Game hunting seasons have begun
Ohio hunters should begin preparing for the hunting seasons of some of the state’s most popular game species with ring-necked pheasant, cottontail rabbit and bobwhite quail. The hunting seasons for upland game began on Friday, Nov. 2, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
The state’s cottontail rabbit population has been very good recently. However, Nathan Stricker, project leader with ODNR’s Olentangy Wildlife Research Station, said rabbit populations tend to go through an up-and-down cycle every seven to 10 years.
“Rabbit numbers are lower this year, but this type of decline is expected with this cycle,” said Stricker. “Regardless of these cyclical changes, cottontail rabbit populations are excellent throughout Ohio and provide plenty of opportunities for a family hunting outing.”
Quail and pheasant populations may be lower than previous years, and Stricker said quail and pheasant are heavily dependent upon quality habitats on private lands provided by the Conservation Reserve Program. 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 the Scioto Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and Quail Buffer practices in CRP known as CP33.
Cottontail rabbit hunting continues through Feb. 28, 2013. Ring-necked pheasant hunting is open through Jan. 6, 2013. Both seasons are closed during the statewide 2012 deer-gun hunting season, Nov. 26-Dec. 2.
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 should not be hunted. Snowshoe hares were recently reintroduced to northeastern Ohio after nearly a century of absence. They are brown early in the season, which makes them resemble 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 Nov. 2-Dec. 2. At that time, hunters will be able to distinguish between the two rabbits since most snowshoe hares will have turned white by early December.
Pheasants are released on selecting hunting areas throughout the state by the ODNR Division of Wildlife prior to opening day of the pheasant season, the second Saturday of the season, Nov. 10 and Thanksgiving Day.
Bobwhite quail hunting is open in 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 Nov. 25.
Additional hunting information is contained in the 2012–2013 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which are available where hunting licenses are sold, online at wildohio.com or by calling 800-WILDLIFE.
• Although Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast, it sure did the waterfowlers around here a big favor. The combination of the storm with a cold front coming in from the upper Midwest, created several days of stiff north winds for the final weekend of the north zone waterfowl season.
Not only did we enjoy a nice little migration of puddlers and divers coming from the north on that Saturday, we were treated by a visit into the decoys by a pair of white wing scoters that my boys were able to harvest on Sunday. Scoters are typically a sea duck, and although I have seen one shot in this area before, they are still pretty rare in these parts.
Not only are there reports of scoters seeking refuge from the storm all across the state, there have also been sightings of several flocks of brant, another normally sea faring waterfowl, throughout the northern half of the state as well. We typically think of waterfowl migrations as being north and south, but birds will move east and west as needed as well.
Typically, when major storms like Sandy nail the coasts, the birds will head inland to seek safety, thus the reason for our east coast visitors. Drought, snow cover, and lack of available food can cause birds to move laterally across the continent as well.
It certainly was cool for the boys to harvest birds that aren’t typically seen in the area and they can now brag that they have done something that their old man hasn’t done yet.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!