• Ohio Deer Archery Harvest Numbers

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    COLUMBUS, OH – Ohio bow hunters killed 53,959 deer during the first six weeks of the state’s archery season. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, this year’s early archery season harvest is 4 percent higher than last year’s kill of 51,976 deer.

    Pursuing deer with a bow continues to grow in popularity among Ohio hunters. The season started September 26 and will carry on through February 7, 2010.

    Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer brought to check stations were: Licking – 2,334, Holmes – 1,969, Tuscarawas – 1,770, Coshocton – 1,451, Ashtabula – 1,348, Harrison – 1,278, Trumbull – 1,251, Stark – 1,204, Knox – 1,175 and Fairfield – 1,142.

    The statewide deer population was estimated to be 650,000 in early October. Approximately 345,000 bow hunters are expected to participate in the statewide deer-archery hunting season.

    Bow hunters harvested a total of 85,856 deer during last year’s four-month Ohio archery season.

    Hunters can share photos of their success in the field online by visiting wildohio.com and clicking on Photo Gallery. The photo submission process is easy and posted photos may be e-mailed to a friend.

    A detailed listing of deer-hunting rules can be found in the 2009-2010 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest that is available wherever licenses are sold, and online at wildohio.com.

    The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR web site at www.ohiodnr.com.

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  • Ohio Youth Deer Season Nov.21-22

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    COLUMBUS, OH – Ohio’s youth deer-gun hunting season will be held Saturday and Sunday, November 21-22, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

    “The youth deer-gun hunting season provides young hunters the chance to experience the challenge of hunting and enjoy the outdoors with their families,” said David M. Graham, chief of the division.

    Young hunters killed 9,852 deer during last year’s two-day season. The Division of Wildlife anticipates more than 40,000 young hunters will participate in the upcoming hunt.

    Hunters can share photos of their success in the field online by visiting wildohio.com and clicking on Photo Gallery. The photo submission process is easy and posted photos may be e-mailed to a friend.

    The youth deer-gun season is open statewide to hunters 17 years old and younger. Hunters may take one deer of either sex during this season, in accordance with existing bag and deer-zone limits. Plugged shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns and bows are legal. All participants must wear hunter orange, possess a valid Ohio hunting license and a $12 youth-deer permit, and must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult in the field.

    All other regularly scheduled hunting seasons will continue during the two-day youth season. However, other hunters, including deer-archery hunters, are required to wear hunter orange during this period.

    This year, Ohio’s deer-gun season runs November 30 through December 6, and the weekend of December 19-20. Details regarding Ohio’s various hunting seasons, including those exclusively for young hunters, can be found in the 2009-10 Ohio Hunting Regulations or by visiting wildohio.com.

    Youth hunters that want to donate venison to the needy can do so at no cost. The Division of Wildlife is collaborating with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) to help pay for the processing of donated venison. All hunters who donate their deer to a food bank are not required to pay the processing cost as long as funding for the effort lasts. More information about this program can be found online at www.fhfh.org

    The 2009-2010 licenses will not be printed on weatherproof paper. Sportsmen and women should protect their licenses and permits from the elements by carrying them in a protective pouch or wallet.

    The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR web site at www.ohiodnr.com.

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  • Ohio Upland Game ( Pheasant, Rabbit, Quail) Season Starts Nov.6th

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    COLUMBUS, OH – The season for three of Ohio’s most popular game species, ring-necked pheasant, cottontail rabbit and bobwhite quail, begins Friday, November 6, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

    “The state’s ring-necked pheasant population has been stable for the last several years, and this year should show some good opportunities for sportsmen,” said Nathan Stricker, project leader with the division’s Olentangy Wildlife Research Station.

    Although 2009 started with a cool, wet spring, mild summer temperatures and moderate precipitation provided for good conditions during the nesting season, noted Stricker.

    Conditions have been good in areas of the state where habitat is plentiful. Private lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program have been very important to supporting upland game populations. Williams and Defiance counties in northwest Ohio have strong pheasant populations because of the habitat contributions by local landowners. Upland game populations are responding positively to habitat programs in other areas around the state, especially in counties with significant enrollment in Scioto CREP and CP33 Quail Buffer practices.

    Cottontail rabbit hunting continues through February 28, 2010. Ring-necked pheasant hunting is open through January 10, 2010. Both seasons are closed during the statewide 2009 deer-gun hunting season, November 30 through December 6, as well as the extra weekend of deer-gun hunting December 19-20.

