Ohio hunters and trappers set to begin their pursuit of furbearers should find success this year, as populations of these animals remain stable across the state.
In most regions of Ohio, hunting and trapping seasons for fox, raccoon, opossum, skunk, and weasel open Monday, Nov. 10, and close Jan. 31. The trapping season for mink and muskrat is open Nov. 10 through Feb. 29. There are a few select counties where raccoon, mink and muskrat trapping seasons will remain open through March 15. Beaver trapping is open Dec. 26 through Feb. 29 and there are a few select counties where river otter may be taken during the same time.
When I was a youngster, much of my money for purchasing Christmas gifts was made through running a trapline before school each morning. Years of following my older brother taught me the ins and outs of muskrat, raccoon, and fox trapping. Once I reached my teen years, I was trapping on my own. I would check the traps in the morning and go back a reset them in the evening after school. Many of my childhood memories are about running a trap line. The worse part about trapping for someone that goes to school or works during the day, is that most of it is done in the dark.
Many of my scariest moments as a child occurred while checking my traps before the sun even thought about coming up. Things seem to be spookier in the woods when you are twelve and alone in the dark woods. A youngster’s imagination sure can create a lot of frightening things out of ordinary things found in the woods when it is dark and there is a cold wind blowing. Luckily I survived the years of trapping and in fact it was a great growing experience.
Of course, back then; the fur prices were at their best. It was actually worth trapping muskrat and a decent raccoon, fox, or mink would be like finding a gold mine. Thanks to the animal rights activists, the fur prices plummeted in the 1990s and have never been the same. The prices have rebounded some since the industry’s worst times, but they still aren’t like the good old days.
Today, raccoon numbers are at their highest and aren’t nearly as hard to come by as they once used to be. You can’t drive a mile or two down any road without seeing one that has been hit by a car. Because of the low prices of fur, very few youngsters have continued on the art of trapping or hunting furbearers, which is sad, because many of these species have skyrocketed because of it.
The danger of a species’ population getting out of control due to a lack of predation is that Mother Nature steps in and attempts to control the situation with other things like starvation and disease. This is where other species like humans and pets can be affected by these attempts and diseases like distemper and rabies rear their ugly heads. That is why it is important that trappers and hunters continue to help control populations of our furbearers because they have very few natural predators in Ohio.
There are no daily bag limits or restrictions on hours when furbearers may be hunted or trapped.. A fur-taker permit is required in addition to a valid Ohio hunting license to hunt or trap fur-bearing animals, except for coyotes, which may be hunted or trapped year round without a fur-taker permit.
• It’s official. Anglers may use a maximum of three fishing lines on Ohio’s portion of Lake Erie and the Ohio River starting on Jan. 1, 2020, following new regulations passed by the Ohio Wildlife Council.
The council approved the use of three lines per person while fishing on Ohio’s portion of Lake Erie, including areas immediately upstream in creeks, rivers and tributaries, as well as the western and eastern units of Ohio River. Regulations allow a person to fish with up to two lines in the remainder of the state.
The council also approved moving Ohio’s free fishing dates to June 20-21, 2020. In the future, Ohio’s free fishing dates will be scheduled for the weekend that includes the third Sunday in June. Free fishing dates are open to Ohio residents. During those dates, a license is not required to experience fishing at Ohio’s public lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, including Lake Erie.
On the Ohio River, the council approved reducing the combined daily bag limit of sauger, saugeye and walleye to six fish. The sauger, saugeye and walleye length limit was set at 14 inches in the western fishing unit (from South Point west to the Indiana state line). These changes are designed to align Ohio River fishing regulations with bordering states. The bag limit changes take effect Jan. 1, 2020.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.