Ohio Deer Hunting Season 2017-2018

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. This includes parts of Wayne National Forest, most state forests, select parts of select state parks, most state wildlife areas, and select county parks.

The ODNR occasionally has limited hunts at state parks and nature preserves to control deer population – small numbers of permits are issued usually by lottery.

In our TrekOhio Guide to Parks & Preserves (see menu tabs 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.

Dates for Ohio 2017 / 2018 White-tailed Deer Season
  • Archery: Sept. 30, 2017 – Feb. 4, 2018
  • Youth Gun: Nov. 18-19, 2017
  • Gun: Nov. 27 – Dec. 3, 2017; Dec. 16-17, 2017
  • Muzzle-loader: Jan. 6-9, 2018

Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset for all deer seasons.


There has been a change in allowable rifles. Now any straight-walled cartridge rifle with a minimum caliber of .357 to a maximum caliber of .50 is allowed for deer hunting.

The statewide bag limit remains at six deer, with only one being antlered. Hunters must also respect each county’s bag limits and any other county restrictions. The county bag limits will remain the same as last year unless the county is listed below.

Increase in bag limit from 2 to 3 per county for the following counties:
Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Fairfield, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Tuscarawas, Vinton, and Washington
Decrease in bag limit from 3 to 2 per county for the following counties:
Allen, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Putnam, and Williams

Download the Ohio Deer Hunting Regulations for 2017-2018 (PDF) from ODNR for a complete listing of the regulations.

Previous Deer Harvests
  • During the entire 2016-2017 deer season, hunters harvested 182,169 white-tailed deer throughout Ohio. Compared to the previous year in which 188,329 deer were harvested, that is a decline of about 3.27%.
  • During the deer muzzleloader season (Jan 7-10, 2017) hunters harvested 15,843 deer, a 26.7% increase from the previous year
  • During the two day deer-gun season weekend (December 17-18, 2016) hunters harvested 9,228 deer, a 2.3% decrease from the previous year.
  • During the first week of deer gun season in 2016, hunters harvested 66,759 deer, a 9.0% decrease from the previous year.
  • On the first day of deer gun season in 2016, hunters harvested 18,776 deer, a 15.6% decrease from the previous year.
  • Young hunters harvested 5,930 deer during Youth Gun Season in 2016, a 17.9% decrease from the previous year.

Lyme Disease

The tick that carries Lyme disease has 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 entitled Bad tick-related news for Ohio.

Ohio hunters harvested 188,335 deer during the 2015-2016 hunting season, a 7.16% increase over last year. See the ODNR press release for full-details including county-by-county statistics.

Deer Season Information / Regulations
Hunter Education / Target Ranges

Additional Information


Here’s a visualization I created of the 2015-2016 hunt using Google Fusion Tables. Click on the county to see a pop-up containing the county name and number of deer harvested in the 2015-2016 deer hunting season. If the pop-up extends beyond the border of the map, you can pull the map left or right until the pop-up is completely visible.

Dec. 9, 2016 on coyotes: In the comments many people have expressed concern about coyotes preying on fawns. Many people are also under the impression that ODNR is to blame for this because they introduced coyotes into Ohio. I posted a question about this on the Facebook page for the Ohio Division of Wildlife. The Division of Wildlife denies that they are responsible for introducing coyotes into the state. In their own words:

…the Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife has never trapped and transplanted coyotes into Ohio. Coyotes have expanded their range naturally over time to encompass not only Ohio, but the entire eastern United States…

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and TrekOhio.com 2012 to 2017

43 thoughts on “Ohio Deer Hunting Season 2017-2018”

  1. Brian L says:

    As awful as our 2016-2017 deer season is, it will no doubt become the new norm for the future. Farms, habitat, and public lands are being developed at a record rate to make room for more houses and stores – deer are being poached in record numbers due to the DNR abandoning check stations, and the comments below are totally correct, the DNR could care less. Understand one thing, the DNR exists to make money, so they can then in turn exist, so then can make more money – they don’t care about the wildlife, or the hunters, it’s all driven by $$$$$$$$$$$.

