COLUMBUS, OH – Hunters will have their first opportunity to pursue Ohio’s top big-game animal, the white-tailed deer, when archery season opens Saturday, Sept. 27, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
Ohio’s 2014-2015 deer seasons include:
• Archery: Sept. 27-Feb. 1, 2015.
• Antlerless muzzleloader: Oct. 11-12.
• Youth gun: Nov. 22-23.
• Gun: Dec. 1-7.
• Muzzleloader: Jan. 2-5, 2015
All deer hunters are required to have a valid Ohio hunting license and a valid deer permit. Details about deer hunting rules are contained in the 2014-2015 Ohio Hunting Regulations, available where licenses are sold, or atwildohio.gov.
Antlerless permit use was changed for the upcoming deer hunting seasons, and these permits are no longer valid in some counties (see bag limit map). Antlerless permits will be valid in the remaining counties until Nov. 30, the Sunday before the deer-gun season. Only one antlerless permit may be used per county, regardless of the bag limit.
Deer bag limits are determined by county (see bag limit map), but no more than nine deer may be taken from all counties combined. The statewide bag limit is nine deer, but a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit. Additional ODNR Division of Wildlife authorized controlled hunting opportunities do not count against statewide or county bag limits. Hunters may harvest only one buck in Ohio, regardless of method of take or location.
Ohio is again offering an antlerless deer muzzleloader hunting season Oct. 11-12. It is legal to bowhunt during this weekend, but no bucks may be killed regardless of hunting implement during these two days.
Archers hunting during the statewide gun, youth gun and muzzleloader seasons must meet the hunter orange requirement. Deer hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes past sunset for all deer seasons. This includes gun and muzzleloader seasons.
New this year, specific straight-walled cartridge rifles are now legal for use during the deer-gun and youth deer-gun seasons. These specific straight-walled cartridge rifles are legal for deer hunting: .357 Magnum, .357 Maximum, .38 Special, .375 Super Magnum, .375 Winchester, .38-55, .41 Long Colt, .41 Magnum, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, .444 Marlin, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .45 Long Colt, .45 Winchester Magnum, .45 Smith & Wesson, .454 Casull, .460 Smith & Wesson, .45-70, .45-90, .45-110, .475 Linebaugh, .50-70, .50-90, .50-100, .50-110 and .500 Smith & Wesson. Shotguns and straight-walled cartridge rifles may have no more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined while deer hunting.
Also, hunters can search historical records of Ohio’s top-scoring deer in a partnership between the ODNR Division of Wildlife and the Buckeye Big Buck Club. A complete database of top deer scores, complete with rankings, hunter’s name, county of the kill and more, is available atwildohio.gov. Ohio ranks No. 7 nationally for the number of trophy deer as compiled by the Boone and Crockett Club through 2011.
Hunters are required to make their own game tag to attach to a deer. Game tags can be made of any material (cardboard, plastic, paper, etc.) as long as it contains the hunter’s name, date, time and county of the kill. Go to the Deer Hunting Resources page at wildohio.gov for more information about the game check process.
All hunters must report their deer harvest using the automated game-check system. Game-check transactions are available online and by phone seven days a week, including holidays. Hunters with a deer permit have three options to complete the game check:
• Online at ohiogamecheck.com;
• Call 877-TAG-ITOH (824-4864); or
• Visit a license agent. A list of agents can be found atwildohio.gov or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).
Landowners exempt from purchasing a deer permit, and others not required to purchase a deer permit, cannot use the 877-TAG-ITOH option. Landowners and others not required to obtain a permit have the following game-check options:
• Online at ohiogamecheck.com;
• Visit a license agent; or
• Call 866-703-1928 for operator assisted landowner game-check (a convenience fee of $5.50 applies).
Hunting is the best and most effective management tool for maintaining Ohio’s healthy deer population. During the 2013-2014 season, Ohio hunters checked 191,459 deer. 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.
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 that maximizes recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists. This ensures that Ohio’s deer herd is maintained at a level that is both acceptable to most, and biologically sound.
Until recently, the populations in nearly all of Ohio’s counties were well above their target numbers. In the last few years, through increased harvests, dramatic strides have been made in many counties to bring those populations closer toward their goal. Once a county’s deer population is near goal, harvest regulations are adjusted to maintain the population.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.