Turkey Harvest Down By 33 Percent On Opening Day

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Cold weather and high winds held down the harvest for the spring wild turkey season's opening day on Monday.

Preliminary numbers submitted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources had 3,654 bearded wild turkeys being checked into stations across the state, a 33 percent decline from the 5,492 checked on opening day of 2001.

"As the weather improves, we know we'll see more hunters in the field and an increase in harvest numbers," said Dave Swanson, leader of the ODNR's turkey project.

The most turkeys were checked in Guernsey County, with 156. The rest of the top five included Ashtabula, Harrison and Muskingum counties with 136 each and Coshocton with 134.

The spring season lasts four weeks, ending on May 19. Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise and until noon daily. A special youth-only turkey hunt was open last Saturday and Sunday on public hunting areas only for hunters age 17 and younger.

This is the third year that the spring turkey hunting seasons has been open statewide. In 1999, the spring hunt was open in only 57 counties.

The ODNR estimates that more than 90,000 people will hunt turkeys this spring.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)