Ohio's spring turkey hunting season underway

COLUMBUS -- Ohio hunters harvested a preliminary total of 1,712 bearded wild turkeys on the first day of the spring turkey-hunting season, which is open statewide through May 17. Steady rain over most of the state kept the preliminary figure 39 percent below last year's opening day harvest number of 2,768 turkeys, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

Top counties for wild turkeys killed were: Ashtabula, 85; Guernsey, 74; Knox, 64; Clermont, 59; Harrison, 58; Jackson, 43; Columbiana and Highland, 41; Defiance, 40; and Washington, 39.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife estimates that more than 75,000 people will hunt turkeys during the four-week season. Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon daily. Ohio's wild turkey population was estimated at 200,000 prior to the start of the spring season.

A special youth-only hunt for hunters age 17 and younger was held statewide on Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19. Young hunters killed 1,814 birds statewide. Top reporting counties were: Ashtabula, 66; Coshocton, 61; Harrison, 60; Richland, 57; Ashland, 55; Highland, 54; Trumbull and Tuscarawas, 53; and Monroe and Washington, 52. Last year, 1,838 birds were taken over the same two-day period.

Only bearded wild turkeys may be taken during the spring hunting season. A hunter is required to take a harvested turkey to an official check station for permanent tagging by 2 p.m. on the day of harvest. Hunters with the proper permits may take a limit of two bearded gobblers during the four-week season, but not more than one wild turkey per day.

Turkey hunters are reminded that licenses purchased now are also valid during the 2009 fall hunting season. The 2009-2010 licenses will not be printed on weatherproof paper. Sportsmen and women should protect their licenses and permits from the elements by carrying them in a protective pouch or wallet.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at www.ohiodnr.com.