COLUMBUS, Ohio- Like many animals, Ohio’s wild turkeys change their behavior in the fall. As the weather turns colder, turkeys join flocks, establish pecking orders, and switch their diets. Learning to spot these cues will help a hunter have success during the upcoming wild turkey hunting season that begins on Saturday, Oct. 9, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
“Fall turkey hunting brings new challenges because the birds exhibit different behaviors than in the spring, but can still be quite vocal,” said Division of Wildlife wild turkey biologist Mark Wiley. “Patience and persistence are key to a successful fall hunt. The birds are looking for dependable food sources right now, so scout areas near mature timber and agricultural fields to see if turkeys are nearby.”
Look for turkey signs such as tracks, scratches in leaf litter, droppings, feathers, and dusting areas. Food sources such as acorns and wild grapes may draw birds. Once the flock is located, a variety of calls and hunting methods can be used to bring a bird within range for a clean and ethical shot.
Ohio first offered a fall turkey hunting season in 1996. During the 2020 fall hunting season, Ohio turkey hunters checked 1,063 birds. The top 10 counties for wild turkeys taken during the fall 2020 hunting season include: Ashtabula (52), Coshocton (37), Trumbull (36), Guernsey (28), Licking (28), Clermont (27), Geauga (27), Gallia (26), Holmes (26), and Tuscarawas (26).
The 2021 fall turkey hunting season is open in 70 Ohio counties, and both hens and gobblers are legal game. The season limit is one wild turkey per hunter. A full list of open counties and details for fall turkey hunting can be found in the 2021-22 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations guidebook.