Some rare good news for Ohio turkey hunters: the state’s wild turkey poult index, a metric used to estimate nest success for the popular gamebird, was above average for the third year in a row, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW). The 2023 Ohio index was 2.8 poults per hen, above the 10-year average of 2.7 poults per hen.
The agency relies on public reports of wild turkeys and their young, called poults, in July and August of each year to estimate nest success. The annual poult index can serve as an indicator of wild turkey population trends and inform harvest regulations in future years. Turkey brood success is largely influenced by weather conditions, habitat, and predation.
Wild turkey brood surveys in 2021 and 2022 showed above average nest productivity that benefitted turkey populations after several years of below average results. The statewide average poults per hen in 2022 was 3, and 3.1 in 2021.
This year, turkey poult production varied slightly by region. In northeast and northwest Ohio, the index was 3 poults per hen. It was 2.8 in southeast Ohio, and 2.4 poults per hen in central and southwest Ohio. Because of habitat availability, Ohio’s turkey populations are typically strongest in the eastern and southern counties.
The restoration of the wild turkey in Ohio is among the state’s most notable wildlife success stories. Wild turkeys were extirpated around 1904, and the Division of Wildlife began reintroducing wild turkeys to the Buckeye State in the 1950s. For the next five decades, the wild turkey population grew and expanded rapidly, facilitated by trap-and-transfer efforts. By 1999, wild turkeys were found in all 88 counties.
Ohio’s first modern day wild turkey hunting season opened in 1966 in nine counties, and hunters checked 12 birds. The total number of harvested turkeys topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984. Turkey hunting was opened statewide in 2000. The highest Ohio wild turkey harvest was in 2001, when hunters checked 26,156 birds. Visit wildohio.gov to find out more.
State Parks discounts for military and veterans
In honor of Veterans Day, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), in cooperation with U.S. Hotels, is offering U.S. military, both active duty and veterans, a 30% discount off camping, getaway rentals, state-operated cabins, or resort lodge stays during the month of November. ODNR, in cooperation with U.S. Hotels, is offering additional discounts for camping, getaway rentals, state-operated cabins, and resort lodge stays.
To check availability or to make a reservation for state-operated camping, cabins, and other facilities, visit reserveohio.com. Use the promo code “VETERAN23” to receive the 30% discount. This offer is subject to availability and applies to new reservations at open campgrounds, as well as new cabin reservations at Buck Creek, Cowan Lake, Dillon, Lake Hope, Malabar Farm, Mohican, Pike Lake, and Pymatuning state parks.
Great Ohio Lodges, a division of U.S. Hotels, will also offer a 30% discount to all veterans and active-duty military personnel throughout November on lodge rooms and select cabins at their nine properties (Burr Oak Lodge, Deer Creek Lodge, Hocking Hills Lodge, Hueston Woods Lodge, Maumee Bay Lodge, Mohican Lodge, Punderson Manor Lodge, Salt Fork Lodge, and Shawnee Lodge).
To check availability or make a reservation, visit www.greatohiolodges.com, select the park you are interested in, and use promo code “VETERAN23” when making a reservation online or call the Great Ohio Lodges reservation line at 1-800-ATAPARK (282-7275).
Licenses available for nonresident college students
Nonresident students who do not reside in Ohio but are actively enrolled in an Ohio college or university can now purchase Ohio resident hunting and fishing licenses. Providing nonresident students the option to purchase the much lower cost licenses and permits will make it easier and more affordable for them to participate in hunting and fishing.
Nonresident students who are actively enrolled full-time in an accredited Ohio college or university and reside in Ohio to qualify. If students meet those requirements, they may purchase resident hunting licenses, fishing licenses, and permits, including apprentice licenses for those who are new to the activity.
Ohio’s resident fishing license is $25 and is valid for one year from the date of purchase. A fishing license is required to fish in Ohio public waters for anyone 16 and older. Ohio’s annual resident hunting license for the 2023-24 season is $19 for adults. A hunting license is valid immediately after purchase through Feb. 29, 2024. All hunters, regardless of age, are required to carry a valid hunting license to hunt or trap in Ohio. Licenses can be purchased at wildohio.gov, on the HuntFish OH mobile app, or at participating agents statewide.
Vets score during deer archery hunt
Sixteen Ohio veterans were recently treated to a guided archery hunt at Zaleski State Forest by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), which partnered with the Buckeye Hero Hunt Committee to provide the opportunity to hunt whitetails last month.
“This weekend is always a memorable one spent with some superb Ohioans,” ODNR Division of Forestry Chief Dan Balser said. “The Division of Forestry is grateful to have a hand in this fantastic event, and we are honored to provide this opportunity to those who have served our country.”
Veterans who applied to participate attended the event free of charge. Volunteers assisted the Buckeye Hero Hunt Committee to support the veterans with their hunt and provide meals, lodging, and equipment during a hunt Oct. 14 and Oct. 15 that saw 14 deer harvested.