Ohio’s deer archery hunting season opened statewide on September 24, with the exception of Hardin, Marion and Wyandot counties where archers took to the woods beginning Sept 10.

Early deer hunting and CWD testing underway

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

Hunters in Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties are enjoying extra dates to harvest a white-tailed deer as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife continues to monitor for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the region.

Since the fall of 2020, 11 wild deer have tested positive for CWD in Ohio, all in Wyandot and Marion counties. In response, a disease surveillance area was established in Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties. CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects deer and other similar species, including mule deer, elk, and moose.

Beginning this year, the Division of Wildlife established earlier hunting seasons to slow the spread of CWD by lowering deer concentrations within the disease surveillance area. Archery hunting season began Sept. 10, and an early gun hunting season will take place Oct. 8 to Oct. 10 in Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties.

CWD sampling within the disease surveillance area is required for all deer harvested Oct. 8-10, Nov. 5-6, Nov. 12-13, as well as during the entire seven-day gun season (Nov. 28-Dec. 4). Staffed sampling locations will be available during the seven-day gun season at the addresses below. Outside the seven-day gun season, hunters should use self-serve kiosks for mandatory sampling.

Staffed sampling locations will be at the following locations: 

• Big Island Wildlife Area Headquarters, 5389 Larue-Prospect Rd West, New Bloomington, OH 3341

• Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area Headquarters, 19100 CH 115, Harpster, OH 43323

• Wyandot County Fairgrounds, 10171 OH 53, Upper Sandusky, OH 43351

• Rural King, 233 American Blvd, Marion, OH 43302

• Hardin County Fairgrounds, 14134 County Rd 140, Kenton, OH 43326

• McGuffey Conservation Club, 6950 Township Rd 55, Ada, OH 45810

Hunters can use self-serve kiosks to drop their deer off for free voluntary sampling throughout the deer season. Kiosk locations are available at ohiodnr.gov/cwd and instructions for sample submission will be provided at the kiosk. Hunters statewide are encouraged to submit deer for sampling. Successful hunters are not required to surrender their deer. Those with questions on having their deer sampled can call (419) 429-8322.

Outside the disease surveillance area, hunters may test a harvested deer at the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory for a fee. Call (614) 728-6220 for more information.

In addition to mandatory testing, the following regulations apply within the disease surveillance area:  

• The placement of or use of bait (salt, minerals, or any food) to attract or feed deer, as well as the hunting of deer by the aid of bait, is prohibited.

• The removal of a complete carcass or high-risk parts from the disease surveillance area is prohibited unless the carcass complies with deer carcass regulations, or the carcass is delivered to a certified taxidermist or processor within 24 hours of leaving the area. Additional information on carcass regulations and a complete list of certified processors and taxidermists can be found at ohiodnr.gov/cwd. 

Normal agricultural activities, including feeding of domestic animals, as well as hunting deer over food plots, naturally occurring or cultivated plants, and agriculture crops are not prohibited.

To help protect Ohio’s deer herd from CWD, hunters should properly dispose of their deer carcasses by double-bagging all high-risk parts (brain, spinal cord, eyes, and lymphoid tissue) and setting it out with their household garbage for trash pickup, when permitted by waste disposal facilities. Those without trash pickup can double bag the carcass and take it to a municipal solid waste landfill or bury the carcass at least 3 feet deep on the property of harvest. The Division of Wildlife will provide receptacles in the disease surveillance area for proper carcass disposal. The proper handling of carcasses, trims, and parts dramatically decreases the risk of spreading disease.

 Archery season opens on Sept. 24 in the rest of the state and concludes on Feb. 5, 2023. Statewide youth gun (Nov. 19-20), gun (Nov. 28 – Dec. 4), bonus gun (Dec. 17-18), and muzzleloader (Jan. 7-10, 2023) seasons present firearms hunters with additional opportunities. Additional details on hunting seasons, bag limits, and regulations can be found in the 2022-23 Hunting and Trapping Regulations digest, available on the HuntFish OH app, wildohio.gov, or where licenses are sold.

The Division of Wildlife has conducted routine surveillance for CWD since 2002, with more than 33,000 deer tested. CWD has previously been detected at captive deer breeding facilities in Ohio and has been detected in 30 states and four Canadian provinces.

Wildlife officer cadets begin training

The 31st Ohio Wildlife Officer Cadet Training Academy to prepare the next class of 11 cadets got underway Aug. 22. The cadets were hired from a pool of nearly 800 applicants and will complete more than six months of training before becoming Ohio wildlife officers. They will graduate in March 2023 and be assigned to individual counties, with one officer remaining at-large.

Ohio wildlife officers have statewide authority to enforce wildlife regulations and protect state lands, waterways, and property. As state law enforcement officers, they contribute to public safety in their local areas and Ohio’s great outdoors. They also speak to hundreds of clubs and groups about conservation and wildlife programs, perform fish and wildlife surveys, and provide technical advice and instruction about wildlife management issues, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor related recreation.

Cadets who require state law enforcement certification will complete approximately 21 weeks of Ohio Peace Officer Basic Training and all cadets will receive 8 to 10 additional weeks of specialized training from the Division of Wildlife. Training includes law enforcement procedures and agency policies as well as wildlife and fisheries management, communications skills, ATV and vehicle operations, as well as advanced firearms and self-defense topics.

Officer Denamen honored

Speaking of Wildlife Officers, Scott Denamen, Ohio Wildlife Officer Supervisor in northeast Ohio, was recently named Ohio Wildlife Officer of the Year by the Shikar-Safari Club International. Officer Denamen was presented his award during the August meeting of the Ohio Wildlife Council. Shikar-Safari Club International is a conservation-based organization that presents annual awards to deserving wildlife law enforcement officers in all states, provinces, and territories in the U.S. and Canada. The annual award honors a state officer whose efforts show outstanding performance and achievement among commissioned conservation law enforcement personnel.

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