May Brings More than Showers to Outdoorsmen

Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni

There’s a lot going on in May for the serious outdoorsman and for families and individuals who just like being outside. First, it’s prime time for the spring fishing season. The weather is starting to settle down, fishing is more consistent, and all species seem to be cooperating and on schedule. Serious fishermen know that and are taking advantage of what, so far, has been a late spring. Back in the day, the best time to fish was when corn planting started. Of course, that was usually a lot later than it is now. Regardless, the state recognizes that early May is a good time to fish and schedules its free fishing weekend to give Ohioans of all ages the chance to catch a fish. This Saturday and Sunday, May 5-6, anglers 16-years old or older don’t need to have a fishing license. This is the only free fishing weekend of the year. For some, it’s a chance to remember the past. For others, it’s an opportunity to experience something new. One thing for sure, if the weather cooperates, a lot of families will take advantage of the benefit. It’s a great opportunity to introduce youngsters to the sport. Just make sure they have a good time, and for your own sanity, keep it simple, consider the age of your kids, bring a camera and lots of snacks, and be patient. Plan on untangling lines, baiting hooks, and catching fish, big or small. As a suggestion, when fishing with younger kids, take a pair of pliers and pinch the barb of the hook flat. Young ones have been known to get accidentally stuck, and removing a hook is much easier without the barb. Believe it or not, fish can be caught with a barbless hook and are much easier to remove and return to the water, if that’s the plan.

Local turkey hunters are also getting an early May bonus. According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife, over 10,400 turkeys were tagged across the state during the first week of the season. In many counties with large turkey populations, there was an increase in harvested birds over last year. In Auglaize and surrounding counties, especially north, there was a decrease in birds taken compared to last year. The logical conclusion might be there are fewer birds in an area that already has a small population. According to the experienced turkey hunters I’ve talked to, that’s not the case. They say the late spring season delayed breeding, and the gobblers were still henned up. That means the gobbler will follow the hens wherever they take him. Once the hens are on the nest, the gobblers will once more be looking for interested hens. The gobblers should be a lot more responsive to the call, assuming the hunter knows how to use a call.

Local turkey hunters are expecting some of the best hunting around here and points north during the remainder of the season. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset from May 7-20. Hunters are required to have a hunting license and a spring turkey hunting permit. The spring season bag limit is two bearded turkeys. Hunters can harvest one bearded turkey per day, and a second spring turkey permit can be purchased at any time throughout the spring turkey season. Turkeys must be checked by 11:30 p.m. the day of harvest. The Ohio Division of Wildlife advises turkey hunters to wear hunter orange clothing when entering, leaving or moving through hunting areas in order to remain visible to others. The same applies to anyone walking around the woods during a hunting season, especially turkey and deer.

It’s hard to imagine who might be walking around in the woods during the turkey season other than turkey hunters, but mushroom hunters come to mind. The first week of May is an excellent time to hunt mushrooms, especially if the weather cooperates. Although this is rarely quality mushroom country, with the right amount of warmth and rain, there is that special year when morels, the area’s favorite mushroom, can be found in quantity. Even in a good year, it does take a degree of skill to be a decent mushroom hunter. For example, I’ve been told that spongy ground is a good place to start looking. Sloping ground is also a good for for mushrooms. Occasionally, mushroom hunters who think outside the box don’t get skunked. Old apple orchards have possibilities as do old rail-way beds. The easiest way to become a good mushroomer is to associate yourself with people who know what they’re doing.  Mushroom hunters are a secretive lot, but getting one to help you might not be that difficult. Mushroom hunting is a confidence builder and what you learn in the field will be worth the effort.

There are a lot of ways for people to enjoy the outdoors in early May. If none of what I mentioned strikes your fancy, just get outside and enjoy the fresh air and warm breezes that only spring can provide. It’s worth the effort.