Ohio deer gun seasons start this weekend for youth

The 2023 deer gun seasons are drawing near, starting with youth season this weekend.

Youth season, for hunters ages 17 and younger, is Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 18 and 19, according to a Nov. 15 news release from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. The weeklong gun season, open to all hunters, runs from Monday, Nov. 27, through Sunday, Dec. 3. The deer gun weekend is Dec. 16 and 17.

“Ohio’s deer gun hunting seasons are a valued tradition that create time outdoors with friends and family,” ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker said in the release. “The gun seasons are an excellent opportunity to harvest venison before the holidays.”

Hunters harvested 96,610 deer during the 2022 gun seasons, including 71,932 deer taken during the seven-day gun season, which traditionally begins the Monday after Thanksgiving. In total, 9,515 deer were checked by hunters ages 17 and younger during last year’s youth weekend, with another 15,163 deer in the December gun weekend, according to the release. The three-year average for deer harvested in the gun seasons is 92,108.

Deer gun harvest totals are typically highest in the eastern half of Ohio, according to the release. Coshocton (2,457), Muskingum (2,326), Tuscarawas (2,321), Ashtabula (1,987), and Knox (1,909) counties led the state in harvests during last year's seven-day gun season.

Legal hunting implements during the gun seasons include shotguns, straight-walled cartridge rifles, muzzleloaders, handguns, and archery equipment. Ohio’s deer muzzleloader hunting season is Jan. 6-9, 2024, when muzzleloaders and archery equipment are legal hunting implements.

During any of the gun seasons, all hunters, regardless of implement, are required to wear hunter orange. Check the 2023-24 Hunting and Trapping Regulations for more information.

The hunting and trapping regulations include information on county bag limits, licenses and permits, and the chronic wasting disease surveillance area in Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties. As a reminder, deer management permits are valid only until Sunday, Nov. 26. During the gun seasons, Ohio hunters will need an either-sex permit, unless exempted, available at wildohio.gov, on the HuntFish OH app, and at license vendors.

All deer harvested in Ohio must be checked in via the Ohio Wildlife Licensing System. This information gives the Division of Wildlife long-term data that aids wildlife biologists in monitoring deer health, distribution, and relative abundance, according to the release. Hunters may check game by using the HuntFish OH mobile app, visiting ohiogamecheck.com, calling 1-877-TAG-IT-OH (1-877-824-4864), visiting a license sales agent, or calling 1-866-703-1298 (landowner operator-assisted; fees apply).

Hunters interested in tracking the season's harvest can view weekly deer harvest reports at wildohio.gov. The Division of Wildlife posts updates each Wednesday throughout the hunting season. A final report is also posted after the conclusion of the archery season.

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