Mich., Ohio: Rich with deer legacies


Ohio’s first deer hunting season of the modern era took place over 13 days in December of 1943, in just three counties — Adams, Scioto and Pike. A resident hunting license cost $1.25 at the time, and a total of 8,500 deer permits were issued that year, out of the nearly half million hunting licenses sold in the state.

Last year, Ohio issued 603,549 permits to hunters who were pursuing the state’s only big game animal, the white-tailed deer. The deer herd has experienced significant fluctuations in size historically, and the number of permits issued to deer hunters has changed a lot, too.

Ohio’s whitetail population was estimated at less than 20,000 in 1970, according to the Division of Wildlife. A few years earlier, only about 12,000 deer hunting permits were issued.

With the current deer herd estimated to be stable at about three-quarters of a million animals, Ohio has sold more than 600,000 deer permits in each of the last four seasons. Ohio’s license year begins March 1 and runs through the end of February of the following year, so sales for the current season continue.

Starting last year, Ohio gave hunters and anglers the option of purchasing their licenses via a Web-based system, and a little more than 96,000 deer hunters received their 2011 permits through that method.

Ohio’s total number of deer hunting permits issued has dropped slightly over the past few years, from a high of 624,908 in the 2009-10 season. There were 609,417 deer permits issued in the 2010-11 season. Since the herd size has remained strong, these minor fluctuations are believed to be due to weather, economic conditions or variations in agricultural practices.

According to the most recent study by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (2006), there were 12.5 million hunters in the country, and 10.1 million pursued deer. Nationally, hunters spent just under $23 billion in the study year, with about half of that ($10.7 billion) going to buy equipment.

Ohio has about 500,000 deer hunters according to that study, and Ohio hunters spent $842 million on the sport in the study year, with about $600 million of that going to the purchase of equipment. Ohio’s 2012 gun season for white-tailed deer (shotgun, muzzleloader, handgun) opens Nov. 26 and runs through Dec. 2, with additional dates on Dec. 15-16.

In Michigan, the first regulated deer season took place in 1895, when a resident license cost 50 cents and 14,477 licenses were sold. By 1937 there were more than 150,000 deer hunting permits issued in Michigan, and in 1946, with the vast number of men returning from World War II, more than 340,000 deer hunters took part in the firearm season in Michigan.

In 1998, Michigan had more than 835,000 deer hunters participate in the regular firearm season, with more than 2.2 million deer hunting permits total issued that year (archery, firearm, combination, and antlerless deer licenses).

By 2005, the total deer permits issued in Michigan had dropped to 1,556,845, with about 710,000 of those issued for the regular firearm season.

Last year, Michigan issued 1,595,546 deer hunting permits, which was an increase of about 50,000 from the previous year. Figures for deer permit sales in Michigan for the current season are not yet complete. Michigan’s firearm season for white-tailed deer runs from Nov. 15 through Nov. 30 statewide.

OHIO TRAPPING SEASON: The furbearer hunting and trapping season in Ohio opens Saturday for fox, raccoon, opossum, skunk and weasel, and runs through Jan. 31. Mink and muskrat trapping seasons are open Saturday through Feb. 28. In Erie, Ottawa and Sandusky counties, along with Lucas County east of the Maumee River, the trapping season for raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink and muskrat remains open through March 15.

“Following the mild winter of 2011-2012, most populations of furbearing species are doing very well,” said biologist Suzie Prange of the Division of Wildlife.

Beaver and river otter trapping seasons will open Dec. 26 and run through Feb. 28. Beaver trapping is open statewide, with 43 Ohio counties open for river otter trapping.

There are no daily bag limits or restrictions on hours for hunting and trapping furbearers, with the exception of river otters, and those rules are specific to the county where the trapping takes place.

There is no closed season or bag limit for coyote hunting and trapping in Ohio, but special regulations are in place during the deer gun seasons.

More detailed hunting and trapping information is available in the 2012-2013 Ohio Hunting Regulations pamphlet, at the wildohio.com Web site, or by calling the 1-800-WILDLIFE hotline.

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