SPECIAL REPORT— According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, hunters checked 18,556 wild turkeys during Ohio’s four-week, statewide 2008 spring season that ended May 18. The total represents a nine percent increase over last year’s preliminary harvest number of 17,005. This was the ninth year spring turkey hunting was open in every Ohio county.

Some Ohio Turkey Facts:

Wild turkeys were nearly extinct in Ohio before being reintroduced in the mid-1950s by the Division of Wildlife.

The first spring turkey-hunting season opened in 1966.

Only 57 of the state’s 88 counties were open to spring turkey hunting in 1999.

Wild turkeys are now found in all 88 counties.

Ashtabula County again led the state in the number of turkeys taken with 835. Counties with additional high kill numbers were: Guernsey and Tuscarawas (573 each), Harrison (547), Clermont (510), Trumbull (507), Washington (495), Coshocton (485), Jackson (471), and Columbiana (462).

In addition to the turkeys brought home over the regular season, young hunters took another 1,838 birds during a special hunt for ages 17 and under on April 19-20, 2008.

The Division of Wildlife estimates that more than 85,000 people hunted turkeys this past spring season. Prior to the start of the hunting season, state wildlife biologists estimated the wild turkey population in Ohio to be more than 185,000 birds. —Steve Hickoff