Small game and trapping seasons are here


November is arriving and for hunters and trappers in the Buckeye state, that means the small game and trapping seasons are here.

Hunting seasons for rabbits and pheasants will open on Nov. 3 and the hunting and trapping seasons for Ohio’s furbearers will open Nov. 10. Rabbit season will remain open until Feb. 29 and the pheasant season until Jan. 14. Trapping and hunting for fox, raccoon, skunk, opossum, and weasel will remain open until Jan. 31 and trapping for mink and muskrat will close on Feb. 29. Trapping for beaver and otters will be open from Dec. 26 until Feb. 29.

• The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife invites veterans to visit and shoot for free at one of Ohio’s premier public shooting ranges on Veterans Day, Saturday, Nov. 11. The Division of Wildlife is providing a free range day as a thank you to all veterans for their service. This event includes all Class A, B, and C ranges.

Visit one of the following public shooting ranges to gain hands-on experience with firearms from certified instructors at no charge from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Deer Creek Wildlife Area, corner of State Route 207 and Cook Yankeetown Road NE, Mt. Sterling 43143; Delaware Wildlife Area, 1110 State Route 229, Ashley 43003; Grand River Wildlife Area, 6693 Hoffman Norton Road, Bristolville 44491; Spring Valley Wildlife Area, 3570 Houston Road, Waynesville 45068; Woodbury Wildlife Area, 41384 State Route 541, Warsaw 43844.

On-site staff will provide equipment, ammunition, ear protection, and eye protection at these locations. Division of Wildlife public shooting ranges provide comfortable, safe places to hone skills with rifles, shotguns, handguns, and archery equipment. A complete list of range facilities, and the amenities offered at each, can be found at Class A shooting ranges offer supervised rifle and pistol target shooting. Class B facilities offer unsupervised rifle and pistol target shooting, while Class C ranges host unsupervised clay target shotgun shooting.

The shooting range permit requirement is waived for veterans on all Division of Wildlife Class A, B, and C shooting ranges on Saturday, Nov. 11. Outside of that day, all persons 18 and older shooting on Division of Wildlife Class A, B, or C ranges are required to purchase a shooting range permit, available at all hunting and fishing license outlets, via, or on the HuntFish OH mobile app. Daily permits are available for $5. The annual permit is $24.

• Ohio’s wild turkey poult index, a metric used to estimate nest success for the popular game bird, was above average for the third year in a row, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. The 2023 Ohio index was 2.8 poults per hen, above the 10-year average of 2.7 poults per hen.

The Division of Wildlife relies on public reports of wild turkeys and their young, called poults, in July and August of each year to estimate nest success. The annual poult index can serve as an indicator of wild turkey population trends and inform harvest regulations in future years. Turkey brood success is largely influenced by weather conditions, habitat, and predation.

Wild turkey brood surveys in 2021 and 2022 showed above average nest productivity that benefitted turkey populations after several years of below average results. The statewide average poults per hen in 2022 was 3.0, and 3.1 in 2021. This year, turkey poult production varied slightly by region. In northeast and northwest Ohio, the index was 3.0 poults per hen. It was 2.8 in southeast Ohio, and 2.4 poults per hen in central and southwest Ohio.

Because of habitat availability, Ohio’s turkey populations are typically strongest in the eastern and southern counties. The restoration of the wild turkey in Ohio is among the state’s most notable wildlife success stories. Wild turkeys were extirpated around 1904, and the Division of Wildlife began reintroducing wild turkeys to the Buckeye State in the 1950s. For the next five decades, the wild turkey population grew and expanded rapidly, facilitated by trap-and-transfer efforts.

By 1999, wild turkeys were found in all 88 counties. Ohio’s first modern day wild turkey hunting season opened in 1966 in nine counties, and hunters checked 12 birds. The total number of harvested turkeys topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984. Turkey hunting was opened statewide in 2000. The highest Ohio wild turkey harvest was in 2001, when hunters checked 26,156 birds.

Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!

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

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