  2. victor clark says:

    Amen William Lassiter! I agree 100% there is no reason on earth to have a 4 month deer season. Great comments on here, per all the DNR comments, yes they are corrupt and the auto insurance companies are truly the ones dictating our regulations, but it starts with each and every hunter – just because the limit is 2 deer or 4 deer or 6 deer doesn’t mean you have to kill 2, 4, or 6. my god 1 deer is plenty. put the greed and ego aside.

  3. William Lassiter says:

    Marlin Mooney the deer season is almost 4.5 months long and you are asking for another day? I agree with the Mike Evans comment, shorten the darn season big time down to 1.5 – 2 months. As hunters, we need to do what we preach, and that is to respect the wildlife, have ethics, and not be greedy. 2 month season would be MORE than sufficient. and lower the limit to ONE deer.

  4. if you end the season on sunday why not start it on sunday,give the working man an extra hunting day.

    1. Wendy K says:

      I am very disappointed on how Ohio deer hunting has changed so drastically for the worse. The bag limit is outrageous, the check-in process is a joke and shotgun season should be in mid December not end of November so close to the rut. Ohio is the 7th most populated state and if the odnr does not change some of the rules our hunting will be worse than the hunting in PA. We see harvesting numbers every year but does that account for the amount of fawns killed by coyotes or even remotely consider the horrible hit the whitetail population took in 2009 and 2012 to EHD? Oddly enough no, the ODNR actually increased bag limits and allowed for computer/phone called check ins, which has made the poachers extremely happy. we need to do something now so that we can make a difference for the future of Ohio deer hunting.

  5. Joe Wilty says:

    Can you imagine the backlash if the ODNR admitted PUBLICLY on FB that they released coyotes in Ohio? They will NEVER publicly admit that. However face to face over a cup of coffee they will, as 2 different ODNR officers did to me. ODNR did indeed release coyotes in Ohio. I’m sure they would have spread here on their own in time, but the ODNR planted them first just as other states meddle with wolves and other predators to control game. It’s not a secret. By the way, ODNR is a government agency, government agencies lie and deny to the public every day. IF you still don’t believe the ODNR toyed with coyotes to Ohio, Google and research how the City of Chicago released dozens of radio collared coyotes in their downtown area to prey on rats, geese and cats. This is what DNR agencies do, they play God. And if it backfires they deny being involved.

  6. Greg G says:

    Old McDonald those stats are pretty accurate. If you go to any meetings or seminars held by wildlife biologists they are currently estimating 50-60% mortality rate on fawns by coyotes through Ohio, and even higher in western states. You will always have certain areas impacted more than others, but state wide the impact the coyotes are having is incredible, and yes the Division of Wildlife introduced coyotes to Ohio in the early 1980’s – just talk to them in person and they’ll tell you.

  7. Paul Towers says:

    Mike Evans, you say 50% of the fawns are preyed upon by coyotes, I’d bet you it’s even higher. In Wisconsin and other states biologists have radio collard does, and when they would have drop their fawns the biologists would go out only to find 3 out of every 4 were already killed/consumed by coyotes. They are indeed efficient killing machines. It has become a huge problem in Ohio with no real practical solution.

  8. James L says:

    Mike Evans I totally agree. Just like many government offices the DNR started out with the right intent but now only care about the $$$$$$ now. The deer season is WAY too long, limits too high, and yes I remember back in the day when everybody used recurves or compounds, now it’s instant gratification with the crossbow. And yes the DNR needs to keep it all simple, typical government over complicating things and making a mess of everything!

