Time to hunt

Gun season opens Nov. 27; new bag limits this year

Though deer archery season in Ohio has been open since the end of September, only in recent weeks have hunters seen low enough temperatures to make sitting in a tree stand worth it.

“I’m still out there any weekend I can, but when it’s cold you see them moving more, going from where they’ve bedded out to look for food,” said Matthew Bertram, 17, of Marietta. “And even though it’s cold, you get that adrenaline rush watching nature.”

For this weekend’s Youth Gun Season and upcoming Deer Gun Season, local woodsmen hope to see lower temperatures here to stay.

“I haven’t heard too much about what people expect from the harvest this year yet but I don’t want to blame weather,” said Lindsay Rist, wildlife communications specialist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. “The harvest is part of our population management and hunters have multiple opportunities to participate.”

Gun season opens Nov. 27 and runs through Dec. 3, with an additional two days mid-month, Dec. 16-17.

In Washington and the surrounding counties of Monroe, Noble, Morgan and Athens the limit was raised by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife to three deer from last year’s two.

“The new bag limits were presented to slow the rate of herd growth,” explained Rist. “Each county has their own goal in terms of population and so the bag limits are changed depending on the health of the local herds.”

The statewide limit for bagging deer rests this year at six, of which only one may be antlered.

“And new this year, all straight-walled cartridge calibers from a minimum of .357 to a maximum of .50 (are) now allowed for hunting deer in Ohio during the deer-gun and youth deer-gun seasons,” Rist explained. “Shotguns and straight-walled cartridge rifles can be loaded with no more than three shells in the chamber and magazine combined.”

Bertram has been hunting since he was very young, and said the sport takes patience but also brings peace.

“I just like being out there in nature. Even if you don’t get a deer you’re watching animals in the wild, you’re in the tree, it’s peaceful,” he said. “I first went hunting with my grandfather when I was 5 or 6 and it’s always been a family tradition, you know? Now I go with my brothers and my dad and friends.”

Last Friday, with no school, Bertram was up early, before 5 a.m., excited to get out onto the family’s property outside of the city with his brother Garrett, 20.

“I got home at 9 (p.m.) from work and he’s all excited to get up at 4:30 (a.m.),” said Garrett while lacing up his boots that morning. “He’s always excited to go and he has the best luck out of all of us. I might see nothing all day and he’ll see four deer pass by him.”

“I just love watching them and their mannerisms,” added Matthew. “It’s fun to watch them dig for acorns or watch their attitude change when they’re chasing around does to mate or if they hear another buck.”

The brothers’ friend Garret Lehman, 19, of Whipple, explained that the sport is more than just a fall weekend commitment, from setting up cameras to brush hogging.

“I’ve been running trail cameras since mid-July,” he said. “Deering hunting is pretty much a year-long thing, learning their habits and patterns and finding where you can see them but keep yourself downwind and out of sight.”

He said he likes the game behind the sport.

“You have to beat the senses of the deer. They have really great hearing and eyesight,” Lehman explained. “A lot of people think camouflage is enough but you really need to hide your outline in brush or be high enough to be out of sight.”

Though falls out of tree stands are not tracked by the ODNR, Rist did say the sport of hunting deer and other wild animals in Ohio is still “very safe.”

“Of course we always stress safety, and especially with our youth gun season we’re strict on no more than two youth per one non-hunting adult supervisor,” she said.

At a glance

¯ Youth Gun Season opens Saturday 30 minutes prior to sunrise and closes Sunday 30 minutes after sunset.

¯ Deer Gun Season: Nov. 27- Dec. 3, and Dec. 16-17.

¯ Bag limit for Washington, Morgan, Monroe, Noble and Athens counties: 3.

¯ State bag limit: 6.*

*Only one may be antlered.

¯ New gun regulation: Any straight-walled cartridge rifle with a minimum caliber of .357 to a maximum caliber of .50 is now allowed for hunting deer in Ohio during the deer-gun and youth deer-gun seasons.

¯ Safety tips:

– Treat every gun as if it is loaded.

– Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

– Be sure of your target and beyond.

– If using a tree stand, use a full body harness whenever your feet leave the ground.

Source: Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife.