Get ready now for Ohio turkey season

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I know, I know, there is still snow, still ice on the pond, and still no real sign of spring.

The turkeys are still bunched up and the trees as bare as fence wire. But know this, spring gobbler season is just weeks away. That much we do know.

But I’m not ready and I doubt if any Ohio turkey hunting addict is either. In fact, the basement floor here is still covered with piles of dirty hunting clothes from the fall and winter hunting seasons. Sounds familiar, right?

So here’s an edited list of pre-season tips offered by writer and turkey guy Jay Anglin. So get crack’n, time’s a waste’n.

Preparing for turkey season

Wild turkeys are almost as fickle as the springtime weather we experience while hunting them. That plus other factors often combine to limit opportunities for turkey-hunting success to just a few hours of hunting per season so every minute is important and solid preparation is imperative.

Turkey hunting is a fairly simple affair from a gear standpoint, but there are still plenty of things to consider prior to the season.

Clothing

Inspect and try on clothing and footwear. It may be time to replace a faded pair of hunting pants or leaky boots.

While turkeys aren’t known for their sense of smell, deer are. Nervous whitetails have ruined countless turkey hunts when they blew and ran right as a long beard was strutting into the decoys.

Use a plastic tote to store clothing and critical gear so you’re always organized and ready to go.

Inspect everything normally carried in your turkey vest and make sure the zippers and buckles are working — repair as needed.

Don’t forget that cruddy facemask. Replace it if needed and add a spare to your gear.

Calls

Go through calls and make sure all of them are in working order — prep them for active duty.

Diaphragm calls especially are often in poor condition as are mouth calls and need to be replaced. Take an inventory of what you need and stock up.

Keep worn-in mouth calls you’ve practiced within your vest ready to hunt and have extras available.

Extras

Be sure your vest has other essentials such as biodegradable wipes, insect repellent, lens wipes and an energy bar or two plus add backup items such as thin stretch camo gloves and that new spare facemask.

The extras will come in handy when take a guest hunting.

Now plan a trip or two to the range to pattern your turkey loads.

Try to replicate actual hunting conditions when possible by wearing full camo from cap to boots. Shoot while leaning against a backrest like you would during an actual hunt.

Practice

Pattern using different loads and choke combos. Inexperienced hunters and youths who may have difficulty holding the gun steady should consider using a slightly more open choke that offers a bigger pattern inside of 30 yards.

Practice in the comfort zone, not ridiculously long ranges that increase the odds of missing or wounding birds.

2018-19 hunting season dates

The appointed eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council will meet May 2 to approve the 2018-19 hunting season dates, harvest limits and regulations.

This meeting follows input from the public, namely hunters, who have responded to surveys and voiced their opinions including at statewide fish and game hearing planned for April 12.

Ohio residents can offer their opinions until March 31. If you would like to be heard, call 614-265- 6304. You’ll get 3 minutes. See the proposed rules and dates online at the ODNR website.

Deer and turkey expo

The annual Deer and Turkey Expo will be held March 16-17 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus. More information at andrew@deerinfo.com.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.

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