NEW LEXINGTON — Ohio anglers have the freedom to enjoy their favorite pasttime year-round. You can even continue fishing when the water becomes harder than Algebra VII. However, Buckeye hunters are bound by the seasons laid down by the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW).
Squirrel season starts Sept. 1. Hunters have a daily bag limit of six squirrels with the season running until Jan. 31, 2020. Ruffed grouse become available to Ohio hunters on Oct. 12 with a last day of season set for Jan. 31, 2020. Grouse hunters have been "grousing" about this January cutoff since the DOW deleted the month of February from the season a couple years ago. The rationale behind the decision was the drastically reduced numbers of grouse to hunt. Another reason for eliminating February was grouse begin pairing up for their mating season at this time.
Rabbit season opens on Nov. 1 and runs until Feb. 29. Wouldn't you hate to be the rabbit that gets shot on leap year's Feb. 29! Rabbit hunting was always my favorite. My uncle, B.J. Clifford, had beagles that were hunting dogs. I imagine that is where the roots of my hunting urge can be traced. My father's definition of hunting was looking through the TV Guide magazine to see when the Cincinnati Reds had a televised game. Dad was a baseball guy all the way.
The DOW's money season, sometimes referred to as deer seaon, opens for bowhunters on Sept. 28. Bowhunters have until Feb. 2 to take a deer. Make sure to obtain the current hunting season laws to see how many deer you can harvest. One rule that has been in place forever is a hunter may take one antlered deer per season.
Deer gun season begins Dec 2, runs till Dec. 8, and reopens on Dec. 21 and 22. The weekend for Youth Deer Gun season is Nov. 23-24. For those who prefer less of a crowd while packing a one-shooter, muzzleloader season takes place Jan. 4 to Jan. 7, 2020. Hunters tend to have a favorite season above all others, and muzzleloaders really fall into that category. Maybe it's a sense of hunting from a bygone era or the extra effort it requires to be successful that late in the season. Every gun hunter has had their turn before muzzleloaders do.
Turkey hunters also have the same kind dedication as muzzleloaders. The fall turkey season starts Oct. 12 and expires on Dec. 1. Fall turkey hunting is nothing like the spring hunt. Since I don't know squat about either one, I will not torture you with my turkey hunting expertise. I do know that gobblers and hens may be taken in the fall in select Ohio counties. Again, check your hunting guide or follow me to the back aisle at Kroger for more turkey hunting advice.
Waterfowl hunters can start taking Canada geese on Sept. 7. This early season ends Sept. 15. A friend of mine at the Division of Wildlife refers to them as flying rats, and Buckeye Lake residents have a few other names for this species that has become an environmental problem as it pertains to water quality. Waterfowl hunters are no doubt the most diligent readers of the yearly hunting guide because Ohio has different zones, split seasons, and multiple species available at different times.
My own hunting season started Aug. 29. Early hunting privileges because I'm an outdoors writer? No, I began my hunting season with a weapon that fires neither a gunpowder propelled chunk of lead nor pointy stick. I bravely took the field armed with golf clubs. To be perfectly honest, all the bravery belonged to the three other guys in our foursome.
Using only their code names earned while supposedly pursuing college degrees, Mange, Estil and Blue managed to survive 18 holes of golf at the Elk's course in Wilmington. Most of my drives off the tee were no problem to locate because of the sound factor. One could hear my drive as I initially struck the ball, and then one could hear it land. When I did hit a drive that flew beyond tympanic membrane range, I couldn't find the stupid ball to save my par. Okay, my triple bogey.
I will not be giving a golf exhibition at the Perry County Gun Bash on Saturday Sept. 7 so head to the Perry County Fairgrounds for a great time. Last year the most dangerous aspect of the Gun Bash was walking through the parking area that had been disguised as a swamp.
Good luck as you venture forth during Ohio's hunting season. Safety first is always the top priority. Introducing a young person to the sport is an outstanding gesture, too. Here's another. If you know a veteran of the Armed Forces, extend them a hunting invitation. After all, we owe every step we take into the woods to the men and women who have defended our right to do so since 1776.