Hunters checked 182,169 white-tailed deer throughout Ohio’s 2016-2017 deer season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Last year, 188,329 deer were checked during the 2015-2016 season.
Locally, all the area counties were very comparable to their total harvest last year. Deer hunting regulations over the past two seasons have been designed to allow for moderate herd growth throughout most of the state. Herd growth is achieved by reducing harvest and protecting female deer.
• The Ohio Wildlife Council heard proposals for Ohio’s 2017-2018 deer season dates and bag limits according to the ODNR. Among the proposals were modifications to bag limits for several counties throughout the state.
Overview of proposed deer hunting seasons for 2017-2018:
• Deer archery: Sept. 30-Feb. 4
• Youth deer gun: Nov. 18-19
• Deer gun: Nov. 27-Dec. 3; Dec. 16-17
• Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 6-9
The county bag limits were proposed to be modified for several counties throughout the state. An increase in the bag limit, from two deer per county to three deer per county, was proposed for Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Fairfield, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Tuscarawas, Vinton and Washington counties. These proposed changes are designed to slow the rate of growth, but still allow the herds to increase.
A reduction in the bag limit, from three deer per county to two deer per county was proposed for Allen, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Putnam and Williams counties. All other county bag limits would remain the same. The statewide bag limit was proposed to remain at six deer, only one deer may be antlered and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit. These proposed changes are designed to encourage herd growth in these counties.
In other proposals, the ODNR Division of Wildlife proposed to allow any straight-walled cartridge rifle with a minimum caliber of .357 to a maximum caliber of .50 be allowed for hunting deer in Ohio. There have been three seasons of hunting deer with straight-walled cartridge rifles in Ohio with no biological impacts to the herd or additional hunter incidents. Defining the allowable rifles would make the rule easily understood and easily enforced, while also being inclusive of a great number of rifle options.
A complete list of proposed rules changes can be found at wildohio.gov.
The Ohio Wildlife Council will vote on all proposals after receiving public input. Open houses to receive public comments about hunting, trapping and fishing regulations and wildlife issues will be held on Saturday, March 4. Open houses will be held at the ODNR Division of Wildlife District One, District Two, District Three and District Four offices and the Greene County Fish and Game Association clubhouse in Xenia. Directions to the open houses can be found at wildohio.gov or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).
Open houses give the public an opportunity to view and discuss proposed fishing, hunting and trapping regulations with the ODNR Division of Wildlife officials. For Ohioans who are unable to attend an open house, comments will be accepted online at wildohio.gov. The online form will be available until Sunday, March 5.
A statewide hearing on all of the proposed rules will be held at the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s District One office on Thursday, March 16, at 9 a.m. The office is located at 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus 43215.
The Ohio Wildlife Council is an eight-member board that approves all ODNR Division of Wildlife proposed rules and regulations. The council will vote on the proposed rules and season dates during its meeting on Wednesday, April 12, after considering public input. Small game, migratory bird and wild turkey hunting season dates were proposed at the January council meeting and will also be voted on by the council on April 12.
Council meetings are open to the public. Individuals who want to provide comments on a topic that is currently being considered by council are asked to register at least two days before the meeting by calling 614-265-6304. All comments are required to be three minutes or less.
• Starting to gather receipts and deductions to file your taxes before the deadline in April? For people who enjoy the great outdoors, the ODNR is asking Ohioans to support their love of nature by donating a portion or all of their state income tax refund to support Ohio’s state nature preserves and wildlife.
The ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves oversees the state’s 136 nature preserves across Ohio. These beautiful natural areas are open year-round for people to visit and explore nature. The tax refund donation program directly supports facility improvements, invasive species management, land purchases, education programming and scientific research. Ohio State Nature Preserves provide habitat for endangered species and enhance the quality of life within Ohio’s communities.
Donations to the “State Nature Preserves” fund help protect Ohio’s prairies, old growth forests, wetlands, rare geologic formations and the biodiversity of those habitats. Hiking, birdwatching and photography are but a few of the activities that can be enjoyed at Ohio State Nature Preserves.
Ohioans may also be interested in making donations to the “Wildlife Diversity Fund.” For some background, the ODNR Division of Wildlife was created during a time when wildlife populations were vanishing at an alarming rate across Ohio. The mission of the division was and still is to manage, protect and restore wildlife populations to improve quality of life for Ohioans. The ODNR Division of Wildlife does not receive taxpayer dollars.
Nearly all wildlife conservation in Ohio is funded by people who hunt, fish and trap. The tax donation program is an important way that all wildlife enthusiasts can help restore and manage endangered and threatened wildlife and other species of special interest.
By making a tax donation to the “Wildlife Diversity Fund” while filing your taxes, Ohioans will be benefiting wildlife around the state. The Wildlife Diversity Fund supports projects that have worked to reintroduce native Ohio species, such as river otters and ospreys, as well as increase numbers of rare species such as bald eagles, brook trout, lake sturgeon and freshwater mussels.
In addition, the Wildlife Diversity Fund allows the ODNR Division of Wildlife to form partnerships with Ohio’s zoos, allowing them to help create exhibits and displays, as well as educational products and publications for students, teachers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.