Ohio hunters checked 16,556 wild turkeys during the combined 2014 wild turkey hunting season and youth wild turkey hunting season, April 19-May 18.
The top 10 counties for the wild turkey harvest were Ashtabula (615), Tuscarawas (493), Coshocton (484), Guernsey (466), Muskingum (453), Belmont (444), Monroe (424), Trumbull (417), Knox (415) and Meigs (397). Locally, harvest numbers were down from last year but not significantly.
Wild turkey hunters checked 18,391 birds in 2013, so the harvest numbers are significantly down statewide. The ODNR biologists were anticipating a good harvest this season, thanks to back to back good spring hatches.
However, I think the extreme winter weather was a tad harder on the birds than was anticipated as well as most of the spring did not provide comfortable conditions for hunting. Most weekend days during the season were cool and wet and I am sure many hunters opted to stay at home. A late spring also made the breeding season a week or two behind schedule and it made fooling a gobbler a little tougher this year.
Hunters checked 8,074 birds during the first full week of the 2014 wild turkey season.Young hunters checked 1,480 birds during the 2014 youth season. Ohio’s 2014 spring wild turkey season was open April 21 through May 18. Youth season was April 19-20.
Wild turkeys were extirpated in Ohio by 1904 and were reintroduced in the 1950s by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Ohio’s first modern day wild turkey season opened in 1966 in nine counties, and hunters checked 12 birds. The wild turkey harvest topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984. Spring turkey hunting opened statewide in 2000, and Ohio hunters checked more than 20,000 wild turkeys for the first time that year.
• The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is asking the public to participate in the surveying of wild turkeys and ruffed grouse by reporting sightings of these two iconic Ohio game birds.
Every year, the ODNR Division of Wildlife conducts a turkey and grouse brood survey to estimate population growth. The brood survey relies on the public to report observations of all wild turkeys and ruffed grouse seen during May, June, July and August. Wildlife watchers and hunters can report observations at the Turkey Brood Survey page at wildohio.gov.
Information submitted to the brood survey helps to predict future wild turkey populations and also guide hunting regulations. More than 3,000 turkeys were reported during the 2013 survey, with an average of 2.54 young turkeys (poults) per adult hen turkey. This average was slightly higher than the long-term average of 2.5 poults per adult hen. Turkey populations are usually higher the next year when more poults are seen per hen.
State and county information is available from past wild turkey or ruffed grouse observations online. Biologists began tracking summer observations of wild turkeys in 1962. Ruffed grouse were added to the survey in 1999.
Ohio’s spring wild turkey season is enjoyed by thousands of hunters annually. The 2014 spring hunting season continues through Sunday, May 18. The 2014 fall wild turkey hunting season is Monday, Oct. 13, through Sunday, Nov. 30. Ohio’s ruffed grouse hunting season is Saturday, Oct. 11, through Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015. Find more information about wild turkeys and ruffed grouse at wildohio.gov.
• The summer of 2013 was successful for barn owl sightings in Ohio. The ODNR Division of Wildlife counted 82 nests in 190 next boxes, the third-highest number since Ohio’s barn owl nest box program began in 1988. The public reported 22 more confirmed barn owl observations in 15 counties, the highest number of reports received.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife continues to track barn owl nests. Please call the ODNR Division of Wildlife at 1-800-WILDLIFE (945-3543) or email firstname.lastname@example.org to report a barn owl nesting or living near you.
Barn owls typically begin laying eggs in late April or early May, and the young will hatch about a month later. The summer months are the best time to find barn owls because they frequently return to their nest to feed their young, and will often spend the day on or near the nest.
Barn owls are easily identified by their white, heart-shaped face, large black eyes and golden brown and gray back. Adult barn owls communicate with shrieks and hissing-like calls, while the calls of young barn owls begging their parents for food are often heard on late summer nights. Finding pellets is another indication that barn owls may be living nearby. Pellets are regurgitated bones and fur of the owl’s food.
Small rodents that live in hayfields and pastures are a barn owl’s main food source. A pair of barn owls and their young can eat more than 1,000 rodents in one year. As their name suggests, barn owls find shelter in barns or other dark buildings they can enter, like silos. These buildings provide a safe place for them to rest in the day and to raise their young.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife has provided shelter for barn owls since 1988 by placing nest boxes on more than 400 barns. Nest boxes provide an opportunity for barn owls to nest in barns that they couldn’t otherwise enter, and this program has been successful at increasing barn owl populations in Ohio. The number of nests has increased from 19 at the beginning of the program to more than 100 in 2012.
ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists have observed barn owl nests in areas other than in these boxes. Reporting barn owls will help biologists know how many more live in Ohio. Learn more about barn owls at wildohio.gov.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!