    Rabbits, pheasants and quail may be hunted from sunrise to sunset. The daily bag limit for all three species remains unchanged from last year at four rabbits, two pheasants (roosters/males only) and four quail.

    Hunters are reminded that snowshoe hares are not legal game in Ohio and may not be taken. Recently reintroduced to northeastern Ohio after nearly a century of absence, snowshoe hares are brown early in the season, resembling cottontail rabbits. To avoid confusion between cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares, portions of Geauga and Ashtabula counties will be closed to all rabbit hunting from November 6 through December 6. The coats of most hares will have turned white by early December, allowing for proper distinction.

    There are two restricted zones that cover portions of Geauga and Ashtabula counties. The first restricted area encompasses parts of Geauga and Ashtabula counties and is bordered by U.S. Route 6 to the north, U.S. Route 322 to the south, Kile Road to the west, and State Route 534 to the east. The second restricted area is in Ashtabula County bounded on the north by Cork-Cold Springs Road, on the west by Windsor-Mechanicsville Road, on the south by New Hudson Road and on the east by U.S. Route 45. A map of these two areas can be viewed in the 2009-2010 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations and on the Internet at wildohio.com.

    The ODNR Division of Wildlife releases pheasants on selected public hunting areas throughout the state prior to opening day of the pheasant season, the second Saturday of the season and Thanksgiving Day. Hunters may call 1-800-WILDLIFE for locations of specific release sites.

    Bobwhite quail hunting is limited to 16 counties in southern Ohio: Adams, Athens, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Highland, Jackson, Meigs, Montgomery, Pike, Preble, Ross, Scioto, Vinton and Warren. The season continues through November 29.

    Additional hunting information is contained in the 2009-2010 Ohio Hunting Regulations brochure, which is available where hunting licenses are sold, on the Internet at wildohio.com or by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE.

    The 2009-2010 licenses will not be printed on waterproof paper. Sportsmen and women should protect their licenses and permits from the elements by carrying them in a protective pouch or wallet.

    The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR web site at www.ohiodnr.com.

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  • Warm Weather Venison Care

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    Improperly field-dressing a deer and warm weather can impact the quality of venison warns Dr. Walter Cottrell, Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife veterinarian.

    “The first step in making sure that the venison reaches the table in the best possible condition is, sighting in and practicing with your sporting arm,” Dr. Cottrell said. “Coupling that with knowledgeable shot placement ensures a clean kill and minimal damage to edible parts of the animal.

    “After properly tagging their deer, hunters should wear latex or nitrile gloves to remove the entrails. Care should be taken to remove entrails without rupturing them, and hunters should drain excess blood remaining in the cavity. Do not wash out the deer in a creek.  Wipe down the cavity with a dry cloth or paper towels, being careful to remove all visible blood and hair.”

    Once entrails are removed, the deer should be taken from the field and cooled down as soon as possible. In warm weather, the cool-down process begins when you field-dress the deer. To improve the cool-down process, consider skinning the deer and hang the carcass in the shade, refrigerating it or placing a bag of ice in the body cavity. Never place a deer carcass – with or without the hide on it – in direct sunlight.

    If a hunter plans to process the deer by his or herself, the first step – after tagging and field-dressing the deer – is to remove the hide, which comes off easier if the front legs are cut off at the wrists, and the rear legs are removed just below the knee joint, with a saw. Use a knife to cut the hide from where each leg was sawed off at the wrist, back to the body trunk. Cutting the rear legs at the joint also makes it easier to hang a carcass on a gambrel or meat hooks. Hang the carcass by the large tendons on the back legs.

    Next, the hide is pulled from the carcass, starting at the rear end and working downward toward the head. Peel it from the hind quarters first, then cut the tailbone and pull it down to the shoulders. Work the hide over the shoulders and pull it away from the legs. Finally, pull the hide down the neck as close to the base of the skull as possible and cut the carcass free from the head with a clean saw. Remove the trachea.

    The remaining hide-free carcass should be wiped off immediately. If you use water to clean the cavity or carcass, dry the meat immediately. Wet or damp meat spoils more quickly and is more prone to cultivate and nurture bacteria. Rinsing meat with water also can hasten the spread of bacteria. Inspect the carcass again for any blood and hair. It’s also a good idea to remove large fatty deposits to improve the quality of your meat. It helps lessen that “game taste” some people dislike about venison.

    Following these steps will prepare your carcass for hanging in a meat processor’s refrigerator, or quartering and placing it in your refrigerator. If the air temperature is above 50 degrees, hunters should get their carcass refrigerated as soon as possible.

