Ohio's popular deer-gun season opens statewide on Nov. 30, offering hunters a full week to harvest a whitetail. The upcoming season will again include an extra weekend of gun hunting on Dec. 19-20, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
Deer can be hunted with a legal muzzleloader, handgun or shotgun from one half-hour before sunrise to sunset through Dec. 6 and Dec. 19-20. With a pre-hunting season population estimate of 650,000 white-tailed deer, the ODNR Division of Wildlife anticipates 115,000 to 125,000 deer will be killed during the nine-day season. Approximately 420,000 hunters are expected to participate in this year's season, including many out-of-state hunters.
The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in Ohio, frequently pursued by generations of hunters. Ohio ranks 8th nationally in annual hunting-related sales and 10th in the number of jobs associated with the hunting-related industry. Each year, hunting has an $859 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more.
Ohio is divided into three deer hunting zones. Beginning on the opening day of gun season and continuing through Dec. 6 a limit of one deer may be taken in Zone A (20 counties, including Lucas, Wood, Ottawa, and Sandusky counties) and two deer in Zone B (30 counties). A total of six deer may be harvested in eastern and southeastern Ohio's Zone C (38 counties) through the week long gun season. The antlerless deer permit will be valid for deer-gun week only in Zone C.
Beginning on Dec. 7, the bag limit is three deer in Zone C and antlerless deer permits are no longer valid. Any time a hunter is allowed to take more than one deer, they must purchase an additional permit.
Those hunting in urban units and at Division of Wildlife-authorized controlled hunts will have a six-deer bag limit, and those deer will not count against the hunter's zone bag limit. Antlerless deer permits can be used for the entire season in urban deer units or Division of Wildlife-authorized controlled hunts. Antlerless deer permits must be purchased by Nov. 29.
Hunters may take only one antlered deer, regardless of zone, hunting method or season. A deer permit is required in addition to a valid Ohio hunting license.
Hunters are encouraged to kill more does this season using the reduced-priced antlerless deer permit and donate any extra venison to organizations assisting Ohioans in need. The Division is collaborating with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry to help pay for the processing of donated venison. Hunters who donate their deer are not required to pay the processing cost as long as the deer are taken to a participating processor. Counties being served by this program can be found online at fhfh.org.
Additional hunting regulations and maps of the state's deer zones are contained in the 2009-2010 Ohio Hunting & Trapping Regulations. The free publication is available wherever hunting licenses are sold, online at wildohio.com or by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE.