Fifteen-year-old C.J. Cunningham, of Newport, hasn't had much luck deer hunting, but it hasn't affected his passion for the sport.
The boy said he's hopeful his luck will turn around this weekend.
On Saturday and Sunday, all licensed hunters who are 17 or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult are allowed to pursue deer with a gun. The regular statewide deer-gun season opens Nov. 24.
"I missed two deer last year but I'm really hoping to do better this year," Cunningham said. "I've been out a lot more since then and I think my chances are pretty good."
Last year, youth hunters in Ohio killed 8,445 deer during the two-day season. The Division of Wildlife anticipates more than 60,000 youth hunters will participate in the upcoming hunt.
Calib McLeish, 13, of Rinard Mills, said he harvested his first deer with a bow and arrow this fall. He said he's still hopeful to bag a big buck during this weekend's youth hunt.
Ohio deer-gun seasons:
A special two-day youth deer-gun season is open this Saturday and Sunday.
The statewide deer-gun season runs Nov. 28 through Dec. 4, with an extra weekend of hunting Dec. 17-18.
For information: www.wildohio.com.
With proper permits, Washington County hunters are permitted to take up to six deer this year. State rules allow hunters to harvest only one buck per year.
"I just love everything about hunting," McLeish said. "I like going out with my dad and learning everything. I like the excitement when you see one moving in ... And I like bragging to my friends when I get one."
Lindsay Rist, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, said the youth hunt is designed to help get kids hooked on the outdoors.
"This is a great opportunity to get youth out into the field and to give them their own time to shine," she said. "It's a time to pass down that tradition and it's popular because there aren't as many people in the field as the regular deer-gun season and there's less pressure."
Washington County deer harvest totals are consistently among the top in the state. Rist said that's because about 65 percent of Ohio's estimated 750,000 deer live in the 19 counties in the southeastern corner of the state.
During all hunting seasons, hunters are expected to harvest about 120,000 deer.
The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in Ohio. Ohio ranks eighth nationally in annual hunting-related sales and 10th in the number of jobs associated with the hunting-related industry, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources.