Ohio Spring Turkey Season - Tough and Confusing

By Larry S. Moore

As the Division of Wildlife press release on the conclusion of the spring turkey season notes, the harvest was down 7 percent. Spring turkey hunters found a mixed bag of
weather and hunting results. Many
reasons, or excuses, are being offered.

Dayton Daily News outdoors writer Jim Robey writes:

    Some hunters blame a cold snap about the time the hunting began. Others question whether Ohio really has as many wild turkeys as claimed by the Division of Wildlife.

    Randy Dyer of Sinking Springs, about 30 miles southeast of Hillsboro, has his own theory. And after taking two gobblers during the first week of the season, it's obvious this hunter knows something about the great game bird.

    "The problem is not a shortage of turkeys. I think the growing numbers of birds is making hunting more difficult," Dyer said.

    ...Dyer believes there is such an abundance of hens in the big flocks that gobblers find it very easy to locate a mate, or as many mates as they want. Turkeys are polygamous.

    "In my opinion that's why we hear less gobbling and hunters find it harder to call in a gobbler," Dyer stated.

Click 'Read More' for the entire commentary.

In the area where I hunt, near Tar Hollow along the Ross and Hocking
County lines, I didn't hear a gobble after the early youth season on
April 22. Some of my problems this year included few days to hunt (my
leave at work was severely reduced due to overtime) which resulted in
minimal scouting and no opportunity to spend the afternoon in the woods
to see where the turkeys roosted. Turkey hunting, like other types,
requires dedication and time in the woods to be successful. Still,
without hearing the Toms gobble, turkey hunting is almost impossible.
did see lots of hens and had a surprise encounter with a Tom that was
coming in silently. Unfortunately, he saw me a split second before I
saw him. End of that story.

So why the mixed bag of results? Many hunters are saying the Toms are
still "henned up", meaning there are plenty of willing hens to mate.
That may be true in some areas. However, on several days I had
hens in very close. They were clucking and calling but no gobblers
answered. Other areas reporting hearing a few gobblers early and then
nothing. Still other hunters I talked to heard lots of birds gobbling
(in the Greene/Clinton/Warren County area of Spring Valley Wildlife and
Caesars Creek) but had no luck calling their birds. There were reports
of more hunting pressure locally. This was blamed on fuel costs with
more hunters trying their luck closer to home rather than making a 2 to
3 hour drive to southeastern Ohio.

Some hunters are calling for an all day spring turkey season. The
Division has been reluctant to move to that format. That is not going
to change for the spring 2008 season. However, a dedicated effort
between now and the March 2008 open houses, may bring results for the
spring 2009 season. The idea of splitting the state and varying the
season opening day north versus south has also been discussed Again
Division of Wildlife does not believe this has any biological impact on
the turkey or the hunter success rates. One veteran Adams County
suggested to me there are simply too many hens. His suggestion is that
we need to promote and harvest more hens in the fall season. His
reasoning is along the lines that keeping the doe deer in check has
deer hunting better so the number of hens needs reduced so there is
competition during the breeding season. His experience of over thirty
years with Ohio's wild turkey make it good food for thought.

At the property where I hunt, I am blaming coyotes for the problems.
This is based on a couple of pieces of information. I know there is a
growing coyote population at this property. We've killed several while
deer scouting, deer hunting, and I've killed two that came to my turkey
calls while preseason scouting in previous years. We've also seen them
around the old barn where we hung our deer. Additionally, this year, I
found broken turkey eggs along a couple of areas of logging trails.
eggs were out in the trails, not in a nesting area. I am guessing that
coyote raided the nests. I am blaming coyote for the turkeys not

The issue now is to prove my theory of blaming the coyote and do
something about it. The only thing I can do about coyote is hunt or
trap them. Time and fuel prices will make both difficult with 150 mile
roundtrips to the property. If the coyote are finding the turkeys,
perhaps the best thing to do is think like a coyote next turkey season.

Additional commentary by John Salyers

Like many hunters, my spring turkey season was interupted by the
of every day life. I had it all planned out for three weekends in the
woods but...

Unfortunately, I live in Northern Ohio where the turkey numbers are
still very thin. While spending time outdoors beats anything else I
think of, in order to have much success at gobblers I have to head
south. I am in the same boat as Larry, entirely too busy and too far
away to put in the proper effort for spring toms.

I did make it down early this month for a few days. The first two days
were much like the reports coming in. Silence and more silence with
of rain in between. The third day I tried to think like a coyote and
managed to track down a lively tom that was not shy in the vocal
department. Fortunately for him he was shy in other aspects.

I worked him for 30 minutes or so but never caught a glimpse. It
out that he was on the other side of a creek that was too deep and too
big for me to cross. I apparently was not attractive enough for him to
put forth the extra effort either.

I do much of my spring turkey scouting during deer gun season and
found some very active areas for turkeys. There are plenty of birds
around. Like anything else, it takes time and effort to be successful.

I suppose there are many reasons hunters this year were less
than last. I know mine. Still, the time spent in the woods and with
family at the campground is worth every minute. The turkeys will be
there next year. Hopefully I will be too!

We'd like to hear your hunting stories! Click here to submit your experiences from the '07 Spring Turkey season.

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