Hunters accept spring gobbler challenge

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Ohio turkey hunters
Christian Myers (left) of Ravenna, Ohio, snared this bird on the first morning of the early Ohio youth turkey season with his uncle, Jon Myers, doing the calling. Happy Ohio hunter Matt Hogan (right) took this 22-pound gobbler on opening day of the spring season. (Mike Tontimonia photos)

Ohio hunters continue to enjoy the springtime pursuit of wild turkeys.

Turkey challenges

And why not, Ohio has the birds, hunters have the itch and there are few hunting challenges to match the excitement and skill sets that go along with tagging these wary game birds. Make no mistake, killing a mature gobbler is all about knowing how or being lottery-level lucky.

Ohio hunters get a month to accomplish the feat.

Youth hunt

Young hunters under 18 get a special treat, a weekend of gobbler chasing before the regular spring season opens. Youth season follows the same rules as those for the regular season; it gobblers only and it’s not easy. But it’s a great learning experience because young hunters must be accompanied by an adult and that usually means a family member of close friend who knows what they are doing.

Indeed, this type of special season brings out soon-to- be-adult hunters who will represent the future of our hunting traditions.

Turkey hunt decrease

This year, young hunters killed 1,564 tom turkeys during the two-day weekend special youth season, a very slight decrease from last year’s 1,589 birds checked.

Adult season open

The regular spring gobbler season is open now, running April 18 through May 15.
Opening day results showed a significant increase over last spring’s first day harvest.

Hunters checked 2,511 gobblers this year compared to 2,335 last year.

Gobblers may be the wrong word because the actual rule is spring hunters can only kill bearded birds and yes, there is an occasional hen with a visible beard.

Beards

Ohio hunters can and often do kill two birds during the month long season.

Wild turkeys are nothing less than a perfect example of how given the right conditions, wildlife can be successfully introduced or reintroduced to an area.Ohio was once void of turkeys. In fact, by 1904 there was not a wild turkey to be found in Ohio.

History

The Ohio Division of Wildlife reintroduced turkeys by releasing the first birds in the 1950’s.
Fast forward to 1966 when Ohio’s first wild turkey season allowed hunting in just nine counties where 12 birds were harvested. The rest is history, as they say, with the harvest topping 1000 for the first time in 1984 and 20,000 in the year 2000.

First-time wild turkey hunters are usually hooked for life. It is that challenging and that rewarding.

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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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