What a perfect weekend of turkey hunting. After the return to winter last weekend, Mother Nature blessed the youth turkey hunters with near perfect weather. Calm, clear skies and warm temperatures makes it ideal for being in the woods. The gobblers tend to gobble better and it is easier to hear when the conditions are ideal.
We had a lot of fun in the woods during the youth weekend. We particularly had fun with a lone jake that wanted some company but lacked a lot of self confidence. At one point he was very hot, gobbling every 20 seconds or so for a good fifteen minutes. However, he was a tad intimidated when he saw the gobbler decoy we had set out with a few hens. He wanted no business with that gobbler but he wasn’t scared enough from staying on the edge of the woodline trying to draw one of the fake hens to him.
The next morning we set out a jake decoy instead of the tom decoy and he just about repeated the entire script again. He was very vocal and patient but he didn’t want anything to do with the jake competition either. It sure was fun messing with him and you could almost see his frustration.
A lot of the big birds are still henned up and it can be frustrating trying to call them in. Patience is the key and the longer you stay in the woods the better chance you have calling him in once his hens sneak off. Expect the season to continue to get better as well, especially if this warm weather holds.
+The 2016-2017 hunting and trapping seasons were among the regulations approved by the Ohio Wildlife Council at its scheduled meeting on Wednesday, April 13, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
White-tailed deer hunting season changes include moving the two-day gun season to Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 17-18, and muzzleloader season to Jan. 7-10, 2017. Overview of deer hunting seasons for 2016-2017: Deer archery: Sept. 24, 2016-Feb. 5, 2017; Youth deer gun: Nov. 19-20, 2016; Deer gun: Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2016; Dec. 17-18, 2016; Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 7-10, 2017.
The county bag limits remain the same. The statewide bag limit remains at six deer, only one deer may be antlered, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit.
In terms of waterfowl hunting, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) oversees all migratory bird regulations, including Ohio’s hunting seasons. A recent change in the USFWS process now allows Ohio to propose fall waterfowl regulations in January and vote on them in April, more than six months earlier than in previous years. Changes to the migratory bird regulations include adding extra hunting days to the goose season and lowering the daily bag limit of canvasback to one.
The Ohio Wildlife Council also voted to move the line which separates the north and south waterfowl hunting zones farther north. The USFWS allows states to change their waterfowl zones once every five years. After public input from open houses, the waterfowl summit and waterfowl surveys, the boundary line between the north and south waterfowl zones was moved along a route similar to 2006-2010. The Lake Erie Marsh Zone remains unchanged.
For turkey hunting, a special northeast zone and dates were added to the 2017 spring turkey season. After hearing concerns expressed by hunters in the snowbelt, the ODNR Division of Wildlife conducted a two-year study to examine if turkeys were nesting later than in other regions of the state. Biologists found that hens in the snowbelt counties nested nearly two weeks later than hens in the southeastern counties. As part of the public input process, turkey hunters from the northeast were surveyed. The results of the study were presented, and a two-zone approach was discussed at the Wild Turkey summit in August 2015.
Additional rule changes include expanding the list of species permitted bait dealers may sell when acquired from aquaculture facilities, reducing the minimum carapace length of snapping and softshell turtles from 13 to 11 inches, prohibiting the taking of snapping and softshell turtles with archery equipment, prohibiting the export of live snapping and softshell turtles taken from the wild and prohibiting the taking or possession of snapping and softshell turtle eggs from the wild.
The Ohio Wildlife Council is an eight-member board that approves all of the ODNR Division of Wildlife proposed rules and regulations. The council votes on the proposed rules and season dates after considering public input. Council meetings are open to the public. Individuals who want to provide comments on a topic that is currently being considered by council are asked to register at least two days before the meeting by calling 614-265-6304.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.