By kristine Gill
Turkey season opened to Ohio hunters April 18 with a new game-check system.
Now in addition to going in person to registered check sites, hunters can check their game remotely by phone or online.
As of the first week of the season, 42 percent of Ohio hunters checked game by phone, 31 percent went to a check station in person and 27 percent used the Internet, according to Vicki Ervin, communications manager with the Division of Wildlife.
A pilot test in the fall helped work out some kinks in the system and showed many hunters thought the new methods were an improvement.
“It really is working quite well so far,” Ervin said. “There are some little glitches.”
Ervin said hunters who use smart phones to access the internet check site must save a .pdf file that is generated to take home and print later. To view that .pdf, hunters must have Adobe Acrobat Reader version 5.2 or better.
The hope is to encourage more hunters to hunt now that checking their game is easier. When in the past, the long drive to a station may have deterred some. All turkeys must be checked by 11 p.m. the day of the kill.
When talk of the new system first began, many worried the change would affect the long-standing tradition of showing off a kill at check stations, especially during deer season. Business owners who operated those check stations thought sales would suffer.
And while about a third of hunters are still relying on local check stations, at least one owner has decided not to renew his check station license.
Sami Awadallah owns Lakers Inc. on Mahoning Avenue in Diamond. In the fall he worried about losing business from hunters who grabbed coffee or a snack while they waited in line to check deer. He recently decided not to renew his license for the season.
“We’re not doing anything here anymore because it’s all online,” he said. “There no use for it to be here. But we’re still actually getting people in here trying to check in, so I don’t know. I might change my mind and get our license back.”
As part of the new system, however, any location that sells a hunting license is now also a registered check station to give hunters more options. That includes places like Miller Rod & Gun Inc. in Youngstown which began checking turkey for the first time this season. So far, they’ve checked four turkeys.
About 10,000 turkeys have been bagged so far this season, Ervin said. In the three county area, Mahoning County had 85, Trumbull had 150 and Columbiana had 191 on opening day.
The season continues through May 15.