Several counties from District 3 topped the list of best spring gobbler harvests last season. Included was Ashtabula with 712, which led the state. Harrison County produced a harvest of 513, third in the state. Tuscarawas County hunters bagged 583 toms, which was the second highest in Ohio.
Much of District 3 is made up of a mix of forestland and agricultural land. The areas in Trumbull County are rich in such habitat. Last season hunters took 416 birds from that county. It’s an area where hunters who make the effort to find private lands to hunt are well rewarded. The region also features many state-owned wildlife areas that contain upland forested habitat. This includes Grand River Wildlife Area, which features nearly 7,500 acres of public hunting area, a good portion of which exists as uplands favorable to wild turkeys.
Contact the District 3 office in Akron at 330-644-2293 for more information on this region.
Southeastern Ohio’s District 4 is the cream-of-the-crop in terms of the state’s wild turkeys. From the rugged, forested hills that lie along the Ohio River in the eastern portion of the district to the agricultural lands to the west, there is an abundance of wild turkey habitat in this district. Add to that the plethora of former strip-mined areas, places that are now reverting back to forested cover of various life stages, and you have a lot of options to choose from.
District 4 probably has more turkeys than any other district in the state. Turkeys have been there the longest. It is where all the reintroduction and reestablishment of turkeys in the state began. Every county is has good numbers of birds; they are very well distributed.
By far, with the Wayne National Forest, state forests and wildlife areas, District 4 has the most public land turkey opportunities in the state.
While the northeast portion of Ohio harbored counties with the highest overall take last spring, the southeastern district had many counties with fairly lofty numbers. Athens, which is often in the state’s top 10 harvest counties, tailed a bit, but still had a take of 369 gobblers, and hunters in Belmont County brought home 444 birds. Coshocton County, in the western portion of the district, saw a harvest of 447 bearded birds. Guernsey County hunters put tags on 507 toms, while 300 did the same in Jackson County. Meigs County, as usual, had a significant spring harvest with 401 gobblers being taken.
Wayne National Forest provides the most extensive public hunting area in District 4, covering over 800,000 acres. The public land exists in three separate units, and is found in 12 different counties.
Additional information can be obtained by phoning the District 4 office in Athens at 740-594-2211.
District 5 contains a blend of habitats, from the Ohio River valley counties to the south to the flatlands to the north. In between you’ll find urban areas such as Dayton.
Wild turkeys in the district have a good mix habitat in the heavily forested counties like Adams and Highland. But when you move into the western part of the district, such as in Ross County, the habitat begins to get more broken up by agricultural and urban areas. But most of the counties in District 5, especially the northern and western counties of the district, will have more limited wild turkey distribution. Most of the birds are on private land, so access and permission to hunt is a factor there. It may take a little more planning and a little more time to set up a hunt in that part of the state.
Last year Clermont County, found in the southern portion of the district, had one of the state’s top spring harvests, with a total of 425 birds. The district does contain some extensive public lands, mostly in the southern portion, such as Shawnee State Forest.
The 2012 spring season will run from April 23 to May 20. From April 23 to May 5 the hours run from a half-hour prior to sunrise until noon; from May 6 until the season closure the hours are extended to sunset.
While successful spring gobbler hunters no long need to physically bring their bird to a check station, they must file a report via the DNR’s automated system by 11:30 pm the day of the kill.
According to the DNR, hunters must have their permit with the attached permanent tag in hand to complete the game-check and permanent tagging process. Hunters can complete the automated game-check and permanent tagging process in one of three ways: Call 1-877-TAGITOH (1-877-824-4864); Visit wildohio.com. Click on “Wild Ohio Customer Center” and then click on “Game Check: Report a Deer or Turkey Harvest.”
To game-check a harvest online, make sure to use a computer hooked to a printer. A game-check receipt will be issued and should be printed. When using a smartphone for game check, you must access your customer account at wildohio.com when you are at a computer, click on the Game Check button, and print your game check receipt; or by visiting any authorized license sales agent. Hunters do not need to take their turkey to the agent for the game-check. Authorized license sales agents will be available for game-check during normal business hours. Call for exact hours of operation before you go.
Regardless of the game-check method, the hunter must provide the 10-digit permit number, which is printed in large numbers on every permit.
Maps of state-owned wildlife areas can be downloaded from the DNR’s website. Go to the agency’s home page — www.ohiodnr.com — and then click on the “Hunting and Trapping” icon. The quick link to the maps is located along the left-hand portion of this page.