Multiple beards, big toms, rule changes, and a great new turkey book
When we turkey hunters talk these days, the spring kill, hatch reports, and season regulation changes are in the mix … and other stuff only gobbler chasers like us love.
Sooner State Changes
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) has executed changes to wild turkey bag limits. The reason? A recent decline in turkey numbers, particularly in southwestern Oklahoma.
Starting this fall, gun hunters can kill only one tom in the 14 counties that previously permitted either-sex harvest. Archery hunters can still arrow one turkey of either sex statewide in the fall.
And for spring 2021? All counties outside the Southeast Region will have a one-tom limit. The spring turkey season limit stays at three toms. The existing Southeast Region regulations, where the season limit is one tom turkey for all eight counties combined, will not be affected.
Incidentally, a “tom turkey,” according to ODWC state regs, is defined as “any bearded turkey, regardless of sex.” So bearded hens are also game.
Multiple Beards Bonanza
Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) reported some interesting data on turkey beards.
Multiple beards — always notable — are yet another interesting physical feature we turkey hunters will check out after killing a bird. The 2020 Delaware spring turkey hunting season included 16 “nontypical” turkeys, or gobblers with more than one beard. Of these birds, a dozen had two beards, three had three beards, and one had four beards.
What was the sample size, you wonder? According to the DNREC, wild turkeys were taken from 17 of 18 wildlife management zones, with 537 birds taken on privately owned lands and 106 from 20 different public lands, matching the previous record number of turkeys from public lands in 2017.
Big Toms Trend
Another state turkey harvest record fell during this 2020 spring season of the pandemic. New Hampshire hunters took 5,719 turkeys — setting a new record for as long as New Hampshire Fish and Game (NHFG) has kept track.
The results reflect an increase of 643 turkeys (12.7%) over the 2019 season. Youth hunters took 500 birds, up from the 424 birds taken during that same weekend last spring (8.7% of this season’s total).
Some heavy gobblers were noted. The biggest birds NHFG recorded this season creaked the official registration scales at between 24 and 29 pounds. A total of 61 gobblers weighing either 24 or 25 pounds were checked in.
Longtime Realtree.com contributor Jim Spencer’s “Bad Birds 2” is finally due for publication. With 68,500 words and 50 pictures, the second installment of “(mostly) true stories about the birds we all love to hate"” contains 33 Bad Bird tales and eight longer chapters.
The book is now in production and will be finished by the end of September. Retail price is $22 plus $4 postage and handling, but for orders received by September 15, Jim will eat the freight.
To order, send a $22 check or money order to Jim Spencer, POB 758, Calico Rock, AR 72519, or pay through PayPal at email@example.com, and include your shipping address.
Realtree turkey hunting editor Steve Hickoff has chased gobblers all over the United States and Mexico. He was born and raised in northcentral Pennsylvania, and now makes his home in Maine. Hickoff was named the NWTF Tom Kelly Communicator of the Year for 2019, a prestigious award reflecting his longtime work promoting hunting and conservation as a turkey hunting writer, editor and book author.