Friday, October 28, 2016

Ohio's fall turkey hunters continue to post huge gains over 2015 to-date numbers

If ever a doubt existed regarding how a cicada brood emergence can shake up a wild turkey kill in Ohio that suspicion is being blown out of the water this fall season.

Ohio’s to-date fall season wild turkey kill all ready stands at 968 birds, or 63 percent of 2015’s fall season total of 1,535 birds.

For another comparison, the 2015 to-date fall season wild turkey kill was 697 birds, and for a front-end-season-shortened 2014 fall season the number was 563 birds.

At the heart of the marked improvement was this summer’s emergence of the 17-year so-called “Brood V” cicadas, a batch of high-protein bug-eyed insects that swarmed out of the ground and were plucked up by hungry turkey poults and their mature counterparts.

In the counties where the Brood V emergence proved especially strong, so too has the fall season turkey kill. Examples abound, as well, with the following serving as exceptional illustrations (the various counties’ 2015 to-date fall season turkey kills are included in parentheses): Coshocton – 38 (19); Defiance – 13 (8); Gallia – 22 (18); Guernsey – 33 (9); Harrison – 25 (17); Holmes – 49 (7) (that’s not a typo, either); Monroe – 37 (10); Meigs – 35 (17); Morgan – 30 (5); Muskingum – 30 (11); Noble – 37 (19); Perry – 33 (19); Tuscarawas – 50 (12); Vinton – 24 (14); and Washington – 27 (10).

However, the emergence of Brood V was not uniform across the state nor encountered in every county. Left out were any number of counties, clustered in pockets that included extreme Northeast Ohio. Here, fall turkey kill numbers are off in such locations as traditionally strong fall turkey harvest counties of Ashtabula and Trumbull. The 2016 to-date fall season turkey kill for Ashtabula County is 23 birds. Last year that number was 26 birds.

Not much of a difference until a look at Trumbull County is viewed. Here, the current 2016 to-date fall season turkey kill there is 14 birds whereas the comparable 2015 to-date fall season turkey kill for Trumbull County was 26 birds.

A number of other noteworthy and traditionally strong turkey harvest counties are experiencing downward numbers also. Among them (again, with their respective to-date 2015 county numbers in parentheses) are: Adams – 13 (22); Brown – 13 (15); Clermont – 11 (16); Columbiana – 15 (22); Geauga – 12 (18); and Hocking – 24 (28).

Even some of the most urban of Ohio’s 55 counties open to fall turkey hunting are getting into the act. Among them (once more with their respective to-date 2015 figures in parentheses) are: Cuyahoga – 2 (zero); Franklin – also 2 (also zero);  Huron – 6 (1); Lake – 5 (3); Lorain – 11 (16); Stark – 19 (13); and Summit – 5 (3).

Ohio’s fall wild turkey-hunting season runs through November 27th. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset. Birds of either sex are legal game.

 As far as other rules and regulations go in chasing fall wild turkeys, some of the highlights include that hunters must buy a separate fall tag as any unused spring tag is not valid.

While some fall turkey hunters are dedicated their numbers have consistently remained small since the first such season began in 1996 in 22 counties. In fact, fall turkey tag sales are off five percent from what they were in 2015.

Last year the Ohio Division of Wildlife sold 8,027 fall wild turkey hunting permits. The largest number of Ohio fall wild turkey hunting permits ever sold was the 15,469 in 2002.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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