Approximately 300,000 bowhunters, representing more than half of all Ohioans who hunt deer, are expected to participate in the statewide archery deer hunting season that opens Sept. 25, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.
During last year's four-month archery season, bowhunters killed 91,546 deer, an increase of 7 percent from the previous year. Crossbow hunters took a record 49,065 of that number and longbow hunters took a record 42,481 deer. Overall, archers accounted for nearly 35 percent of 261,260 deer taken during Ohio's combined 2009-10 archery, muzzleloader and gun seasons.
Licking County led the state in both the vertical bow and crossbow harvest. Coshocton, Tuscarawas, Harrison and Guernsey rounded out the top five counties in crossbow harvest, while Coshocton, Tuscarawas, Knox and Holmes completed the list of top five counties in vertical bow harvest.
From all indications, Ohio’s statewide deer herd grew slightly in 2009, and a modest increase is likely in 2010. The Division of Wildlife remains committed to reducing populations where needed. Through a combination of both regulatory and programmatic changes, progress towards reducing locally abundant herds can be expected.
First and foremost among these changes are hunters’ deer permit purchase options. All deer hunters are required to have a valid Ohio hunting license. However, new this year, hunters will not be required to purchase a $24 deer permit in order to obtain the $15 antlerless deer permit, which is valid Sept. 25 through Nov. 28. The $15 antlerless deer permit will be valid through Dec. 5 in Zone C only. However, the $15 antlerless permit may be purchased only until Nov. 28.
According to Mike Tonkovich, deer project leader, the change was made for several reasons. First and foremost, the majority of Ohio’s deer hunters purchase only a single deer permit each year, which means that most did not have the option of buying the reduced cost permit. Giving hunters the option of purchasing either the $24 either-sex permit or $15 antlerless permit should promote additional antlerless harvest. The $15 antlerless permit can be used for antlerless deer only. Further, money saved by not being required to buy a $24 either-sex permit can be used to purchase a second $15 antlerless permit.
Ohio’s HuntOhioFarms.com, an Internet-based program linking farmers experiencing deer crop damage with hunters looking for places to hunt, will expand to all of Deer Zone C this year. More information of this program can be found at huntohiofarms.com
Ohio hunters are also encouraged to kill more does again this season using the reduced-priced antlerless deer permit to help the needy in their area. The Division of Wildlife is collaborating with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) to help pay for the processing of donated venison. Hunters who donate their deer to a food bank are not required to pay the processing cost as long as funding for the effort lasts. More information about this program can be found online at www.fhfh.org. Through the efforts of FHFH and Ohio sportsmen, more than 2,000 antlerless deer were donated to food pantries across Ohio in 2009, more than twice the number in 2008.
After Nov. 28, archery hunters must use a deer permit for antlerless deer. Using the $15 antlerless deer permit, hunters can take one additional antlerless deer in Zone A, up to two additional in Zone B, and up to three additional in Zone C. The antlerless deer permits will also be valid for Division of Wildlife controlled deer hunts and for hunting deer in urban units.
This year's statewide archery season remains open from Sept. 25 through Feb. 6, 2011, including the week of deer-gun season Nov. 29 through Dec. 5. Deer-gun hunters will also be able to enjoy an additional weekend of hunting Dec. 18 and 19. Archers may hunt one half-hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset, except during the statewide gun, youth and muzzleloader seasons when they are one half-hour before sunrise to sunset. Archers hunting during the statewide gun, youth or muzzleloader seasons must meet the hunter orange requirements of those seasons.
To hunt deer in Ohio, hunters must possess a deer permit in addition to a valid hunting license. State law allows hunters to take only one antlered buck per year, regardless the type of deer season, deer permit or weapon used for deer hunting.
A detailed listing of deer hunting rules is contained in the 2010-2011 Ohio Hunting Regulations that is available where licenses are sold, or may be viewed online at wildohio.com.