Youth turkey weekend numbers down this year


Ohio’s youth wild turkey hunters braved blustery spring weather with rain and snow showers to check 1,103 birds during the special hunting weekend on April 9-10, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. The three-year average for turkeys taken during the two-day youth season is 1,545. In 2021, youth hunters harvested 1,473 turkeys.

The two-day season was open to hunters 17 years old and younger, and participants were required to be accompanied by a nonhunting adult. As of April 10, the Division of Wildlife has issued 5,707 youth wild turkey permits, which can be used for the remainder of the 2022 spring hunting season. The 2022 spring season limit is one bearded turkey for all hunters.

Ohio offers many more opportunities for hunters of all ages to pursue wild turkeys. The state has two zones for spring wild turkey hunting following the youth season: the south zone and the northeast zone. The 2022 season dates for the south zone are from Saturday, April 23 to Sunday, May 22. The northeast zone is open from Saturday, April 30 to Sunday, May 29. Hunters are required to have a hunting license in addition to a spring permit. Find complete details in the 2021-22 Ohio hunting and trapping regulations booklet.

In the fall of 2021, the Ohio Wildlife Council approved a reduction to the spring wild turkey season limit from two bearded birds to one. Wild turkey numbers have slowly declined in many areas around the state following several years of below-average reproductive success. The statewide wild turkey reproductive index recorded a positive turn in summer 2021 was 3.1 poults per hen, which is above the 10-year average of 2.7 poults per hen.

• The Ohio Wildlife Council approved an amended proposal for the upcoming 2022 fall wild turkey hunting season dates during its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, April 13, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. The council also approved an amended white-tailed deer archery season opener in a three-county disease surveillance area in north-central Ohio.

This year’s fall wild turkey hunting will run from Saturday, Oct. 8 until Sunday, Nov. 13 for a 37-day season. Last year’s season was 52 days. The season limit is one wild turkey of either sex. These season dates were amended based on comments from fall turkey hunters. A 37-day season matches the length of Ohio’s spring turkey hunting season when the south and northeast zones are combined. Fall turkey hunting is open in 70 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

The 2022-23 deer hunting dates are similar to last season. As in years past, only one antlered deer may be harvested, regardless of where or how it is taken, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit. The deer hunting season dates for 2022-23 include: Deer archery: Sept. 24-Feb. 5.Youth deer gun: Nov. 19-20. Deer gun: Nov. 28-Dec. 4; Dec. 17-18; Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 7-10. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

Bag limits will increase in 18 counties. Three counties will increase to two deer (from one deer): Clinton, Fayette, and Pickaway. Fifteen counties will increase to three deer (from two deer): Allen, Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Mercer, Miami, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Preble, Putnam, Shelby, Van Wert, and Washington. Deer bag limit increases are designed to slow herd growth and provide additional hunting opportunities.

A disease surveillance area was established following the 2020 discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in two deer in Wyandot County. Further testing revealed eight more CWD-positive deer in 2021. The Division of Wildlife has implemented additional measures to increase the deer harvest, decrease the possibility of disease transmission, and limit the spread of CWD in Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties. CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer and other similar species.

Deer archery hunting in the CWD surveillance area comprised of Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties will begin on Saturday, Sept. 10. The original proposed start date of Sept. 1 was amended following feedback from hunters and landowners. Deer seasons in the disease surveillance area: Deer archery: Sept. 10-Feb. 5. Early deer gun: Oct. 8-10. Youth deer gun: Nov. 19-20. Deer gun: Nov. 28-Dec. 4; Dec. 17-18. Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 7-10. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

The spring 2023 turkey hunting dates: Youth season: April 15-16, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. South zone: April 22-30, 30 minutes before sunrise to noon. May 1-21, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. Northeast zone: April 29-May 7, 30 minutes before sunrise to noon. May 8-28, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

The definition of a crossbow was updated to include new limb configurations and stock lengths. This will allow newer crossbow designs that are shorter and have differing limb configurations. A shoulder-mount stock is still required for a crossbow.

Restrictions were removed for carrying a concealed firearm while hunting. A person may carry and hunt with a legally concealed firearm, so long as the firearm meets existing regulations.

Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!

Water and Wings by Ken Parrott

Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.

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