Like many animals, Ohio’s wild turkeys change their behavior in the fall. As the weather turns colder, turkeys join flocks, establish pecking orders, and switch their diets. Learning to spot these cues will help a hunter have success during the fall wild turkey hunting season that began on Saturday, Oct. 9, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
“Fall turkey hunting brings new challenges because the birds exhibit different behaviors than in the spring, but can still be quite vocal,” said Division of Wildlife wild turkey biologist Mark Wiley. “Patience and persistence are key to a successful fall hunt. The birds are looking for dependable food sources right now, so scout areas near mature timber and agricultural fields to see if turkeys are nearby.”
Look for turkey signs such as tracks, scratches in leaf litter, droppings, feathers, and dusting areas. Food sources such as acorns and wild grapes may draw birds. Once the flock is located, a variety of calls and hunting methods can be used to bring a bird within range for a clean and ethical shot.
Ohio first offered a fall turkey hunting season in 1996. During the 2020 fall hunting season, Ohio turkey hunters checked 1,063 birds. The top 10 counties for wild turkeys taken during the fall 2020 hunting season include: Ashtabula (52), Coshocton (37), Trumbull (36), Guernsey (28), Licking (28), Clermont (27), Geauga (27), Gallia (26), Holmes (26), and Tuscarawas (26).
The 2021 fall turkey hunting season is open in 70 Ohio counties, and both hens and gobblers are legal game. The season limit is one wild turkey per hunter. A full list of open counties and details for fall turkey hunting can be found in the 2021-22 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations guidebook.
• The Ohio Wildlife Council approved reducing the 2022 spring wild turkey season limit to one bird during its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 6. All hunters may harvest one bearded (male) wild turkey during the spring 2022 hunting season. In previous years, the season limit was two birds. This regulation change includes the 2022 statewide spring wild turkey hunting season and the youth spring hunting season.
Wild turkey populations have declined in many areas around the state following several years of below average reproductive success. The spring turkey season bag limit will be re-evaluated following the 2022 season. This summer, the statewide wild turkey reproductive index was 3.1 poults per hen, which is above the 10-year average of 2.7 poults per hen
No changes were made to the 2022 spring wild turkey hunting season dates, zones (south and northeast), hours, or methods of take. Further, there is no change to Ohio’s fall 2021 wild turkey hunting season.
• The muskellunge, or muskie, is a popular game fish that can grow to immense sizes in Ohio’s inland lakes. Muskies are native to Ohio and top aquatic predators and the fisheries are maintained through fish hatchery efforts.
Nine Ohio reservoirs are stocked with muskie by the Division of Wildlife with Clear Fork Reservoir being one of them . Staff from Ohio’s London and Kincaid state fish hatcheries stock approximately 20,000 muskies measuring 8-12 inches every fall.
Adult muskies are long and slender with a large, duck-bill shaped mouth and needle-sharp teeth. They can reach up to 50 inches long and weigh as much as 40 pounds. The Ohio state record muskie weighed 55.13 pounds and measured 50¼ inches when it was caught at Piedmont Lake in 1972. Sometimes confused with northern pike, muskies have dark spots or wavy lines on their sides on a light background. Northern pike are the opposite with lighter colored spots on a dark background.
Successful anglers are encouraged to report their catches through the Division of Wildlife Muskie Angler Log, found at wildohio.gov. This effort supports muskie management efforts in Ohio by providing valuable muskie catch information to the Division of Wildlife. Ohio anglers have a long tradition of catching trophy muskies, and the fish even have their own fan club. The Ohio Huskie Muskie Club, Inc., was established in 1961. The club hosts fishing events and promotes good stewardship of Ohio’s muskie population.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.