Cicada increase boosts young turkey numbers in Ohio

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Cicada increase boosts young turkey numbers in Ohio

The opening of Ohio’s fall turkey season, nestled among an array of autumn opportunities though limited to 56 counties, probably doesn’t rate among the neon days of the hunting year.

A typical wild turkey lives about three years.

A typical wild turkey lives about three years.

The four-week spring season that begins in late April pretty much lights up the entire state. Still, the seven-week daytime hunt that begins Saturday and runs through Nov. 27 — the eve of deer gun week — should add an arrow to the quiver of some archery-inclined deer hunters, not to mention dedicated turkey stalkers armed with guns or bows.

Particularly this year.

“No question, there is going to be a bigger crop of young birds available in cicada counties,” said Ohio Division of Wildlife biologist Mark Wiley.

A late spring increase of 17-year cicadas in a large swath of eastern, southeastern and north-central Ohio coincided with the counties open for turkey hunting. When coupled with mild weather, a cicada outbreak provides improved survival conditions for young wild turkeys as well as a host of other critters.

Surveys conducted during the summer by the wildlife division indicate that turkeys did well in the cicada surrounds. In District Four, which covers southeastern Ohio, observed hens averaged 4.53 poults each. In District Two, which comprises northwestern and western counties outside the cicada outbreak, each hen averaged only 1.84 poults.

The state average of poults per hen was 3.64. In District One in central Ohio, the count was 3.21 poults per hen. By either standard, young bird survival easily outstripped recent years.

“The statewide average last year was 2.4” poults per hen, Wiley said. “In 2014, the average was 1.8.”

The consequence is that deer hunters are more likely to see birds while waiting for their ideal deer. Bow hunters who hold a fall turkey permit may take a single gobbler or hen during the fall.

The numbers suggest that deer hunters are taking advantage of the opportunity.

“We see a very small percentage of turkeys taken with a bow in the spring,” Wiley said. “In the fall, the longbow harvest accounted for 15 percent of the turkeys taken and crossbows for about 21 percent.”

Hunters checked 1,537 wild turkeys last fall, a 24 percent increase from the 1,239 taken in 2014. In central Ohio, Franklin, Fairfield, Licking and Delaware counties are open to fall turkey hunting, while Union, Madison and Pickaway are not.

Trap chance

Drawings are set for noon Saturday at the five Ohio Division of Wildlife district offices for beaver and otter trapping opportunities on state-owned or -managed properties.

Among the slots are Deer Creek, Delaware, Big Island, Indian Lake and Killdeer Plains in central Ohio. No fee is required to participate in a drawing, but trappers are required to show a valid hunting license and a fur taker’s permit.

For details and addresses, phone the district office of your choice. A list of properties can be found at www.wildohio.com.

Deer week

The number of deer checked statewide during the first week of the 2016-17 archery season, which began Sept. 24, was 4,006. That’s a considerable spike from the 2,752 whitetails reported during the first week of the 2015 hunt.

Ashtabula topped all counties with 158, followed by Trumbull (156), Licking (127), Coshocton (118), Lorain (105) and Knox (100). In central Ohio, Delaware had 62, followed by Franklin (28), Fairfield (24), Union (14), Pickaway (10) and Madison (six).

Originally posted by Dave Golowenski for The Columbus Dispatch
Sunday October 2, 2016

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