Deer Hunting Season Ohio: When It Starts, How Long It Lasts

Fall is one of the best times of the year. For hunters, it ushers in the deer hunting season in Ohio, where anyone who plays fair and square can take in trophies.

Deer season dates are tweaked yearly, and the 2020-2021 timeframe has long been approved.

In this article, we’ll uncover Ohio’s deer hunting dates for 2020-2021. If you stick around, we’ll also reveal everything you need to know about Ohio deer hunting and its regulations.

What’s the timeframe for Ohio’s deer hunting seasons?

The deer hunting period is divided into four seasons:

  1. Deer archery: In 2020-2021, archers have the chance to take in deer between September 26 and February 7.

The deer archery season held a stiff competition with the deer gun season in terms of deer taken in previous years.

  1. Deer youth gun: This season runs for only two days: November 21 and November 22.
  2. Deer gun: This year, gun-yielding hunters can take down deer between November 30 and December 6. 13 days later, they’ll get two more days on December 19 and December 20 to hunt deer.
  3. Deer muzzleloader: Hunters with muzzleloaders will take the last lap of the deer hunting season in Ohio. They can make a kill between January 2 and January 5, 2021.

As in previous years, the hunting hours in any season are fixed. In Ohio, you can hunt 30 minutes before the sun rises and 30 minutes after it sets.

Ohio hunters killed 184,465 deer in the 2019-2020 season. This was an improvement from the 2018-2019 year, where about 172,670 deer were killed.

How are deer season dates chosen?

The Division of Wildlife biologists proposes deer hunting season dates in Ohio. Thereafter, these dates are presented to Ohio’s Wildlife Council for scrutiny and approval. The final process usually takes a few weeks.

According to Kendra Wecker, the Division of Wildlife biologists’ chief, ‘Wildlife biologists combine the public’s input and available science to determine the hunting and trapping seasons each year.’

On February 19, the proposal for the deer hunting season in Ohio was tabled. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, the Wildlife Council approved this proposal on Wednesday, May 13, 2020.

Ohio counties open for the hunting year

Hunters from around the US can hunt deer in all 88 counties of Ohio. However, the Buckeye state allows hunters to only check in six deer throughout the hunting season. This is known as the six-bag limit. 

Out of the six that you can take in, only one may be antlered (have antlers greater than 3 inches).

Despite the statewide bag limit, some counties can set different bag limits for the 2020-2021 period. For example, Delaware’s bag limit for the 2019-2020 season was four. However, it has now been adjusted to three for the 2020-2021 season.

Here’s a breakdown of counties and their bag limits for the 2020-2021 seasons.

Bag Limit Counties
1 Clinton, Fayette, and Pickaway
2 Allen, Auglaize, Belmont, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Gallia, Geauga, Greene, Harrision, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Madison, Mercer, Miami, Monroe, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Preble, Putnam, Shelby, Van Wert, Vinton, Warren, and Washington
3 Adams, Ashland, Ashtabula, Athens, Brown, Butler, Carroll, Clermont, Columbiana, Coshocton, Crawford, Defiance, Delaware, Erie, Fairfield, Fulton, Guernsey, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Highland, Holmes, Huron, Knox, Lake, Licking, Logan, Lorain, Mahoning, Marion, Medina, Meigs, Montgomery, Morgan, Noble, Ottawa, Paulding, Pike, Portage, Richland, Ross, Sandusky, Scioto, Seneca, Stark, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Union, Wayne, Williams, Wood, and Wyandot
4  Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas, and Summit

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, these changes are to deter wildlife depletion.

1% of hunters kill six deer in a hunting year. To get to this number, they usually have to county jump.

Ohio deer hunting regulations

The Buckeye State is home to thousands of deer, thanks to its conducive habitat. However, the deer hunting season in Ohio still exists primarily because of its strict laws that prevent poaching and illegal checking in hunting animals.

Here are the rules that hunters have to follow during, before, and after checking-in deer in Ohio:

  1. Deer tagging and checking-in rules

These are laws set aside for hunters who make a kill during any of the hunting seasons. It states that:

  • You must complete a game tag immediately after making a kill. On the tag you create, fill in your name, the date, the time of kill, and county of kill.
  • Then, place this tag on the deer wherever it falls. When you do this, it becomes yours.
  • Next, you must complete the deer permit by including the date, time of kill, and county of kill. This is the first stage of checking-in a deer, and you can’t leave Ohio with any carcass until your game is checked. A confirmation number will then be permanently attached to your deer.

Hunters must complete game tagging and checking-in before noon of the day after a kill. However, you’ll have to tag and check-in your deer at 11:30 pm if you kill a deer on the last day of any season.

  1. Deer hunting licenses and permits

Deer hunting in Ohio requires a license. This license is for the entire hunting year, and it can either be bought online or from a registered business. 

Asides from a license, hunters that are looking to make a kill also need a permit. While the license allows you to hunt in Ohio, a permit allows you to hunt a specific animal in the year.

