Ohio's popular muzzleloader deer season is set to open statewide December 27-30, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. Last year, hunters checked 21,473 white-tailed deer during the statewide hunt.
A total of 178,838 deer have been harvested so far this season when combining the adult and youth gun seasons, early muzzleloader season and the first six weeks of the archery season. That compares to a total of 167,965 killed last year during the same time period. Hunters took a total of 232,854 deer during all of last year's hunting seasons.
Prior to the start of the hunting season, Ohio's deer population was estimated at 700,000. The Division of Wildlife expects as many as 265,000 hunters will hunt deer during the muzzleloader season.
Ohio deer hunters must possess the proper permits. Regardless of zone, method of taking or season, hunters may take only one antlered deer during the 2008-2009 deer hunting season.
Legal hunting hours during the statewide muzzleloader deer season are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Deer must be checked by 8 p.m. on the day after harvest, except those killed on December 30, which must be brought to a deer check station by 8 p.m. that day.
Ohio's small game, furbearer and waterfowl seasons also will be open during the muzzleloader season. During those overlapping four days, small game hunters and deer hunters must visibly wear a coat, jacket, vest or coveralls that are either solid hunter orange or camouflage hunter orange in color.
Hunters have been encouraged to kill more does this season and donate 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 give their deer to a food bank are not required to pay the processing cost as long as the deer are taken to a participating processor and funding for the effort lasts. Counties being served by this program can be found online at www.fhfh.org .
The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in Ohio, frequently pursued by generations of hunters. Ohio ranks 6th nationally in annual hunting-related sales and 4th in the number of jobs associated with the hunting-related industry. Each year, hunting has a $1.5 billion economic impact in Ohio. Hunting related retail sales in Ohio total more than $700 million.
Additional hunting regulations and maps of deer zones are contained in the 2008-2009 OhioHunting Regulations. This free publication is available where hunting licenses are sold and from the Division of Wildlife by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE or on the Internet at wildohio.com .