Deer proposals would offer changes in 42 counties

Comparing the deer bag limit maps definitely shows a difference between the proposed one for the 2020-21 deer seasons compared to the one used in the 2019-20 seasons.

There is no question one can see how the herd is being managed on a county by county basis. There will be some type of regulation change in 42 of the state’s 88 counties if the deer proposals presented to the Ohio Wildlife Council on Feb. 19 are approved by the council.

The bag limit changes are in response to deer hunter and production landowner surveys. A map of the proposed county bag limits can be found at The statewide deer bag limit was proposed to remain at six deer, only one of which may be antlered, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit.

There is only one change in the Lima area. Hancock County goes to a three-deer county from a two-deer county and joins Logan and Hardin as three-deer counties in the Lima area. The other six counties remain two-deer counties.

“This is a relatively big year in 2020 insofar as changes go,” Dr. Mike Tonkovich, deer management supervisor for the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) said.

While some counties will move to three-deer counties and others will drop to two-deer counties, there are three counties (Clinton, Fayette and Pickaway) that have a one-deer limit. Metropolitan areas continue to have a four-deer limit. There was one section in extreme northwest Ohio where five counties (Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding and Williams) moved two two-deer to three-deer counties.

“Two factors were largely responsible for moving these counties from two to three deer. First, many of the counties posted record or very strong buck harvests this year and have been trending upward over the past several years.” Tonkovich said. “The second very relevant factor was the feedback that we received from hunters surveyed this summer. Across all five counties we found a smaller proportion of hunters reporting that they were dissatisfied with the size of the deer herd compared to numbers from 2015.”

He added, “In short, fewer hunters said there were too few deer and the increase in the reported buck harvest supported their observations. The move to a three-deer bag will check that growth and likely slowly move populations a bit lower, which is certainly not a bad thing with CWD looming just across the border in Michigan.”

As for metropolitan areas, Tonkovich said, “As you know, lethal control continues to be the only legitimate deer management tool. If we can’t hunt, we can’t manage a population. It really is that simple. Fortunately, in some of our large metro areas, our staff have been working closely with many local city governments to help them develop bowhunting programs.”

As a side note, the last time Ohio had a season-long single deer bag limit was in 2006.

There are a couple of other key proposals.

It was also proposed to open small game and furbearer hunting during the seven-day deer gun season, Nov 30-Dec.6. This proposal is designed to allow more hunting opportunities for small game hunters and to better align regulations with other hunting seasons. If approved, all hunters (except waterfowl hunters) would be required to wear hunter orange during this season.

Another proposal would exempt Lake La Su An Wildlife Area in Williams County from the antlerless deer restrictions on public lands following the weeklong gun season. This includes a limit of one antlerless deer on public land, and antlered deer only after Dec. 6.

Outdoor enthusiasts have a chance to state their opinions and ask questions of biologists and law enforcement officers during a weeklong open house at (DOW) district offices Monday through Friday. The weeklong format is new, changing from a one-day event. Hours for the open houses are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. each day with extended hours on Wednesday 4-7 p.m.

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It’s not too early to be thinking of trout fishing as the DOW is set to begin its annual stocking of rainbow trout beginning on March 13. Some Lima area bodies of water will be among the 66 public lakes that will receive 83,000 rainbow trout that measure between 10-13 inches in length.

The stocking of these trout continues through May 17. The daily catch limit for inland lakes is five trout per angler with no minimum size limit.

Lima area bodies of water receiving stockings and the dates scheduled for stocking include: Lima Lake, off Ohio 81 on April 14, Van Wert Reservoir on April 14, Davis Lake, north of St. Marys on April 16, Tawawa Lake, near Sidney on April 16 and Giertz Lake, east of Findlay on May 2.

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Kyle Weisenburger made what he called “a move in the right direction” on the second day of fishing in the FLW Tour’s bass tournament on the Harris Chain of Lakes last week.

He finished 55th in the tourney and moved into 41st place in the points standings after two tourneys. He had been in 59th place following the season opener on the Sam Rayburn Reservoir. He caught a five-bass limit that weighed 14 pounds, 11 ounces on the second day to go with a five-bass limit that weighed 10 pounds, 7 ounces on the opening day of the tourney.

The next stop on the tour is at Lake Martin March 19-22 in Alexander City, Alabama.

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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