Generally, there are two types of permits you can get when deer hunting in Ohio:

(i) Either-sex deer permit: This document allows you to hunt antlered or antlerless deer in Ohio. You can use it during any of the hunting seasons. However, you can’t roll it over to another deer hunting season in Ohio.

Either-sex deer permit comes in different forms, which include:

  • Senior either-sex
  • Youth either-sex
  • Disabled veteran either-sex

While some are free (like the disabled veteran either-sex deer permit), others require a purchase fee.

(ii) Antlerless deer permit: This type of permit is only valid in some counties in Ohio. As the name implies, it allows you to check-in a specific number of antlerless deer during a stated hunting season.

The Doe permit (as it is often called) allows you to take:

  • Only one antlerless deer from a state-owned or administered land.
  • One antlerless deer from Ashland, Clermont, Coshocton, Crawford, Holmes, Seneca, Stark, Trumbull, Wayne, Wyandot, Mahoning, Lorain, Licking, Knox, Tuscarawas, Huron, Portage, and Medina.

However, you can’t take an antlerless deer after December 6 from any administered lands or state-owned property.

You also don’t need an either-sex permit to get an antlerless permit in Ohio.

  1. Dear carcass regulations

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is one of the top diseases that kill deer in the US. It is a transmissible prion illness popularly known as the zombie deer disease. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), CWD’s infects more than 10 percent of deer in the country.

Different states have set up strategies to reduce the risk of CWD’s spread to other deer. In Ohio, hunters are only allowed to:

  • De-bone meat without the head or spinal column attached
  • Properly cut and wrapped meat
  • Take antlers that have skull caps where the soft tissue has been removed
  • Take upper canines where the carcass’s soft tissue has been removed
  • Part with hides and capes that do not have lymph nodes
  • Check-in taxidermy mounts
  • Take in any soft tissue that’s wrapped for research purposes

Dos and Don’ts when deer hunting during the 2020-2021 seasons

What you can do:

  1. Check-in more than one deer in a day. However, you must ensure that the deer are properly tagged, and you only hunt during the stated seasons.
  2. Have a communication device on you while you deer-hunt in Ohio. However, you can’t use this device to lead another hunter to a deer.
  3. Assist another hunter. However, you shouldn’t have a hunting weapon on you. You’ll also need a license to accompany anyone while deer hunting in Ohio.
  4. Use a handgun during the deer gun and youth deer gun seasons. However, it must:
  • Have at least 5 inches of barrel length.
  • Be at least a 0.375 caliber.
  • Be a straight-walled gun with cartridges.

You can’t use shotguns that have shoulders when hunting deer.

  1. Use a leashed dog or any other leashed pet to recover a wounded deer.
  2. Use bait to lure a deer to your location.
  3. Leave a deer or its carcass with a taxidermist or a processing plant. However, you must ensure that the confirmation number of the deer are on it and its parts.
  4. Use a crossbow during any deer gun season. However, hunters need to abide by the particular season’s regulations even if they aren’t using the slated tool.
  5. Be with a concealed handgun while hunting during the bow season as long as you have a valid license for it. You may not use it for hunting any animal.
  6. Use a crossbow during the youth season.

What you can’t do:

  1. Use a rifle or be with rifle ammunition. Only muzzleloading rifles are allowed (see what the best deer hunting calibers are).
  2. Hunt with a muzzleloading handgun.
  3. Your crossbow or longbow can’t have any device that projects light to a surface.
  4. Use dogs to hunt.
  5. Use someone else’s permit or license to hunt.
  6. Hunt a wounded deer in private property without the landowner’s permission. The same applies to recovering a dead deer from private properties.
  7. Use a handgun when hunting during the archery or muzzleloader season.
  8. Have more than a single firearm on you while hunting.
  9. Have shotshells with shots when hunting in the deer gun season. The only exception to this rule is if the waterfowl hunting season is open.
  10. As a landowner, you can’t check in a deer if the hunter who made the kill is a tenant.

Exciting things about the 2020-2021 Ohio deer hunting seasons

When it comes to deer hunting in Ohio, every year is different from the previous one. Asides from the bag limits set by counties, some other changes have been made:

  1. You can hunt in Lake La Su An Wildlife Area

Lake La Su An Wildlife Area is in Williams County. Up until the 2020-2021 season, hunters couldn’t hunt bucks there. However, the ban has been lifted, and you can now take in antlerless deer in the wildlife area.

  1. Small game and furbearer hunting is allowed

During the firearm season that runs from November 30 to December 6, you can hunt small game. Hunters (except waterfowl hunters) will have to don a blaze orange clothing during this week-long season.

  1. You can get special hunting privileges

These privileges apply to the young or disabled hunters. Provided every other rule is followed, a young or disabled hunter can take a deer before or after the gun season opens.

This permit can only be granted by the chief of Ohio’s Wildlife division.

Summing up

Every year, hunters across the US always look forward to the deer hunting season in Ohio. The Buckeye State’s season dates have been approved, and hunters are set to break records.

If you’re a hunter looking to kill deer as a hobby or to get a trophy, you’ll need to keep Ohio’s season dates that we’ve included in mind.

No rule says you can’t hunt in more than one season if you have the required permits and a license.


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