All About Hunting In Ohio

Ohio, a U.S. state, is the seventh most populous among the fifty states of the U.S. Although the fact can not be denied that Ohio is not as much renowned as Iowa or Illinois for deer, some of the largest trophy bucks are native to Ohio.

Upland game birds such as grouse, quail, and doves and a large number of turkeys are original inhabitants of Ohio.

However, Ohio provides controlled hunts and conducts a lottery. If hunters are selected, they may also receive two hunting licenses for personal or shared use. 

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1. Hunting Seasons 

Hunting seasons are mainly set by taking into account certain important factors such as breeding or nesting, age or gender distribution, economic and recreational concerns.

The simple formula is that if the animal population is large, the moderators will time it to give the hunters a great hunting advantage.

However, if the animal population is dwindling, the dates will be set in such a way to give the animals a greater survival advantage.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has classified the hunting season into two: Big Game Hunting Season and Small Game Hunting Season. 

Know before you hunt – Tony Zerkle, ODNR Wildlife – 08-26-17

1.1 Big Game Hunting Season

Big-game species in Ohio mainly includes deer. Though other types of varied animals are found, there is a healthy population of deer in Ohio. The different seasons to hunt deer are mentioned below. 

  • For bowhunters, the hunting season is from September 26 to February 7. 
  • The deer hunting season for youth is from November 21 to 22.
  • For hunters wielding firearms, the hunting season is from November 30 to December 6 and December 19 to 20.
  • The muzzleloader deer hunting season is from January 2 to 5.

1.2 Small Game Hunting Season

Diverse small game species are available in Ohio. These include wild turkey, crow, squirrel, ruffed grouse, cottontail rabbit, ring-necked pheasant, chukar, bobwhite quail, raccoon, skunk, opossum, weasel, and fox.

  • The general season to hunt wild turkey during the fall is from October 12 to December 1.
  • Crows can be hunted from June 5 to March 6.
  • The squirrel hunting season is from September 1 to January 31. 
  • Ruffed grouse can be hunted between October 10 and November 29.
  • The cottontail rabbit hunting season commences from November 6 to February 28.
  • Ring-necked pheasant and chukar can be hunted from November 6 to January 10. 
  • The hunting season for bobwhite quail commences from November 6 to November 29. 
  • Raccoon, skunk, opossum, weasel, and fox can be hunted from November 10 to January 31. 

2. What Species To Hunt In Ohio?

2.1 Deer

White-tailed deer are largely spread throughout all the 88 Ohio countries. They possess strong legs, a short tail with a white underside to it, and long ears.

They have a facial gland in front of each eye, and with the secretion and aid of pheromone, they mark their territory. They have an excellent ability to jump and swim.

The bag limits depend upon individual Ohio counties, which may have two, three, or four deer limits. 

2.2 Wild Turkey

Wild turkeys have long legs with dark body feathers. They make a sound known as the ‘spit’ and is a sharp expulsion of air from the air sac. They attack humans if they are approached too closely. The daily bag limit is one bearded wild turkey.

2.3 Crow

Crows are abundantly found in Ohio. They have the ability to adapt to a wide range of habitats and thus are found in large numbers. There is no bag limit for crows in Ohio.

2.4 Squirrel

Ohio is the home to four subspecies of squirrels. They include eastern grey squirrels, fox squirrels, red squirrels, and southern flying squirrels and are original inhabitants of Ohio. The daily bag limit for squirrel in Ohio is 15.

2.5 Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed grouse are medium-sized birds with short yet strong wings, with a white hue to its underside and flanks. Rump feathers with a single white dot indicate a female, white rump feathers with more than one white dot indicate a male.

Unfortunately, the population of ruffed grouse is shrinking fast in Ohio and is now listed as a species of concern in eighteen states of the U.S. The daily bag limit in Ohio is 2. 

2.6 Cottontail Rabbit

As the name suggests, cottontail rabbits have sub tails with white undersides that show when they retreat. Their average lifespan is a period of two years. The daily bag limit in Ohio for cottontail rabbit is 4.

2.7 Ring-necked Pheasant (Males Only)

Ring-necked pheasant has a long black tail with white wings with two ear-tufts which help the pheasant to be alert. They have a very showy plumage on their body. The bag limit is 2 per day. 

2.8 Chukar

Chukar has a white face with a brown back and buff belly and a coral red bill. They are tremendously affected by the weather patterns during the breeding season.

They possess a unique lineament, that is, they can fly some distance after being shot. The bag limit is 2 chukar per day. 

2.9 Bobwhite Quail

Bobwhite quail is a ground-dwelling bird and has been named so because of its clear ‘bob-WHITE’. They have pale legs and feet. They are quite shy and elusive. The daily bag limit for bobwhite quail is 4. 

3. Where to Hunt in Ohio?

3.1 Public Lands

The state of Ohio is quite popular for white-tailed deer which can be hunted largely in the public hunting grounds which are in plenty in the state. Ohio owns almost 700,000 acres of public land.

The following points enumerate the most important public hunting grounds of the Buckeye State. 

