For many hunters, spring in Ohio brings the unmistakable sound of gobbling wild turkeys and Ohio's annual hunt of this popular game bird. The 2014 Ohio spring hunting season opens Monday, with the youth wild turkey season on Saturday and Sunday, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
Wild turkeys have benefited from good spring weather in 2012 and 2013, and Ohio has experienced two above average hatch years. This should result in many 2-year-old toms (male turkeys) and jakes (1-year-old male turkeys) in the woods. Past Ohio wild turkey hunting seasons have seen increased harvests with greater numbers of 2-year-old toms.
Hunters harvested 18,391 wild turkeys during the 2013 youth and spring turkey seasons. The total checked in 2012 was 17,657 wild turkeys.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife anticipates approximately 70,000 licensed hunters, not counting exempt landowners hunting on their own property, will enjoy Ohio's popular spring wild turkey season before it ends on Sunday, May 18. The spring and youth turkey seasons are open statewide with the exception of Lake La Su An Wildlife Area in Williams County, which requires a special hunting permit.
Hunters will need to make their own game tag to attach to a wild turkey. Game tags can be made of any material (cardboard, plastic, paper, etc.) as long as it contains the hunter's name, date, time and county of the kill. Hunters also need to write this information on the wild turkey permit immediately after harvesting a bird.
Go to the Turkey Hunting Resources page at wildohio.com for more information on changes to the game check process.
All hunters must report their turkey harvest using the automated game-check system. Hunters have three options to complete the game check:
* Online at ohiogamecheck.com. This website is mobile-friendly;
* Call 877-TAG-ITOH (824-4864);
* Visit a license agent. A list of agents can be found at wildohio.com or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).
Game-check transactions are available online and by telephone seven days a week and during holidays. Landowners exempt from purchasing a turkey permit, and any other person not required to purchase a turkey permit, cannot use the phone-in option.
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 youth-only turkey hunt is April 19-20 for those possessing a valid youth hunting license and youth turkey permit. Youth hunters must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult, 18 years of age or older. Only one wild turkey may be checked by a youth hunter during the two-day season.
Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon from April 21-May 4. Hunting hours from May 5-18 will be 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset during the two-day youth season.
Hunters may use shotguns or archery equipment to hunt wild turkeys. 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 ODNR 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.
Wild turkey breeding activity is primarily controlled by the increasing amount of daylight. Hens typically start incubating eggs around May 1 in Ohio. Ohio's current wild turkey population is approximately 180,000.
Wild turkeys were extirpated in Ohio by 1904 and were reintroduced in the 1950s by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Ohio's first modern day wild turkey season opened in 1966 in nine counties, and hunters checked 12 birds. The wild turkey harvest topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984. Spring turkey hunting opened statewide in 2000, and Ohio hunters checked more than 20,000 wild turkeys for the first time that year.