Ohio’s hunters have the opportunity to pursue wild turkeys during a six-week season from Saturday, Oct. 14, through Sunday, Nov. 26. Gobblers and hens are legal game during the fall wild turkey season.
A complete report of the 2016 fall wild turkey season is available at wildohio.gov. Sixty-seven Ohio counties are open for fall turkey hunting, including eleven counties open for the first time. Additional details regarding fall wild turkey hunting can be found in the 2017-2018 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations or at wildohio.gov.
Only one turkey of either sex may be harvested during the fall season, and a valid hunting license and fall turkey hunting permit are required. Hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. Shotguns using shot, as well as crossbows and longbows, are permitted. Hunting turkeys over bait is prohibited, and turkeys must be checked by 11:30 p.m. on the day the bird is harvested. The ODNR Division of Wildlife advises turkey hunters to wear hunter orange clothing when entering, leaving, or moving through hunting areas to remain visible to others.
Hunters are required to make their own game tag to attach to a 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. Go to the Turkey Hunting Resources page at wildohio.gov for more information.
All hunters must report their turkey harvest using the automated game-check system. Game-check transactions are available online and by phone seven days a week, including holidays. Hunters have three options to complete the game check: Online at ohiogamecheck.com; Call 877-TAG-ITOH (824-4864); Landowners and others not required to purchase a turkey permit cannot use the 877-TAG-ITOH option. Instead, those hunters have the option to call 866-703-1928 for operator assisted landowner game-check (a convenience fee of $5.50 applies). Visit a license agent. A list of agents can be found at wildohio.gov or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).
• The next generation of hunters are the first to benefit from Ohio’s revamped hunter education course, according to the ODNR. A new course book and enhanced online learning options provide a more current and comprehensive curriculum for aspiring hunters of all ages. The fully-illustrated booklet includes 11 chapters covering firearms safety, preparation, equipment, conservation and more.
Prospective hunters who want to complete their hunting education in person can sign up for an instructor-led course, which usually lasts eight to 12 hours spread over two days. Specially-trained volunteers and ODNR Division of Wildlife staff teach the courses in a classroom environment. Interested individuals should visit wildohio.gov to find a course in their local community. Hunter education remains free for those who complete an instructor-led course.
For people with busy schedules, a new online hunter education option offers flexibility while still providing the same educational material needed to become a responsible hunter. Anyone who is 12 years or older can complete the approximately four-hour course online. It can be completed in one sitting, or spread out over several days. The course is compatible with smartphones, tablets and personal computers. A $15 fee is paid to the online vendor once an individual completes the course and passes the final course exam.
For aspiring hunters under 12 years of age, a home-study course combines the flexibility of online learning with the hands-on approach of in-person hunter education training. After completing each unit and taking a test online, students are required to attend an in-person classroom session. A $15 fee is paid to the online vendor after the online exam is completed. The final classroom session is led by an ODNR Division of Wildlife employee or certified instructor volunteer and usually lasts about four hours.
Don’t forget that an Ohio apprentice hunting license is available to people who want to try hunting before first completing a course. Anyone who hunts with an apprentice license must be accompanied by a licensed hunter who is at least 21 years old. Having previously held an apprentice license does not qualify a person to purchase a regular hunting license.
• More than 14,000 ring-necked pheasants will be released at 24 Ohio public hunting areas this fall to provide additional hunting opportunities across the state. The ODNR Division of Wildlife will release pheasants on Friday, Oct. 20, and Friday, Oct. 27, prior to the small-game weekends for youth hunters. Youth ages 17 and younger can hunt statewide for rabbit, pheasant and all other legal game in season during two designated weekends, Oct. 21-22 and Oct. 28-29.
Ohio’s small game hunting season begins on Friday, Nov. 3. Pheasants will be released for opening day, and prior to the Veterans Day and Thanksgiving holiday weekends.
Pheasant hunting season opens on Friday, Nov. 3, and remains open through Sunday, Jan. 14, with a daily bag limit of two rooster (male) birds. No hens (females) may be killed. Females are all brown while the males have a green head, a red and brown body, as well as long tail feathers. Statewide pheasant hunting hours are sunrise to sunset.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.