Home News Ohio Hunters Anticipate Spring Wild Turkey Seasons

Ohio Hunters Anticipate Spring Wild Turkey Seasons


COLUMBUS, Ohio – With spring on the horizon, Ohio hunters are eagerly preparing for the upcoming wild turkey seasons set to commence in April, reports the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The spring turkey season, a cherished tradition dating back to 1966, is a highlight for hunters across the state.

The 2024 youth wild turkey hunting season is scheduled for Saturday, April 13, and Sunday, April 14. Following this, Ohio’s regular seasons will unfold across two zones: the south zone opens to hunters on Saturday, April 20, while the northeast zone (encompassing Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull counties) kicks off on Saturday, April 27. Hunters are reminded that the season limit remains at one bearded turkey per individual.

During the 2023 spring turkey seasons, hunters achieved a harvest of 15,673 birds. Notably, young hunters accounted for 1,823 turkeys checked during the dedicated two-day youth season. Typically, counties abundant in forested habitat, primarily in the eastern and southern regions, record the highest harvest numbers. In 2023, the top five counties for turkey harvest were Ashtabula (454 birds taken), Gallia (428), Muskingum (420), Monroe (410), and Tuscarawas (408).

The resurgence of the wild turkey population in Ohio stands as one of the state’s most remarkable wildlife success stories. Once extirpated around 1904, the Division of Wildlife embarked on a mission to reintroduce wild turkeys in the 1950s. Over the ensuing decades, facilitated by trap-and-transfer efforts, the wild turkey population flourished. By 1999, wild turkeys were thriving in all 88 counties of Ohio.

Ongoing Research and Management Efforts

To ensure the continued prosperity of Ohio’s wild turkey population, the Division of Wildlife conducts extensive research initiatives. Annual brood surveys provide critical data on young turkeys, known as poults. Recent surveys from 2021 to 2023 have shown above-average results, with an observed statewide average of 2.8 poults per hen in 2023.

In collaboration with researchers from Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, the Division of Wildlife is also studying the nesting behaviors and survival rates of hen turkeys in eastern Ohio. Last year, 49 hens were fitted with GPS transmitters to gather information on their movements and nest activity, with a further 137 hens being tracked this year.

Additionally, biologists are investigating the gobbling frequency and timing of male wild turkeys. By placing recorders in strategic locations across the state, researchers aim to understand the factors influencing gobbling behavior. Preliminary results from 2023 suggest that gobbling peaks in late April, with a secondary peak in early May.

Turkey Hunting Regulations and Reporting

As the spring turkey seasons approach, hunters are reminded of the regulations in place. Youth hunters aged 17 and under can participate in the two-day youth hunting season with a valid youth hunting license ($10) and turkey permit ($16). They must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult during this period.

Throughout the regular seasons, hunting hours are from 30 minutes before sunrise until noon for the initial nine days, extending until sunset for the remainder of the season. The season concludes on Sunday, May 19, in the south zone and Sunday, May 26, in the northeast zone.

Hunters are required to game check their harvested bird no later than 11:30 p.m. on the day of harvest. The Division of Wildlife offers an automated game check system accessible online, via mobile app, phone, or at participating license agents. Reporting harvested birds aids in monitoring population trends and informs management decisions.

The Division of Wildlife remains committed to conserving and enhancing Ohio’s fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for future generations.