By JOHN WISSE|
ODNR, Division of Wildlife
For those people who hunt and fish, October has just got to be about the best month of the year. The same holds true for those who enjoy the outdoors and do not hunt or fish.
The second round of hunting seasons get underway in the Buckeye State during October, coming on the heels of the squirrel season opening day (August 19) and the start of the early migratory bird seasons in September. Hunting seasons that begin in October include archery deer (7th), woodcock (13th), ruffed grouse (14th), statewide youth waterfowl (14-15), fall wild turkey (14-22), fall waterfowl (21st), young hunters special upland season (21-22 and 28-29), and the special early primitive deer season at Salt Fork, Shawnee and Wildcat Hollow (23-28).
As many as 175,000 bowhunters are expected to hunt deer this year. The statewide archery deer season is open October 7 through January 31. Last year’s archery deer harvest missed the record season set in 1994 by less than 100 deer.
Bird hunters can still enjoy dove hunting opportunities through October 16. The dove season will then close and reopen for its second half segment November 3-26. The woodcock hunting and ruffed grouse hunting seasons begin in mid-October, each with a daily limit of three birds. Populations of these Ohio gamebirds are lower than what is found in the North Country and upper Great Lakes region, but still provide fair hunting opportunities for wingshooters.
About 35,000 to 40,000 people hunt ducks and geese each fall in Ohio. Despite another good fall flight migration index, hunter success will hinge largely on prevailing weather patterns. The Division of Wildlife was trying to take advantage of such weather by moving the opening day of waterfowl season back a week this year to an opening day of October 21.
Youth hunting opportunities also were expanded this year to include persons age 17 and under, instead of the previous age 15 and under group. The lone exception comes with the preseason statewide waterfowl youth hunt October 14-15 when only those hunters age 15 and under may participate, in accordance with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guidelines.
Fall fishing opportunities also are very good in October. This is generally the final month for the Lake Erie fishing season when anglers can take limit catches of yellow perch and also take some walleyes and steelhead trout. The steelhead migration into northeast Ohio tributaries of Lake Erie occurs this time of year and should again produce an excellent fall fishing season.
The inland lakes and streams, plus the Ohio River, offer additional fishing opportunities for perch, largemouth bass, saugeye, sauger, and catfish. Three of Ohio’s state record fish (rainbow trout, redear sunfish and northern pike) were caught during October in previous years. The tailwaters below lock and dam structures along the Ohio River attract strong fishing interest during the fall.
But if you’re not a hunter or angler, October still remains a very popular month for outdoors recreation. The peak of fall color draws many leaf-peepers out into parks, natural areas, and state forests. Fall color reports from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources are available by calling toll-free 1-800-BUCKEYE. Camping and hiking opportunities are excellent in October across Ohio. Wildlife viewing opportunities hit a seasonal peak during the month, anchored largely by the migration of waterfowl, raptors, and other birds. So if some outdoors recreation opportunities passed you by earlier in the year, take hold the month of October to enjoy this grandest time of year in Ohio’s outdoors.