For many hunters, spring in Ohio brings the unmistakable sound of gobbling wild turkeys and Ohio’s annual hunt of this popular game bird. The 2014 Ohio spring hunting season opened Monday, April 21, with the youth wild turkey season on Saturday and Sunday, April 19-20. The youth turkey hunters finally had a good weekend of weather for a change and although the breeding season is a tad behind thanks to late arrival of spring, the birds are actively breeding now.
The wild turkeys have benefited from good spring weather in 2012 and 2013, and Ohio has experienced two above average hatch years. This should result in many 2-year-old toms (male turkeys) and jakes (1-year-old male turkeys) in the woods. Past Ohio wild turkey hunting seasons have seen increased harvests with greater numbers of 2-year-old toms. Hunters harvested 18,391 wild turkeys during the 2013 youth and spring turkey seasons. The total checked in 2012 was 17,657 wild turkeys.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife anticipates approximately 70,000 licensed hunters, not counting exempt landowners hunting on their own property, will enjoy Ohio’s popular spring wild turkey season before it ends on Sunday, May 18. The spring and youth turkey seasons are open statewide with the exception of Lake La Su An Wildlife Area in Williams County, which requires a special hunting permit.
Hunters will need to make their own game tag to attach to a wild turkey. Game tags can be made of any material (cardboard, plastic, paper, etc.) as long as it contains the hunter’s name, date, time and county of the kill. Hunters also need to write this information on the wild turkey permit immediately after harvesting a bird.
Go to the Turkey Hunting Resources page at wildohio.com for more information on changes to the game check process. All hunters must report their turkey harvest using the automated game-check system. Hunters have three options to complete the game check: Online at ohiogamecheck.com. This website is mobile-friendly; Call 877-TAG-ITOH (824-4864); Visit a license agent. A list of agents can be found at wildohio.com or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).
Game-check transactions are available online and by telephone seven days a week and during holidays. Landowners exempt from purchasing a turkey permit, and any other person not required to purchase a turkey permit, cannot use the phone-in option.
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 are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon from April 21-May 4. Hunting hours from May 5-18 will be 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset during the two-day youth season.
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. The ODNR Division of Wildlife advises turkey hunters to wear hunter orange clothing when entering, leaving or moving through hunting areas in order to remain visible to others.
Wild turkey breeding activity is primarily controlled by the increasing amount of daylight. Hens typically start incubating eggs around May 1 in Ohio. Ohio’s current wild turkey population is approximately 180,000. 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 in 2000, and Ohio hunters checked more than 20,000 wild turkeys for the first time that year.
• The Ohio Wildlife Council approved new white-tailed deer hunting regulations at its meeting on Wednesday, April 9. Among new regulations are decreased deer bag limits in many counties, and hunters may use straight-walled cartridge rifles during the 2014 deer-gun week. The council also voted to remove bobcats from Ohio’s list of threatened species.
The Ohio Wildlife Council voted to approve deer hunting proposals prepared by ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists. The 2014-2015 deer hunting season dates will remain largely consistent with previous years. One change in season dates included adjusting deer-muzzleloader season to begin on Friday, Jan. 2, 2015, and end on Monday, Jan. 5, compared to last year when the season began on a Saturday and concluded on a Tuesday. The October antlerless deer-muzzleloader weekend will be held for the second year.
Deer hunting seasons for 2014-2015: Deer archery: Sept. 27, 2014 - Feb. 1, 2015. Antlerless deer muzzleloader: Oct. 11-12, 2014. Youth deer gun: Nov. 22-23, 2014. Deer gun: Dec. 1-7, 2014. Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 2-5, 2015.
The Ohio Wildlife Council also approved changes to Ohio’s list of endangered and threatened species. The bobcat, previously threatened, was removed from the list. Bobcats are still considered a protected species in Ohio with no hunting or trapping season. The snowshoe hare was changed to a species of concern, Bewick’s wren was changed to extirpated and smooth greensnakes were changed to endangered.
Small-game hunting and furbearer trapping season dates were also passed on Wednesday. Season dates and bag limits for migratory birds, including mourning dove, Canada goose, rail, moorhen, snipe, woodcock and waterfowl will be set in August in compliance with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s framework.
Deer bag limits reflect the reduction in the deer population in many counties as numbers continue to move closer to target levels. Bag limits were reduced in 44 counties, increased in five counties and 39 counties stayed the same as last season. Antlerless tags are eliminated in some counties as deer populations approach target levels. Antlerless tags were introduced as a way to reduce Ohio’s deer herd, and have been successful, thereby eliminating their need in certain counties.
County deer bag limits: Two (no more than one antlerless permit): Auglaize, Darke, Fayette, Hancock, Madison and Mercer counties. Three (antlerless permits are not valid): Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Defiance, Fairfield, Fulton, Gallia, Geauga, Greene, Guernsey, Hardin, Harrison, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Lawrence, Meigs, Miami, Monroe, Morrow, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Richland, Van Wert, Washington and Williams counties.
Three (no more than one antlerless permit): Adams, Allen, Ashland, Ashtabula, Athens, Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clinton, Columbiana, Crawford, Erie, Henry, Highland, Huron, Licking, Logan, Lorain, Marion, Medina, Morgan, Ottawa, Paulding, Pickaway, Pike, Preble, Putnam, Ross, Sandusky, Scioto, Seneca, Shelby, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Union, Vinton, Wayne, Wood and Wyandot counties. Four (no more than one antlerless permit): Brown, Clermont, Cuyahoga, Delaware, Franklin, Hamilton, Lake, Lucas, Mahoning, Montgomery, Portage, Stark, Summit and Warren counties.
The council also approved straight-walled cartridge rifles for deer hunting. The rifles are the same caliber and use the same straight-walled cartridges that are currently legal for use in handguns. The new regulation is designed to allow additional opportunities for hunters that own these guns or want to hunt with these guns. These rifles have reduced recoil compared to larger shotguns, and the rifles are more accurate than the same caliber handgun.
Legal deer hunting rifles are chambered for the following calibers: .357 Magnum, .357 Maximum, .38 Special, .375 Super Magnum, .375 Winchester, .38-55, .41 Long Colt, .41 Magnum, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, .444 Marlin, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .45 Long Colt, .45 Winchester Magnum, .45 Smith & Wesson, .454 Casull, .460 Smith & Wesson, .45-70, .45-90, .45-110, .475 Linebaugh, .50-70, .50-90, .50-100, .50-110 and .500 Smith & Wesson.
A new regulation states shotguns and straight-walled cartridge rifles used for deer hunting be loaded with no more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined. The current hunting regulation states a shotgun must be plugged if it is capable of holding more than three shells.
New next year, youth hunters can harvest up to two wild turkeys during the 2015 two-day youth season (one per day). Checking two wild turkeys would fill the youth hunter’s bag limit for the remaining 2015 spring wild turkey season. This change does not take effect until 2015. The bag limit remains one wild turkey for the two-day 2014 youth wild turkey hunting season.
Until Next Time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!