Cicada hatch fuels near-record turkey kill
Columbus — With a statewide harvest in excess of 5 percent over that encountered 2017, Ohio’s spring wild turkey hunters enjoyed the third best-ever gobbler kill on record.
For the just-concluded spring season, Ohio’s hunters shot 22,571 bearded birds, a jump of 1,529 birds taken during the 2017 spring season. The highest-ever spring turkey kill in Ohio occurred in 2001 when 26,156 bearded wild turkeys – almost exclusively males, or gobbler/toms – were killed. The second-highest kill on record was the 23,421 birds shot during the 2010 spring season.
However, as giddy as Ohio’s spring turkey hunters may be, the cold, hard reality is that even the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s biologists acknowledge that this past spring’s turkey harvest was an anomaly, a factor brought about by an enormous emergence in 2017 of protein-rich cicadas in much of southern-southeast Ohio. That metric saw tremendous turkey poult abundance and survival as the young feasted on the insects thanks to a localized condition that happens only once every 17 years.
More than likely, Wildlife Division biologists are saying, beginning in 2019 Ohio’s spring wild turkey hunters should see the harvest gyroscope tilt back to a more stable level – a kind of harvest plateau as experienced during the 2016 spring season when 17,793 birds were shot.
For more analysis on Ohio’s turkey kill, see the June 8 print edition of Ohio Outdoor News.