Good harvest for deer muzzleloader season

Ohio hunters completed the 2022 muzzleloader season with 12,141 deer checked from Saturday, Jan. 8 to Tuesday, Jan. 11, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. Over the past three years, an average of 11,501 deer were taken with a muzzleloader during the same four-day period.

Harvest records show that during the 2022 muzzleloader season, hunters took 3,333 bucks (27% of deer taken), 7,239 does (60%), and 1,282 button bucks (11%). Bucks with shed antlers and bucks with antlers less than three inches long accounted for 287 deer or 2% of the harvest.

During the nine days of gun hunting, 79,805 deer were taken. In addition, young hunters harvested 7,634 deer during the two-day youth gun season. With about a month remaining to hunt with archery equipment, Ohio hunters have checked 186,426 deer across all seasons. Ohio’s archery season is open until Sunday, Feb. 6.

Deer hunting occurs in all 88 counties and Ohio hunters have purchased 394,059 deer permits through Tuesday, Jan. 11. Hotspots for deer hunting are found mostly in the eastern regions, including Ashtabula, Coshocton, Tuscarawas, Muskingum, Guernsey, and Knox counties.

Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting generates more than $853 million in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging, and more, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundations’ Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation publication.

• Biologists with the ODNR Division of Wildlife recommended a major reduction to the 2022 fall wild turkey hunting season during the Ohio Wildlife Council’s regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 12. Under the proposal received Wednesday, Ohio’s fall wild turkey season would begin on Saturday, Oct. 15 and conclude on Sunday, Nov. 13, a reduction of three weeks when compared to the 2021 fall season.

The fall turkey hunting proposal was part of a larger package of season dates that were presented to the Ohio Wildlife Council, and includes small game, waterfowl, and furbearers.

Wild turkey populations have declined throughout Ohio following several years of below average reproductive success. The proposed reduction in the fall hunting season length goes along with a reduced limit for the spring season. Ohio hunters harvested 695 wild turkeys during the 2021 fall season that was open in 70 of 88 counties. The average harvest during the three previous years (2018 to 2020) was 1,079 birds.

Additional 2022-23 hunting seasons dates that were proposed Wednesday include small game, furbearers, and waterfowl. Proposals include the traditional start dates of squirrel and mourning dove on Thursday, Sept. 1, furbearer hunting and trapping on Thursday, Nov. 10, and rabbit and pheasant on Friday, Nov. 4.

Waterfowl hunting dates in the Lake Erie marsh zone were proposed to begin on Saturday, Oct. 15. The north zone and south zone waterfowl openers were proposed for Saturday, Oct. 22.

White-tailed deer hunting seasons will be presented to the Ohio Wildlife Council on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

• Now is a great time to observe bald eagles in Ohio. Bald eagle nesting activity increases in Ohio during the winter months, providing additional chances to see these majestic birds hunt, repair their nests, and establish territory. January is also when Ohio’s bald eagles begin courtship and pair bonding.

Ohio’s bald eagle population has increased dramatically in recent years. An eagle’s large size, impressive wingspan, and dark body is easy to spot against winter snow and ice. Look for these large raptors wherever they can find clean water and abundant food. They can be found roosting along rivers, sitting on frozen lakes, or even in open farm fields.

Bald eagles in Ohio typically lay eggs and incubate in February and March, nesting in large trees such as sycamores, oaks, and cottonwoods. Meanwhile, frozen lakes and rivers force the birds to expand their hunting grounds in search of fish and carrion, their foods of choice.

Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!

Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.

Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.