More than 15,000 ring-necked pheasants will be released at 25 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 be releasing pheasants on Friday, Oct. 23, and Friday, Oct. 30, prior to the small-game weekends for youth hunters. Youth age 17 and younger can hunt statewide for rabbit, pheasant and all other legal game in season during two designated weekends, Oct. 24-25 and Oct. 31-Nov. 1.
Ohio’s small game hunting season begins on Friday, Nov. 6, with pheasant releases to take place Thursday, Nov. 5, and on Friday, Nov. 13. A final release of the year is scheduled to provide improved pheasant hunting opportunities throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 25.
A table of scheduled release numbers and locations can be found at www.wildohio.com.
Pheasant hunting season opens Friday, Nov. 6, and remains open through Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, with a daily bag limit of two rooster (male) birds. No hens (females) can 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.
• Outdoors enthusiasts interested in learning to field dress their own white-tailed deer are encouraged to attend a free informational workshop provided by the ODNR Division of Wildlife on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Trained professionals will cover topics such as field dressing, skinning and butchering deer.
The workshop will be held from 6-9 p.m. at the Wildlife District One Office, located at 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus, 43215. The workshop is free of charge. Pre-registration is required as space is limited. Register by calling Karen Norris at 614-902-4197, or email Karen.firstname.lastname@example.org. The course takes place outdoors and is hands on. Please dress appropriately for the workshop and for the weather.
• The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife invites hunters to a free workshop focusing on recovering deer after a hunt. The workshop will place on Oct. 26, 2015 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area Headquarters, 1691 Centerville Road, Shreve.
Expert instructors will highlight the importance of as well as techniques and insight for successful white-tailed deer recovery. This event is intended to provide a knowledge base for novice and experienced deer hunters alike in recovering deer after the hunt; both classroom instruction as well as hands-on field tutorials will be engaged.
The course will be held indoors and outdoors so please dress for the weather. Participants should also plan to bring a flashlight for the field portion of the workshop. Pre-registration is required, as a maximum of 15 participants will be accepted, on a first-come first-serve basis. To pre-register for the course contact Wildlife Officer Brennan Earick at 330-245-3044.
• The 2015 Ohio acorn mast survey conducted at 38 wildlife areas showed a decrease in production from 2014, according to the ODNR. 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 29 percent white oaks and 41 percent red oaks bore fruit in 2015. This is a decrease in the production from 2014. Over the past five years, acorn production has oscillated from above to below average, and this year is a below average year for acorn mast production. Overall, there was a 23 percent and 26 percent decrease for white and red oaks, respectively, in the number of trees bearing acorns in 2015 relative to 2014.
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 comparatively poor mast crop should translate to improved deer hunter success rates, particularly among archers, because deer will be more actively searching for food.
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. Acorn production is cyclical, with some trees producing acorns nearly every year, and others rarely producing.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.