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.
The ODNR Booklet, 2017-2018 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations (PDF), includes a section that lays out all of the hunting regulations relevant to deer hunting. Below is an excerpt from page 7 of that booklet (click to enlarge):
72,814 deer checked this year, compared to 66,758 deer checked last year during the week-long gun hunting season.
Here’s a summary of the total deer harvested as of Nov 28, 2017:
A per county breakdown of the deer havest can be viewed at ODNR: Weekly Deer Harvest Report: 2017-2018 (Harvests reported through Nov 28, 2017) (PDF).
This ODNR update includes information on hunting season details (including bag limits, dates and hours), deer carcass transport, the poacher hotline, chronic wasting disease, and the positive economic impact of hunting in the state.
Approximately 1,200 acres previously closed to hunting will be available to bow hunters as part of controlled hunts at Deer Creek, Malabar Farm, and Maumee Bay state parks. All hunts are archery-only. To buy a lottery ticket for a chance to hunt in these area, you must attend one of three lotteries that are being held on Saturday, Oct. 21st at 1 p.m. Check out the link for details.
The course has been revamped and there are several ways of completing it.
- In-classroom – Usually takes 12 hours over two days. Cost: free. Find a nearby course to enroll in.
- Online Hunter Education for those 12 or older. Cost: $15.
- Home-Study Course for those younger than 12. Cost: $15. You start by taking the online course. After passing that, you attend a classroom session that lasts 3 or 4 hours and ends with another exam.
Enter locally held lotteries for an opportunity to participate in archery deer hunts at seven locations bordering three of Ohio’s state scenic rivers. The lotteries are being held Sept. 10th and 16th. See above link for details.
Those interested must attend a local ODNR meeting where they can buy a lottery ticket for a chance to hunt in the preserve (it costs $5). The six preserves and their meeting dates are Gallagher Fen (8/26/2017), Lake Katharine (8/27/2017), Blackhand Gorge (9/6/2017), Goll Woods (9/16/2017), Lawrence Woods (9/17/2017), and Sheepskin Hollow (9/20/2017). Attendance at the meetings are required. Do not attempt to enter via mail.
For complete information on the hunting requirements, how the hunt is conducted, and the exact time and place for the meetings, see the link above.
04/13/2017 – Ohio Wildlife Council Approves 2017-2018 Hunting Regulations (summarized below)
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.
02/09/2017 – Ohio Wildlife Council Receives 2017-2018 Deer Hunting Proposals
Previous Deer Harvests
Note that ODNR publishes statistics on the deer harvested this season and last season at wildohio.gov/deerharvest.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Deer Season Information / Regulations
- ODNR: Ohio Deer Hunting Dates Regulations for 2017-2018 (PDF)
- ODNR: Licenses & Permits (the section on “License Exemptions” describes exemptions for land owners)
- ODNR: Hunting & Trapping Regulations (web pages)
- ODNR: Hunting & Trapping Regulations (PDF brochure)
- ODNR: 2015 Acorn Crop Results (hunter intel)
- ODNR: Game check & tagging
- Hamilton County Parks: Bow hunting information for Hamilton County parks
- ODNR: List of Ohio public hunting areas as of Jan. 2014
- ODNR: Deer harvest statistics: 2015-2016
- ODNR: Deer Herd Condition Trends in Ohio (PDF)
- ODNR: Got questions? Phone number for Division of Wildlife: 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543)
- Adam’s County Visitors Bureau: Deer Hunting at Edge of Appalachia Preserve – permit information
Hunter Education / Target Ranges
- ODNR: Hunter Education
- NRA: Find an NRA class
- ODNR: Ohio “Becoming An Outdoors Woman” Program
- TrekOhio: Ohio Archery Ranges
- ODNR: Public Shooting Ranges
- WhereToShoot: Private Gun / Archery Range Locator
- NRA: Summary of Ohio Gun Laws
- TrekOhio: GPS Mapping Apps: MyTrails – a Replacement for Google MyTracks
- TrekOhio: Acquiring Ohio Topographic Maps – sources for free maps
- TrekOhio: Poison Ivy & Poison Sumac
- Twitter: #HuntOhio on Twitter
- OSU Extension: Giant Hogweed – invasive plant, sap can cause severe blistering or blindness
- TrekOhio: Camping Checklist
- TrekOhio: Hiking with a Smartphone
- PBS: Whitetailed Deer Infographic
- TrekOhio: Data Visualization – a visualization of the 2011-2012 thru 2014-2015 deer seasons I created with ODNR public data
- ODNR: Ohio record buck database
- News-Leader: Missouri hunter bags 15 point buck with an atlatl – an ancient hunting weapon. More about the atlatl here
- Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry – where to donate your deer to feed hungry people
- Wide Open Spaces: Top 10 Reasons Ohio Hunters Have it Good
- Deehunter.com: 25 Deer Hunting Tips for Success
- Outdoor Life: Strategies for Big, Late-Season Bucks
- DeerHuntingGuide.net: Ohio Deer Hunting
- ODNR: Field Dressing Your Deer (PDF)
- ODNR: Field Dressing a Deer (Video)
- ODNR: Venison Recipes
- Reddit: Gun FAQ
- National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association
- Whitetails Unlimited
- Ohio Bow Hunting Forum
- Reddit: Gun Forum
- Columbus Metro Parks: article describing how Sharon Woods Metro Park habitat was almost destroyed by deer overpopulation and what they did about it
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…