An estimated 300,000 hunters will make their way to Ohio’s forests and fields as this year’s deer gun hunting season kicks off this weekend, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
In 2020, hunters harvested a total of 92,310 deer during the gun seasons, with 71,651 deer taken during the week-long gun season, plus 14,864 deer during the gun weekend. Youth hunters harvested 5,795 deer during the two-day youth weekend. The 2020 statewide gun seasons total increased nearly 10% from the three-year average of 83,935 deer. Last year, nearly 410,000 deer permits were purchased or issued.
Hunters aged 17 and under will have the opportunity to pursue deer with a firearm during the two-day youth season, Nov. 20-21. All hunters have the chance to hunt the 2021 gun season from Monday, Nov. 29 to Sunday, Dec. 5, and again on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 18-19.
While deer hunting is widespread throughout Ohio, harvest hotspots are found mostly in the eastern half of the state. Coshocton (3,037 deer harvested), Tuscarawas (2,996), Ashtabula (2,850), Muskingum (2,611), and Knox (2,611) counties led the state in gun harvest in 2020.
Before heading out this year, check the 2021-22 Ohio hunting regulations booklet for county-specific bag limits and updates on permits. Special regulations apply for hunters within the newly established Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance area in all or portions of Wyandot, Hardin, and Marion counties.
Hunters may take only one antlered deer. Legal hunting equipment for all deer gun seasons includes specific shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns, straight-walled cartridge rifles, and archery equipment. More information is available at wildohio.gov or by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE (1-800-945-3543).
Deer hunting takes patience and skill to ensure an ethical and clean shot. Getting acclimated to new equipment or reacquainted with your old favorites is always essential before heading into the woods. Ohio offers many options to improve your skills. Find a place to practice near you on the public shooting ranges page at wildohio.gov.
The free HuntFish OH mobile app can be downloaded to conveniently purchase fishing and hunting licenses, check game, view wildlife area maps, and much more. The HuntFish OH mobile app is available for Android and iOS users and can be found in the app store. Users can access the Division of Wildlife’s online system to check harvested deer while out in the field.
Help protect Ohio’s wildlife resources. Report any violations to the division’s Turn-In-a-Poacher (TIP) hotline by calling 1-800-POACHER (1-800-762-2437). All reports remain anonymous, and tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.
The Division of Wildlife wants to help new and experienced hunters make the most of their outdoor adventures. Visit the Wild Ohio Harvest Community page at wildohio.gov for information on getting started, hunting opportunities, and delicious wild game recipes.
• In my last column, I talked about how the deer movement was picking up and the rut had to be getting close to full swing. According to the harvest numbers, it looks like I was correct. Ohio bowhunters checked 4,795 white-tailed deer on Saturday, Nov. 6, the highpoint for the Buckeye State’s archery season, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. In fact, the three day stretch of November 5, 6, and 7 are the top three harvest days so far. The first two weeks of November are traditionally a tremendous time to hunt deer with a bow in Ohio.
In total, bowhunters across Ohio have harvested 66,626 deer as of Sunday, Nov. 14. The three-year average for deer harvested over the same eight-week period in 2018, 2019, and 2020 is 65,271.
Ohio’s top 10 counties for deer harvested during the first eight weekends of the 2021-22 deer season include: Coshocton (2,534), Tuscarawas (1,953), Licking (1,884), Muskingum (1,788), Knox (1,763), Holmes (1,707), Ashtabula (1,689), Guernsey (1,608), Trumbull (1,607), and Richland (1,341).
Bowhunting for white-tailed deer has become increasingly popular in Ohio, especially during October and November. These months mark the peak of the rut, or breeding season, for deer. They are moving through the landscape more readily this time of year as bucks pursue does, making it an exciting time to be out in the field.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.