This year’s spring wild turkey season opens in all 88 Ohio counties on Monday, April 23 and continues through Sunday, May 20, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
“Ohio has again experienced a record low wild turkey hatch, with last year’s nesting season negatively impacted by rainfall and flooding,” said ODNR Wildlife Biologist Mike Reynolds. “The early onset of spring-like weather and green vegetation could make it harder for hunters to see and hear turkeys, creating challenging hunting conditions this season.”
Wild turkey breeding activity is largely controlled by the increasing amount of daylight. Typically in southeast Ohio, hens start incubating nests on May 1.
Hunters harvested 18,162 wild turkeys during last year’s youth and spring turkey seasons. Ohio’s current wild turkey population is more than 180,000. ODNR anticipates as many as 70,000 licensed hunters, 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 possessing a valid youth hunting license and youth turkey permit will be held April 21-22. Young hunters 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 La Su An State Wildlife Area in Williams County, which requires a special hunting permit. Legal hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to sunset each day during the two-day youth season.
All hunters must report their harvest of turkeys, but they are no longer required to take their turkey to a check station for physical inspection. Hunters will have three options to complete the automated game check:
- Online at www.wildohio.com or www.ohiogamecheck.com;
- By telephone at 877-TAG-ITOH (877-824-4864);
- At all license agents. A list of agents can be found at wildohio.com or by calling 800-WILDLIFE.
Game-check transactions will be available online and by telephone seven days a week and during holidays. Landowner hunters who are not required to purchase a fall turkey permit must use the website or a license agent to check their turkey, but cannot use the phone-in method.
Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon from April 23 to May 6. Hunting hours from May 7-20 will be a half-hour before sunrise to sunset. An incorrect start date for the all day turkey hunting hours was printed in the 2011-12 Hunting Regulations booklet. The first day for all day hunting is May 7.
Hunters are required to have a hunting license and a spring turkey-hunting permit. They can also 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. Turkeys must be checked by 11:30 p.m. the day of harvest.
Hunters may use shotguns, longbows and crossbows to hunt wild turkeys; however, it is unlawful to hunt turkeys using bait, live decoys or electronic calling devices or to shoot a wild turkey while it is in a tree.
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.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.com.