Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bad weather slams opening day spring turkey season kill

On Monday - the opener of Ohio’s 2011 spring wild turkey hunting season - hunters missed the bull’s-eye by a wide margin.

In all, Monday’s 70,000-strong turkey-hunting clan shot 2,646 birds. And that figure is a decline of 20 percent from the 2010 opening day spring turkey kill,

“I think there are some pretty clear indicators when you look at the various counties,” Reynolds says.

For instance, in Ashtabula County, the opening day kill was off 52 percent while Trumbull County was down 45 percent, Reynolds says.

“Geauga County wasn’t too bad, though; down just 19 percent while Lake County was down 31 percent,” Reynolds says. “In general, Northeast Ohio didn’t have a very good season opener due to the poor weather.”

That was not true for all counties, though. Athens County saw a similar opening day kill of 69 turkeys. And counties in north-central to northwest Ohio also posted reasonably good numbers, Reynolds said.

Credit the largely pleasant weather these areas experienced Monday for at least some of this success, Reynolds says.

“It’s only one day, though, and we’ll get a more clear picture later on,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds did say that some glitches in the new check-in system were encountered. Among them being an occasional double log-in of a harvest.

“All in all, though, things seem to be working pretty well,” he says.

As for the impact the on-going rainy, cold weather may have on poult production that is probably minimal - at least for now, Reynolds says.

“There are hens laying right now but it’s too soon to say. It’s quite common for hen turkeys to renest,” he said.

Ohio’s turkey flock is estimated at around 200,000 birds of which about 75,000 are males.

“In wildlife populations dominated by a harem-style mating system where a male may mate with multiple females, in general, the sex ratio tends toward a higher percentage of females,” Reynolds said.

Ohio’s spring wild turkey hunting season continues through May 15. Properly licensed hunters can shoot up to two bearded turkeys, almost always males which are called gobblers or toms. Only one turkey can be taken daily, however.

Hunter success rate is about 25 percent with an expected total spring harvest this year of 18,000 to 22,000 birds.

Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to noon from now through May 1, and from one-half hour before sunrise until sunset from May 2 through May 15.

As far as raw numbers go, the local opening day harvest was (with 2010 opening day kill figures in parentheses) Lake - 11 (16); Geauga - 42 (52); Ashtabula - 70 (146); Trumbull - 47 (86); Lorain - 15 (24); Erie - 8 (7); Medina - 11 (14); Sandusky - 3 (4).

Monday’s Top 10 opening day harvest counties were: Guernsey – 94; Adams – 88; Tuscarawas – 85; Muskingum – 81; Coshocton and Knox – 79; Belmont – 73; Washington – 72; Brown – 71; and Ashtabula – 70.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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