  9. Mike Evans says:

    The DNR has lost their way. They listen to only the auto insurance companies. They Introduced coyotes to Ohio which are now killing 50% of all the fawns, and it’s biting them in the butts now…no way to eradicate the coyotes at this point. Shotgun season is too long, and the entire deer season is over 1/3 of the entire year. 1. Shorten the season 2. Bring back check stations 3. No crossbows unless handicapped or 65 years of age or older. DNR please stop complicating things…simple is better. Learn from Iowa and other states that know how to manage.

    1. Old McDonald says:

      Mike Evans, you say “They Introduced coyotes to Ohio which are now killing 50% of all the fawns”.

      I sure wish that the coyotes on my farms were that ambitious.

      Oh, and can you provide a credible source for your statistic?

    2. doug says:

      i agree with you except on cross bow bought a new compound bow 4 years ago started sighting it in then had a mini stroke now cant pull bow back have tried everything to get back to where i was when i bought might have to go to cross bow this is not a medical issue is last resort

  10. Brad V says:

    Gun season needs moved back a couple weeks. Always 1st Mon. after turkey day. No snow last couple years. I say 1st or 2nd Mon of Dec.

  11. tim rittenhouse says:

    i think that the spring-valley shooting range should close during gun season every day it has been hopping shooting non-stop ,i hunt that area i believe that it disrubts the hunting in that area

  12. Marshall says:

    I really think deer populations are deminishing. I think a limit of 2 deer per Hunter is sufficient. It’s not like people need deer to live off of. I been bow hunting this year and the deer are not there like they used to be. Also ODNR needs to change the squirrel season to open iin October instead of September to allow bow hunters time alone in the woods without pressure from squirrel hunters.

  13. Jeffrey Fenton says:

    I would like an Hunting/Trapping Regulation booklet for this season of 2016-2017. Our Wal-Mart (which is the only store here) doesn’t have them. I’ve been there ALOT n keep checking too. Could you PLEASE send me one?

    1. Bob Platt says:

      You can call the ODNR Division of Wildlife (1-800-WILDLIFE) or download the PDF version of the document above (I fixed the link, which had been broken).

  14. Mario says:

    I plan to be in Cleveland Ohio on around November 2016. I would like to hunt for fox squirrels. Can you please tell me what public land I may use.
    Thank you
    Mario, Connecticut

    1. Deb Platt says:

      We are not affiliated with the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) or any government agency, but I tried to see what I could find out for you. I was able to find this PDF published by the ODNR on January 1, 2014. It lists “STATE-OWNED OR ADMINISTERED LANDS DESIGNATED AS PUBLIC HUNTING AREAS“. I’m not sure which are sufficiently close to Cleveland to work for you. You could try checking our our list of parks, preserves and wildlife areas in Northeast Ohio, then choose nearby counties and see if any of them include the hunting areas that are open to the public included on the PDF.

      Here’s information on licenses and permits. Here’s information on small game hunting regulations. Since you are visiting in November, I noticed there are restrictions at the very end of the month:

      The daily bag limit is six. Red, gray, black, and fox squirrels can be taken. Hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. Closed during the seven-day deer gun season, November 30 – December 6, 2015.

  15. Doyle C. Krogman says:

    mary yes u can use bow in youth season as long as you wear the required amount of florescent orange clothing

  16. C j wise says:

    I think the deer gun season should be for two weeks. Instead of one. I know I was tried once but heard nothing about why it was discontinued. It surely would give a lot of people the opportunity to hunt when jobs or other reasons would not permit it. We are the people who support hunting and pay good money that goes to the maintenance or upkeep of wildlife and we the people should have the say so as to how long the season should last. Should the weather not permit.hunting such as several days of hard rain. Bitter cold heavy snows or other inclimate reasons could surely put a damper on a persons hunting season. Not being able to get time off from work at that time is also a realistic hazard. We the people buy license pay taxes and support those involved in game management and surely have the right to enjoy a good hunt when it is available. I am just one person, but surely not the only one who feels this way, but I have spoken my piece………….

