COLUMBUS – A popular spring tradition since 1966, Ohio’s wild turkey hunting seasons begin this month, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. This spring, hunters will benefit from two years of above average turkey hatches.
Each summer, the Division of Wildlife collects information on young wild turkeys, called poults. Brood surveys in 2021 and 2022 show above average results that will benefit Ohio’s wild turkey population numbers this spring. The average poults per hen observed was 3.0 in 2022 and 3.1 in 2021, with a 10-year average of 2.7.
Ohio’s 2023 youth wild turkey hunting season will be Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16. Ohio’s regular seasons are divided into two zones: the south zone, which opens to hunters on Saturday, April 22, and the northeast zone (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull counties), which opens to hunters on Saturday, April 29. The season limit is one bearded turkey.
Hunters harvested 11,872 wild turkeys in Ohio during the 2022 spring seasons. Among those were 1,103 turkeys checked by young hunters during the two-day youth season. Eastern and southern counties, where forested habitat is most abundant, typically record the highest number of harvests. The top five counties in 2022 were Ashtabula (348 birds taken), Tuscarawas (338), Belmont (314), Guernsey (312), and Columbiana (309).
During the upcoming two-day youth hunting season, hunters ages 17 and under can participate with a valid youth hunting license ($10 for a one-year license) and youth turkey permit ($16). Licenses and permits can be purchased on the Ohio Wildlife Licensing System, via the HuntFish OH mobile app, or at participating license sales agents. Youth hunters are required to be accompanied by a nonhunting adult, 18 years of age or older. Hunting hours during the youth season are 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset.
In both the south zone and northeast zone, turkey hunting hours for the first nine days of the season are from 30 minutes before sunrise until noon. For the remainder of the season, hours are extended until sunset. The season ends in the south zone on Sunday, May 21, and in the northeast zone on Sunday, May 28. Turkey hunters are required to have a valid hunting license and spring turkey permit, unless exempted. Find more information in the current hunting and trapping regulations.
In youth and statewide seasons, hunters are required to game check their harvested bird no later than 11:30 p.m. on the day it was taken. The Division of Wildlife’s automated game check system is available on wildohio.gov, on the HuntFish OH mobile app, by phone at 877-TAG-IT-OH (877-824-4864), or at a participating license agent. Reporting your harvest allows the Division of Wildlife to monitor wild turkey populations from year to year and impacts management decisions on wild turkeys.
New to turkey hunting? Visit the Wild Ohio Harvest Community page for information on how to get started, hunting-related workshops, special hunting opportunities for mentors and new hunters, and wild game recipes. New hunters, both adults and youth, can purchase an apprentice hunting license to gain experience alongside a licensed hunter without having completed a hunter education course.
In 2023, the Division of Wildlife celebrates 150 years of professional fish and wildlife conservation since it was founded as the Ohio Fish Commission in 1873. Once extirpated from Ohio, wild turkeys were restored to the state by the Division of Wildlife beginning in 1956. Ohio’s first modern turkey hunting season opened in 1966 in nine counties, and a statewide season began in 2000.
The mission of the Division of Wildlife is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. Visit wildohio.gov to find out more.
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.