Time to switch gears for outdoor endeavors

While the calendar said the fall equinox began Tuesday, the reality of the beginning of autumn struck us Thursday with much cooler temperatures.

A couple cool crisp mornings and evenings quickly can change one’s mindset to a different season. Days in the upper 80s or 90s will likely not appear again for several months. It’s time to switch gears on some of our outdoor endeavors.

One of those is hunting. And although some seasons have begun (squirrel and mourning dove began Sept. 1), the start of deer archery season, which opens Saturday, tends to motivate hunters. Many enjoy the sport in October and November as temperatures cool, leaves turn colors and adrenaline flows at the sight of whitetail quarry while sitting in a ground blind or being in a tree stand.

Squirrel hunting becomes more comfortable as we move closer to Thanksgiving. The fall turkey season allows a final few weeks to hunt one of these wild birds. Waterfowl season begins in October as ducks begin their southern migration. Waterfowl hunting dates in the Lake Erie marsh zone begin Oct. 15 while the north zone and south zone waterfowl openers begin Oct. 22. And early November brings the start of the annual small game and upland bird season (Nov. 4) followed a week later by furbearer hunting and trapping (Nov. 10).

Ohio’s fall turkey season is two weeks shorter than the 2021 season. It opens Oct. 8 and runs through Nov. 13. The season is open in 70 of Ohio’s 88 counties and includes Allen, Hancock, Hardin, Logan and Putnam counties in the Lima area. Wild turkey populations have declined throughout Ohio following several years of below average reproductive success. The reduction in the fall hunting season length goes along with a reduced limit for the spring season.

Hunters are reminded to check the current regulations for changes to season dates and daily limits as the 2022 fall seasons begin. A summary of the 2022-23 hunting and trapping regulations can be found at wildohio.gov on the HuntFish OH app, or anywhere licenses are sold.

The free HuntFish OH app is available to purchase hunting and fishing licenses, check game, view wildlife area maps and much more. The HuntFish OH mobile app is available for iOS and Android users in the app store or Google Play. Users can check deer and wild turkey harvests through the app, even without an internet connection.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife reminds hunters and landowners of the Ohio Landowner-Hunter Access Partnership program opens an avenue for hunters to access private land, and landowners to receive incentives for allowing hunter access. Find more information about the program, sign up as a hunter or landowner and find property near you at wildohio.gov.

The wildlife agency also encourages new and experienced hunters to check out the Wild Ohio Harvest Community for information on getting started, hunting opportunities and delicious wild game recipes. One can make the most of your fall hunting season with online learning modules, hands-on workshops and more.

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A youth waterfowl workshop will be held from 1 p.m. until sunset Oct. 2 at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, located near Oak Harbor off Ohio 2.

Registration is required. The workshop is designed for youths 17 and younger and a required accompanying adult. Space is limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority will be given to new applicants with little to no waterfowl hunting experience. Hunters with disabilities will be accommodated. Selected participants will be notified.

Deadline to register is Monday (Sept. 26). To register, go online to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and search for youth waterfowl workshop registration. That should take you to a registration form. For further information, call Trevor at 419-544-0065 or the front desk reception at 419-898-0014.

Participants will receive a goody bag and learn basic knowledge to get them started on waterfowl hunting. A packed brown bag dinner will be provided.

The highlight of the day will be at the completion of the workshop when participants are eligible to participate in the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and Magee Marsh Wildlife Area youth waterfowl hunt. They will hunt portions of both those areas from 4 p.m. until sunset.

Selected participants should bring a water bottle, camera, bug spray and sunscreen to the workshop. For the hunt, participants should bring a license and federal and state duck stamp and HIP if 16-17, ammunition, gun, decoys, waders and flashlight.

Activities and stations during the event include: waterfowl identification, duck and goose calling, wildlife conservation laws, cleaning and cooking waterfowl, decoy setup, firearm safety, retriever demonstrations and gear selection.

Read previous Al Smith outdoors columns

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