Deer gun season

A buck roams the woods in Ohio farmland.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally published on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website.

COLUMBUS – An estimated 300,000 hunters will make their way to Ohio’s forests and fields as this year’s deer gun hunting seasons kicks off this weekend, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

In 2020, hunters harvested a total of 92,310 deer during the gun seasons, with 71,651 deer taken during the week-long gun season, plus 14,864 deer during the gun weekend. Youth hunters harvested 5,795 deer during the two-day youth weekend.

The 2020 statewide gun seasons total increased nearly 10% from the three-year average of 83,935 deer. Last year, nearly 410,000 deer permits were purchased or issued.

“Ohio is a deer-rich state that has built a national reputation for quality deer hunting based on sound long-term wildlife management of this important resource,” said Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker. “Deer are far and away Ohio’s most important game animal. The deer harvest produces approximately 10 million pounds of venison each year for people to enjoy.”

Hunters aged 17 and under will have the opportunity to pursue deer with a firearm during the two-day youth season, Nov. 20 and 21. All hunters have the chance to hunt the 2021 gun season from Monday, Nov. 29 to Sunday, Dec. 5, and again on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 18 and 19.

While deer hunting is widespread throughout Ohio, harvest hotspots are found mostly in the eastern half of the state. Coshocton (3,037 deer harvested), Tuscarawas (2,996), Ashtabula (2,850), Muskingum (2,611), and Knox (2,611) counties led the state in gun harvest in 2020.

Before heading out this year, check the 2021-22 Ohio hunting regulations booklet for county-specific bag limits and updates on permits. Special regulations apply for hunters within the newly established Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance area in all or portions of Wyandot, Hardin, and Marion counties.

Hunters may take only one antlered deer. Legal hunting equipment for all deer gun seasons includes specific shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns, straight-walled cartridge rifles, and archery equipment. More information is available at wildohio.gov or by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE (1-800-945-3543).

Deer hunting takes patience and skill to ensure an ethical and clean shot. Getting acclimated to new equipment or reacquainted with your old favorites is always essential before heading into the woods. Ohio offers many options to improve your skills. Find a place to practice near you on the public shooting ranges page at wildohio.gov.

The free HuntFish OH mobile app can be downloaded to conveniently purchase fishing and hunting licenses, check game, view wildlife area maps, and much more. The HuntFish OH mobile app is available for Android and iOS users and can be found in the app store. Users can access the Division of Wildlife’s online system to check harvested deer while out in the field.

Help protect Ohio’s wildlife resources. Report any violations to the division’s Turn-In-a-Poacher (TIP) hotline by calling 1-800-POACHER (1-800-762-2437). All reports remain anonymous, and tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.

The Division of Wildlife wants to help new and experienced hunters make the most of their outdoor adventures. Visit the Wild Ohio Harvest Community page at wildohio.gov for information on getting started, hunting opportunities, and delicious wild game recipes.

Support Our Journalism

If you've ever experienced the joy of creativity and culture, then you know the value of the arts. Your support of our reporting enhances that. Become a Source member today.