The arrival of cooler weather and changing tree leaves means Ohio’s fall wild turkey hunting season is underway, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
The fall wild turkey hunting season is open until Sunday, Nov. 29. Both gobblers and hens are legal game during the fall hunting season. Fall wild turkey hunting is open in 70 Ohio counties. A full list of open counties and details regarding fall turkey hunting can be found in the 2020-2021 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulation guidebook.
One turkey of either sex may be harvested during the fall season, and a valid hunting license and fall turkey permit are required. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. Shotguns using shot, as well as crossbows and longbows, and permitted. Hunting turkeys over bait is prohibited, and turkeys are required to be checked by 11:30 p.m. on the day the bird is harvested. Hunters are advised to wear hunter orange clothing when entering, leaving, or moving through hunting areas to remain visible to others.
Hunters are required to fill in their wild turkey permit upon harvest with the date, time, and county of kill. Submitting the harvest information through the Division of Wildlife’s mobile app fulfills this requirement. All hunters are required to report their turkey harvest using the automated game-check system. Hunters with a turkey permit have four options to complete their game check: online at ohiogamecheck.com; through the HuntFish OH mobile app; call 877-TAG-ITOH (877-824-4864); or visit a license agent. A list of agents can be found at wildohio.gov or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).
Landowners and others exempt from purchasing a turkey permit cannot use the 877-TAG-ITOH option. Instead, those hunters can call 866-703-1928 for operator-assisted landowner game check (a convenience fee applies), use the HuntFish OH mobile app, or visit a license agent.
For more information about hunting in Ohio download the HuntFish OH mobile app, available for iOS and Android, or visit wildohio.gov. Follow the Your Wild Ohio Hunter Facebook page for hunting tips and useful information as you get outside this season.
• The 2020 acorn abundance survey conducted on 38 wildlife areas throughout Ohio shows an above-average year for red oaks and a below-average year for white oaks, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Ohio’s fall acorns are an important food source for more than 90 forest wildlife species, and mast crop distribution can influence hunting plans. The acorn mast crop is the number of nuts collectively produced by trees.
Division of Wildlife employees scanned the canopies of selected oak trees on wildlife areas to determine the percentage of trees that produced acorns and the relative size of the acorn crop. Results showed that an average of 27% of white oaks and 70% of red oaks bore fruit this year. Over the past five years, acorn production has oscillated. For the second year in a row, red oaks were well above the 16-year average, while white oaks were below average.
In addition to determining the presence or absence of acorns, observers estimated the percentage of each tree’s crown that was covered with acorns. Average crown coverage of acorns for white oaks was 6%, slightly above the 2019 total but below the long-term average of 9%. Average crown coverage for acorns for red oaks was 32%, an increase from last year and well ahead of the long-term average of 20%.
Wildlife prefer white oaks because red oaks acorns contain a high amount of tannin and taste bitter. White-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and squirrels concentrate near areas with heavy crops of white and chestnut oak acorns. Acorns are an important food source for many forest wildlife species. Numerous studies have linked the abundance of mast crops to body condition, winter survival, and reproductive success of white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, black bears, gray squirrels, and ruffed grouse. Furthermore, hunters could use this information to key in on areas to improve hunting success.
In those areas where acorns are an important part of the deer’s diet, mast availability can affect deer movements and ultimately hunter success. In poor mast years, where deer are forced to use other food sources, travel distances between feeding and bedding areas may be longer and more predictable, making deer more vulnerable to harvest. This year’s mast crop may translate to relatively high hunter success rates in those areas where white oaks dominate.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.