2020 Hunting Season Proposals Submitted

Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni

I’m trying to plan my outdoor agenda for 2020 and am having a hard time for some reason. First, I can’t really get in the mood. I’m a four-season person and planning works better for me during the harsh days of winter. Since we really haven’t had any winter yet, I can’t get in the transition mode. One doesn’t usually see the lakes open in the middle of January. When it’s cold and miserable outside, I do my best thinking inside. Another factor that’s cramping my planning is health issues. I know I’m not alone, but some days I feel like a car with 300,000 miles on it that still wants to run 80 mph. Unfortunately, going that fast could blow a gasket. Matter of fact, one of my doctors suggested that just thinking about putting the hammer down could be a problem. The bottom line is that I’ll follow the medical rules, do what I’m told, but I still plan on catching some fish this spring and maybe doing a bit of hunting this fall.

I’m not sure what my schedule will be like this fall, but I do have an idea what the fall hunting seasons will be like. As usual, at least since 2016, the Division of Wildlife has sent proposals to the Wildlife Council for the 2020-2021 small game and migratory bird hunting seasons. The deer hunting proposals will be sent to the Council in early February. Before even looking at the seasons, I always check for new proposals that could affect hunters. Being a waterfowl hunter, it was interesting to note that new guidelines from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provide additional waterfowl hunting days to members of the U.S. armed forces. Consequently, it was proposed that active military and veterans be permitted to hunt during the two-day youth waterfowl season. I suppose I have to dig out a copy of my DD214…or not.

Turkey hunters get a bonus for the 2021 season if the proposal is approved. The opening day will be on a Saturday rather than Monday in both zones. This provides two additional weekend days for hunters. The majority of the state is in the south zone and the suggested opening date is April 24 with the season closing on May 23, 2021. The north zone includes five counties in northeastern Ohio. The season runs later to compensate for nesting conditions.

Not being a coyote hunter or trapper, I’m not sure what effect the following proposal might have. A fur taker permit will be required for coyote hunting and trapping. Also, the coyote will be added to the furbearer trapping season. The proposal was made to better align with other furbearer hunting and trapping regulations and will ensure proper training will be completed prior to trapping coyote by filling the trapper education requirement. This does not apply to Ohio resident land owners. Quail hunting is expected to be closed on all state-owned or controlled public hunting areas except two. The bag limit was proposed to be lowered to two birds. Ruffed grouse seasons are proposed to be shortened and the limit reduced to one bird. Both species have been in decline for years.

Other dates significant to this area are the early goose season that opens on Saturday, September 5 statewide. The early teal season also opens on September 5. The dove season opens on September 1. The regular waterfowl season is proposed to start on October 24 in both the north and south zones. The current proposal gives hunters nine days before the end of the first split. The bag limit for geese is three. The duck limit is six and can’t include more than four mallards. Only one scaup is permitted for the first 15 days of the duck season and two for the final 45 days of the duck season regardless of zone. The way I’m reading these current proposals makes me think there may be some corrections needed down the road.

The 2019-20 hunting seasons are just about history. Bow hunters can still try to bag a deer until February 2. From harvest reports, there were almost 1000 deer taken last week around the state so some bow hunters are still on the move. You can chase squirrels until the end of January and the same applies to grouse. Grouse would be much harder to find. Rabbits are fair game until the end of February. Seems like a very long season, but hunting pressure is minimum. The turkey season is still on the slate, but since it’s in the middle of spring, I don’t include it on the winter list. Other than that, it’s time to make plans for next fall, if you’re a die-hard hunter. If not, sit back and get ready for spring.