Deer-gun season, one of Ohio’s most revered hunting traditions, began Monday, Dec. 2, with 30 more minutes of prime hunting time each day. Ohio’s deer-gun season is open through Sunday, Dec. 8. Hunting time is extended 30 minutes for all deer-gun seasons. Hunters were already allowed to hunt deer 30 minutes before sunrise, and this year an additional 30 minutes has been added after sunset for gun seasons.
Deer hunting in Ohio continues to be a popular activity for many who enjoy the outdoors. The ODNR Division of Wildlife anticipates 80,000-90,000 deer will be harvested during the weeklong hunt. Approximately 420,000 hunters are expected to participate in this year’s season, including many out-of-state hunters. Hunters checked 86,964 deer in the 2012 weeklong deer-gun season.
Deer can be hunted with a plugged shotgun capable of holding no more than three slugs, a muzzleloader .38 caliber or larger, a handgun .357 caliber or larger and bows during deer-gun week.
Deer bag limits are now determined by county. The statewide bag limit is nine deer, but a hunter cannot exceed an individual county bag limit. Hunters may harvest only one antlered deer, regardless of hunting method or season. A valid deer permit is required in addition to a valid Ohio hunting license. Hunters must purchase an additional deer permit to hunt more than one deer. Antlerless deer permits will not be sold after Sunday, Dec. 1, and these permits are not valid after that date unless used for an ODNR Division of Wildlife authorized controlled hunt.
A new tagging procedure administered by the ODNR Division of Wildlife requires hunters to make their own game tag to attach to a deer. Game tags can be made of any material (cardboard, plastic, paper, etc.) as long as it contains the hunter’s name, date, time and county of kill. Go to the Deer Hunting Resources page at wildohio.com for more information on changes to the game check process. More deer hunting information can be found in the 2013-14 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations and at wildohio.com. Hunters can share photos by clicking on the Photo Gallery tab online.
Hunters are encouraged to harvest more antlerless deer in some areas of Ohio this season to help the needy in their area and also manage deer populations. The ODNR Division of Wildlife is working with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) to help pay for the processing of donated venison. Hunters who donate a deer to a food bank are not required to pay the processing cost as long as funding for the effort is available. More information about this program can be found online at fhfh.org. Hunters can also donate venison through Safari Club International’s Sportsmen Against Hunger program by learning more at safariclubfoundation.org. Whitetails Unlimited chapters also use local funds for programs such as venison donation. Go to whitetailsunlimited.com to find a local chapter and make a donation.
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.
• Young hunters checked 6,645 white-tailed deer during Ohio’s two-day youth gun season, Nov. 23-24. Young hunters were challenged by below-average temperatures and windy conditions during the two-day season. The Ohio counties that reported the most checked deer during the 2013 youth gun season: Coshocton (248), Tuscarawas (220), Muskingum (212), Holmes (196), Knox (189), Licking (189), Guernsey (183), Belmont (165), Harrison (165) and Carroll (161).
Youth hunters could pursue deer with a legal shotgun, muzzleloader or handgun and were required to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult during the two-day season. The youth deer-gun season is one of four special youth-only hunting seasons designed to offer a safe and early hunting experience for young hunters. Youth hunting seasons are also set aside for small game, wild turkey and waterfowl.
Youth hunters can commemorate their hunt with a First Harvest certificate, available at wildohio.com. Participants can upload a photo and type in their information to personalize the certificate. Hunters can also share photos by clicking on the Photo Gallery tab online.
• The waterfowl season finally opened back up this past weekend after nearly a month off after the first split. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to move up winter a month early this year and most hunters found their local hunting waters iced up. However, if you were willing to make adjustments and put in some work, there were a lot of mallards, black ducks, and geese still in the area. We did very well opening up a hole in the ice at a local lake. It took a lot of work but the work paid off. Fields, rivers, creeks, and spring holes will hold a lot of ducks and geese all winter long and with a month to go in the season, adjustments to your normal strategies will need to be made to be successful. Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!