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Published: Tuesday, 10/6/2009

Turkey hunt hinges on acorns

If fall wild turkey hunting in Ohio is on your outdoors to-do list, take a scouting lap this week around your favorite turkey woods and check the oaks for acorns.

That is the advice of Mike Reynolds, wild turkey biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Acorn crops, he noted, "were highly variable across Ohio this fall. In areas with poor acorn production, hunters may have more success locating turkeys around agricultural fields rather than on hardwood ridges.

"So hunt the food sources. If you have acorns on the ground, you're going to find turkey flocks." If not, he added, "they're probably going to be eating waste grain in agricultural fields."

The biologist said that acorn production relatively was very good in northern Ohio compared to southern Ohio this year and neighboring West Virginia has its worst mast (acorn) crop in 40 years.

The fall turkey season opens in 48 Ohio counties on Saturday, and continues through Nov. 29, the day before the shotgun deer season opener.

The wild turkey population is around 200,000, according to Reynolds, who anticipates as many as 20,000 people, not counting private landowners hunting on their own property, to join in the hunting. Among the open counties this year for the first time are Defiance and Williams in northwest Ohio.

Only one turkey of either sex may be taken during the fall season, and a fall turkey hunting permit is required. Spring turkey permits are invalid.

Hunting hours are a half hour before sunrise to sunset from Oct. 10 through Nov. 29. Shotguns using shot, and crossbows and vertical bows are legal to use. A turkey must be checked in the county where taken by 8 p.m. on the day the bird is shot.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife advises turkey hunters to wear hunter orange clothing when entering, leaving or moving through hunting areas to remain visible to others.

Note too that 2009-2010 licenses will not be printed on weatherproof paper, so be sure to protect licenses and permits by carrying them in a protective pouch or wallet.

Additional details regarding fall wild turkey hunting and safety information can be found in Publication 85, Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations or at wildohio.com.

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Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, a ministry that provides nutritious venison to the hungry through food banks and local feeding programs has six participating coordinators in northwest Ohio.

FHFH helps hunters return to their heritage as food-providers by transforming deer into meals for the hungry.

The following coordinators can be contacted to arrange deer donations:

Crawford County, Rick Houseburg 419-566-3104, or e-mail elkhunter692000@yahoo.com; Defiance County, Ken Baird 419-542-2015 or kntbaird@verizon.net; Erie County, Pete Banks 440-988-5495, or pete@fhfh.org.

Also, Lucas, Wood, Fulton, Hardin and Ottawa counties, Allen Dunlap 419-466-4143 or adunlap@buckeye-express.com, and Arthur Dunlap, 419-360-4080 or pendragun1@aol.com; Paulding and Van Wert counties, Sherri Good 419-399-3645 or buckeyeareafhfh@yahoo.com.

The FHFH program is simple: Successful hunters donate deer to partnering butcher shops that are licensed and inspected by the health department or USDA. Regional food banks as well as local feeding programs and ministries that feed the hungry pick up the packaged, frozen meat from the butcher shop.

Local FHFH chapters raise money to cover the butchering costs so that hunters can donate their deer free of charge. FHFH then matches that amount with grant monies from the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

FHFH began in 1997 and blossomed from one Maryland County to over half of the states in the nation.

Since its inception, FHFH has provided nutritious meat for millions of meals to the food banks and agencies that serve the poor across the country. FHFH is a 501(c)(3) organization. All contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Anyone interested in becoming a local Ohio FHFH coordinator or a participating meat processor should visit the "Local FHFH" page at fhfh.org.

Hunter education number - To register for the hunter education course being offered by the Wood/Lucas Chapter, Pheasants Forever, Oct. 12 through 15, call 419-353-3171.

An incorrect number appeared in an item on the course in this space on Sunday.

Contact Steve Pollick at:

spollick@theblade.com

or 419-724-6068.



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