    “The bacterial load of a deer harvested in warm weather will multiply quickly, so it’s important to dress the deer as soon as possible, transport it from the field and remove the hide, and refrigerate the carcass,” Dr. Cottrell said. “Cooling the carcass will help prevent bacterial growth.”

    Hunters who are interested in becoming more self-sufficient also can de-bone the carcass. The cuts are relatively simple and can be made while the deer is hanging or from a plastic sheet-covered table. An inexpensive plastic fluorescent light cover which can be purchased at any home supply store can be used for a cutting board. Deboning offers the advantage of allowing the hunter the ability to view all sides of the cut so any fat, damaged meat and bloody areas can be trimmed out before freezing.

    First, remove the front shoulders with a filleting knife. This can be done without cutting a bone by cutting behind the shoulder-blade. Next, remove the meat from the shoulder with a filleting knife.

    Hindquarters can be removed from the carcass next by using a saw or by cutting from the underside with a knife. If you plan to have steaks or jerky made from them, don’t make any further cuts.

    Inside the body cavity, against the backbone, are the tenderloins, considered the best cut of meat on a deer. Use your hand, and a knife when necessary, to pull them free. Outside the cavity, along the backbone, are the loin muscles or back-straps, which also are outstanding cuts. Using a filleting knife, slide the blade along the spine to separate each back-strap and then finish each piece by cutting in along the top of the ribs and under the muscle to the first cut you’ve made.

    The remainder of the carcass can be de-boned with a filleting knife. Try to trim fat from meat where you can and wipe off blood whenever it is encountered. De-boning can be done relatively quickly, but remember, every ounce of meat you remove increases your trimmings for sausage, bologna, meat sticks or other products. De-boned meat can be taken to a meat processor immediately, or frozen and taken later. Hindquarters may be frozen for processing later as jerky or dried venison. Steaks should be cut fresh. A link to a video on deboning in the field can be seen on our website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), by selecting “Wildlife,” then choosing “Chronic Wasting Disease” in “Wildlife Diseases” box, and clicking on the video link in the “PGC Ban on the Importation of Cervid Parts” box.

    “It’s always a good idea to become self-sufficient as a hunter, because of the satisfaction you’ll derive from processing a deer all by yourself and the extra care and quality control you’ll provide,” noted Cal DuBrock, Pennsylvania Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director. “It also broadens your hunting experience and makes you more conscious of where you need to place the crosshairs when you shoot.”

    The Game Commission offers two free brochures on venison care and field-dressing deer. The first, “To Field Dress a Deer,” offers step-by-step instructions – with illustrations – on how to field-dress a deer. The second, “Venison Needn’t Be Pot Luck,” offers field-dressing instructions and cooking tips.

    To assist hunters in getting the most of their wild game harvests, the Game Commission is offering a six-tape “Wild Harvest Videos,” produced by Jerry Chiappetta and featuring Certified Master Chef Milos Cihelka. These videos show step-by-step the best care for game animals from the field to the table. The videos are available from The Outdoor Shop on the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us).  Go to The Outdoor Shop, click on “Pennsylvania Game Commission Outdoor Shop,” click on “Merchandise,” choose “Videos,” and then scroll down to the video you are interested in and complete the order form.  Each video costs $9.95 ($13.50 including tax and shipping/handling).

    The Game Commission also offers a “Wild Game Field Care and Cooking” DVD, which is a compilation of three Wild Harvest Videos: Big Game Butchering: Field to Table; Venison Cooking Healthy & Tasty; and Venison Aging, Smoking & Sausage Making.  There also is a “Upland Game Bird, Small Game & Waterfowl” DVD. Both DVDs sells for $18.87 (plus tax and shipping and handling).

    Finally, for recipes that will make venison tastier, consider buying the Game Commission’s “Pennsylvania Game Cookbook” for $4.71 plus tax and a $1.25 for shipping and handling. The book and aforementioned free brochures are available by writing: Pennsylvania Game Commission, Dept. MS, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.

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  • PA Fall Firearms Seasons Making Difference

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    HARRISBURG – The state’s early firearms antlerless deer seasons – early muzzleloader season, Oct. 17-24, and special firearms season for junior, senior, active duty military and certain disabled hunters, Oct. 22-24 – will soon be here, along with seasons for squirrels and grouse, so there will be plenty of activity in the state’s forested areas, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

    “In addition to small game and firearms deer hunters, bowhunters also will be afield,” said Calvin DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director. “Some of our most popular hunting seasons are about to begin and hunters are looking forward to heading afield.

