More than 14,000 ring-necked pheasants will be released at 24 Ohio public hunting areas this fall to provide additional hunting opportunities across the state, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife will release pheasants on Friday, Oct. 21, and Friday, Oct. 28, prior to the small-game weekends for youth hunters. Youth ages 17 and younger can hunt statewide for rabbit, pheasant and all other legal game in season during two designated weekends, Oct. 22-23 and Oct. 29-30.
Ohio’s small game hunting season begins on Friday, Nov. 4, with pheasant releases to take place Thursday, Nov. 3, and Thursday, Nov. 10. The final release of the year is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 23, and should provide improved pheasant hunting opportunities during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
A table of scheduled release numbers and locations can be found at bit.ly/2016ohiopheasant.
Pheasant hunting season opens Friday, Nov. 4, and remains open through Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, with a daily bag limit of two rooster (male) birds. No hens (females) may be killed. Females are all brown while the males have a green head, a red and brown body and long tail feathers. Statewide pheasant hunting hours are sunrise to sunset.
• An adult Learn to Hunt Ring-necked Pheasant workshop series will be held on: Saturday, Nov. 12, Saturday, Nov. 19 and Saturday, Dec. 10, according to the ODNR. This program is for adults that are interested in hunting pheasants in Ohio and would like to know how to get started.
Representatives from the ODNR Division of Wildlife, Meeker Sportsman Club and Marion Co. Pheasants Forever Chapter will educate participates in Rind-necked Pheasant life history, safety concerns when pheasant hunting, different hunting dog breeds, shotgun proficiency and upon successful completion of the program participants will have the opportunity to attend a controlled hunt.
Pre-registration is required as seating is limited. Participants must be at least 18 years old. To find out more about the program or to register for this workshop series contact Jordan Phillips at Jordan.firstname.lastname@example.org
• Individuals interested in the basic skills needed to trap are encouraged to attend informational workshops provided by the Ohio State Trappers Association according to the ODNR.
The workshops will be held at multiple locations across the state. In Northeast Ohio, workshops will be held at the following locations on Oct. 29-30: Berlin Lake Wildlife Area, 1806 Bonner Road, Deerfield, OH 44411. (The workshop is located at the Fewtown Road building). Contact: Jim Duckworth (330) 206-7161 or (330) 654-2392. Highlandtown Wildlife Area,16760 Spring Valley Road, Salineville, OH 43945 (off SR 39, 4 miles east of Salineville in Columbiana Co). Contact: Vern Snyder (330) 223-1683. Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area, 1691 Centerville Rd, Shreve OH 44676 (between SR 226 and SR 83 East of Shreve in Wayne Co). Contact: Steve Bourgeois (330)698-1511. Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area, 8303 North Park Ave, North Bloomfield, OH 44450 (SR 87, 15 miles north of Warren in Trumbull Co). Contact: Randy Deiter (330) 978-4278.
All first-time trappers must successfully complete a hunter and a trapper education course offered through the ODNR Division of Wildlife before purchasing a hunting license and Fur Taker Permit in order to trap furbearers. Many of the OSTA workshops will offer the Trapper Education Course. Ask the instructor if this is offered at the workshop you plan to attend.
The workshops are free-of-charge but pre-registration is required. For class times and to register please call the contact person listed for each class location.
• The 2016 acorn mast survey conducted on 38 wildlife areas throughout Ohio shows a below average year for both white and red oak acorn production, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Ohio’s fall crop of acorns is an important food source for more than 90 forest wildlife species, and mast crop abundance can influence hunting plans.
ODNR Division of Wildlife employees scanned the canopies of selected oak trees on wildlife areas to determine the percentage of trees that produced acorns and the relative size of the acorn crop.
Results showed that an average of 36 percent of white oaks and 43 percent of red oaks bore fruit this year. Over the past five years, acorn production has oscillated from above to below average, and this year is a below average year for acorn production.
In addition to determining the presence or absence of acorns, observers estimated the percentage of each tree’s crown that was covered with acorns. For 2016 average crown coverage of acorns for white oaks was 7 percent. Average crown coverage of acorns for red oaks was 12 percent this fall. This year’s crown coverage of acorns remained well below average for both white and red oaks.
Wildlife prefer white oak acorns because red oak acorns contain a high amount of tannin and taste bitter. White-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and squirrels concentrated near areas with heavy crops of white and chestnut oak acorns. In areas with poor acorn production, these animals are more likely to feed near agricultural areas and forest edges.
This year’s relatively poor mast crop will likely cause deer to spend more time searching for food. In past years with poor acorn production this has translated to improved deer hunter success rates, particularly among archery hunters.
Acorns are an important food source for many forest wildlife species. Numerous studies have linked the abundance of acorn mast crops to body condition, winter survival, and reproductive success of wildlife including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, black bears, gray squirrels and ruffed grouse.
This is the 12th year the ODNR Division of Wildlife has completed the acorn mast survey.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.