• 54°

Ohio#039;s turkey hunting season starts with youth event this weekend

It is a yearly opportunity for hunters to gobble up those big Buckeye birds.

A special youth-only turkey hunt for individuals ages 17 and younger will be Saturday and Sunday followed by the annual spring wild turkey hunting season next Monday in all 88 Ohio counties. The spring turkey hunt continues through May 15, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

"It should be a good year for turkey hunters and I estimate between 15,000 and 20,000 gobblers will be harvested this season," said forest wildlife biologist Dave Swanson.

He added that Ohio's current wild turkey population is around 170,000.

The wild turkey is Ohio's largest game bird.

It stands 3 to 4 feet tall and can weigh up to 27 pounds.

Swanson anticipates as many as 90,000 people, not counting private landowners hunting on their own property, will enjoy Ohio's increasingly popular spring wild turkey season.

Hunters harvested 16,927 wild turkeys during last year's spring season.

Young hunters who want to take part in this weekend's hunt must have their hunting licenses and spring wild turkey permits to participate and must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult, 18 years of age or older.

The young hunter's turkey season is open statewide on public and private lands with the exception of Lake LaSuAn Wildlife Area in Williams County.

Legal hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to sunset each day during the two-day youth season.

Legal hunting hours for the spring season are one-half hour before sunrise until noon.

Hunters are required to have a hunting license and a spring turkey-hunting permit and can take one wild turkey per day.

A second spring turkey permit can be purchased, allowing hunters to take a limit of two bearded wild turkeys.

Shotguns using shot, longbows, and crossbows may be used to hunt wild turkeys.

It is unlawful to hunt turkeys over bait, to use a live decoy or electronic calling device, and to shoot a wild turkey while it is in a tree.

A wild turkey must be properly tagged and taken to an official check station by 2 p.m. on the day it is harvested.