COLUMBUS, OH - Spring wild turkey hunting opens in all 88 Ohio counties on Monday, April 20, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The season continues through Sunday, May 17.
"Based on brood observations, hunters can expect statewide harvest numbers that are similar to last year," said ODNR wildlife biologist Mike Reynolds. "However, counties in southern Ohio that experienced a 17-year cicada emergence last summer may see a noticeable increase in jakes this spring due to high brood survival."
Hunters harvested 20,389 wild turkeys during last year's youth and spring turkey seasons.
Reynolds added that Ohio's current wild turkey population is around 200,000. He anticipates as many as 75,000 people, not counting private landowners hunting on their own property, will enjoy Ohio's popular spring wild turkey season.
A special youth-only turkey hunt for those ages 17 and younger will be held on Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19. Young hunters must have their hunting licenses and spring wild turkey permits in order to participate and must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older. The young hunter's turkey season is open statewide with the exception of Lake LaSuAn State Wildlife Area in Williams County. Legal hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to sunset each day during the two-day youth season.
The wild turkey is Ohio's largest game bird. It stands 3 to 4 feet tall and may weigh up to 27 pounds. Legal hunting hours for the regular spring season are one-half hour before sunrise until noon. Hunters are required to have a hunting license and a spring turkey-hunting permit and can take one bearded turkey per day. A second spring turkey permit can be purchased, allowing hunters to take a limit of two bearded wild turkeys.
Shotguns using shot, longbows and crossbows may be used to hunt wild turkeys. It is unlawful to hunt turkeys over bait, to use a live decoy or electronic calling device, or to shoot a wild turkey while it is in a tree. A wild turkey must be properly tagged and taken to an official check station by 2 p.m. on the day it is harvested.
The 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. Additional turkey hunting information is available at wildlife.ohiodnr.gov.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR web site at http://ohiodnr.gov.
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Steve Hickoff is Realtree.com's editorial director and turkey hunting editor. He’s been beaten by more birds than he can remember. Still he kills enough to eat well, and fool with beards, spurs and fans until the next season. Pennsylvania born and raised, Maine is his home base now. A full-time outdoor communicator with a couple university writing degrees, he chases spring gobblers and fall flocks around the country.