This might be the year for that fall turkey hunt
If you’ve never hunted fall turkeys before, this just might be the year you want to take up the pursuit.
That’s because turkeys should be plentiful in Ohio this fall, fattened up on all those cicadas they’ve been gorging on for the past year.
So says DNR Division of Wildlife biologist Mark Wiley, in a recent interview with The Columbus Dispatch.
“No question, there is going to be a bigger crop of young birds available in cicada counties,” Wiley said.
Fall turkey hunting in Ohio opened on Oct. 8 and runs through Nov. 27. The season is open in 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
A big difference between the spring and fall seasons is that turkeys of either sex may be taken in the fall.
An increase in 17-year cicadas in a large portion of eastern, southeastern, and north central Ohio coincides with the counties open for turkey hunting, the newspaper reports. Coupled with mild weather, a cicada outbreak provides improved survival conditions for young wild turkeys.
The Division of Wildlife conducted turkey surveys this summer, which indicated that the wild birds did well in the cicada counties. In Wildlife District 4 in southeastern Ohio, the survey indicated observed hens averaged 4.53 poults each. In contrast in District 2, northwest Ohio, those counties outside of the cicada outbreak averaged just 1.84 poults per hen. The state average for poults was 3.64.
By any standard, young poult survival was much better this year than in previous years, said Wiley.
“The statewide average last year was 2.4 (poults per hen),” he said. “In 2014, the average was 1.8.”
Deer hunters, and particularly those hunting with a bow, should take heed. You might want to stick a fall turkey tag in your back pocket in those cicada counties just in case.
So far, it looks as though this is already happening, said Wiley.
“We see a very small percentage of turkeys taken with a bow in the spring,” the biologist said. “In the fall, the longbow harvest accounted for 15 percent of the turkeys taken and crossbows (accounted for) about 21 percent.”
Last fall, Ohio hunters checked in 1,537 turkeys, a 24 percent increase from the 1,239 taken in the fall of 2014, according to Division of Wildlife records.