Weather not cooperative for youth turkey hunts
For the third year in a row, the youth hunters were treated to some horrible weather for the youth spring turkey season.
Temperatures in the thirties and wet, gray skies greeted the youngsters for the two day event. Despite the nasty conditions, my son Zane was able to harvest his first bird. It was a whopper with a ten inch beard. If you aren’t a parent, it’s hard to describe the pride and excitement one goes through watching their child harvest their first trophy like that.
I have killed some monster birds in my day but not one of those birds comes close to matching the joy I felt when both my sons harvested their first birds.
As I write this, it is the eve of the regular spring wild turkey season which opens in all 88 Ohio counties on Monday, April 23 and continues through Sunday, May 20.
With the extreme warm weather we had in March, I think a lot of the breeding season is done already. I say this because I called in four large toms that had no hens with them during the youth season and I talked to several other youth hunters that saw the same thing.
Many of the toms are running in bachelor groups and that usually doesn’t happen until the breeding season is over or winding down. I don’t think all the hens are nested up completely yet, but I believe a lot of them are. That is a rare occurrence for these parts this early in the year, so it could make the toms be on the move more for the opening week.
Another challenge we found is that things are much greener than they usually are for this time of the year and that can impact your seeing and hearing the turkeys. According to ODNR biologists, last spring again experienced a record low wild turkey hatch, with last year’s nesting season negatively impacted by rainfall and flooding.
Wild turkey breeding activity is largely controlled by the increasing amount of daylight. In a typical year in southeast Ohio, hens start incubating nests on May 1 but we are obviously are way ahead of schedule for that.
Hunters harvested 18,162 wild turkeys during last year’s youth and spring turkey seasons. Ohio’s current wild turkey population is more than 180,000. ODNR anticipates as many as 70,000 licensed hunters, not counting private landowners hunting on their own property, will enjoy Ohio’s popular spring wild turkey season.
All hunters must report their harvest of turkeys, but they are no longer required to take their turkey to a check station for physical inspection. Hunters will have three options to complete the automated game check: Online at www.wildohio.com or www.ohiogamecheck.com; By telephone at 877-TAG-ITOH (877–824-4864); At all license agents. A list of agents can be found at wildohio.com or by calling 800-WILDLIFE.
Game-check transactions will be available online and by telephone seven days a week and during holidays. Landowner hunters who are not required to purchase a fall turkey permit must use the website or a license agent to check their turkey, but cannot use the phone-in method.
Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon from April 23 to May 6. Hunting hours from May 7–20 will be a half-hour before sunrise to sunset. An incorrect start date for the all day turkey hunting hours was printed in the 2011-12 Hunting Regulations booklet. The first day for all day hunting is May 7.
Hunters are required to have a hunting license and a spring turkey-hunting permit. They can also take one bearded turkey per day. A second spring turkey permit can be purchased allowing hunters to take a limit of two bearded wild turkeys. Turkeys must be checked by 11:30 p.m. the day of harvest.
Hunters may use shotguns, longbows and crossbows to hunt wild turkeys; however, it is unlawful to hunt turkeys using bait, live decoys or electronic calling devices or to shoot a wild turkey while it is in a tree. The Division of Wildlife advises turkey hunters to wear hunter orange clothing when entering, leaving or moving through hunting areas in order to remain visible to others.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!