The White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is Ohio’s state mammal (I would have picked the bobcat (Lynx rufus), but nobody asked me).
Large mammals including deer and predators such as wolves and bear were wiped out in Ohio during the nineteenth century by hunting and deforestation. By 1904, there were no deer in Ohio. White-tailed deer were reintroduced to Ohio via a government stocking program in the 1920′s and 1930′s.
Since their re-introduction to Ohio, deer have been very successful. They are found in every county in Ohio, both deep in the state forests, in local parks, and suburban fields and groves. Today, the deer population in Ohio exceeds 750,000.
Growth of the deer population has created problems and opportunities. Natural predators of deer have been eliminated from the state allowing deer populations to grow unchecked. Large deer herds in parks have demolished plants and small trees. Deer damage local farm crops and are involved in over 23,000 deer / car crashes each year. In 1943 a limited hunting program was established. Ohio hunters take over 200 thousand deer each year and generate more than $10 million in deer permit revenue for the state.
Deer hunting is permitted on certain public lands on limited dates with a proper permit.
- Federal Forests – Wayne National Forest permits deer hunting
- State Forests – most state forests permit deer hunting
- State Parks – a few state parks permit deer hunting restricted to specific locations
- State Nature Preserves – do not permit deer hunting.
- State Wildlife Areas – most state wildlife areas permit deer hunting
- County Parks – a few county parks permit deer hunting
- Local / Metro Parks – a few local / metro parks permit deer hunting in limited areas.
In our TrekOhio Guide to Parks & Preserves (see tab on top of page), we have listed parks by county and we indicate which parks allow hunting. Please see the park web site for specific limitations. Hunters must comply with all state and local hunting regulations.
Even parks that do not permit deer hunting occasionally have special hunt days to reduce deer overpopulation. Hunting is often restricted to bow & arrow and participants must apply in advance. Usually a very limited number of hunters are approved. Contact the ODNR or local park district for details.
Here are the dates for Ohio 2012 / 2013 White-tailed Deer Season
- Archery – Sept 29, 2012 – Feb 3, 2013
- Early Muzzle loaders – Oct 15-20, 2012 (Wildcat Hollow, Salt Fork Wildlife Area, Shawnee State Forest only)
- Youth Gun – Nov 17-18, 2012
- Gun – Nov 26 – Dec 2, 2012 and Dec 15-16, 2012
- Muzzle loaders – Jan 5-8, 2013
- ODNR: Deer Hunting Regulations
- ODNR: On-line Permit Sales
- ODNR: Field Dressing Your Deer (PDF)
- Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations 2012-2012 (PDF)
- ODNR: Venison Recipes
- Columbus Metro Parks article describing how Sharon Woods Metro Park habitat was almost destroyed by deer overpopulation and what they did about it
- Ohio Archery Ranges, published here at TrekOhio. Lists public archery ranges by region
Update (Oct. 23, 2012)
The tick that carries Lyme disease has recently become established in much of Ohio. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources would like to get the word out that this tick continues to be active throughout the winter and poses a risk to hunters. For more information, check out our post on Bad tick-related news for Ohio.
Update (Nov. 20,2012)
In the video below ODNR Director Jim Zehringer thanks all of the hunters who will take part in this deer hunting season.
Update (Feb. 5, 2013)
Deer season is over. As of 2/4/2013, hunters have reported harvesting 218,910 deer. Latest ODNR county-by-county statistics are here.