Put away the picnic baskets and the beach balls, because its time to enjoy what many consider Ohio's real outdoor season
autumn! With the approach of cooler, crisper and definitely more colorful days, its the time of year to enjoy the Ohio outdoors at its finest.
And for many Ohioans that means gearing up for the fall hunting season, when thousands of avid outdoorsmen and women take to the fields and forests in pursuit of wild game, such as squirrels, ducks and geese, doves, deer and wild turkeys to name a few.
State wildlife officials are enthusiastic in their predictions for the excellent opportunities awaiting Ohio hunters. Wildlife populations for most of the states popular game species are strong, so we expect hunters will have good success in the field, said Mike Budzik, wildlife division chief for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Making this season even better, hunting on public and private land will be far less restricted on Sundays, thanks to legislation passed earlier this year."
For those who enjoy small game hunting, Ohios squirrel season is already underway and will last through January 31, 2003. As a result of a healthy squirrel population, hunters will now be able to harvest two additional squirrels per day, with the daily bag limit expanded to six for the first time.
An estimated four to five million mourning doves migrate through Ohio each fall, with peak migration occurring during September. With the dove population up by 16 percent, wildlife biologists predict a successful season for those hunting this swift, darting bird. Ohios dove hunting season is split into two periods and is open statewide September 1 through October 20, and November 21-30. Although shorter than last years season, hunters will be able to take 15 birds each day this year.
As the weather gets colder, waterfowl will begin migrating through Ohio, creating plenty of opportunities for hunters. Waterfowl hunting seasons are set to open October 19 in Ohios north zone and October 26 in the south zone. Those planning to hunt waterfowl must purchase a state wetland habitat stamp and federal duck stamp in addition to a basic Ohio hunting license. Waterfowl rules vary for each species, so make sure you review the detailed regulations that are available wherever licenses are sold.
Ohios most popular hunting season white-tailed deer begins on October 5, when thousands of bow hunters will take to the colorful woodlots across the state some in pursuit of a trophy-sized deer. This fall, the states deer population will be at near record levels, allowing hunters in 24 southeastern Ohio counties to take as many as three deer. The deer-gun season, which attracts as many as 500,000 people each year, is set for December 2-8, and the statewide blackpowder muzzeloader season is set for December 27-30.
As Ohios fall color peaks, the fall wild turkey hunting season gets underway, taking place October 12 through October 27. During the this season, hunters can take a turkey of either sex in 35 counties. One of the most challenging wildlife species to hunt, biologists estimate there are 260,000 wild turkeys statewide. For the first time this year, archery hunters will have an extended season for wild turkeys, lasting October 28 through December 1.
Those planning on hunting this fall in Ohio must purchase a hunting license and any other specialty permits required. Hunting licenses cost $15 for an adult and $8 for hunters under the age of 16. And, for first-time hunters, information concerning Ohios hunter education courses can be viewed online at ohiodnr.com
A variety of hunting opportunities can be found at a number of public hunting areas owned and managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Ohio has more than 90 state wildlife areas, 20 state forests and other public lands open to hunting. A map of public hunting areas is also available by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE.
When youre out in the field this fall, enjoy everything the autumn season has to offer, the time with friends and the pursuit of Ohios challenging wild game. Just remember to hunt safely.