The final numbers are in, Ohio hunters checked a total of 21,015 wild turkeys during the combined 2017 spring wild turkey south zone hunting season; northeast zone hunting season; and the youth wild turkey hunting season, April 22-May 28, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. In 2016, hunters checked a total of 17,793 wild turkeys.
Hunters checked 19,095 birds during the 2017 wild turkey south zone and northeast zone hunting seasons compared to 16,229 birds in 2016. Youth hunters checked 1,920 birds during the 2017 youth season compared to 1,564 in 2016.
Unfortunately, the only significant increases in the area was in Richland and Knox counties as the harvest numbers were nearly the same as last year for Morrow, Crawford, and Marion counties.
Ohio’s 2017 spring wild turkey season was open from Monday, April 24, to Sunday, May 21, in the south zone and from Monday, May 1, to Sunday, May 28, in the northeast zone. The youth season was April 22-23. Hunters can view the 2017 spring turkey season zone map and harvest regulations at wildohio.gov.
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.
• Applications are now being accepted for controlled deer and waterfowl hunts on selected areas during the 2017-2018 season, according to ODNR. The application period opens Thursday, June 1, and runs through Monday, July 31.
These special hunts are held on selected areas to provide additional opportunities for Ohio’s hunting enthusiasts. All applicants, youth and adult, must possess a 2017-2018 Ohio hunting license and meet the age requirements in order to apply for a controlled hunt.Hunters can apply for the controlled hunts by completing the application process online using Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System at wildohio.gov. There is a non-refundable application fee of $3 per hunt.
Hunters will be randomly drawn from submitted applications. Successful applicants will be notified and provided additional hunt information by mail and email. Applicants are encouraged to visit Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System online to view the status of their application and, if selected, print their controlled hunt permit.
More specific information about hunt dates and locations, including opportunities dedicated to youth, women and mobility-impaired hunters, can be found at wildohio.gov on the Controlled Hunts page.
• The ODNR is asking the public to participate in surveying wild turkeys and ruffed grouse by reporting sightings of these two species.
Every year, the ODNR Division of Wildlife conducts a turkey and grouse brood survey to estimate population growth. The brood survey relies on the public to report observations of all wild turkeys and ruffed grouse seen during May, June, July and August. Wildlife watchers and hunters can report observations at the new Wildlife Species Sighting webpage at wildohio.gov/reportwildlife.
Information submitted to the brood survey helps to predict population changes and helps guide the state’s hunting regulations. More than 7,000 turkeys were reported during the 2016 survey timeframe, with an average of 3.6 young turkeys (poults) per adult hen turkey. This average was higher than the long-term average of 2.5 poults per adult hen.
Information is available from past wild turkey or ruffed grouse observations online under the Forest Species Overview webpage at wildohio.gov. Biologists began tracking summer observations of wild turkeys in 1962. Ruffed grouse were added to the survey in 1999.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.