The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

April 15, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Let's talk turkey!

The start of spring ushers in Ohio’s annual wild turkey hunt, and hunters can enjoy the warmer weather in pursuit of this popular game bird. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the 2013 Ohio spring hunting season opens Monday, April 22, with the youth wild turkey season opening Saturday and Sunday, April 20-21.

“Ohio has a good population of wild turkeys and offers some great opportunities for a spring hunt,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “The wild turkey is a true conservation success story in Ohio, and we hope to continue to build on our turkey hunting tradition.”

The 2012 hatch should produce more jakes (1-year-old male turkeys) this year and will help offset the poor 2011 hatch. However, the woods may be quieter with fewer 2-year-old toms (male turkeys). These turkeys are generally the most vocal gobblers and readily located by hunters.

Hunters harvested 17,657 wild turkeys during the 2012 youth and spring turkey seasons. The total checked in 2011 was 18,162 wild turkeys.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife anticipates as many as 70,000 licensed hunters, not counting exempt landowners hunting on their own property, will enjoy Ohio’s popular spring wild turkey season before it comes to a close on Sunday, May 19. The spring and youth turkey seasons are open statewide with the exception of Lake La Su An Wildlife Area in Williams County, which requires a special hunting permit.

In a new tagging procedure implemented this year, hunters will need to make their own game tag to attach to a wild turkey. Game tags can be made of any material (cardboard, plastic, paper, etc.) as long as it contains the hunter’s name, date, time and county of the kill. Go to the Turkey Hunting Resources page at www.wildohio.com for more information on changes to the game check process.

All hunters must report their turkey harvest using the automated game check system. Hunters have three options to complete the game check:

n Online at www.wildohio.com or www.ohiogamecheck.com.

n By telephone at (877) 824-4864).

n Any license agent. A list of agents can be found at wildohio.com or by calling (800) 945-3543).

Game-check transactions are available online and by telephone seven days a week and during holidays. Landowners exempt from purchasing a turkey permit, and any other person not required to purchase a turkey permit, cannot use the phone-in option.

Hunters are required to have a hunting license and a spring turkey-hunting permit. The spring season bag limit is two bearded turkeys. Hunters can harvest one bearded turkey per day, and a second spring turkey permit can be purchased at any time throughout the spring turkey season. Turkeys must be checked by 11:30 p.m. the day of harvest.

The youth-only turkey hunt is April 20-21 for those possessing a valid youth hunting license and youth turkey permit. Youth hunters must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult, 18 years of age or older.

Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon from April 22-May 5. Hunting hours from May 6-19 will be a half-hour before sunrise to sunset. Legal hunting hours are one half-hour before sunrise to sunset during the two-day youth season.

Hunters may use shotguns, longbows and crossbows to hunt wild turkeys. 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 ODNR 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.

Wild turkey breeding activity is primarily controlled by the increasing amount of daylight. Hens typically start incubating eggs around May 1 in Ohio. Ohio’s current wild turkey population is approximately 180,000.

Ohio’s first modern day wild turkey season opened in 1966 in nine counties, and hunters checked 12 birds. The total number of checked turkeys topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984. Turkey hunting was opened statewide in 2000.

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