April is the month when wild turkey hunters in Kentucky and Ohio finally get to take to the woods.
In Kentucky, the season opens April 15 and runs through May 7, while Ohio’s opens April 24 and runs through May 21.
Kentucky’s youth season runs this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Ohio youth season is set for April 22, 23.
Both states estimate the turkey population statewide at 220,000 to 250,000 birds and expect 50,000 to 70,000 legal hunters to go for them. The season kill in each state usually totals from 20,000 to 30,000 turkeys.
Both states allow two male, or two bearded turkeys (sometime hens have beards) per season, of which only one can be taken on any given day.
Kentucky’s turkey permit covers both birds. Ohio hunters must purchase a second permit in order to take the second turkey.
Hunting hours in Kentucky are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset for the entire season.
In Ohio, hunting hours between opening day and May 7 are sunrise to noon. From then until the end of the season hunting hours are sunrise to sunset.
Ohio regulations require hunters to check their turkey with state officials by 11:30 p.m. the day of the kill.
Kentucky’s telecheck requirements can be found on line at fw.ky.gov. If you don’t have computer access, call toll-free 1-877-598-2401.
An important part of spring turkey hunting is locating that space within the tom’s home range where he flies down in the morning, struts, gobbles, and courts his hens. Unless he’s disturbed, boss gobbler will not go far from this area, so setting up nearby will be essential in calling him to you.
Hunters who could find he time for preseason scouting have probably already located a tree where the birds roost at night. A feeding area will show where birds have raked back leaves in search of acorns, fresh greens and newly sprouted plants. This is the place to set up and begin making sounds on your caller like those of a lovesick hen.
You’ll have a better chance at success if you’re fully camouflaged, including your face and your gun or bow.
Stalking turkeys, as though you were hunting grouse, is not advisable. An unsafe hunting situation can develop if there are other hunters posted up in the area. Also, turkeys have a very keen eyesight, and chances are he will have seen you before you see him, and he’ll be off running or flying.
The popup blind has become popular in recent years. You can sit in comfort inside, and – since turkeys cannot smell – even enjoy a cup of coffee while watching or calling.
CLEANING YOUR TURKEY
The Ohio website of Ohio fish and wildlife offers these tips;
Split the skin on the belly between the tip of the breast and the tail. Reach under the breast and bring out the internal organs. Don’t forget to save the heart, liver and gizzard for the turkey dinner. All these parts are cleaned for cooking just like the counterparts for a chicken.
If the turkey has been shot in the head and neck, as preferred, the organs should have little damage. If the intestines have been punctured, wipe any residue out of the body cavity. If you intend to save the pelt or any part for a trophy mount, you will want to have paper towels to absorb blood from the feathers. Washing the blood off is not recommended, as the feathers absorb the water.
Whether you skin or pluck your turkey depends on what you intend for a trophy and a meal. If you plan to use the skin and feathers for a trophy, talk to a taxidermist for advice before you hunt. He or she can advise you on the best methods of removing skin and feather parts you want to preserve as your mount.
If you want to use the turkey as a traditional roast turkey, you may want to pluck the feathers and save the skin on the bird. This will keep the meat moist during cooking.
Any bird that will be frozen whole should be completely wrapped, preferably in an air-tight bag. If you intend to use the breast separately as fried turkey, all parts could be cut up similar to cutting up a chicken. To minimize freezer burn, any parts that are frozen should be used within 3 – 4 months.
Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.