The state's general muzzleloader deer-hunting season will move to Jan. 9 through 12 under 2009-2010 hunting and trapping regulations recently approved by the Ohio Wildlife Council.
The change from a Dec. 27 through 30 season, which was instituted in 1998, includes two weekend days. It was done in hopes of boosting the muzzleloader season kill, which has been declining for four years, according to state deer biologist Mike Tonkovich.
Muzzleloader hunters took just under 21,000 deer last Dec. 27 through 30, down from some 22,000 the year prior.
"It will allow rejuvenation of both deer and deer hunters," he said, noting for example that only five days separated the bonus "shotgun" weekend and muzzleloader last December, and that had followed a week of shotgun season in early December.
"The seasons had begun to blend into each other," Tonkovich said, adding that surveys showed that positioning the statewide muzzleloading season between the Christmas and New Year's holidays did not increase youth participation as originally billed.
In the last survey, in 2005, the state had about 160,000 muzzleloader hunters. Tonkovich said no major opposition to the season change arose during the public comment period.
The regulations maintain the same deer zones as the last four years. Archery season will run from Sept. 26 through Feb. 7. The popular youth deer-gun season will be Nov. 21-22. Deer-gun season will run Nov. 30-Dec. 6 and Dec. 19-20. Statewide muzzleloader season will run Jan. 9-12.
In other council action, two additional northwest Ohio counties, Williams and Defiance, will be open for fall turkey hunting, Oct. 10 through Nov. 29, bringing the total to 48 counties statewide.
Spring turkey season for 2010 will be April 19 through May 16. Spring gobbler hunters in 2010 will be able to hunt all day the last two weeks (May 3 through 16) of the four-week season. Legal hunting hours during those two weeks will be one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
The ruffed grouse daily bag limit is being cut from three to two, and the season will end on Jan. 31, a month earlier than traditionally. Grouse populations continue long-term declines with flush rates and harvest rates at record lows, said state grouse biologist Mike Reynolds.
Sept. 1 will again kick off the state's fall hunting seasons, including the opening of the squirrel-hunting season, which runs through Jan. 31
Rules and season dates for mourning dove, Canada goose, rail, moorhen, snipe, and migratory waterfowl hunting will be set in August, in compliance with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's 2009-10 framework.
All hunting and trapping season dates and rules can be found at ohiodnr.com.
"Welcome Back Walleye," the annual celebration by Toledo Metroparks of the spring walleye runs in the Maumee River, is under way daily through Sunday at Side Cut Metropark.
A daily fishing competition for the heaviest stringer of four walleye and the day's longest fish is continuing all week, with entries to be made at the ZAP lures stand at Side Cut. Jann's Nettcraft is providing daily prizes along with a special raffle prize. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Andersons' family fun day is set for Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Silver Lake area at Side Cut. Included will be fishing demonstrations, displays, arts and crafts, music, a kids' fishing experience, cooking classes, and nature walks.
A "duck dash" also is planned to support the Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs program, with a $5 entry fee for a duck.