Ohio's wild turkey hunters will experience the first real test of the state's new electronic game checking system when the month-long spring gobbler season begins on Monday.
With the new system, hunters no longer will be required to take their birds to check stations for physical inspection, the Ohio Division of Wildlife says. Come fall, deer hunters will be required to perform similar checks.
Successful hunters will have three options to complete the new automated game check:
■ On the Internet at wildohio.com or ohiogamecheck.com
■ By telephone at 1-877-TAG-ITOH (1-877-824-4864) This option is only available to those who are required to purchase a turkey permit to hunt.
■ At all license agents, a list of whom can be found at on-line at wildohio.com
Game-check transactions can be made online and by telephone seven days a week and during holidays. License agents' locations will be available for turkey check-in during normal business hours, so call for hours of operation. All turkeys must be checked in by 11 p.m. the day of kill.
Landowners in the hunt who are not required to purchase a spring turkey permit must use the Internet or any authorized license agent to check their birds. Hunters who tag their turkeys as landowner harvests cannot use the phone-in method.
Immediately after harvest, a hunter must detach the temporary tag from the permit, fill in the necessary information using a pen and attach it to the turkey. A landowner-hunter must create his own temporary tag and attach it immediately upon harvest. Once a turkey is temporary tagged, it legally can be transported.
On checking in, hunters will receive a game-check receipt with a permanent tag number. Hunters using the phone-in method will receive the number over the phone. This number must be written on the permanent tag on the turkey permit by all hunters. Hunters must then fill in the date and time of kill and sign the permanent tag, then detach the permanent tag from the turkey permit and attach it to the bird. The temporary tag can be discarded.
The permanent paper tag must stay with the turkey as long as any part of the turkey is kept; it replaces the metal tag of years past. The license and permit paper is not waterproof and should be protected in a plastic bag or license holder.
When purchased from a license agent, licenses and permits will appear on the green, left hand side of the document and the remaining space will be printed with information relevant to the license or permit purchased.
Those hunters purchasing over the Internet will print licenses and permits on plain white paper. Cut along the vertical dotted line and then fold down to credit card size for easy carrying.
A customer identification number will be assigned to everyone using the division of wildlife's automated license sales and game check system. This number will be issued after a hunter provides the required information for a customer account. This unique number will be the hunter's customer ID number for as long as he buys licenses, permits, stamps, Wild Ohio magazine, or applies for a controlled hunt or fishing lottery.
Hunters can print and laminate customer cards with their names and customer ID numbers for later by logging onto wildohio.com and choosing the "Manage Your Customer Account" link. Hunting and trapping season dates and rules also can be found at that Web site.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that spring turkey licenses are still available for the 2011 spring season that begins Monday and run through May 31.
Hunts run from seven to 44 days, depending upon the hunt unit. Available licenses can be viewed at www.michigan.gov/huntdrawings. Licenses will be sold until quotas are met.
"Generally, turkey numbers are good across the state," said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. "More area is open to spring turkey hunting this year than ever before and people have many hunting opportunities."
More than 40,000 private-land only licenses are available for Hunt No. 301 (Unit ZZ), which includes most of southern Michigan. Those hunting private land should receive permission to hunt before purchasing a private-land only license.
Michigan residents can purchase a spring turkey license for $15, while seniors can purchase a spring turkey license for $6. To purchase licenses, go to www.mdnr-license.com or visit any license agent.
Walleye fishing action on western Lake Erie is well under way, as always weather pending.
Fish are being caught with hair jigs tipped with shiners in Maumee Bay, inshore off the reef complex in 8 to15 feet of water, and on the reefs in the Camp Perry firing range, the Ohio Division of Wildlife reports.
Trollers have caught fish along the northern and eastern buoys of the Camp Perry range, trolling stick baits. Yellow perch fishing is starting to pick up in traditional early spring spots in water depths ranging from 25 to 35 feet using minnows on perch spreaders fished near the bottom.
Action of the Maumee and Sandusky rivers remains good to excellent or better and should remain so through the weekend. Some fish on the Sandusky have moved upstream from between the downtown bridges to the Walsh and Rodger Young Park areas.
One of the biggest fish landed so far, 32 inches and 15 pounds, occurred Monday morning. It was taken by Joe Carnicom, Sr., of North Toledo, fishing with his son Joe, Jr., in the Maumee River at Orleans Park. Carnicom took the fish to Gary Nidek at True-To-Life Taxidermy in North Toledo for mounting.
Contact Steve Pollick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 4197246068