Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Terrible weather didn't hurt turkey kill for new Northeast Ohio Zone spring season opener

The woods were so wet during the newly created May 1st Northeast Ohio spring wild turkey hunting season opener that even my hen decoy was complaining.

Mixed with the rain were falling temperatures and rising wind speeds. So the weather was hardly inviting for man, beast, birds - or decoys.

And yet it mattered not for more than 200 turkey hunters participating in the five-county (Northeast Ohio Zone) late spring season start: Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull.

Assembled together their combined spring turkey season opener saw a preliminary total kill of 216 bearded birds. In 2016 – and when the five counties saw their opener dovetail with the rest of the state’s 83 counties – the combined tally was 201 birds.

Not unexpectedly leading the way was Ashtabula County where 97 turkeys were shot and compared to its 2016 spring season opening day kill of 85 birds.

And Ashtabula’s reported 2017 spring season opening day kill of 97 birds places it close to the pinnacle of all of the state’s other 87 counties, too. On the April 24th spring season opener for all but the five extreme Northeast Ohio counties the leaders were Coshocton County with 123 birds; Tuscarawas County with 115 birds; and Guernsey County with 108 birds.

Just behind Ashtabula County and its 97 birds were Harrison and Adams counties with 92 birds each, and Carroll County with 91 birds.

As for the other four Northeast Ohio counties, the statistics for their May 1st spring season opener (with their respective 2016 opening day figures in parentheses) were: Cuyahoga – one (two); Geauga – 46 (36); Lake – 15 (six); and Trumbull – 57 (72).

The one-week delayed start for the spring wild turkey hunting-season opener was brought about by years of lobbying by many sportsmen in Northeast Ohio. It was their argument that the state’s Snow Belt region stands apart meteorologically from the rest of Ohio. So much so that there’s a biological hiccup in when hens breed and gobblers talk that is not seen elsewhere around Ohio.

Yet Monday’s delayed opener was hardly a pleasant sit with on-off rain showers that often times produced a steady drumbeat on the fabric of my ground blind, situated in Ashtabula County. I did not hear a single bird and only three shots, each coming before 9 a.m.

In any event, the spring wild turkey hunting season for the so-named “South Zone” runs through May 21st. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon through May 7th, and then one-half hour before sunrise until sunset beginning May 8th until the South Zone season ends May 21st.
For the five-county “Northeast Zone-only” the spring wild turkey-hunting season runs through May 28th. Hunting hours here are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon through May 14th and then from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset from May 15th through the end of the Northeast Zone-only season on May 28th.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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