April brings wild turkey seasons

By G. Sam Piatt - Contributing Columnist



Ohio and Kentucky hunters will have plenty of time to hunt wild turkeys this spring.

Ohio’s season, here in the South Zone, opens April 23 and runs through May 22. A youth season, for those age 12-15, will run next weekend, April 9-10. Hunters under age 12 do not need to purchase a hunting license or turkey permit.

Those in both age groups must be accompanied by an adult who is in position to take immediate possession of the firearm if needed.

For a complete listing of dos and don’ts get a copy of “Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations 2021-22” wherever licenses are sold.

Kentucky’s spring wild turkey season opens April 16 and runs through May 8.

Kentucky’s bag limit is two gobblers per season, but only one can be taken per day.

One permit is good for two turkeys in Kentucky. Only turkeys with a visible beard may be taken in either state.

In Ohio, 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 1,850, 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.


Turkey hunting can be dangerous, since the hunter is camouflaged from head to foot and making sounds like a hen turkey in hopes of calling in that 24-pound tom.

Don’t move, wave, or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence. Just shout out in a loud voice, “Hey, I’m here!” and remain hidden.

When imitating an old tom’s gobbler call, be particularly careful. You might draw fire.

Don’t stalk through the woods hoping to get close enough to a turkey for a shot. Your chances of success are slim, and the chances of being involved in an accident increase.

Be certain of your target and check the background. Never shoot at a sound or movement. Assume that every sound you hear is made by another hunter.


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

Their numbers have continued to increase, in both Ohio and Kentucky.


By G. Sam Piatt

Contributing Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619