COLUMBUS, OH – For many hunters, spring in Ohio brings the unmistakable sound of gobbling wild turkeys as Ohio’s annual hunt of this popular game bird begins. The 2015 Ohio spring hunting season opens Monday, April 20, with the youth wild turkey season on Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
Hunters harvested 16,556 wild turkeys during the 2014 youth and spring turkey seasons. The total checked in 2013 was 18,391 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 17. 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 are required to make their own game tag to attach to a 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. Go to the Turkey Hunting Resources page at wildohio.gov for more information about the game check process.
All hunters must report their turkey harvest using the automated game-check system. Game-check transactions are available online and by phone seven days a week, including holidays. Hunters with a turkey permit have three options to complete the game check:
•Online at ohiogamecheck.com;
•Call 877-TAG-ITOH (824-4864); or
•Visit a license agent. A list of agents can be found at wildohio.gov or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).
Landowners exempt from purchasing a turkey permit, and others not required to purchase a turkey permit, cannot use the 877-TAG-ITOH option. Landowners and others not required to obtain a permit have the following game-check options:
•Online at ohiogamecheck.com;
•Visit a license agent; or
•Call 866-703-1928 for operator assisted landowner game-check (a convenience fee of $5.50 applies).
Hunters are required to have a hunting license and a spring turkey hunting permit (exceptions are listed in the current Hunting Digest). 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 no later than 11:30 p.m. the day of harvest.
The youth-only turkey hunt is April 18-19 for youth possessing a valid youth hunting license and youth turkey permit (exceptions are listed in the current Hunting Digest). Youth hunters must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult, 18 years of age or older. Only two wild turkeys may be checked by a youth hunter during the two-day season. Additionally, if two turkeys are harvested in the youth season, no additional birds may be taken by the youth hunter for the duration of the season.
Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon from April 20-May 3. Hunting hours from May 4-17 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 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 165,000.
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.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov
© 2015 – 2016, Newspaper Staff. All rights reserved.