Ohio’s spring turkey hunting season opens in April. Pictured are Chris Yoder and Bill Epards.

No hooks or bullets required

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

I’m in my 25th year of hosting a radio show about hunting and fishing in Ohio. One of the best things about producing Buckeye Sportsman is the guests I get to talk to, from the ice fisherman I interviewed live from his shanty — sipping schnapps and obviously getting more “relaxed” by the minute — to the avid rabbit hunter who had a cottontail tattoo on his back, which he felt compelled to show those of us in the studio, complete with bunny tracks inked down his spine leading toward where he claimed the rabbit lived. It’s been a hoot, and I have tried to make the show as entertaining and educational as possible for an audience who, I assumed, loved to hunt and fish. 

The same is true with this column, which I figure is of special interest to anglers, hunters, trappers and others who enjoy such “consumptive use” activities in Ohio’s outdoors – which some refer to as “hook and bullet” sports.   

That’s why I was struck by a recent note from an Ohio’s Country Journal reader who emailed me via the buckeyesportsman.com website. Wynn Miller, who identified himself as a pig farmer from the Coshocton area, wrote that he really enjoyed the Buckeye Sportsman column offered here in OCJ. When I answered his email, thanking him for his kind words and asking him what he liked to hunt or fish for here in Ohio, he admitted “Oh, I don’t hunt or fish. I just enjoy the outdoors,” and added that his home doesn’t have a radio. When I told Wynn he could probably tune-in if his truck has a radio, he said “I’ll have to try that.”   

It was sort of an epiphany to me, someone who rarely heads into the to field or stream without a rod, bow or gun in hand, that I have listeners and readers who could care less about catching or shooting something, yet enjoy hearing about and learning from those of us who do. Then again, there’s a common mantra, among hunters especially, that we go through phases as we mature, starting with the thrill of the shot, to enjoying the thrill of the hunt, to the thrill of merely seeing game to finally being content with simply being in Ohio’s outdoors. Like Wynn.

Proposed hunting season regulations 

Proposed hunting seasons that begin in the fall of 2021 for white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and small game have been presented to the Ohio Wildlife Council, as proposed by Division of Wildlife biologists. 

For whitetails hunters, as in season’s past, only one deer harvested may be antlered, regardless of where or how it is taken, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit. All county bag limits are proposed to remain identical to last season. The proposed deer hunting season dates for 2021-2022 include:

• Deer archery: Sept. 25, 2021-Feb. 6, 2022.

• Youth deer gun: Nov. 20-21, 2021.

• Deer gun: Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2021; Dec. 18-19, 2021.

• Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 8-11, 2022.

• Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

A proposal would allow antlerless deer to be taken from all public hunting areas from Sept. 25, 2021 to Feb. 6, 2022, provided that a hunter takes only one antlerless deer from these lands per license year.  

It was also proposed to expand deer management permits to all 88 Ohio counties from Sept. 25 to Nov. 28, 2021. Hunters would be able to use the deer management permit up to the county bag limit. The proposal does not include public hunting areas, except Lake La Su An Wildlife Area, Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, and during controlled hunts. Only antlerless deer may be harvested with a deer management permit, defined as any deer without antlers, or a deer with antlers less than 3 inches long. 

Ohio’s wild turkey hunting seasons for 2022 were also proposed. The proposed dates maintain a 30-day spring turkey season in the south zone and northeast zone, with opening days on Saturdays. The proposed spring turkey dates and hours for 2022:

• Youth season: April 9-10, 2022, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

• South zone: April 23-May 1, 2022, 30 minutes before sunrise to noon; May 2-22, 2022, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

• Northeast zone:  April 30-May 8, 2022, 30 minutes before sunrise to Noon; May 9-29, 2022, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

A proposal calls for a limit of one bearded wild turkey during the spring season on public hunting lands. The statewide limit during the spring would remain at two bearded birds. That proposal is in response to several below average reproductive years, and is designed to maintain healthy wild turkey populations on public lands, according to the agency. 

A proposal for duck blind lotteries and other types of lotteries would allow the chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife to choose how they are conducted. The proposal would include all Division of Wildlife drawings, including on Division of Parks and Watercraft properties.   

The Ohio Wildlife Council is an eight-member board that approves all Ohio Division of Wildlife proposed rules and regulations. Council meetings are held virtually and open to the public. Individuals interested in providing comments are asked to call 614-265-6304 at least two days prior to the meeting to register. All comments are required to be three minutes or less. A statewide hearing on all proposed rules will be held virtually on Thursday, March 18, at 9 a.m. 

A complete list of proposed rule changes and proposed hunting and trapping season dates for 2021-2022 are available at wildohio.gov. 

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