COLUMBUS—In response to declining wild turkey populations during the past few years, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife proposed reducing the 2022 spring wild turkey season limit from two to one bearded turkey. The Division of Wildlife staff made the proposal to the Ohio Wildlife Council at its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 4.

If approved by the Ohio Wildlife Council, all hunters will be limited to one bearded (male) wild turkey during the spring 2022 hunting season. The proposal will include the statewide spring wild turkey and youth spring hunting seasons.

Wild turkey populations have declined in much of Ohio following several years of below average reproductive success. Preliminary wild turkey reports submitted to the Division of Wildlife biologists during summer 2021 show some improvement in young turkey (poult) numbers. However, the complete information on which harvest management decisions are based will not be available until September. The proposed revision to the 2022 spring wild turkey season limit would remain in place until trends in reproductive success improve.

No changes were proposed to the 2022 spring hunting season dates, zones (south and northeast), hours, or methods of take. Further, no changes were proposed to Ohio’s fall 2021 wild turkey hunting season.

The Division of Wildlife began an extensive program in the 1950s to reintroduce wild turkeys to the Buckeye State. Ohio’s first modern-day wild turkey season opened in 1966 in nine counties, and hunters checked 12 birds. The total number of harvested turkeys topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984. The spring season limit has been two bearded wild turkeys since 1993, then spring turkey hunting was opened statewide in 2000. The record Ohio wild turkey harvest was in 2001, when hunters checked 26,156 birds. The 2021 spring harvest was 14,541 birds.