History of Oklahoma wild Turkey(If anyone is interested)

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History of Oklahoma wild Turkey(If anyone is interested)

Postby strutin_okie » March 27th, 2010, 4:55 am

History of
Oklahoma's Wild Turkeys

History tells of early Americans and their westward expansion along the nation's waterways - pioneers venturing out into an endless sea of grass, clinging to the rivers as lifelines for water and shelter. Game was plentiful near these arteries in the prairie. Riverside trees were often the only available roost sites for wild turkeys, and as such, the bird that Ben Franklin sought to make our national symbol was destined to cross paths with incoming settlers, and become a part of Oklahoma history.
Among the first records of Oklahoma turkeys are the writing of Washington Irving, who, in 1832, described abundant turkey populations near what is now Oklahoma City and Norman. Naturalist Samuel Woodhouse traversed the northern tier of the state in 1849, and complained in his journal of eating wild turkey at every meal. Later, General Philip Sheridan reported a North Canadian River turkey roost that was more than three miles long.
But like all game species, turkey populations can only handle certain amounts of pressure. The Land Run of 1889 turned the trickle of incoming settlers into a flood, and they brought with them ever-increasing subsistence hunting and a demand for timber, which they met by cutting many of the trees that lined the riverbanks. By 1925 wild turkeys were so rare in Oklahoma that most people thought they were extinct.
In 1948, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation embarked on a stocking program to reestablish the wild turkey to its former range. It was an ambitious proposal to say the least. Biologists discovered that even where suitable habitat remained, the birds were totally absent from the central and western portions of the state, and numbers were probably less than 1,000.
But when 21 Rio Grande turkeys were captured in the Texas panhandle and relocated to Harper County, the foundation was laid for one of our greatest wildlife management success stories.
The Harper County flock grew quickly thanks to protection by Department game wardens, allowing biologists to trap and transplant surplus birds to other suitable habitats. By 1960, just 12 years after the effort began, Oklahoma established a fall hunting season. The first spring season followed just a few years later.
As successful as the Rio Grandes were in their new range, eastern Oklahoma was still nearly devoid of turkeys. According to reports, the last wild flock of Eastern birds disappeared from Latimer County in 1956. By 1963, the Department restocked the east with pen-raised birds that proved ineffective for viable, self-sustaining populations. Although approximately 5,000 turkeys were raised and released in the wild, no more than 150 could be found seven years later.
It was during this time that biologists began to learn a great deal about turkeys by studying the flourishing western populations as well as the handful of Eastern birds, which successfully adapted to their wild environments. Details about their natural history such as food preferences and life cycles were documented. Today, biologists are still adding information to this database, enabling them to understand even more about these birds.
Because of obvious differences in the two subspecies, turkey managers decided the best route for reintroduction of Eastern turkeys would be a trap and transplant operation of birds from Arkansas and Missouri. A trade agreement was reached with these neighbor states and a number of Eastern wild turkeys were swapped for some walleye fry and prairie chickens.
In 1971, eight tom and 10 hens were released in LeFlore County's Ouachita Mountains. Later, more birds were released in the Spavinaw Hills in Delaware County. A successful hatch was recorded the first year and the Eastern subspecies had stared up the comeback trail. Within a few years, more turkeys were released at game management areas at Atoka, Robbers Cave, Cookson Hills, McCurtain County Wilderness Area and Pushmataha County. In 1975, 59 years after Oklahoma closed the season on wild turkeys, the Department reopened a spring gobbler hunt in LeFlore and part of McCurtain Counties.
Today, huntable populations exist in all 77 counties and populations have exploded to the point where we have some of the most generous turkey hunting seasons and limits in the entire nation.

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mark hay
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RE: History of Oklahoma wild Turkey(If anyone is interested)

Postby mark hay » April 10th, 2010, 12:44 pm

The turkey comeback is truly amazing . Thanks for the FINE reading .

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Re: History of Oklahoma wild Turkey(If anyone is interested

Postby FyRe610 » July 20th, 2012, 9:49 am

Great read. I had no idea that the turkey population made its return in such a short time.

But even with this story our season limit was cut from 2 toms to 1 per county for the 2013 season :cry: I spoke to a guy that works at my local wildlife department and he said it is most likely caused from the past couple of years we had bad weather systems come through right around hatch time. Most likely wiping out a lot of the newly hatched poults in process. This spring i did not see many young birds, most of the toms i called in were mature birds, only a few jakes. This year the weather looked much better, and i personally hope to be covered up in jakes this coming spring; although i might be cursing them next April =P

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turkey junky
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Re: History of Oklahoma wild Turkey(If anyone is interested

Postby turkey junky » August 13th, 2012, 12:55 pm

out west there was still many 2 bird countys people could hunt the only region that changed anything was in the eastern part of the state there they did have a 1 bird limit in many countys for the last 2-3 seasons them easterns in the eastern part of OK are not doing to well...

i hunted OK for the 1st time thise season & many many hunters i talked with out west said they hadnt seen this many birds in yrs includeing many jakes hope the drought out west dosent hurt much??? OK was awsome i never herd turkeys gobble all damn day like they did in OK it was great just lots of other hunters on public land but i got my bird & had many many chances & worked plenty of birds in OK this past season hope it stays the same next season

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