Deer hunting is an extremely popular activity for sportsmen and women statewide and Ohio’s white-tailed deer continue to provide hunters across the state with excellent opportunities for success as they head out into the field.
Ohio’s deer-gun season opens Monday, Nov. 30 and not only provides opportunities for outdoor sports enthusiasts, but hunting remains the most effective management tool for maintaining Ohio’s healthy deer population, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Hunters and others who have questions about hunting can contact the ODNR Division of Wildlife toll-free at 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543). The white-tailed deer-gun hunting seasons occur typically at a time when many Ohio hunters have last-minute questions, and ODNR Division of Wildlife will be available to assist. Special call center hours include: 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20-21, and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 22, for youth deer-gun season. 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 28, to Saturday, Dec. 5, for deer-gun season. The hotline will be closed Thanksgiving Day.
Ohioans are encouraged to help enforce state wildlife laws by reporting violations to the division’s Turn-In-a-Poacher hotline by calling 800-POACHER (762-2437). Established in 1982, the TIP program allows individuals to anonymously call toll-free to report wildlife violations. The 800-POACHER hotline is open for calls 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Tips concerning wildlife violations can also be submitted at wildohio.gov. Tipsters may be eligible to receive a cash award.
Ohio’s annual youth white-tailed deer hunting season gives young hunters the opportunity to pursue the state’s most popular big-game animal on Nov. 21-22, and is open to hunters with a valid youth hunting license and a deer permit.
During the deer-gun seasons, deer can be hunted with a shotgun, a muzzleloader .38 caliber or larger, a handgun .357 caliber or larger, specific pistol-cartridge rifles or bows from Monday, Nov. 30, to Sunday, Dec. 6. Details about deer hunting rules are contained in the 2015-2016 Ohio Hunting Regulations, available where licenses are sold or at wildohio.gov.
Only either-sex permits may be used after Sunday, Nov. 29, unless hunting in an ODNR Division of Wildlife authorized controlled hunt. Deer bag limits are determined by county, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit. The statewide bag limit is six deer. Additional ODNR Division of Wildlife authorized controlled hunting opportunities do not count against county bag limits. Hunters may harvest only one buck in Ohio, regardless of method of take or location. Hunting hours for all deer seasons are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting has a more than $853 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation publication.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife remains committed to properly managing Ohio’s deer populations through a combination of regulatory and programmatic changes. The goal of Ohio’s Deer Management Program is to provide a deer population that maximizes recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists.
Until recently, deer populations in nearly all of Ohio’s counties were well above goal. In the last few years, through increased antlerless harvests, most counties are now at or near goal. Therefore, to help stabilize deer populations, bag limits were reduced, and antlerless permit use has been eliminated in most counties for the 2015-2016 season.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife is in the process of resetting Ohio’s population goals and is asking hunters that receive the survey to help by completing and returning the survey as soon as they are done hunting or at the end of the season. Landowner surveys have already been distributed, and hunter surveys will be mailed later this month. Hunters for this year’s survey will be randomly selected from the list of hunters who purchased a license and deer permit by Nov. 16. Public input is an important part of Ohio’s deer management program, and survey participants are asked to complete and return their surveys.
The first two weeks of November has been phenomenal for deer bow hunters. I don’t remember ever seeing so many monster bucks being harvested across the state in a two week time period. I am starting to believe that the large amounts of rain we had this spring and summer triggered something nutritionally for the deer as there has been an unusual amount of bucks with massive racks being taken this fall.
It truly has been a hunting season to put in the books so far and I am sure there will some more studs taken during the gun season as well. This is certainly the year to be out chasing them and it may be a good year to be patient if you are looking for a wall hanger.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.