Hunting News

Hunters check 15,673 turkeys during spring season

Hunters check 15,673 turkeys during spring season

By Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Wild turkey hunters checked 15,673 birds during the spring season which concluded May 28. The total statewide harvest represents all turkeys checked from April 22 to May 28, including 1,823 turkeys taken during the youth season April 15-16.

During the 2022 season, the total number of turkeys checked was 11,872. The three-year average (2020, 2021, and 2022) for the spring turkey season is 14,772. Hunters were required to record their harvest using the state’s game check system. The top 10 counties for wild turkey harvest in the 2023 season were Ashtabula (454), Gallia (428), Muskingum (420), Monroe (410), Tuscarawas (408), Belmont (398), Coshocton (382), Adams (378), Jefferson (374), and Washington (369).

Adult male turkeys made up 84% of the final count with 13,153 birds taken. Following an above-average brood production summer in 2021, biologists expected a high proportion of 2-year-old birds in the total harvest this spring. Hunters checked 2,354 juvenile male turkeys in 2023, representing 15% of birds taken. Turkey hunters also checked 166 bearded female turkeys (hens) during the 2023 season. The Division of Wildlife issued 50,174 spring turkey permits for use during the spring hunting season. Ohio’s spring turkey season is split into two zones to align with the timing of turkey nesting in those regions. The northeast zone includes Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull counties. In 2023, 1,105 turkeys were checked in the northeast zone, while 14,568 birds were taken in the rest of the state.

Wild turkey harvests were higher in 2023, likely a result of two years of above-average summer brood production. Statewide, turkey populations are lower than they were in the early 2000s. The Division of Wildlife began an in-depth study of wild turkey nesting and movement in 2023 to better understand and manage the state’s changing turkey population. Several factors play a role in fluctuating turkey populations, including weather events, predation, disease, and reproductive success.

Each summer, the Division of Wildlife conducts a turkey brood survey to estimate population changes, s largely based on public reports. The Division of Wildlife encourages people to submit observations of wild turkeys during July and August.

The Division of Wildlife began an extensive program in the 1950s to restore wild turkeys to the state after they were extirpated in the early 1900s. Ohio’s first modern day wild turkey hunting season opened in 1966 in nine counties, and hunters checked 12 birds. The total number of harvested turkeys topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984. Turkey hunting was opened statewide in 2000. The highest Ohio wild turkey harvest was in 2001, when hunters checked 26,156 birds.

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