The Ohio Wildlife Council heard proposals for Ohio’s 2018-2019 white-tailed deer hunting season dates and bag limits at Wednesday’s meeting, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The proposed season dates are nearly identical to previous seasons.
Overview of proposed deer hunting seasons for 2018-2019: Deer archery: Sept. 29, 2018-Feb. 3, 2019; youth deer gun: Nov. 17-18; deer gun: Nov. 26-Dec. 2; Dec. 15-16; Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 5-8, 2019.
Deer bag limits were proposed to remain the same for all but one county. A reduction in the bag limit from three deer to two deer was proposed for Jefferson County. All other county bag limits would remain the same. The ODNR Division of Wildlife also proposed modifications for hunting on public land that would permit hunters to harvest only one antlerless deer from public hunting areas per license year and require that only antlered deer be harvested on public land after Dec. 2. This proposal would allow for some herd growth on public land. The statewide bag limit was proposed to remain at six deer, only one of which may be antlered, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit.
In other proposals, the ODNR Division of Wildlife proposed to allow the use of devices such as range finders on archery equipment that utilize only non-visible light when hunting in Ohio. Any device that projects a beam of visible light would still be prohibited. Proposed changes to furbearer management included modifying the list of counties open to river otter trapping and creating a limited bobcat trapping season to support scientific research.
Trapping for bobcats would be limited to two zones in eastern and southern Ohio, with a small, fixed quota for each zone. Trappers would be required to purchase an additional $5 permit and only be allowed to harvest one bobcat per license year. Trapping in each zone would close when the quota is reached. The data collected from these bobcats would provide scientists with a better idea of the population in Ohio. New counties were proposed to open for river otter trapping, as the species is now prevalent in many areas. River otter bag limits have not changed.
A correction was made to the counties proposed to open for fall wild turkey hunting beginning in 2018. The corrected proposed county list includes Erie, Hancock and Lucas counties. Sandusky County is not proposed to be open to fall turkey hunting at this time. A complete list of proposed rules changes can be found at wildohio.gov.
The Ohio Wildlife Council will vote on all proposals after receiving public input. Open houses to receive public comments about hunting, trapping and fishing regulations and wildlife issues will be held on Saturday, March 3. Open houses will be held at the ODNR Division of Wildlife District One, District Two, District Three and District Four offices and the Greene County Fish and Game Association clubhouse in Xenia. Directions to the open houses can be found at wildohio.gov or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).
Open houses give the public an opportunity to view and discuss proposed fishing, hunting and trapping regulations with the ODNR Division of Wildlife officials. For Ohioans who are unable to attend an open house, comments will be accepted online at wildohio.gov. The online form will be available starting Monday, Feb. 12, through Sunday, March 4.
A statewide hearing on all of the proposed rules will be held at the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s District One office on Thursday, March 15, at 9 a.m. The office is located at 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus, Ohio 43215.
The Ohio Wildlife Council is an eight-member board that approves all ODNR Division of Wildlife proposed rules and regulations. The council will vote on the proposed rules and season dates during its meeting on Wednesday, April 11, after considering public input. Small game, migratory bird and wild turkey hunting season dates were proposed at the January council meeting and will also be voted on by the council on April 11.
Council meetings are open to the public. Individuals who want to provide comments on a topic that is currently being considered by council are asked to register at least two days before the meeting by calling 614-265-6304. All comments are required to be three minutes or less.
• Hunters checked 186,247 white-tailed deer throughout Ohio’s 2017-2018 deer season, according to the ODNR.. Last year, 182,169 deer were checked during the 2016-2017 season.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife remains committed to properly managing Ohio’s deer populations. 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.
Deer hunting regulations over the past three seasons have been designed to allow for moderate herd growth throughout most of the state. Herd growth is achieved by reducing harvest and protecting female deer.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.