    “Of course, the fall firearms deer seasons are relatively new when compared to the decades-old small game seasons. And it wasn’t that long ago that Pennsylvania had only a four-week archery season. But these early deer seasons have been warmly received by many deer hunters, because they have extended the window of opportunity for them to take a deer and typically are held when the weather makes it more comfortable to be afield.”

    DuBrock noted that these early antlerless deer seasons provide Pennsylvanians more ways to fit deer hunting into their busy schedules, and offer a more relaxing hunt to people who dislike cold weather and woods filled with large numbers of hunters.

    “But the October firearms seasons are so much more than another time and another way to hunt deer,” emphasized DuBrock. “These seasons are part of our deer management strategy to stabilize whitetail numbers in most areas of the Commonwealth, and in the process, improve forested wildlife habitat and deer health, and reduce crop damage and other deer-human conflicts.

    “Although the October antlerless seasons increase hunting opportunities, their harvests still are controlled by antlerless deer license allocations, which are set to remove a pre-determined number of antlerless deer from a Wildlife Management Unit (WMU).”

    Hunters heading afield for the October firearms seasons should find fair to good numbers of deer in most areas, but other areas will support substantially less or more. (For more information, please see the next article, “GAME COMMISSION POSTS FIELD FORECASTS ON WEBSITE.”)

    Last year, according to the agency’s Game-Take Survey, the 78,000 hunters who participated in the early muzzleloader season took 12,100 deer (10,000 in 2007). The 43,000 participants in the special firearms season harvested 5,400 deer (6,500 in 2007). Those figures compare with 12,300 in the 2006 October muzzleloader season and 8,500 in the special firearms season. The combined total of both October firearms seasons comprised less than 10 percent of the 2008 antlerless deer harvest, which was 213,440.

    Hunters who wish to participate in the early muzzleloader season must have a general hunting license, muzzleloader stamp and an unused antlerless deer license or Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) antlerless deer permit. Hunters may use in-line, percussion and flintlock muzzleloaders during the early muzzleloader season. They also may use scopes, peep-sights and other lawful sighting devices on muzzleloaders during the October hunt.

    To participate in the special firearms antlerless season, hunters must have a general hunting license and unused antlerless deer license and qualify in one of the following license categories: resident junior and senior license holders; nonresident junior license holder; nonresident adult license holders age 65 and older; persons who hold a disabled person permit to use a vehicle as a blind; residents who are serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces; and those who qualify for license and fee exceptions under section 2706. Sporting arms permitted include: manually-operated center-fire rifles, handguns and shotguns; 44-caliber or larger muzzleloading long guns; 50-caliber or larger muzzleloading handguns; long, recurve or compound bows; and crossbows.

    These two antlerless deer seasons are not open to participants of the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, which was created for those under the age of 12, since mentored youth may not harvest antlerless deer. (For more information on the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, please consult page 13 of the 2009-10 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which is provided to each license buyer.)

    Hunters are advised that they may take only antlerless deer in the early muzzleloader and special firearms seasons and that they may hunt only in the Wildlife Management Units or Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) areas for which they have obtained antlerless deer licenses.  An antlerless deer is defined as a deer without antlers, or a deer with antlers, both of which are less than three inches in length.

    Muzzleloader and special firearms season hunters are reminded that when multiple harvests of deer per day are permitted, only one deer at a time may be taken. Before attempting to take an additional deer, the first deer must be lawfully tagged. However, in Special Regulations Area counties of Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia, hunters may shoot multiple deer before tagging. Deer must be tagged immediately after they are harvested and before the carcass is moved. The tag must be attached to the ear and remain attached until the deer is processed for consumption or prepared for mounting.

    Any hunter who by accident or mistake kills an illegal deer is required to deliver the carcass – entrails removed – within 12 hours of the kill to any Game Commission officer in the county where the deer was killed. A written statement also must be provided to the officer explaining when, where and how the accident or mistake occurred. The deer must be tagged with the appropriate deer harvest tag.

    Hunters may purchase muzzleloader licenses at any time. The license entitles them to hunt in both the fall antlerless muzzleloader season and the traditional flintlock season. Regulations for the after-Christmas muzzleloader season remain unchanged: hunters may use only primitive type muzzleloading long guns .44-caliber or larger with flintlock ignition systems and primitive sighting devices. Fiber-optic inserts are permitted in sighting devices.

    Hunters in either October firearms season are required to wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing on the head, chest and back combined at all times. Bowhunters afield during the overlap of the archery and October antlerless firearms seasons also must wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange while moving and display an orange alert band while on stand.

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