    1. mark cummins says:

      Delaware county marion counties need to shut down deer season for lack of deer atleast for 2 years or they will all be gone

  17. copenaustin says:

    I would like to see high powered rifles to be legal.

  18. daniel dreussi says:

    Last years season was hotter than normal crops got harvested very late and it don’t help you have muzzloader season early either seen 3 deer in 3 months after it got cold seen hundred

  19. Shawn young says:

    one of the reason the deer kill is down is poaching, once they changed the regulations of not checking them in but calling it in hunters go out and kill and don’t call. It’s a terrible regulations need to change back.

    1. mark cummins says:

      I agree this check in your deer on the phone is a bunch of crap how many people do it .this is another reason for the deer decrease in marion and delaware counties

    2. Joe myers says:

      I agree they have made it entirely to easy for people to poach deer all they need is to buy one tag and use it all year as long as they have there home made game tag and process there own deer.

    3. Jon Elkins says:

      Totally agree Shawn.

  20. pat says:

    I’d like to see 450 bushmaster rifle caliber added to the acceptable cartridge list for deer gun season. What steps are needed to add?

    1. Mike Solmen says:

      I have sent two email messages to the Ohio DNR requesting the addition of the .450 Bushmaster but have heard nothing back.

  21. j.b. says:

    The early muzzaloader season is a joke. It puts too much pressure on the deer before the rut. I never hunted that weekend. The bag limit should be dropped back to three deer. This years deer harvest proves it.

  22. John says:

    Unfortunately, the deer “herd” in Washington county does not exist anymore. Under ODNR management from the 1950’s and 1960’s it peaked in 2006. Since then, in just under 8 years, the current ODNR has returned the deer numbers in both the woods and harvest to numbers that can only be found prior to 1989. This years numbers will be down nearly 50 percent from those recorded for 2006-2007. The current ODNR is making excuses for the numbers and poor decisions for Ohio’s deer count. Take a look at the Buckeye Big Buck website numbers for 2006, each year until 2013. When we have less deer, we have less big deer.

  23. mike steer says:

    mary yes u can use bow in youth season as long as you wear the required amount of florescent orange clothing

  24. mike steer says:

    i have been an avid bow hunter since 1983 a genesis 25 pound bow is a target bow designed for youth beginners it would kill a deer with sharp broad head and proper shot placement but i would not recomend it because theres not enough kinetic energy ohio law is 40 lbs but i wouldnt use less than 50 lbs and always use sharp broad heads and practice through out the year and know the anatomy of the deer so you know exactly where to shoot the deer double lung or heart shots is the best

  25. Need to talk to somebody about hunting in Ohio,just got a address in Indiana 2 weeks ago .Can I still hunt in Ohio? Indiana says that I have to have a address before I can hunt here in Indiana for 60 days before I can get a license.

    1. Bob Platt says:

      I’d suggest calling the Ohio Dept. of Wildlife (1-800-WILDLIFE) and asking them.

    2. nathan says:

      you can hunt in ohio u just have to buy a out of state tag

  26. mary says:

    Can we still hunt with our bow during youth weekend if we don’t have youths hunting with us?

  27. Sabrina says:

    I don’t like the fact that we have an early muzzleloader season in October before the rut. I also disagree with the bag limit . Six deer is to many ! The population has gone way down in the last few years , they need to drop it back down to 3 deer .

  28. Mike c says:

    Im new to hunting and was just wondering were can i legally hunt thata close i live on Cleveland’s west side please help im really interested in this sport

  29. Baylen adams says:

    Can I use me 25 pound Mathews genesis compound bow to hunt deer at 10-15 yards ?

    1. Bob Platt says:

      Here’s a link to ODNR’s hunting regulations brochure. They set a minimum draw on bows to help assure a clean kill of the deer – on page 9 of the brochure they set a minimum draw on bows to 40 lbs and crossbows to 75 lbs.

    2. shelz says:

      Draw weight has to be at least #75.

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