Hunters will have their first opportunity to pursue white-tailed deer when archery season opens on Saturday, Sept. 26, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Deer hunters should be aware of certain changes when purchasing permits before heading into the field this year. Ohio’s 2015-2016 deer seasons include:
• Archery: Sept. 26 to Feb. 7, 2016
• Youth gun: Nov. 21 to 22
• Gun: Nov. 30 to Dec. 6 and Dec. 28 to Dec. 29
• Muzzleloader: Jan. 9 to 12, 2016
The ODNR Division of Wildlife remains committed to managing Ohio’s deer populations through a combination of regulatory and programmatic changes. The goal of Ohio’s Deer Management Program is to provide a deer population that maximizes recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists.
Until recently, deer populations in nearly all of Ohio’s counties were well above their target numbers. In the last few years, through increased harvests, strides have been made in many counties to bring those populations closer toward their goal. Once a county’s deer population is near goal, harvest regulations are adjusted to maintain the population.
Since most counties are near their target levels, antlerless permit use was changed for the upcoming deer hunting seasons, and these permits are no longer valid in most counties. Antlerless permits will be valid in the remaining 10 counties until Nov. 29, the Sunday before the deer-gun season. Only one antlerless permit may be used per county, regardless of the bag limit.
The statewide bag limit was reduced to six deer. Deer bag limits are determined by county, and hunters cannot exceed a county bag limit. No more than six deer may be taken from all counties when combined. Additional ODNR Division of Wildlife authorized controlled hunting opportunities do not count against statewide or county bag limits. Hunters may harvest only one buck in Ohio, regardless of method of take or location.
Medina, Wayne, Ashland and Holmes counties are all a “Three Deer County,” meaning a hunter may kill no more than three deer in a three-deer county during the 2015-16 season. A hunter may use up to three either-sex permits. Antlerless permits are not valid. Summit and Cuyahoga counties are both a “Four Deer County,” so a hunter may kill no more than four deer. A hunter may use up to three either-sex permits and one antlerless permit or up to four either-sex permits.
New this year, the .450 Marlin straight-walled cartridge was added to the list of specific straight-walled cartridge rifles legal for use during the deer-gun and youth deer-gun seasons. These specific straight-walled cartridge rifles are legal for deer hunting: .357 Magnum, .357 Maximum, .38 Special, .375 Super Magnum, .375 Winchester, .38-55, .41 Long Colt, .41 Magnum, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, .444 Marlin, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .45 Long Colt, .45 Winchester Magnum, .45 Smith & Wesson, .450 Marlin, .454 Casull, .460 Smith & Wesson, .45-70, .45-90, .45-110, .475 Linebaugh, .50-70, .50-90, .50-100, .50-110 and .500 Smith and Wesson. Shotguns and straight-walled cartridge rifles may have no more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined while deer hunting.
Also new this year, two additional days of deer gun season will be offered Dec. 28 to 29 to provide more gun hunting opportunities. Additionally, the antlerless-only muzzleloader season was suspended this year.
Deer hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes past sunset for all deer seasons. This includes gun and muzzleloader seasons. Additional details about deer hunting rules are contained in the 2015-16 Ohio Hunting Regulations, available where licenses are sold, or at wildohio.gov.