Thoughts on the upcoming Ohio deer gun season

Jim Freeman In The Open

November 10, 2013

It’s beginning to look a lot like deer season in Ohio.

The archery hunters have already been at it since the end of September, muzzleloader hunters got a crack at antlerless deer a few weeks ago, but here soon the gun hunters get their shot. Youth gun season is the weekend of Nov. 23-24 followed by the statewide deer gun season which begins Monday, Dec. 2.

Here are some of my thoughts on the upcoming season:

Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems the statewide deer gun season is starting late this year, but that’s just where it falls on the calendar as the Monday following Thanksgiving, which also seems a little late in coming this month.

Looking back to 2000, the deer gun season has started as early as Nov. 26 (three times) and started Dec. 2 in 2002. Next year’s deer gun season should start Dec. 1.

Gun hunters will have a total of three-and-a-half extra hunting hours during the week of deer gun season. A change in this year’s regulations bumped up the hunting hours to one-half hour after sunset. Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset, which corresponds to 7 a.m. and 5:31 p.m. on the opening day of the statewide deer gun season.

That’s roughly from “can see to can’t see” but you’ll need a watch or some other way to make sure you stay legal. As always use a flashlight or some other light when you enter and leave the woods to make sure nobody mistakes you for a deer – deer don’t carry flashlights.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife is still encouraging deer hunters to kill feral swine (wild pigs, boars, hogs, etc.) wherever it is legally possible.

Feral swine are a non-native, invasive species that can damage the natural habitat, damage crops and carry diseases. There is no daily bag limit on feral swine, but if hunted during the deer gun season, the hours and legal hunting devices are the same as for deer gun season. The Division has no interest in managing feral swine populations; the desired end-state is that there would be zero feral swine in the state.

Deer hunters now have to make their own temporary deer tags, just like landowners have been doing for decades. This isn’t really a bad thing, since the paper used for issued deer tags has been of poor quality the past several years. I suggest a baggy or something to protect your tag.

If you kill a deer you need to make a game tag (or preferably make one in advance) and fill it out with your name, date, time and attach it to the animal where it fell, and also fill in your deer permit with the same information. Call 1-877-TAGITOH or 1-877-824-4864, visit via computer or smartphone and follow the links on the Wild Ohio Customer Center there, or visit an authorized license sale agent (Note: you do not need to take the animal to the agent for the game check) to check your deer.

With this being said, the authorized license sale agent is basically just a place with internet access to use the Wild Ohio Customer Center; basically ANY computer or smart phone can be used to purchase licenses and tags, and can also be used to check deer as long as it has access to the internet. Literally you can check a deer almost anywhere: in the field, the local library, your friend’s house, your favorite coffee house or fast-food place, anywhere you have service or access to a computer or smart phone.

Landowners can check in their deer on the internet or via smartphone only; that is because they do not have the 10-digit permit number needed to use the automated phone system.

For the younger hunters this process is almost intuitive. In the past few years I have seen some of the younger guys in our group check their deer online, take photos of themselves with their trophy and post the photos on the internet using their smart phones – without ever leaving the woods.

Either way, you will get an 18-digit confirmation number which you must put on the game tag and deer permit. You have until noon the day after the kill to complete this process, with the exception that if it is the last day of a season you have until 11:30 p.m. that night.

Of course there are lots of other things that hunters need to know. For more information about permits, bag limits and seasons, consult the Ohio Hunting Trapping Regulations 2013-2014, or contact your local wildlife officer.

Perhaps most importantly, hunters should consider taking a youngster afield this year, and passing along the tradition.

Jim Freeman is wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District and a long-time contributor to the Sunday Times-Sentinel. He can be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 or at