Hunters will have their first opportunity to pursue white-tailed deer when archery season opens on Saturday, Sept. 30, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Ohio’s 2017-2018 deer seasons include: Archery: Sept. 30, 2017-Feb. 4, 2018, Youth gun: Nov. 18-19, Gun: Nov. 27-Dec. 3, and Dec. 16-17, Muzzleloader: Jan. 6-9, 2018.
Deer hunters will find the hunting regulations similar to last year, but bag limits were changed in certain counties.
County-wide bag limits have increased from two deer per county to three deer per county in Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Fairfield, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Tuscarawas, Vinton and Washington counties. These changes are designed to slow the rate of herd growth, while still allowing herds to grow.
County-wide bag limits have decreased from three deer per county to two deer per county in Allen, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Putnam and Williams counties. These changes are designed to encourage herd growth in these counties.
All other county bag limits remain the same. The statewide bag limit remains at six deer. Only one deer may be antlered, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit.
New for the 2017-2018 hunting season, any straight-walled cartridge rifle with a minimum caliber of .357 to a maximum caliber of .50 is now allowed for hunting deer in Ohio. There have been three seasons of hunting deer with straight-walled cartridge rifles in Ohio with no biological impacts to the herd or additional hunter incidents.
Deer hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes past sunset for all deer seasons. This includes gun and muzzleloader seasons. Additional details about deer hunting rules are contained in the 2017-2018 Ohio Hunting Regulations, available where licenses are sold or at wildohio.gov. Licenses and permits can be purchased online at wildohio.gov and at hundreds of participating agents throughout the state.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife remains committed to properly managing Ohio’s deer populations through a combination of regulatory and programmatic changes. The goal of Ohio’s Deer Management Program is to provide a deer population which maximizes recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists.
Hunting is the best and most effective management tool for maintaining Ohio’s healthy deer population. Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting has a more than $853 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation publication.
• Good news for Lake Erie fishermen. Early data gathered by wildlife agencies in the western basin of Lake Erie indicate that both the walleye and yellow perch hatches were near their annual average, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources ODNR.
Each year in August, wildlife agencies from around the western basin of Lake Erie sample the waters using bottom trawls in search of young of the year walleye and yellow perch. Data from these bottom trawls are combined into a basin-wide index, and fisheries biologists compare the figures to previous years to estimate the success of the walleye and yellow perch hatches. Biologists from the ODNR Division of Wildlife conducted bottom trawling surveys at nearly 40 sampling locations across Ohio waters of the western basin. This information provide biologists with an estimate of how many young fish will enter the fishable population two years later.
Based upon results from the August trawl surveys, the 2017 yellow perch hatch was successful in Ohio waters of the western basin. Initial results found 280 yellow perch per hectare compared to the 20-year average of 300 yellow perch per hectare. Five good yellow perch hatches in a row should help the perch population in the western basin continue to rebuild and lead to quality yellow perch fishing over the next several years.
The 2017 walleye hatch was near the 20-year average in Ohio waters of the western basin. Average to excellent hatches from three of the past four years have resulted in an abundance of young walleye to complement the older and larger fish that make up the current Lake Erie walleye population. Results from Ohio’s surveys found 21 walleye per hectare. The average since 1998 is 22 walleye per hectare.
During the upcoming months, Ohio and Ontario bottom trawl data will be combined to estimate the basin-wide hatches of walleye and yellow perch. These estimates will be used as part of the annual process to determine jurisdictional quotas. Information on the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, fishing reports, and maps and links to other Lake Erie web resources are available at wildohio.gov.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.