Archery Deer Hunting Season Opens Soon

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Approximately 200,000 bowhunters are expected to participate in the statewide archery deer hunting season, which opens on October 4, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

During last year's four-month archery season, bowhunters took a record 48,904 deer, up 18 percent from the previous season's record harvest of 41,526.

Both longbow and crossbow kill totals set records last year. Crossbow hunters totaled 28,352 deer, and longbow hunters took 20,552 deer. Overall, archers accounted for 24 percent of the 204,652 deer taken during Ohio's combined 2002 archery, primitive and gun seasons.

Licking County led the state in crossbow and longbow harvest. Coshocton, Tuscarawas, Holmes and Guernsey counties rounded out the top five counties in crossbow kills. Completing the top five list for deer taken by a longbow were Knox, Coshocton, Holmes and Muskingum counties.

"Archers should expect another fantastic season in terms of deer numbers and opportunities to harvest one of Ohio's Buckeye Big Bucks," said Mike Tonkovich, wildlife biologist for ODNR's Division of Wildlife. "We're expecting a statewide archery harvest similar to last year."

This year's statewide archery season is open from October 4 through January 31, 2004 including the week of deer-gun season, which is December 1 through December 7. Wildlife biologists estimate Ohio's deer herd at 681,000 prior to the start of hunting season.

Archery hunters may hunt one half-hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset, except during the statewide gun and primitive seasons when they are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

During the statewide gun and primitive seasons, archery hunters are reminded that they must meet the hunter orange requirements of those seasons.

To hunt deer in Ohio, hunters must possess a deer permit ($20) in addition to a valid hunting license ($15). State law allows hunters to take only one antlered buck per year, regardless of the type of deer season, deer permit or implement used for deer hunting.

Ohio is divided into three deer hunting zones. Zone A consists of 29 northern and western counties, which have a one-deer limit. The 54 counties in Zone B, mostly in southern and eastern Ohio, have a two-deer limit. And a restricted zone, Zone R, encompasses five northwest Ohio counties with a one-deer limit with special restrictions during the gun season.

Hunters may purchase up to four urban deer permits at a cost of $10 each to take antlerless deer only within the urban deer zones or during a special controlled hunt. Urban deer zones are located around Columbus, Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown, Toledo, Dayton and Cincinnati.

In addition to the statewide deer gun season, archers may also participate in the special area primitive season held October 20 through 25 on Salt Fork, Shawnee and Wildcat Hollow public hunting areas as well as the statewide primitive season December 27 through 30.

A detailed listing of deer hunting rules is contained in the 2003-2004 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest that is available where licenses are sold, or may be viewed on-line at ohiodnr.com.