The next hunting season: turkeys

By G. Sam Piatt - Contributing Columnist



Ohio and Kentucky hunters will have nearly a month to hunt wild turkeys this spring.

Ohio’s season opens April 24 and runs through May 23. In addition, a youth season will run April 17 and 18.

Kentucky has not published its new hunting regulations for the spring, but the turkey season generally runs a month taking in parts of April and parts of May.

Ohio’s bag limit is two gobblers per season, but only one can be taken per day. Hunters going for the second turkey must purchase a second wild turkey permit.

One permit is good for two turkeys in Kentucky.

In Ohio, hunting hours from April 24 through May 2 are 30 minutes before sunrise to noon; 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset for the remainder of the season.

Kentucky’s shooting hours are for from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset for the entire season.

A valid hunting license and wild turkey permit are required during Ohio’s youth season. Young hunters may take two bearded turkeys but only one in any given day. If they take two during the youth season, their bag limit for the remaining regular season is filled.

Hunting hours for the youth season are one-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

A harvested wild turkey must be checked in by 11:30 p.m. on the day of the kill.

Wild turkeys are native to North America. An estimated 10 million of them were present on the continent in the 1800s.

Ben Franklin said in his “Poor Richards’s Almanack” that he wished the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of America because he is a bird of low moral character, and that he was found in countries all over the world whereas the turkey is a reputable bird and a true original native of America.

Destruction of habitat and unregulated hunting reduced the flock to about 300,000 by 1950.

By 1954, Kentucky’s wild turkey population was estimated at 1850, and most of those were in Land Between the Lakes in the far western end of the state.

Birds trapped from there and pen-raised birds were stocked across the state with little or no success.

But wildlife officials discovered that wild turkeys live-trapped in other states and released in the bluegrass state reproduced and restoration efforts were paying off. These turkeys came from Ohio and Missouri. By 1990 the population had increased to 20,000 birds.

And now these in-state wild birds which were live-trapped in-state for stocking elsewhere in the state began to work with increased success.

Today, wild turkey populations exist in 118 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

They were stocked in northeastern Kentucky beginning in 1978.

One of the great delights of April for many outdoors people who use the gun or bow to bring home game for the table is the matching of wits against the wild tom.

During March you might see them gathered in big flocks in roadside fields and think that this is just some dumb bird that will be easy to bring down.

People who think that have never tried to hunt them. An old tom can be extremely wary when you’re trying to call him within shotgun range (about 35 yards).

The hunter has a slight advantage in spring, however, because tom is in love with every hen he sees or hears and is not as cautious as he otherwise might be.

The wild turkey has many enemies, especially the fox and the coyote. And snakes will get their share of eggs, since the hen lays her eggs in a nest on the ground.

Shooting hours in Kentucky are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

Wild turkeys have a keen eyesight and can hear better than man.

Their numbers have continued to increase, in both Ohio and Kentucky. One reason is that if a nest is destroyed by predators, flooding, or any cause, she will lay a second or third clutch of eggs without ever mating again.


By G. Sam Piatt

Contributing Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at or (606) 932-3619.

Reach G. SAM PIATT at or (606) 932-3619.