Ohio Turkey Restoration Is Paying Huge Dividends
It might seem hard to believe, but wild turkeys were extirpated in Ohio by 1904. No turkeys and no seasons? That’s how it was in one of the nation’s most hunting-crazy states until Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials began a restoration program in the late 1950s.
From there, the first modern-day season was opened in 1966. Hunters checked in 12 turkeys in the nine counties where a season was held. Just 33 years ago, in 1984, the season total was 1,000 birds. Those numbers might sound small compared to other states, but for Ohio’s management strategy they were big.
Flash to 2000 for the first statewide season and the efforts became more clear: More than 20,000 birds were checked in. Since then, the ODNR’s efforts have paid off handsomely with fairly consistent averages. Ohio hunters checked 21,015 turkeys during the combined 2017 spring regular and youth seasons, a sizeable jump from the 17,793 birds reported in 2016.