Up to 200,000 Ohio deer hunters may be afield next week during the annual statewide muzzleloading-rifle season, which could see a record bag if the weather cooperates.
If there is a White Christmas and snow stays on the ground, chances for exceeding last year's record bag of 18,398 deer are good, said Dave Swanson, a state deer biologist. On the other hand, he added, if the weather is wet and warm, as during the shotgun season, the kill may be lower.
The week-long shotgun season after Thanksgiving brought a kill of just under 100,000 deer, about 10 per cent lower than forecast. Many hunters left the woods early that week because of prolonged rainy, warm weather.
The muzzleloader season, officially called the primitive weapons hunting season, is set for Dec. 27 through Dec. 30. Though most hunters use the black-powder arms, longbows and crossbows also are legal to use.
Hunters are reminded that if they already have bagged a buck, they only may take an antlerless deer, and only Zone C in the east-southeast corner of the state, where up to two deer may be taken. Hunters also may take additional antlerless deer, with proper permit, in Urban Deer Zones, which includes Lucas County and a very small corner of Wood County along the Maumee River.
Hunters should refer to the Ohio 2001-2002 Hunting and Trapping Regulations digest for additional details. The digest is available wherever licenses are sold or by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE.
On a related note, the hiking trails at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge will be closed Dec. 28-29, and Jan. 2-3-4-5 during a controlled deer hunt aimed at reducing a deer overpopulation on the refuge.
The refuge office, 14000 West State Rt. 2, Oak Harbor, will be open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For details call the refuge, 419 898-0014.
In other deer news, the Associated Press reported the taking of an antlered 12-point doe near Otwell, Ind., during the neighbor state's recent gun season.
An antlered doe is unusual enough - only about one doe in 8,000 sprouts antlers because of hormone imbalances. But such antlers usually are small and spindly, not larger 12-point racks. The antlers of the prize doe were still in velvet.
Fur prices for the first of three winter sales, held Saturday, by the Northwestern Ohio Fur Traders, Inc., were about the same as the first sale a year ago, according to Frank Vavrik, an NWOFT spokseman.
Prices, with highs followed by averages, are as follow:
Raccoon, XXX-large, $19.50 and $15.11; XX-large, $16.75 and $11.68; extra-large, $12,50 and $7.73; large, $6.50 and $3.88; damaged, $10.50 and $5.21; rubbed, $11 and $3.51.
Muskrat, large, $4.20 and $3.82; medium, $2.80 and $1.95; large, damaged, $3 and $1.31; flats, 50 cents and 35 cents.
Mink, male, $22 and $10.14; female, $9 and $7.14.
Opossum, $2.25 and $1.34. Skunk, $6.50 and $5.10. Red fox, $27 and $23. Gray fox, $13 and $11.48. Coyote, $15 and $7.90.
Vavrik said that the sale brought 60 seller lots and 15 buyers. The next sales are Jan. 12 and Feb. 9, both at the Wood County Fairgrounds, Junior Fair Building, West Poe Road, Bowling Green. Doors open at 7 a.m. and sales begin at 9 a.m.
For lot numbers and details call Sam Dewyer, 419-352-0171.
Thursday - Public trapshoot, 6 to 9 p.m., Ottawa County Conservation League, Martin-Moline Road, Martin, call Rick Temple, 666-1399.
Thursday - Trap and skeet shooting, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monroe Rod and Gun Club, 6280 Lighthouse Rd., Monroe, Mich., call Jim Warren, 734-243-9774.
Thursday - Trapshoot, 6 p.m., Sandusky County Sportsmen's Club, State Rt. 600 east of Gibsonburg.
Friday - Public trapshoot, 6:30 p.m., Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association, 349 Teachout Rd. north of State Rt. 2, Curtice, call Frank Schaffer, 419-691-2769.
Friday - Sunrise solstice walk, 7:59 a.m., Wildwood Preserve Metropark, Metz Visitor Center; also, Dec. 25, nature of Christmas, 2 p.m., Side Cut Metropark, Siegert Lake Area; also, Dec. 27, winter wonderland, 1 p.m., Pearson Metropark, Packer-Hammersmith Center; also, Dec. 30, full moon walk, 7 p.m., Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, Mallard Lake Area, small groups call for reservations 419-535-3058 extension 101.
Dec. 30 - Sport clays shoot, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., United Conservation Clubs of America, Township Road 243, off U.S. 224 east of Findlay, call Don Borkosky, 419-427-4236.
Steve Pollick is The Blade's outdoor writer. E-mail him at email@example.com.