Spring brings the unmistakable sound of gobbling wild turkeys as Ohio’s annual hunt begins.
The hunting season opened Monday and the state Division of Wildlife estimates that 70,000 licensed hunters, not counting exempt landowners hunting on their own property, will enjoy this spring’s season before it ends on Sunday, May 17.
Hunters are required to make their own game tag to attach to a turkey. Game tags can be made of any material 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.gov for information about the game check, and the mandatory turkey check-in procedure.
Hunters need a hunting license and a spring turkey hunting permit. The bag limit is two bearded turkeys.
Only one bearded turkey may be harvested per day, and a second spring turkey permit can be purchased at any time throughout the season. Turkeys must be checked no later than 11:30 p.m. the day of the kill.
Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to noon until May 3. Hunting hours from May 4-17 will be 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
While hunters may use shotguns or archery equipment, 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.
Hunters should consider wearing hunter orange clothing when entering, leaving or moving through hunting areas 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. Ohio’s turkey population is estimated to be approximately 165,000 birds.
Wild turkeys were extirpated in Ohio by 1904 and were reintroduced by the Division of Wildlife in the 1950s.
Ohio’s first modern season opened in 1966 in nine counties with just 12 birds killed. The wild turkey harvest topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984. The season opened statewide in 2000 and hunters bagged more than 20,000 birds for the first time that year.
Last spring, 16,556 wild turkeys were taken.
Along the Way:
Sure, you couldn’t wait for turkey season to open. It gives you the chance to be in the woods in the early morning and experience nature awakening to a new day. But are you becoming something of a social pariah? Has that hunting pastime morphed into an addiction?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if you’ve taken that last leap into societal oblivion.
• You practice your turkey calls while driving, at work or at the dinner table.
• You own more turkey calls than shoes.
• You’ve taken “turkey jerky” to share at work.
• You have a tom gobbling as your ringtone.
• You listen to wild turkey recordings year-round and encourage your spouse to give their opinion of your calling techniques.
• Your kids could operate a push-button call before they were 2.
• You wonder if the chirping of your fork dragging across your plate could call in a turkey.
• You have a mouth call in your pocket or tail feathers stuck in your hat.
• You planned your wedding, which included a camouflaged cummerbund, around turkey season.
• Your daily wardrobe consists of a camouflaged something.
• Your boss keeps a copy of the hunting seasons handy so he knows when you will be on vacation or “off sick.”
I could add more, but I’ve got to chalk my box calls.
Step Outside:
• Thursday-Friday: Trap and skeet, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• Tomorrow: International defensive pistol match, 9 a.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• Tomorrow: ATA trap shoot. Fostoria United Sportsmen’s Club, 1324 U.S. 23 North, Fostoria. Practice traps open at 9 a.m., program at 10 a.m.
• May 9: Youth Day, Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21670 Delaware Township 186, 9 a.m. till everyone is happy. The free event is a perfect way to introduce young folks to rifle, shotgun and archery shooting. Lunch and door prizes are included.
• May 9: The annual spring bird count will be led by the Hancock County Naturalists. To volunteer to assist in the count, contact bcchcach@gmail.com.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via email at jimsfieldnotes@aol.com.