CLEVLEAND — Hunters will be able to begin bagging birds on Saturday, April 30.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, wild turkey hunting season in the north zone, consisting of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull counties, runs from April 30-May 29.
This is the second year that spring turkey season began on a Saturday instead of the traditional Monday opener to give hunters a full weekend to open the season.
“Wild turkey is challenging game, exiting game to pursue,” said Mark Wiley, forest game bird biologist for ODNR Division of Wildlife. “You have the opportunity to interact with wild turkey in a way that doesn’t occur outside of the breeding season.”
Ohio hunters checked 3,875 turkeys during the 2021 opening weekend. The average harvest during the first two days of the previous three seasons is 3,974 birds.
Hunters may notice a slightly smaller population of birds again this spring because numbers for poults, or young wild turkeys, have been low in recent years.
“The principal factors impacting poult numbers are weather and predation. We had fairly poor spring and early summer weather in 2017, 18 and 19 which is likely the primary factor in causing low poult number,” Wiley said.
Warmer temperatures in 2020 and 2021 may result in a slight increase if one is noticeable. With another cold snap this week, future poult numbers could remain low.
“Any time we have unusual cold snaps or heavy precipitation is generally a bad thing for ground nesting birds including wild turkey,” Wiley said.
The spring hunting season limit is one bearded wild turkey, down from two in previous years. State officials are attempting to assist in growing the wild turkey population through habitat enhancements throughout the state.
“The depressed numbers are not necessarily the result of over-harvest. We have no evidence of that. But it more so a response to take some of the pressure off the wild turkey population,” Wiley said. “Some of the things we focus on are nesting habitats and brood rearing habitat. The areas where hens will have their nests and areas where they will take their poults to feed and forage.”
The Division of Wildlife has issued 38,971 wild turkey permits that are valid throughout the spring hunting season. In addition to the opening weekend results, youth hunters harvested 1,103 wild turkeys during Ohio’s youth season on April 9-10.
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