Wild turkey season underway

Water and Wings by Ken Parrott

Ohio hunters checked 10,280 wild turkeys during the first week of the wild turkey hunting season, April 24-30.

New for the 2017 season, the state has been divided into two zones: a south zone, which opened April 24, and a northeast zone, which opened May 1. This two-zone season structure was established following a hunter survey and a two-year study of hens in the northeastern part of Ohio. Hunters can view the 2017 spring turkey season zone map and harvest regulations at wildohio.gov. In 2016 hunters checked 8,629 wild turkeys statewide during the first week of the season (in 2017, the northeast zone opened May 1).

Ohio’s spring wild turkey season is divided into two zones: a south zone, which is open from Monday, April 24 to Sunday, May 21, and a northeast zone, which is open from Monday, May 1 to Sunday, May 28.

Hunters are required to have a hunting license and a spring turkey hunting permit. The spring season bag limit is two bearded turkeys. Hunters can harvest one bearded turkey per day, and a second spring turkey permit can be purchased at any time throughout the spring turkey season. Turkeys must be checked by 11:30 p.m. the day of harvest.

Hunting hours in the south zone are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon from April 24-May 7 and 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset from May 8-21. Hunting hours in the northeast zone are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon from May 1-14 and 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset from May 15-28.

Hunters may use shotguns or archery equipment to hunt wild turkeys. It is unlawful to hunt turkeys using bait, live decoys or electronic calling devices or to shoot a wild turkey while it is in a tree.

Wild turkeys were extirpated in Ohio by 1904 and were reintroduced in the 1950s by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Ohio’s first modern day wild turkey season opened in 1966 in nine counties, and hunters checked 12 birds. The wild turkey harvest topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984. Spring turkey hunting opened statewide, except for Lake La Su An Wildlife Area, in 2000, and Ohio hunters checked more than 20,000 wild turkeys for the first time that year.

Many young hunters found success during Ohio’s 2017 youth spring wild turkey season after 1,895 birds were harvested. Hunters age 17 and under were eligible to participate in the two-day season, April 22-23. The total harvest was an increase from 2016, when 1,564 wild turkeys were checked. All participants were required to possess a valid Ohio youth hunting license, a spring turkey permit and be accompanied by a non-hunting adult. The youth turkey season was open statewide, with the exception of Lake La Su An State Wildlife Area in Williams County, which required a special hunting permit.

The youth spring turkey season is one of four special youth-only hunting seasons designed by the ODNR Division of Wildlife to offer a safe and productive early hunting experience for young hunters. Special seasons are also set aside for upland game, white-tailed deer and waterfowl hunting opportunities.

• The spring season has arrived, offering many opportunities for Ohioans to help protect young wildlife. Each year, ODNR officials offer this simple advice: enjoy wildlife from a distance, and leave young animals alone. Wild animals are born to live their lives in the wild, and sometimes good intentions can hurt their chances of survival.

A young wild animal’s best chance for survival is with its mother. Most wildlife taken in by people do not survive, except when handled by specially-trained personnel. In many cases, a young animal collected by a person was not lost or abandoned, but was simply waiting for a parent to return.

Many adult wild animals will leave their young alone while they forage for food or to divert the attention of predators away from their vulnerable young, especially during daylight hours. In the case of white-tailed deer, a doe will hide her young from predators by leaving it alone in a secluded spot, such as a grassy meadow or a flower bed. A hidden fawn has virtually no scent, and when the fawn is left alone, it is difficult for predators to find. The doe is usually nearby and will tend to the fawn during the night.

Baby birds that have fallen from their nests are one of the most common wildlife species that are removed from the wild by humans. Contrary to popular belief, human scent will not prevent the parents from returning to care for their young. Individuals should return baby birds back to their nests and walk away so the parents can continue to feed the birds without fear of humans.

If individuals find a young animal that is visibly injured or clearly in severe distress and may need assistance, visit wildohio.gov/staywild before taking any action. Specific information for commonly encountered wildlife species is available to help guide people on how to best help the animal.

State and federal laws protect and regulate wildlife in Ohio, and only specially trained and licensed wildlife rehabilitators, with special permits issued by the ODNR Division of Wildlife, may possess and care for native wild animals. These laws are in place for the benefit of humans as well as wild animals. Contact a local wildlife official before taking action. Call 800-WILDLIFE (800-945-3543) or visit wildohio.gov/staywild to connect with the proper individuals and to read about species-specific guidance. Human intervention is always a wild animal’s last hope for survival, never its best hope.

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.

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