Spring hunting season is finally here in Ohio, and hunters are already scouting their grounds to locate the perfect spot for turkey hunting. Wild turkey hunting is an exhilarating activity that requires high-level skills, accuracy and patience.
While hunting has been part of human life since ancient times, wild turkey hunting with a shotgun isn’t as straightforward as it appears. Here are some tips to help you improve your chances of a successful turkey hunt as well as state rules and regulations for the 2022–2023 spring turkey season.
Study the Birds
Knowing your prey is the first step to a successful turkey hunt. You need to understand the birds’ behaviors, feeding patterns and nesting habits. Turkey’s hearing and vision are excellent, making them difficult to approach. To increase your chances of success, study their daytime patterns, listen to their calls and observe their movements. Of course, you can use decoys or calls to lure the birds towards you (live decoys and the possession or use of electronic calling devices are illegal in Ohio). Learning how to mimic their calls is crucial, as turkeys use distinct vocalizations to communicate with one another.
Concealing yourself correctly is critical in wild turkey hunting. You need to make sure you are well hidden from the birds’ sharp eyesight. Consider wearing full camouflage gear that matches your surroundings, including your face mask and gloves. You can also use a hunting blind or natural cover to break your outline and stay concealed from sight.
Choose the Right Shotgun
A shotgun is the only legal firearm allowed for wild turkey hunting in Ohio. However, not all shotguns are designed for turkey hunting. Many hunters opt for an extra-full choke on their shotguns, often using a 21- to 24-inch barrel to increase accuracy and range. You might also consider using turkey shotshells as they penetrate deeper and deliver more lethal shots than traditional shotshells.
According to Nitro Company Ammunition, a leading turkey shell producer, the modern turkey hunter sacrifices pattern performance and velocity for maneuverability of a short 21-inch barrel. A gun with a 26-inch barrel will give you higher velocity and better patterns. For every inch up to 26 inches, you gain 7 1/2 to 15 feet per second in velocity, depending upon the gun. A 26-inch barrel will give you 10 to 15 percent better patterns than a short barrel with the same choke constriction.
Remember, Ohio permits 10 gauge or smaller shotguns using shot, including muzzleloading shotguns, for wild turkey hunting.
Wild turkey hunting requires precise shooting skills, and you need to be well-practiced to be successful. Before the hunting season, you should spend time at a shooting range to improve your accuracy and proficiency. Practice shooting at different ranges, positions and angles, and remember to aim for the bird’s head or neck for a quick and humane kill.
Lastly, wild turkey hunting requires a great deal of patience. Turkeys are elusive and unpredictable birds, and you might spend several hours before you can spot one. When you identify a turkey, take your time to observe its behavior and call strategically to lure it towards your position. Remember, the best turkey hunters aren’t the most aggressive but the most patient.
Wild turkey hunting is a thrilling experience that requires skill, patience, and practice. By following the tips above, you can improve your chances of a successful hunt and enjoy the beauty of Ohio’s natural adventure.
Ohio DNR Rules and Regulations
Remember to follow state hunting regulations and safety procedures and share your hunting experiences with other enthusiasts. Below is wild turkey hunting information from the Ohio DNR. For a more comprehensive collection of hunting and trapping regulations, click here.
- Youth Spring Wild Turkey: April 15, 2023–April 16, 2023
- Spring Wild Turkey: South Zone (except for Lake La Su An Wildlife Area) April 22, 2023—May 21, 2023
- Spring Wild Turkey: Northeast Zone April 29, 2023—May 28, 2023
Youth Wild Turkey Season
- A valid hunting license and wild turkey permit are required, unless exempted.
- Special youth wild turkey hunts are held on selected areas.
- Hunting hours for youth turkey season are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
What to Know for Spring Season
The spring 2023 wild turkey hunting season opens on a Saturday in both zones, with a bag limit of one bearded turkey. It’s unlawful for any person to take or possess a wild turkey during the spring wild turkey season that does not have a visible beard.
- A valid Ohio hunting license and spring turkey permit are required, unless exempted.
- The Northeast Zone is Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull counties.
- The South Zone is the remainder of the state.
- South Zone wild turkey hunting hours from April 22–30, 2023 are 30 minutes before sunrise to noon.
- South Zone wild turkey hunting hours from May 1–May 21, 2023 are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
- Northeast Zone wild turkey hunting hours from April 29–May 7, 2023 are 30 minutes before sunrise to noon.
- Northeast Zone wild turkey hunting hours from May 8–May 28, 2023 are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
- Lake La Su An Wildlife Area is open only to wild turkey controlled permit holders during the spring season.
- A harvested wild turkey must be checked by 11:30 p.m. on the day of kill.
- It is legal to use a leashed dog to recover wounded wild turkeys in the spring turkey season.
- It is unlawful to hunt or take wild turkeys with the aid or use of bait. An area is considered baited for 10 days after the complete removal of any bait.
- It is unlawful to use a live decoy while hunting wild turkeys.
- It is unlawful to possess or use an electronic calling device while hunting wild turkeys.
- It is unlawful to take or attempt to take a wild turkey while it is in a tree.
- It is unlawful to possess more than one hunting implement while turkey hunting.
- A successful wild turkey hunter may aid or assist another hunter who is hunting wild turkeys if the turkey permit has been filled in, he or she does not carry any hunting implement commonly used to kill wild animals and has a valid hunting license.
- Those persons exempted from having a hunting license and wild turkey permits for turkey hunting on their property are required to have a hunting license and turkey permit to aid another hunter off of their property or hunt turkey off of their property.
How AimHi Can Help
Now that you’re up to date on all the rules and regulations for wild turkey hunting season in Ohio, it’s time to start getting your gear ready. If you’re looking for a new gun or need your current gun serviced before spring season starts, AimHi Family Firearms Center is here to help.
We’re a leading firearms retailer and shooting range in the Columbus, Ohio, area and we carry everything you need to have a successful wild turkey hunting season. Stop by our store or give us a call today!