By Al Smith - Guest Columnist



Youth wild turkey season set for April 9-10

Young hunters get a jump on the spring turkey season next weekend (April 9-10) during Ohio’s special youth turkey hunt.

Those 17 years and younger participating in this hunt will be the first to hunt under the new rule, which allows only one bearded (male) wild turkey during the spring season. In prior years, the season limit was two birds. The rule was changed because the wild turkey population has declined in recent years following several years of below average reproductive success.

All rules and regulations for spring wild turkey season apply during the youth season. Hunting hours for youth turkey season are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

When participating in the special youth or regular spring wild turkey season the following requirements must be met:

All hunters are required to have the appropriate licenses and permits when participating in the special youth or regular spring season, which opens April 23 in the south zone and runs through May 22.

A non-hunting person 18 years old and older must accompany a young hunter participating in the youth hunt. This adult must accompany the youth hunter to and from the field and is present with the youth hunter while the youth hunter is engaged in hunting. The non-hunting adult may not possess any hunting implements and a hunting license is not required.

According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW), accompany means to go along with another person while staying within a distance from the person that enables uninterrupted, unaided visual and auditory communications. Youth hunters must be accompanied at all times by a non-hunting adult. An adult may accompany no more than two youths.

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Hardin and Logan counties are among 22 counties that are part of a sandhill crane count next Saturday (April 9) that is attempting to locate breeding birds in Ohio. The count will be conducted by volunteers from 6:30-8:30 a.m.

This project is part of the Midwest Crane Count and is coordinated by the DOW, International Crane Foundation and Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative.

The Ohio sandhill crane population had been growing and this count is an effort to better track the state’s breeding crane population. Sandhills can be quite secretive during their nesting season.

According to the DOW, the time commitment for the count includes the time it takes to scout an area, a virtual training and the morning count. Birders of all abilities who can identify a sandhill crane can participate. A vehicle is also required. Participation in pairs and some experience using eBird is preferred.

Anyone interested can contact county coordinators. In Hardin County, contact Nancy Risner at [email protected] In Logan County, contact Phil Shively at [email protected]

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There is good news for birders who love going to the world-renowned Magee Marsh Wildlife Area for the spring migration of warblers and other species. The boardwalk on the area, which sustained heavy damage from a storm last August, will re-open April 15.

The DOW has made repairs to the boardwalk, which was heavily damaged when wind speeds up to 70 mph knocked down several huge trees along the Lake Erie beachfront parking lot. Because a new bald eagle nest has been built, a small portion near the midpoint of the boardwalk will remain closed.

Updates to the two observation decks at the west end and increased accessibility for those using a wheelchair or scooter are among improvements on the boardwalk, according to the DOW. The use of only monopods from May 1-15 is a new rule this year. However, tripods may be used as monopods during this time, according to the wildlife agency.

National Birding Week is scheduled from May 6-15 this year.

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Anglers who fish Lake Erie should be in for some outstanding catches for walleye and good catches of yellow perch in the lake’s western basin this year, according to the DOW. These tasty fish are sought by thousands of anglers annually.

Good eating-size walleye in the 15-22-inch range (2 to 4-year-old fish) will be abundant in the lake, according to the DOW. There also will be a huge number of 9-14 inch catches, which should be released because they fall below the 15-inch legal limit. By late season, increasing numbers of those smaller fish will reach legal limit status. Some large fish from prior year-hatches also will be available. The daily walleye catch limit on Lake Erie is six per angler.

The DOW expects yellow perch fishing to be strong again in the western zone after an above average catch during the 2021 season. That zone extends from Toledo to Huron. The best success is anticipated during July through mid-August during warm-water periods and again during mid-October through November as adult perch move to shallow water to feed. The daily limit in this zone is 30 per angler.

Bass anglers should expect some trophy catches for smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. The daily limit is five bass per day, with a 14-inch minimum size limit through April 30, and again from June 25-April 30, 2023. During the spawning season from May 1-June 24, 2022, anglers may harvest one bass per day with a minimum size limit of 18 inches.

The DOW reminds anglers that Lake Erie fishing reports, information on Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, maps and links to other Lake Erie web resources are available at wildohio.gov. The current fishing regulations can be found on the HuntFish OH app, at wildohio.gov or locations where fishing licenses are sold.

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By Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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