CROWN CITY — White-tailed deer season has arrived in Southeastern Ohio and with that comes a large responsibility for local hunters and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to keep the woods safe.
“Treat every gun as if it’s loaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction, be sure of your target and beyond and, if using a tree stand, use a full-body harness whenever your feet leave the ground. These are the four safety tips that we view as most important,” said Lindsay Rist, ODNR wildlife communications specialist.
Few regulations have changed since last year for the state, but ones from year’s past are still making a difference this season. The Ohio deer gun season was previously a shotgun-only affair, but now permits some straight-wall cartridges, which allows hunters to use certain rifles.
“The biggest regulation change that we’ve made recently is the use of straight-wall cartridges in the 2014-15 season,” Rist said. “Some states actually have a rifle season they refer to. In Ohio, we have more people and flatter terrain and a rifle is going to shoot farther than a shotgun slug, so we couldn’t allow just a rifle season.”
Some locals’ favorite public hunting grounds are AEP Gavin, Raccoon Creek, Tycoon Lake Wildlife Area and Crown City Wildlife Area, which is 11,119-acres. All of these areas are comprised with white-tail deer, rabbit, turkey and other game species.
“Everyone that’s going to hunt public lands needs to have a hunting license,” Rist said. “In order to do that, they need to go through a hunter education course, or they need to take the proficiency test to opt out of it, but they still have to show that they have knowledge of firearm and hunting safety in Ohio.”
Rist said there are regulation differences between public and private lands.
“If you are the landowner, then you don’t have to have a hunting license or deer permit to hunt on your own property,” she said. “If you are going to be hunting on (someone else’s) private property, you should have written permission from the landowner to be there.”
Wear your designated orange, use appropriate ammunition, be cautious and courteous to other hunters, follow regulations and safety tips to keep your deer season clean and fun.
A new worry for the ODNR this year from the trickling disease CWD, or chronic wasting disease, which had sparsely spread to Holmes County. Officers have been collecting many samples from road kill deer every year and having them tested by the Department of Agriculture.
“We are pretty far from that area. We do have a disease surveillance area set up. It has not been detected in the wild herd at this time,” Rist said. “Just in general, if somebody suspects that a deer is acting funny or it might have a problem, they can request to get it tested.”
Gallia County has a two-deer limit and the state limit is six. Meaning, a hunter can travel to other counties to acquire their state total. Over the pasts two years, Gallia County has lowered its bag limit from three to two. The regulation for only one buck has remained the same.
“We use hunting as a management tool. We want people to take so many deer across the state to help keep the population in balance,” Rist said. “We have reduced bag limits in several counties across the state and part of that is because each county has a set goal for population. As they have gotten closer to their goal, we haven’t needed to take as many deer.”
For the 2016 season, Gallia County’s gun season is Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, and Dec. 17-18. Muzzleloading season is Jan. 7-10.
For more information, visit wildohio.gov.
Tiffany Benson is a freelance writer based in Crown City.