. 3. Do not overcall. Calling and talking just to call often seems to annoy reclusive, mature toms. 

Mistakes to avoid: 1. Calling too loud or too much. Call when needed, but limit the amount and volume of calling. Think of it as communicating to a specific bird, not just any bird in the woods. 2. Don't go chasing. Trying to “sneak up” or chasing a bird is probably not going to work out. A better strategy is to stay out of sight and be patient for the tom to make the final approach. 3. Not going. The odds might be stacked against you. But if you do not go, you will never know what might have been. Also, success is not in the harvest. Take a youth hunting and make the day special, regardless of the harvest. 

Opening-day expectations: Turkey numbers seem to be stable in the region. If you have access to a hunting spot that has had birds in the past, you should expect to have birds again this year. Expect a hard hunt; limited toms on the landscape will likely have hens nearby. 



Report by Jay Rouk, Wildlife Biologist

Current gobbler activity: The early onset of spring caused turkey flocks to split up from winter flocks and into breeding groups back in February. As a result, they have been demonstrating breeding behaviors for several weeks. Gobblers are gobbling on the morning roost and sometimes on evening roost. They spend the morning hours as a group, but hens have already begun making nests and leaving gobblers until evening.

Condition of habitat: Timely rains and moderate afternoon temperatures have promoted the rapid appearance and progression of spring plants. Oak trees are nearly done blooming, and warm-season grasses are sprouting ahead of schedule. Most wheat fields are lush and likely taller than usual, possibly concealing turkeys.  Turkeys have ample herbaceous plant varieties for foraging and concealment. Hunters will likely struggle with foliage and visibility on opening day, and it will get tougher going forward.

Reports from landowners or scouting hunters: Turkeys have been heard gobbling in the mornings and evenings, in particular during fair weather events.  Toms have been observed strutting and escorting hen groups. Jakes have been sighted in bachelor groups strutting, usually lurking near the main breeding group. There are numerous sightings of single hens foraging and even a report of a hen sitting on a nest. Most reporters feel they are seeing turkeys in more places than usual, but the quantities may be less overall.

Wildlife Management Area best bets: Kaw WMA, near the Kansas border, has considerable agriculture production which usually produces turkeys. Heyburn WMA holds turkeys and is not very far from Tulsa. Hickory Creek WMA is a traditional good choice for south central hunters.

Tips for success: 1. Scout ahead of time and determine the turkey's daily patterns. This will allow you to anticipate the turkey's movements and give you an edge over other hunters. 2. Know the lay of the land. Turkeys will often move in ways that make sense if you know the terrain and topography. They often will resist coming to calls if they must cross natural obstacles. 3. If you can't call a tom away from the hens, try calling aggressively to the hens and provoke an “argument.” They will often come check out the sassy intruder and tow the tom to you inadvertently.

Mistakes to avoid: 1. It pays to be very patient. If turkeys left you on the morning hunt, don't give up. Hold your position, call occasionally, and wait. As long as you can. Many times, the gobblers come back, and you need to be there. 2. Don't give up if gobblers are quiet on the roost. Public land birds can be very quiet. If you don't hear gobbles, it does not necessarily mean they are not there or not responding to your calls. Also, their mood can change throughout the day, and they may become more vocal. 3. Use caution if/when using gobble type calls and decoys. These can attract other hunters. Avoid clothing and motions that may confuse other hunters into thinking they see you as a gobbler. This is especially true for public lands.

Opening-day expectations: Opening day usually is a popular event and can have multiple hunters pursuing the same birds. Hunters will need to be kind and try to cooperate with each other. This may be the time to rely on scouting or late-day hunting plans to gain an advantage over competing hunters. You may need the entire season to achieve success, but those will be great days when you are afield! 


What turkey hunter wouldn’t enjoy winning a guided hunt in southwestern Oklahoma? Rio Rojo Outfitters is offering a two-day, two-night hunt with lodging and meals as part of the Wildlife Department’s Outdoor Oklahoma Adventure Raffles for 2025. Whether a seasoned hunter completing a grand slam or a beginner going for your first tom, Rio Rojo Outfitters can handle your needs.

Hunters may choose to use either gun or archery equipment. Proceeds from the various raffle opportunities go directly back into wildlife conservation, and public hunting and fishing opportunities for everyone to enjoy. 

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Oklahoma’s Spring turkey season bag limit is one bearded turkey per hunter statewide. While bearded hens are technically legal to harvest, hunters should take every effort to identify those bearded female birds and only target the males. 

Hunters have access to hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands open to wild turkey hunting. In addition, the Oklahoma Land Access Program offers walk-in access to private lands leased by the Wildlife Department.

To find out about license requirements, field tagging, E-check, and other turkey hunting requirements, consult the current Oklahoma Fishing and Hunting Regulations found online, 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.