Ohio’s young hunters checked 7,223 white-tailed deer during the two-day youth gun season, Nov. 21-22, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Youth hunters could pursue deer with a legal shotgun, muzzleloader, handgun or specific straight-walled cartridge rifle and were required to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult during the two-day season. The youth deer-gun season is one of four special youth-only hunting seasons designed to offer a dedicated hunting experience for young hunters. Youth hunting seasons are available for small game, wild turkey and waterfowl.
Ohio offers many more opportunities for hunters of all ages to pursue deer. The deer-gun season is Monday, Nov. 30, through Sunday, Dec. 6, and Dec. 28-29. Deer-muzzleloader season is Saturday, Jan. 9, through Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. Deer-archery season is open now through Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Find complete details in the 2015-2016 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations at wildohio.gov.
Youth hunters can commemorate their hunt with a First Harvest certificate, available at wildohio.gov. Participants can upload a photo and type in their information to personalize the certificate. Hunters can also share photos by clicking on the Photo Gallery tab online.
The goal of Ohio’s Deer Management Program is to provide a deer population that maximizes recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists. In most counties, deer populations are at or near target levels. Therefore, to help stabilize deer populations, bag limits were reduced, and antlerless permit use has been eliminated in most counties for the 2015-2016 season.
In general, deer hunters will likely find deer populations similar to last year. However, because of the regulation changes (smaller bag limits and limited availability of antlerless permits), fewer antlerless deer will be harvested, and the overall deer harvest will likely be down 4-8 percent. For summaries of past deer seasons, visit wildohio.gov/deerharvest.
• An adult male black bear was radio collared Nov. 14 in Vinton County by Division of Wildlife biologists. This is the first black bear radio collared in Ohio, and was the first step for ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists to determine details of black bear demography, density, distribution, and rate of population growth in Ohio.
Because of its age and size, biologists believe this bear to be a resident bear. Vinton County has long been a hot spot for bear activity and was believed to have a resident bear population. The GPS collar deployed on this bear will provide 2 locations per day for up to five years. The data will allow biologists to analyze the bear’s movement, home range size and habitat use. In addition, if it is indeed a resident bear, a female bear will be present within the home range. This will allow biologists to concentrate their efforts to trap and radio collar a female, so biologists can document reproduction and population growth.
The bear was trapped on private land where staff from United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services were removing feral hogs with the cooperation of the landowner. The bear had been photographed feeding on hog bait several times in September, and a culvert trap was deployed at the site in October.
ODNR Division of Wildlife staff anesthetized the bear to measure, weigh and radio collar it. The bear was not completely anesthetized by the drugs, so specific measurements and the extraction of a tooth for aging were not possible. However, Al LeCount, retired Arizona Game and Fish bear biologist, estimated the bear’s weight at 250-275 lbs. and its age at least three and a half years old.
Before settlement black bears were found throughout Ohio. However, unregulated hunting and extensive deforestation during the mid-1800s lead to a sizable decrease in the number of bears residing within Ohio, and by the 1850s black bears had vanished from the landscape. As black bear populations began to increase in neighboring states, bears have started to make their way back into Ohio.
Black bears are now listed as a state endangered species in Ohio, and are primarily found in south-central and southeastern Ohio. Ohio’s bear population is estimated to be anywhere from 50-100 individual bears. In 2014, there were 135 documented sightings involving an estimated 88 individual black bears. The majority of bears in Ohio weigh between 125-250 pounds, and are juvenile male bears searching for new habitat.
• When is the last time you have seen a gray fox in the wild? It has been a long time for me that is for sure. The Ohio Division of Wildlife is instituting a tracking study to learn more about them. This year the goal is to gather data then radio collar and release twenty fox. Due to travel times the fox will trapped only in Wildlife District 4 plus the addition of Fairfield County. Hopefully, the Division of Wildlife will learn some important data so that we can better help this elusive species thrive in the buckeye state.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.