Pretty concerning. Great weather, Saturday opener, and only up 300 for the state. With many traditional counties down significantly. I’m ever the optimist, but not a great indicator of a healthy population. Which many on this forum and others have noticed a decline.
I have now hunted 5 days from shooting time until noon across several Northern Ohio counties (both the NE zone and regular zone) and can honestly say this is the least gobbling I have ever heard and fewest sightings.
I am hunting some very very productive properties that typically hold good numbers of birds and where in years past it was not uncommon to hear multiple birds gobbling every single morning. Something is up fort sure!
I've been hunting Southern OH public land for the last 4 years, which is much much less than most everyone here. Simply sharing my results and some observations.
2018 - maybe an anomaly but tipping my hat to getting in early and taking advantage of the chance before pressure was consistent ; harvested a bird off the beloved CC shoutout to a member here for the lead on where to hunt!
2019 - ditched SW OH and moved much further East ; 2 gobblers within range on opening youth day ; a week or two later had a tough run on a piece of public property that was actively being timbered on a specific portion, which I think definitely impacted the presence of birds
2020 - hunted same piece of property timbered the year before, low undergrowth starting to reestablish ; gobblers within range on both youth days, one of which was harvested on Sunday 4/19 by a youth hunter I took ; took a bird myself on Tuesday 4/21, same piece of property, two separate ridges ; came back in on the last day of the season in mid-May, called up 2 gobblers from 400-500 yards away and the youth missed a walking bird at 25 yards (he's learning a lot of great lessons! )
2021 - back to this same piece of property, why change it up? called in a group of 4 or 5 gobbling birds on the saturday opener, but got busted. heard more birds just before quitting time on the opener, could hear them walking but never got them to peak up over the edge. got into gobbling birds on a very windy Friday 4/30, took 1 of the 3 that came in. got into birds again on Saturday 5/1 but couldn't get them to commit.
A few additional observations:
gobbling has decreased after initial fly down
obviously with hens because the bird I shot on Friday came in behind a hen, so they were roosted with her
anyone who thinks they will hear gobbling all morning long should change their expectations ; not going to happen, times have changed
A few things that i feel have helped result in quality hunts (rather than focusing on what I have much less control over - like weather, predators, nest success, etc):
being willing and open to walking big tracts of land, off the beaten path or accessing and coming in the "hard" way that most folks wouldn't consider, has improved the quality of my hunts ; i have not ran into another hunter in the last 10-12 hunts on public land in ohio
arriving EARLY makes a difference (i left my house in Cinci at 1:30a on Friday...); i've had several occasions where another hunter pulls in but i'm already there so they respectfully move on to another spot (thanks to any of you who may be out there)
hunting both ends of the season and all times of day ; roost gobbling is the most popular, but striking up a late morning or late season bird often results in a dead turkey ; i personally love the last weekend of the season
take a friend, because friendship and quality time together in the woods is still fun even when the turkeys don't gobble or you don't close the deal
Ohio Sportsman - Your Ohio Hunting and Fishing Resource
A forum community dedicated to hunting and fishing enthusiasts in the Ohio area. Come join the discussion about safety, gear, tackle, tips, tricks, optics, hunting, gunsmithing, reviews, reports, accessories, classifieds, and more!