Turkey hunt drops in Ohio youth hunt

The youngsters took their annual chance to bag the wild turkeys a few weekends ago, falling short of past performance.

The numbers were down from a year ago, the three-year average and past peak seasons, the Ohio Division of Wildlife reported. Youth 17 and under tagged 1,103 birds on April 9-10. That’s 370 less than a year ago, a drop of about 25.1%, and 442 less than the three-year average, a drop of about 28.6%.

The 2020 catch was 1,843, a difference of 740 birds from this year.

Whether the somewhat meager results were caused by few birds, few hunters, or lousy weather – or a mixture of the three – remains open to cunning guesses. A total of 5,707 discounted youth licenses were purchased, suggesting that a good number of buyers got a return on their investment.

Youngsters who haven’t completed their tag can do so during the regular turkey season, which began Saturday in 83 counties, including those in central Ohio, and continues through May 22. The season in five northeastern counties begins Saturday and ends May 29.

Depressed youth leaves more turkeys in the landscape for regular hunting. Opening week, which generates a bubble of excitement, invariably represents the highest number of bearded birds checked.

The hunting day in the 83 county area begins half an hour before sunrise and ends at noon until the following Sunday, after which the day ends at sunset. Turkeys must be checked before 11:30 p.m. on the day of harvest.

What is particularly important this season is that only one turkey can be bagged, compared to two in recent years. The limit was imposed in an effort to help boost a declining population.

A year ago, the most productive counties when hunting in the spring included Columbiana with 454, Belmont 444, Meigs 437, Tuscarawas 417 and Jefferson 408.

Monroe led in the recent youth hunt with 41, followed by Coshocton with 38, Jefferson 34 and Harrison, Tuscarawas and Muskingum each with 32. As usual, Licking led Central Ohio Counties with 22 , followed by Fairfield with eight, Delaware six, Union three, and Pickaway and Franklin each with one. Madison’s count was nil.

Hunting dates

While Ohio’s wild turkey population could see a big rebound with a successful spring nesting season, the wildlife division isn’t betting home on a maybe.

A productive hatch a year ago didn’t save the two-bird-limited spring season this year and next, and officially the division has also tightened the hunt in the fall of 2022. The fall hunt, during which a single turkey of either sex may be captured, has been reduced to 37 days from the 52 days in effect in recent years.

The Ohio Wildlife Council approved the change at its April meeting, which means the season will open in 70 counties on October 8 and run through November 13.

The following dates for deer hunting seasons have also been approved:

• Archery: Sept. 24-Feb. 5

• Youth pistol: 19-20 Nov.

• Pistol: Nov. 28-Dec. 4; December 17-18

• Muzzleloader: January 7-10

The deer season limit will increase in 18 counties, although limits in Franklin and bordering counties will not be affected.

Very diversified

The 38th annual Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference, this year labeled as “New Creatures on the Block,” is scheduled for May 11 at the Ohio Union on the State campus. Ohio to Columbus.

The conference brings together experts to discuss state wildlife, such as ants and crayfish, that are often overlooked. See for details, reservations and topics.

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