Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cool, wet month washes away spring turkey hunting success

A month’s worth of generally cool to cold, wet and windy weather seriously dampened Ohio’s spring wild turkey hunting season harvest.

This year’s kill saw a deep 21-percent cut in the total statewide kill of turkeys. Ohio’s spring turkey hunters shot 18,485 birds whereas the 2010 spring season saw a kill of 23,421 turkeys.

And even though Ashtabula County again led the state in the number of turkeys killed it was a hallow victory. Its kill was way off; down from the 1,030 birds shot in 2010 to just 712 turkeys killed this year for the season that ran April 18 to May 15.

The harvests were typically down everywhere, including in Northeast Ohio.

“Actually, I think we did make up some ground later in the season. The youth-only and first week were hit even harder but I still don’t think these results were surprising to anyone,” said Mike Reynolds, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s wild turkey management administrator.

Reynolds said the low kill should mean “relatively little” to the success of the fall hunting season.

“What we’re most concerned about is the impact of this weather on the up-coming turkey hatch which typically happens in the last week or May and the first week in June,” he said. “That will determine poult survival which in turn will help determine the fall harvest.”

As for the 2012 spring season, Reynolds says that two items may lead to the forefront.

“I think we’re going to see a good number of three-year-old and older birds. There will be more mature birds,” Reynolds said. “Though I haven’t had a chance to look at all of the data yet I am suspecting we’ll have seen a good harvest of older birds this year.”

With a slightly good 2010 hatch there also may be a fair number of two-year-old birds; these are the most vulnerable to hunting pressure because they talk a lot and are more ready to be called, Reynolds says.

As for any surprises, the “usual cast of characters again led the state” in the harvest, Reynolds also said.

“There were no real surprises in the distribution of the harvest but we’ll have to look at various factors like the timing of the harvest and the age make-up,”
Reynolds said.
Counties with a higher amount of open farmland-type country did very well where decoys may have been placed in fields.

“That makes sense because hunters can see turkeys and know they’re out there and will stick with it more but not a whole lot stands out,” Reynolds said. “It was a challenging season.”

Here is the 2011 spring wild turkey-hunting season kill for select Northeast Ohio counties as well as the Top 10 counties, with their respective 2010 harvest figures in parentheses: Adams - 507 (745); Ashtabula - 712 (1,030); Belmont - 444 (563); Coshocton - 447 (522); Cuyahoga - 4 (6); Erie - 52 (57); Geauga - 301 (423); Guernsey - 507 (635); Harrison - 483 (581); Highland - 447 (540); Huron - 164 (219); Knox - 513 (528); Lake - 59 (96); Lorain - 186 (221); Medina - 118 (157); Monroe - 444 (558); Muskingum - 462 (623); Sandusky - 17 (21); Trumbull -416 (584); Tuscarawas - 583 (664).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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