Ohio deer hunters prepare for statewide muzzleloader season Dec. 27-30

December 15, 2004

COLUMBUS, OH -- Ohio’s popular muzzleloader deer season is set to open statewide December 27-30, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

"The muzzleloader season continues to grow in popularity with Ohio hunters, and as a result, has become a very important part of our deer management program," said Mike Tonkovich, a forest wildlife research biologist for the ODNR Division of Wildlife. "The four-day season is a great chance to take family out and start or revive a holiday deer-hunting tradition."

Last year, hunters checked 24,053 deer during the statewide muzzleloader season.

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So far this year, archery hunters have taken 40,966 deer during the first six weeks of the statewide archery season, which began October 2 and continues through January 31. The special youth season, held November 20-21, resulted in young hunters bagging 6,673 deer. Hunters checked 125,681 deer during the statewide deer-gun season held November 29 through December 5. Another 201 deer were taken during the special bucks-only muzzleloader deer season held in October on the Shawnee, Salt Fork, and Wolf Creek wildlife areas.

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 200,000 hunters will hunt deer during the muzzleloader season.

According to the Division of Wildlife, Ohio offers both quality deer and good hunting accessibility. Ohio has more than a million acres of land open to public hunting. And in the last 10 years, the Division of Wildlife has added 65,000 acres to Ohio’s public hunting areas.

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During the 2002-2003 deer-hunting season, the Ohio Boone and Crockett Club recorded 11 trophy deer racks, each scoring more than 200 points. By comparison, Pennsylvania has only five deer in the Boone and Crockett Club scoring over 200 since 1950.

Ohio deer hunters must possess the proper permits, and regardless of zone, method of taking or season, hunters may take only one antlered deer.

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 will also 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 during the statewide muzzleloader deer season.

The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in Ohio, frequently pursued by generations of hunters. Deer hunting contributes an estimated $266 million to the state’s economy each year and helps to support thousands of jobs. Venison is delicious and nutritious meat, low in fat and cholesterol. It is the number one wild game served by hunters in Ohio.

Deer hunters also contribute thousands of pounds of venison to organizations that help feed less-fortunate Ohio residents through special programs.

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