One of the joys of an Ohio spring is hearing a wild turkey gobble. Beginning in April, hunters have the chance to experience this phenomenon up close when turkey hunting seasons open, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
Ohio’s 2022 youth wild turkey hunting season is Saturday, April 9, and Sunday, April 10. Following the youth season, Ohio is divided into two zones for the remainder of spring hunting: a south zone, which opens to hunters on Saturday, April 23, and a northeast zone, which opens to hunters on Saturday, April 30.
Ohio hunters harvested 14,546 wild turkeys during the 2021 spring season. Included in that total are the 1,463 turkeys checked during the two-day youth season. Eastern and southern counties typically record the highest number of harvested birds. The top 10 counties in 2021 were: Columbiana (454), Belmont (444), Meigs (437), Tuscarawas (417), Jefferson (408), Monroe (408), Ashtabula (401), Washington (398), Guernsey (378), and Muskingum (373).
The upcoming youth-only turkey season is for those with a valid youth hunting license and turkey permit. Youth hunters are required to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult, 18 years of age or older. Hunting hours during the two-day youth season are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
Wild turkeys were extirpated in Ohio by 1904 and were reintroduced in the 1950s by the Division of Wildlife. Ohio’s first modern day turkey season opened in 1966 in nine counties, and hunters checked 12 birds. The turkey harvest topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984. Spring turkey hunting opened statewide in 2000, and Ohio hunters checked more than 20,000 turkeys for the first time that year.
The 2022 spring wild turkey season ends on Sunday, May 22, in the south zone, and Sunday, May 29, in the northeast zone (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull counties). The spring and youth seasons are open statewide, except for Lake La Su An Wildlife Area in Williams County, which requires a special hunting permit.
Because of lower numbers across the state, the spring hunting season limit is one bearded wild turkey this year. A turkey is required to be checked no later than 11:30 p.m. the day of harvest using the automated game-check system, which is available at wildohio.gov, through the HuntFish OH app, by phone at 877-TAG-IT-OH (877-824-4864), or at a participating license agent.
The free HuntFish OH mobile app provides convenient resources while out in the field beyond the game check. HuntFish OH is available for Android and iOS users through the app store. When a hunter checks game without a clear signal, information is recorded and stored until the hunter moves to a location with better reception. Users can also purchase licenses and permits and view wildlife area maps through the app.
• A volunteer-driven sandhill crane count is attempting to locate breeding birds in Ohio on Saturday, April 9, from 6:30-8:30 a.m., according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. This project is part of the Midwest Crane Count and is coordinated by the Division of Wildlife, International Crane Foundation, and Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative.
The sandhill crane is listed as threatened in Ohio, but their population has been increasing in recent years. Sandhills can be quite secretive during their nesting season, and the count is an effort to better track Ohio’s breeding crane population.
This year’s count will occur in the counties of Ashland, Columbiana, Delaware, Erie, Franklin, Fulton, Geauga, Hardin, Holmes, Knox, Logan, Lucas, Marion, Ottawa, Pickaway, Richland, Sandusky, Summit, Trumbull, Wayne, Wyandot, and Williams. Sandhill cranes typically breed near wetland areas such as wet meadows, shallow marshes, and bogs.
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact a county coordinator. The time commitment includes the time it takes to scout an area, a virtual training, and the morning count. Birders of all abilities who can identify a sandhill crane can participate. A vehicle is also required. Participation in pairs and some experience using eBird is preferred.
• Although Mother Nature has given us some glimpses of spring, she can’t seem to let go of winter. The area’s ponds and lakes are still showing water temperatures in the forties making fishing a struggle . Hopefully, the weather will turn soon and the water temperature will get into the fifties and we can start catching some fish.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.