Water and Wings
By KEN PARROTT
The season for three of Ohio’s most popular game species—ring-necked pheasant, cottontail rabbit, and bobwhite quail—begins Friday, November 4. The ODNR Division of Wildlife is reporting a good statewide cottontail population but the quail and pheasant numbers may be lower due to the heavy snows last winter and the heavy rains this spring.
Private lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) have been very important to supporting upland game populations. Williams and Defiance counties in northwest Ohio have strong pheasant populations because of the habitat contributions by local landowners.
Upland game populations are responding positively to habitat programs in other areas around the state, especially in counties with significant enrollment in Scioto Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and Quail Buffer practices in CRP known as CP33.
Cottontail rabbit hunting continues through February 29, 2012. Ring-necked pheasant hunting is open through January 8, 2012. Both seasons are closed during the statewide 2011 deer-gun hunting season, November 28 through December 4, as well as the extra weekend of deer-gun hunting December 17–18.
Rabbits, pheasants and quail may be hunted from sunrise to sunset. The daily bag limit for all three species remains unchanged from last year at four rabbits, two pheasants (roosters/males only) and four quail.
Hunters are reminded that snowshoe hares are not legal game in Ohio and may not be taken. Recently reintroduced to northeastern Ohio after nearly a century of absence, snowshoe hares are brown early in the season, resembling cottontail rabbits.
To avoid confusion between cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares, portions of Geauga and Ashtabula counties will be closed to all rabbit hunting from November 4 through December 4. The coats of most hares will have turned white by early December, allowing for proper distinction.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife releases pheasants on selected public hunting areas throughout the state prior to opening day of the pheasant season, the second Saturday of the season and Thanksgiving Day. Hunters may call 1–800-WILDLIFE for locations of specific release sites.
Bobwhite quail hunting is limited to 16 counties in southern Ohio: Adams, Athens, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Highland, Jackson, Meigs, Montgomery, Pike, Preble, Ross, Scioto, Vinton, and Warren. The season continues through November 27.
•Hunters harvested 362 wild turkeys during the first week of Ohio’s fall wild turkey hunting season, according to the Division of Wildlife.
The fall wild turkey season opened on October 8 and will run through November 27. Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to sunset.
The bag limit is one turkey of either sex per hunter for the fall season. A fall turkey permit is required in addition to a current Ohio hunting license.
Last year, hunters killed 417 birds in the same time period. The top 10 counties for wild turkeys killed to date are: Noble-18, Knox-17, Guernsey-15, Monroe-14, Coshocton, Holmes, and Richland-13, Ashtabula and Highland-12, and Tuscarawas-11. Wild turkeys can be hunted in 48 counties during the fall season. More than 20,000 hunters pursued wild turkeys in Ohio last fall.
•Thanks to modern technology, anglers can now purchase one-day and three-day fishing licenses over the telephone.
Customers have two telephone options to purchase a “last-minute” fishing license using a credit card: Calling 1–866-703‑1928 between 5 a.m. and midnight to reach a live operator who will walk the customer through the transaction; a $5.50 convenience fee is included with this option, or by calling 1–855-765‑3474 any time for an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.
Callers should be sure and have their nine-digit customer identification number, which can be obtained at no cost from the Wild Ohio Customer Center at www.wildohio.com. The IVR option includes a $3.25 convenience fee.
In both cases, the customer is issued a 10-digit license number then instructed to carry it along with a picture ID as proof that the angler is properly licensed. A printed copy of the license is not included. Convenience fees in either option can be avoided by purchasing licenses early at license agent outlets or over the Internet at www.wildohio.com.
Customers should note $10 of the One-Day Fishing License can be exchanged for credit toward the purchase of an Annual Fishing License at any time within the license year.
Also new this year, anglers have the option of buying in advance an $11 “Lake Erie Charter 1-Day Fishing License” allowing them to wait and validate the license at the dock the day of the trip. Waiting to sign and date the license allows for its future use in case the original fishing trip is cancelled due to weather or other circumstances. This license is not available for purchase over the telephone. All license purchases include a $1.00 writing fee.
Customers should be aware that Social Security Numbers (SSN) will be required of all individuals, youth and adult, who plan to buy licenses and permits.
United States Federal Statute 42 requires the collection of SSN of any individual to whom the state issues a recreational hunting or fishing license. When buying a license, customers are also required by law to give their full name, date of birth, gender, declaration of residency, mailing address, height, weight, hair and eye color.
•The first two weeks of the duck season has been less than stellar. Unfortunately, the local mallard and wood duck population is not as good as usual. Fortunately, there are plenty of geese around to make up for it. Don’t expect things to change too much until the second split arrives the weather starts to get the migration moving.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!