LIMA — If you are at the gas station on your way to work in the morning and you see a bunch of men dressed in fatigues there is no need to worry.
Martial law has not been declared, however it is the opening of deer-gun season throughout the state.
Hunting season will extend from 30 minutes before sunrise Monday to 30 minutes after sunset. The 30 minutes after sunset is a new regulation and gives hunters an extra 30 minutes to hunt.
“We are eager to increase opportunities for Ohio's sportsmen and women,” said Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer. “Ohio is a top 10 whitetail hunting destination, and the extra half-hour will give hunters more opportunities to bag a deer.
The ODNR estimates between 80,000 and 90,000 deer will be harvested during this year's deer season. About 420,000 hunters were expected to participate. In 2012, 89,964 deer were checked during the season.
Hunters may use a plugged shotgun capable of holding no more than three slugs, a muzzleloader .38 caliber or larger, a handgun .357 caliber or larger and bows during deer-gun week.
Deer bag limits vary from county to county. Hancock County has a two deer limit, while Mercer, Shelby, Van Wert, Auglaize and Logan all have a three-deer limit. Allen, Hardin and Putnam counties all have a four-deer limit.
The statewide limit is nine deer, but hunters may not exceed the limit in each county. Hunters may harvest only one antlered deer. A valid deer permit is required along with a valid Ohio hunting license.
A new tagging process requires hunters to make their own game tag and attach it to a checked deer. The tags can be made of any material and must include the hunter's name, date, time and county of the kill.
Deer can also be checked online. When checking your deer online, it is best to have a printer connected to your computer. A game check receipt displaying the 18-digit confirmation number is issued and can be printed for your convenience. If you don't have access to a printer when completing the game check, you can access your customer account at wildohio.com to print your game check receipt. To complete the game check process, attach the 18-digit confirmation number to the animal. The confirmation number must remain attached to the animal, or parts of the animal, forever. The number may be written on the back of the mount for proper identification.
ODNR reported that deer season is important to help manage deer populations. The ODNR Division of Wildlife is working with Hunters Feeding the Hungry to help pay for processing of donated venison. More information on this program can be found at fhfh.org. Hunters will not be required to pay for processing as long as funding is available. Hunters can also donate their catch to Safari Club International Sportsman Against Hunger or Whitetail Unlimited.
Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and is 11th in jobs associated with the hunting industry. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates that hunting has a $853 million economic impact to the Ohio economy.