Hunting in Ohio: Youth gun begins Saturday; permit sales up 3%

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Scott Peters, a wildlife management supervisor for ODNR, talked about how hunting is going in Ohio and gave advice for how to be successful this season

(WKBN) – Starting Saturday, youth gun season starts and ends this weekend for Ohioans. The two-day stretch allows young hunters to get out there and land a tag. 

“Even if you’re not taking a youth out for youth gun, we love to see folks take out youth hunters and get them participating, but everybody needs to be wearing orange this weekend because there is a firearm season for deer going on,” said Scot Peters, a wildlife management supervisor for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Hunting season began September 26 and runs until February 7, which is the longest hunting season in Ohio. 

“It’s a more primitive weapon, so obviously, the deer’s got to get in much closer and give you the opportunity for a shot, and it’s extremely popular nowadays,” Peters said. 

Gun season in Ohio has two parts: November 30 to December 6, and December 19 and 20. After that is muzzleloader season from January 2 to 5. Participants can use either a muzzle-loaded shotgun or rifle for those days. 

Weather plays a big part in it, and the first half of November has been warm compared to others. When it’s warmer, the deer don’t move as much until it’s dark, which isn’t good for hunting. 

Crop conditions also play a factor, and Peters’ advice to hunters is to pay attention to what’s going on in the areas where individuals hunt. They should look for red and white oak trees. Deer love to eat the acorns from both. He said the white oak acorn crop is down, but the red oak crop is doing well. 

“White oaks are highly preferred by deer, so if you can find a white oak that still has acorns around it, that’s very good hunting, and red oaks are looking very good, generally, across most of the state, so that’s something to key in on for hunters is there’s a pretty good crop going on for red oaks right now, and deer are actively eating them,” Peters said. 

As of November 8, 53,922 white-tailed deer had been harvested by archers, which is a few hundred apart from their three-year average, but he said permit sales were up 3% this year, as of November 8. 

“We see ebbs and flows. It’s not uncommon,” Peters said. “Our next big push is always right before gun season.” 

To get a hunting license, individuals can get them online, Walmart and most sporting goods stores. All new hunters are required to complete a hunter’s safety course, which Peters recommends everyone to do.

“There’s ways to do that even with these COVID restrictions, online classes and things,” he said. 

In Ohio, the number of deer a person can get vary. In Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, hunters can hunt three deer, which is standard across the state. In Lucas, Cuyahoga, Summit, Franklin and Hamilton counties, hunters can purchase four tags. 

Trumbull County in in the top-10 for deer hunted, with 1,407, while Coshocton has the most, with 2,000 as of November 8. 

“Hunters just need to pay attention to the regulations just to make sure they don’t exceed a county bag limit or anything,” Peters said. 

Peters has been hunting for over 30 years and calls himself a “jack of all trades” because he will use a bow or muzzleloader to hunt, and says people hunt for many reasons, some being for family and for the food they harvest. 

“It’s just a healthy outdoor recreational pursuit,” he said. “Some people hike, some people backpack, and some people partake in hunting.”

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