Deer gun season opens
LAKE AREA – Jim McKittrick has already checked 100 deer, and gun season doesn’t even open for a week. “It’s not too bad,” said McKittrick, owner of Millersport Bait & Tackle, which is a deer check station and sells hunting permits. It’s been a good bow-hunting season and he expects a good gun and muzzle-loading season as well. McKittrick said hunters shouldn’t worry because he won’t run out of hunting permits. “We do most of that stuff online, now,” he said.
According to a press release from the ODNR Division of Wildlife, Ohio’s deer-gun season opens statewide on Monday, Nov. 30, offering hunters a full week to harvest a whitetail. The upcoming season will include an extra weekend of gun hunting on Dec. 19 and 20.
Around the lake, Hebron’s Buckeye Outdoors and New Lexington’s Whitlatch Bait & Carry Out sell deer hunting permits in addition to Millersport Bait & Tackle, and the ODNR sells permits online.
Hunters may use a legal muzzleloader, handgun or shotgun from one half-hour before sunrise to sunset through Dec. 6 and Dec. 19-20. With a pre-hunting season population estimate of 650,000 white-tailed deer, the ODNR Division of Wildlife anticipates 115,000 to 125,000 deer will be killed during the nine-day season. Approximately 420,000 hunters are expected to participate in this year’s season, including many out-of-state hunters.
The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in Ohio, which ranks eighth nationally in annual hunting-related sales and tenth in the number of jobs associated with the huntingrelated industry. Each year, hunting has an $859 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more.
Ohio is divided into three deer hunting zones. Licking, Fairfield, and Perry counties are all in Zone C. Beginning on the opening day of gun season and continuing through Dec. 6, a total of six deer may be harvested in Ohio’s Zone C through the weeklong gun season. The antlerless deer permit will be valid for deer-gun week only in Zone C.
Beginning on Dec. 7, the bag limit is three deer in Zone C and antlerless deer permits are no longer valid. Any time hunters are allowed to take more than one deer, they must purchase an additional permit.
Hunters may take only one antlered deer, regardless of zone, hunting method or season. A deer permit is required in addition to a valid Ohio hunting license.
Hunters are encouraged to kill more does this season using the reduced-priced antlerless deer permit and donate any extra venison to organizations assisting Ohioans in need. The Division is collaborating with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry to help pay for the processing of donated venison. Hunters who donate their deer are not required to pay the processing cost as long as the deer are taken to a participating processor. Local participating butchers are Millersport’s Bower and Sons, New Lexington’s Dick’s Packing Plant, and Junction City’s Lazy Acre Meats.
Bower and Sons owner Jim Bower said hunters donated more than 100 deer last season through the Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry program. Last year was the first Bower and Sons participated and Bower expects even more donated deer this year as the word spreads.