Ohio upland game season has an upbeat outlook


Ohio’s upland game seasons open in a week, and not surprisingly, the prospects for hunters look best in those areas where established habitat has allowed the rabbit, pheasant, or quail populations to thrive.

In northwest Ohio, ring-necked pheasant numbers are the strongest on the private lands in Williams and Defiance counties that have been enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. Under this federal plan, environmentally sensitive land is often set aside and planted in cover to help control erosion and provide quality wildlife habitat. Landowners that participate in the program receive rental payments and cost-sharing assistance.

Game population appears to have been bolstered elsewhere around the state by similar initiatives, such as the Scioto Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and Quail Buffer applications on CRP grounds.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife also uses an extensive stocking program to enhance the pheasant populations on 28 public hunting areas. More than 15,000 pheasants are to be stocked on five dates this fall, beginning in mid-October and running through late November.

Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area in Wyandot and Marion counties will receive 1,030 pheasants this fall, while Resthaven Wildlife Area in Erie and Sandusky counties will receive 560 pheasants. The Wyandot, Willard, Tiffin River, Oxbow and Ringneck Ridge areas are also scheduled to receive a portion of the more than 3,000 pheasants to be released in northwest Ohio this fall.

The state’s cottontail rabbit numbers have been sound in recent years, but they are expected to be lower this hunting season. Nathan Stricker of the ODNR’s Olentangy Wildlife Research Station said fewer rabbits are the result of a regular fluctuation in the population.

“Rabbit numbers are lower this year, but this type of decline is expected with this cycle,” Stricker said. “Regardless of these cyclical changes, cottontail rabbit populations are excellent throughout Ohio and provide plenty of opportunities for a hunting outing.”

The cottontail rabbit hunting season continues through Feb. 28, 2013, while the ring-necked pheasant hunting is open through Jan. 6, 2013, with both seasons closed during the 2012 deer-gun season, Nov. 26-Dec. 2. Hunting hours for rabbits, pheasants, and quail are from sunrise to sunset. The daily bag limit for all three species remains unchanged from last year: four rabbits, two pheasants (roosters only), and four quail.

Bobwhite quail hunting is open only in 16 counties in southern Ohio, where the season runs through Nov. 25. Adams, Athens, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Highland, Jackson, Meigs, Montgomery, Pike, Preble, Ross, Scioto, Vinton, and Warren counties are the Ohio quail hunting counties.

Details on Ohio’s upland game hunting seasons, limits and restrictions are available in the publication “2012-2013 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations” at all locations where hunting licenses are sold, and at the wildohio.com website.

MONROE SHOOT: The Monroe County Rod & Gun Club will host a turkey shoot from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. There will be skeet, trap and five-stand shoots, and registration is available the morning of the event. The club is at 6280 Lighthouse Road, via the Laplaisance Road exit off northbound I-75. Turn right at the exit, then right on Lighthouse Road. More information is available from George Sailer at 734-854-1979.

ELMORE SIGHT-IN: The Elmore Conservation Club is hosting a fall hunters’ sight-in event on Nov. 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from noon to 5 p.m. on Nov. 4. It will cost $5 per gun with the proceeds going to charity, and range officers will be on hand to help with the sight-in process. Lunch will be served, and targets will be set up at the 25 and 50-yard range at theclub at 15550 West Portage River Road South. For more information call 419-862-3813 or visit the elmorecc.com website.

FISHING REPORT: When the weather and the wind cooperate, anglers are still taking nice catches of yellow perch in the near-shore areas of Lake Erie. Angler Bryan Johnson of Oregon reported several recent limit catches of perch off Huron, fishing in water that was still 60 degrees. Twenty of the perch on one outing were in the 10-12-inch class, while another trip produced 15 perch over 10 inches long. Johnson and his party went searching for walleyes after limiting out on perch, and reported picking up a couple. As the temperature continues to drop, more walleyes are expected to migrate into the lake area off Huron to feed on the huge schools of baitfish that gather at the mouth of the Huron River, and a popular fall fishery from the public pier in Huron should crank up.

Other reports on yellow perch from Lake Erie have anglers doing well a couple of miles off Little Cedar Point, east of West Sister Island, north of Green Island, and between Kelleys Island and Marblehead. Spreaders baited with shiners continue to be the most productive perch rigs.

Steelhead fishermen are doing well at the mouth of the Grand River, as well as in the Ashtabula River and Conneaut Creek, using spinner baits, jigs tipped with maggots, and small spoons.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.