Hunting gobblers in the Buckeye State
Ohio has two turkey seasons, spring and fall, and strict bag limits on how many birds you’re allowed to take in each season. Hunters need a license and a turkey permit, unless they’re hunting on their own property. If you’re a first time hunter, you’ll need to take a state-approved hunter education course – offered online and in person – before you apply for your license.
Turkey hunting seasons in Ohio
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources determines when the state's actual hunting dates are, but generally, spring turkey season runs from late April through late May in the south zone. In the northeast zone, hunting season runs through most of the month of May. Fall hunting season runs from mid-October through late November. Typically, the two days before spring turkey hunting season are open to youth, and various counties may set aside other days for youth hunting. Young people must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult.
Not all counties in Ohio are open to turkey hunting. At the time of publication, 67 of Ohio’s 88 counties allowed hunting.
Licenses and permits required for Ohio turkey hunting
Hunters, with a few exceptions, must have a general hunting license and a turkey permit for each season. Visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website to apply for and print your license and permit. You’ll need to create a customer ID that includes your Social Security number, and once you’ve done that, the website will guide you through the application, take your payment and issue the license and permit. If you’d prefer not to apply online, you can purchase a license and permit from a local licensing agent. Out-of-state hunters must also have a license and permit.
Separate permits are issued for spring and fall, and each comes with a bag limit. In the spring, hunters may take one bearded wild turkey per day. You must purchase another permit to continue hunting. In the fall, the bag limit is one turkey of either sex.
Ohio turkey hunting rules and regulations
- The actual hours you can legally hunt vary from county to county, but generally begin 30 minutes before sunrise and end either at noon or sunset.
- Hunters cannot bait an area to take wild turkeys or use live decoys or electronic turkey callers. It’s illegal to carry more than one gun or bow.
- You cannot shoot a turkey that is in a tree.
- It is legal for turkey hunters to work together as long as only one is armed.
- After you’ve bagged your bird, you must fill out a game tag with your name, the date and time of the kill and the county where you hunted. Attach the tag to the bird immediately and fill out the turkey permit. This process must be completed before 11:30 p.m. on the day of the kill.
Turkey hunting tips
Hunting accidents are unfortunate, but a few simple steps will keep you from being mistaken for a turkey by your fellow hunters. Don’t wear the colors red, white, blue and black. They’re prominent colors on male turkeys. Wear complete camouflage or blaze orange. If you bag a turkey, carry it out of the woods covered in camo or orange. Keep in mind that other hunters might mistake your gobble call for a turkey. Keep your back to a tree when calling.
Remember that you can only shoot bearded turkeys in the spring, so know what they look like and don’t shoot if you’re uncertain. Don’t shoot at a sound or a motion, and don’t shoot at something that’s out of the range of your gun. Thirty yards or closer is ideal.