  • Woodbury Wildlife Area, of 19 thousand acres, offers excellent deer and turkey hunting in rolling habitat. 
  • Wayne National Forest of 250,000 acres, provides enormous opportunities to hunt deer, turkey, and small game. 
  • Mohican Memorial State Forest, of 4795 acres, has a vast trail system for access and offers good deer and turkey hunting. 
  • Lake La Sa An Wildlife Area, of 2430 acres of land, allows youth turkey hunting by permit only and offers deer and turkey hunting scopes. 
  • Scioto Trail State Forest, of 9390 acres, offers fishing and deer and turkey hunting. 
Top 5 Ohio Public Hunting Areas

3.2 Private Lands

Ohio permits the public to hunt animals on private land with prior written permission from the landowner. If written permission is not obtained beforehand, a $500 fine is extracted with confinement to 60 days in jail.

HuntOhioFarms is a state-sponsored program by which hunters can hunt on the lands of the farmers if they permit the hunters. 

In Ohio, several other hunting opportunities are available but can be availed only after the payment of a fee. These include: joining a hunting club, purchasing private hunting land, and hiring a deer hunting outfitter.

Also, White Ridge Cabins in South Bloomingville in the state of Ohio, charges $250 per hunter per day for turkey hunters, on 200 acres of private hunting land.

4. License Requirements

Irrespective of age, hunters are required to carry a valid hunting license to hunt in Ohio. Besides, certain permits are also needed depending on the game animal to be hunted. 

4.1 Types Of Hunting Licenses

4.1.1 Ohio Resident

To enjoy the privileges of an Ohio resident, one has to live in Ohio for at least 6 months. A resident hunting license is a must for all Ohio residents.

4.1.2 Non-Resident

The non-residents who are 18 years old or more, are required to purchase a non-resident hunting license. Youth Hunting License can be purchased by non-residents who are 17 years old or younger.  

4.1.3 Youth Hunting License

Ohio residents and non-residents who are 17 years old or younger are required to obtain a youth hunting license.

Ohio Hunting Apprentice License

4.1.4 Senior Hunting License

If any Ohio resident is born on or before 31st December 1937, they can obtain a free hunting license and free game permits. Residents of ages 66 or older and born on or after 1st January 1938 can secure reduced-cost licenses and permits.

4.1.5 Disability License

Except for disabled veterans, Ohio does not offer hunting licenses to people with disabilities.

4.1.6 Military and Veteran License

A resident hunting license can be purchased by active-duty military members stationed in Ohio, but are not on any leave. Moreover, certain other permits may also be required.

Free hunting licenses and free game permits can be availed by resident veterans who have a disability or who are former prisoners of war. 

4.2 License Expiration

Ohio Hunting Licenses are valid from March 1 to the last day of February of the next year. 

5. Hunter Education Courses

First-time hunting license buyers in Ohio are required to complete a hunter education course before purchasing a license.

In this course, the hunters are taught to follow all the safety hunting rules, to be responsible regarding hunting and wildlife conservation, and to have good knowledge about hunting ethics. 

Students can complete the course either in online mode or in offline mode. The duration of the online course is 4 hours. Students are required to pass the final exam, to receive certification.

A fee of $15 is required to be paid to the online vendor once the course is completed. 

6. Rules and Regulations

6.1 Distance Regulations

In Ohio, hunters are not allowed to pursue or shoot any wild animals within 400 feet of any residence or driveaway within any state forest. 

6.2 Legal Shooting Hours

In Ohio, the legal shooting hour is from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. 

6.3 Hunter Orange Requirement

In Ohio, all hunters, especially those who are pursuing deer, must wear at least 500 square inches of Hunter Orange on an outer garment above the waist.

Ohio’s Hunter Orange Requirements

6.4 Bag Limit

Depending on the size of the game animal, the tag permits or bag limit vary. Usually, if the animal is a small game, the bag limit is more and vice-versa. 

6.5 Can You Hunt at Night?

In Ohio, for feral swine hunting, rifles and night vision scopes can be used but night hunting is prohibited during any deer gun and deer muzzleloader seasons.

Only if you have the permit, you can use artificial light for hunting. A motorized vehicle’s light source can not be used, except when you are using it to dispatch or track an already wounded animal.

Coyotes can be hunted at night in Ohio, except in the one-week deer gun season. 

7. Bowhunting

Since bowhunting demands enormous strength, perseverance, skill, patience, and effort, Ohio recommends bowhunters to complete a bowhunter education course, though it is not compulsory.

However, you must be a resident of Ohio and must be at least 9 years old to take this course. Ohio accepts certificates issued by other provinces that meet official IHEA-USA requirements.

7.1 Bow and Arrow Requirements

  • To hunt any legal game, longbows and crossbows may be used in Ohio.
  • Crossbows are not allowed to be used to hunt migratory birds in Ohio. 
  • A hand-held mechanical release or a mechanical device with a working safety may be used by longbow hunters. 
  • Crossbows may be cocked with a device, however, working safety and stock more than 25 inches long is a must. 
Wildlife Deer Hunting: Tuning Your Bow for Archery Season

8. Game Calls

Game calls refer to the calls emitted by the hunters to tempt the animals to the trap. There are mainly two types of game calls: hand-held and electronic.

Hand-held game calls are cost-friendly and can be carried out with wood or plastic. 

Electronic game calls are not always allowed in Ohio. Recorded or amplified sounds can not be used to hunt any non-game bird or non-game mammal, except coyotes. 

Jaron Tree stand


Ohio is the home to a wide range of game animals and fascinate hunters from all over the world with its beautiful environ and diverse range of fauna.

Ohio strives to fulfill the demands of all the hunters and has grown quite popular recently, as a renowned game hunting spot. To ensure a legal and safe hunt, you must follow the hunting norms and regulations strictly.

For further details, please visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website:


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