COLUMBUS — Youth wild turkey hunters across Ohio harvested 1,823 birds during the special youth-only hunting weekend, April 15-16, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
The season was open to hunters 17 and younger, and participants were required to be accompanied by a nonhunting adult. As of April 16, the division of wildlife has issued 5,941 youth turkey permits, which can be used throughout the 2023 wild turkey hunting season. The season limit is one bird and only bearded turkeys may be harvested.
The three-year average for wild turkeys taken during the two-day youth season (2020-2022) is 1,475 birds. In 2022, youth hunters harvested 1,103 turkeys on the corresponding weekend.
The top 10 counties for wild turkey harvest during the 2023 youth season were: Noble (66 turkeys harvested), Monroe (62), Muskingum (61), Washington (58), Jefferson (55), Belmont (54), Tuscarawas (52), Coshocton (51), Columbiana (50), and Gallia (48).
Turkey hunting opportunities for hunters of all ages begin April 22 in the state’s south zone, and April 29 in the northeast zone (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga and Trumbull counties). In the south zone, the season is open until May 21, while the northeast zone’s season concludes May 28.
In 2022, the top five counties for wild turkey harvest by the end of the season were Ashtabula (348), Tuscarawas (338), Belmont (314), Guernsey (312), and Columbiana (309).
Hunters are required to have a valid hunting license in addition to a spring turkey permit, unless exempted. Successful hunters are required to game-check their turkey no later than 11:30 p.m. on the day of harvest. Game check, licenses, and permits are available on the HuntFish OH app, on the Ohio Wildlife Licensing System or at a participating license agent. Game check can also be done by phone at 877-824-4864.
From 2017 to 2020, below-average reproductive success contributed to a decline in the wild turkey population in many areas of the state. The statewide wild turkey reproductive index recorded a positive turn in 2021 with 3.1 poults per hen, which is above the 10-year average of 2.7 poults per hen. In 2022, the reproductive index was again above average, with 3 poults per hen recorded.
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