Young hunters will have a special statewide gun-hunting season for deer and expanded spring wild turkey hunting hours under a series of regulations approved last week for 2003-2004 by the Ohio Wildlife Council.
The council, in charge of making rules for hunting, fishing and trapping, also approved use of two-way radios during deer hunting. The radios, however, may be used only for emergencies such as illness or injury or becoming lost, and not to assist with actual hunting.
Radios currently may be used in similar situations for all other hunting in the state.
Hunters ages 17 and under will be able to pursue deer with shotguns or muzzleloaders on Nov. 22 and 23 statewide on both public and private lands.
“These special hunts provide young outdoor enthusiasts with a chance to experience our state's great deer hunting during a prime time before the regular deer gun season,” said Steve Gray, chief of wildlife.
“We hope adult hunters will take new, young hunters and introduce them to the excitement and challenge of deer hunting.” The bag limit for the special season will be one deer of either sex.
An extension of hunting hours for the special two-day spring youth wild turkey hunting season also was approved for 2004. It allows hunting from sunrise to sunset instead of sunrise to noon.
The use of two-way radios is being allowed because of what are regarded as legitimate safety and personal-communications reasons. But they will not be allowed to aid in deer hunting, a use which would be questionable ethically even if not legally.
Also within the realm of deer regulations, the 2003-2004 seasons will expand the number of two-deer counties to 54, in a new Deer Zone B. It includes most of southern and eastern Ohio.
There will, however, be no three-deer counties this fall, following a record bag of 204,652 deer in 2002-2003. The pre-season herd was estimated at a record 575,000 animals.
Deer Zone A, 29 western and northern counties, will have a one-deer season limit.
A special Zone R, just five northwest counties, will have a one-deer limit with special restrictions. The zone includes Paulding, Putnam, Henry, Van Wert and Wood counties. Deer of either sex will be allowed in archery and statewide primitive weapons seasons, and during only the first two days of the gun season. The remainder of the gun season in Zone R will be for legal bucks only.
The statewide gun season will be Dec. 1 through 7.
Archery deer season will run continuously, Oct. 4 through Jan. 31.
The statewide muzzleloader or primitive weapons or black powder deer season, as it is otherwise known, will be Dec. 27 through 30.
A special black powder season for bucks only is set for Oct. 20 through 25 at Salt Fork, Wildcat Hollow, and Shawnee public hunting areas.
Legal hunting hours for rabbit, pheasant and quail now will be sunrise to sunset on both private and public lands.
Squirrel season will open Sept. 1, to coincide with the opening of several other seasons.
“Hunters look forward to Sept. 1 as opening day of hunting season for the year,” noted Gray. “On that one day the season will begin for doves, squirrels, and [special early] Canada geese. It is also the Labor Day holiday, a great way to kick off the hunting season.”
The ginseng management program also was revised to a Sept. 1 opening harvest date, with the digger required to immediately replant any seeds where a plant is collected. The fee for certifying ginseng is $3 a pound.
Following are the opening dates for the various 2003-2004 hunting and trapping seasons:
Squirrel - Sept. 1.
Dove - Sept. 1.
Canada goose - Sept. 1, special early season. Closing date and other general goose seasons to be set later, along with early teal and general duck seasons.
White-tailed deer - Archery, Oct. 4; special early bucks-only primitive weapons/black powder, Oct. 20, three public areas only; statewide special early youth gun, Nov. 22 and 23; statewide gun, Dec. 1; statewide primitive weapons/black powder, Dec. 27.
Ruffed grouse - Oct. 11.
Wild turkey, fall - Oct. 27, 36 counties.
Wild turkey, fall - archery only, Oct. 27.
Upland season, youth only - Oct. 25 and 26, Nov. 1 and 2, for cottontail rabbit, ring-necked pheasant and bobwhite quail.
Cottontail rabbit - Nov. 7.
Ring-necked pheasant - Nov. 7.
Bobwhite quail - Nov. 7.
Fox, raccoon and opossum hunting - Nov. 10.
Fox, raccoon, skunk, opossum, weasel, mink and muskrat trapping - Nov. 10.
Beaver trapping - Jan. 10, north, Dec. 26 south.
Spring wild turkey, 2004 - April 26.
Crow - June 13, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, through March 22.
Falconry - Aug. 16.