Spring turkey hunting, free fishing highlight Ohio outdoors events

By Jim Freeman - In The Open

Spring gobbler season underway Monday

All of the prep is over, Ohio’s spring wild turkey season for adults begins Monday morning – at least in the South Zone, which includes all but five northeastern Ohio counties. Ohio youths have the first crack at gobblers this weekend.

I confess that I haven’t turkey hunted in a while, but I do go out before sunrise and listen for the birds, and it is an amazing time to be out in the woods. About 45 minutes before sunrise the woods come alive as all of the songbirds announce the coming of the dawn, for a brief time the day-bird and night-bird calls are combined as you can hear owls and whippoorwill calls blended with the calls of wood thrushes, cardinals and towhees. The wild turkey gobbles drown out even the loudest of the other birds.

The season runs through May 20, so there is plenty of time to bag your bird. Wild turkey hunting hours in the South Zone from April 23 to May 6 are 30 minutes before sunrise to noon; from May 7 until the season ends the hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. Legal hunting equipment includes shotguns 10-gauge or smaller using shot (including muzzle-loading shotguns), longbows, longbows, recurve bows or compound bows with a minimum draw weight of 40 pounds, or crossbows with a minimum draw weight of 75 pounds.

A valid Ohio license and spring turkey permit are required unless otherwise exempted. The bag limit is two bearded turkeys, and only one bearded turkey may be taken per day. Hunters wanting to take a second bearded turkey must purchase a second spring turkey permit.

Common wild turkey hunting no-no’s often involve baiting or killing a turkey in a tree. It is unlawful to hunt or take wild turkeys by baiting; an area is considered baited for 10 days after complete removal of the bait. It is also illegal to use a live decoy while hunting wild turkeys, or to use an electronic calling device, or to take or attempt to take a wild turkey while it is still in a tree. Of course, as always, hunters must have landowner permission to hunt on property that they do not own.

For more specific information consult the current Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations

Free fishing days coming up

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio is known for its world-class fishing and on May 5-6, anglers are invited to take part in the annual free fishing weekend.

Ohio’s Free Fishing Days are open to all Ohio residents and extend to all of Ohio’s public waters, including Lake Erie and the Ohio River. This is the only weekend all year that does not require anyone 16-years-old or older to obtain a fishing license.

The sales of fishing licenses, along with the Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) program, continue to fund ODNR Division of Wildlife’s fish management operations. No state tax dollars are used for these activities. These are user-pay, user-benefit programs.

The SFR is a partnership between federal and state governments, industry and anglers/boaters. When anglers purchase rods, reels, fishing tackle, fish finder and motor boat fuel, they pay an excise tax. The federal government collects these taxes, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers and disburses these funds to state fish and wildlife agencies. These funds are used to acquire habitat, produce and stock fish, conduct research and surveys, provide aquatic education, and acquire and develop boat accesses.

Here in Ohio, ODNR Division of Wildlife’s six fish hatcheries stocked more than 66 million sport fish in public waters in 2017, including walleye, saugeye, steelhead, rainbow trout, brown trout, muskellunge, channel catfish, blue catfish and hybrid striped bass, which will provide opportunities for more than 1.3 million Ohio anglers.

Ohio State Parks is also offering a camping discount during Ohio’s Free Fishing Days. Campers can receive a 20 percent off discount May 4-6 by using the promotion code 18ANGLER.

The Free Fishing Days weekend offers Ohioans of all ages the chance to experience the fun of catching a fish. ODNR offers the following tips for taking a youngster out fishing:

· Keep the trip simple by considering a child’s age and skill level.

· Choose a pond, lake or stream where children will be able to easily catch a few fish.

· A spin-cast reel is usually the easiest for kids to use.

· Bring a camera and snacks.

· Be patient – plan on spending time untangling lines, baiting hooks, landing fish and taking pictures.

· Most of all, have fun.

Anglers 16 years and older are required to have a valid fishing license to take fish, frogs or turtles from Ohio waters when not fishing on Ohio’s free fishing weekend. An Ohio resident fishing license is only $19 a year for residents. Fishing licenses are available at participating agents and wildohio.gov


By Jim Freeman

In The Open

Jim Freeman is the wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 or at jim.freeman@oh.nacdnet.net

Jim Freeman is the wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 or at jim.freeman@oh.nacdnet.net