Notice the deer? Get in on special permits
The lone deer that appeared in the backyard on Thursday morning munched its way along the
property line as if the wild greens growing next to the creek were there for the taking. They
A husband and his wife stood at separate windows while the deer, occasionally stopping for long
seconds with its head cocked upright to catch any threats in the air, ate at the weed patch.
“That’s a big animal,” the wife said.
A groundhog had blazed through the lawn a littler earlier. Two squirrels played in the trees. A
small rabbit hid under one of the spruces. The usual assortment of birds poked at the lawn. Raccoon
scat perched atop a few of the granite boulders resting in the creek.
“Not that big for a deer,” the husband said. “But yes, it’s a big animal.”
The man looked for sprouting antlers but didn’t detect them, though he guessed this solitary
deer was not the same doe he’d seen with fawn drinking from the creek two evenings before. Not many
months ago five deer, all adults, stood in the cold air loosely grouped on the driveway when the
man and woman drove up to the house.
The assemblage scattered toward the stand of trees next door as soon as the headlights
discovered them in the near dark.
Still remarkable, the man thought, to see deer where there had been no deer in his early years.
In fact, few if any deer lived in Ohio at the turn of the 20th century, mainly because once-vast
forests had been cut down to grow crops and feed furnaces.
But whitetails are more resilient animals than many. Red elk, a close relative of deer, did not
survive the hunting and the slashing of nature. As habitat returned, so did deer. In some places
the whitetail presence grows too much for the habitat, meaning too much even for the deer.
In the interests of controlling whitetail numbers, a few deer-heavy locations ordinarily not
open to hunting can be accessed for a limited time each year. And although the statewide archery
season remains a few months away, the Ohio Division of Wildlife has begun the process that results
in the issuing of special deer permits for a number of controlled hunting opportunities.
Hunters interested in the lottery for the special permits have through July 31 to file a $3
application. Drawings will be held in early September for each available hunt — two of them youth
hunts but requiring the presence of a licensed, nonhunting adult. Two hunts, at Killdeer Plains
Wildlife Area in Wyandot County and at Ravenna Arsenal in Portage County, are for women. Details,
including applications, can be found at wildohio.com.
Hunts within easy reach of Columbus include:
• Transportation Research Center, Logan County. Three hunts covering four days are offered to
eight pairs of hunters each day. An archery hunt for antlerless deer is scheduled for Oct. 11, a
firearms hunt for Dec. 1 and 6, and a muzzleloader hunt for Jan. 3.
• Killdeer Plains, Wyandot County. A gun hunt for mobility impaired hunters will be held Dec. 2
-3 for 10 pairs of hunters each day. The women’s hunt is scheduled on the same dates for nine
groups of no more than three, though only two of the three may hunt each day.
• Salt Fork State Park, Guernsey County. A total of 125 bowhunters will be selected to hunt
sections of the park not normally open to hunting. A special permit is good for the entire archery
season. A hunter may take as many as three deer.
• Deer Creek State Park, Pickaway County. Eight youth bowhunters, including a hunting partner
and a nonhunting adult, will be chosen to hunt Oct. 18-19.
• Hebron Fish Hatchery, Licking County. Youth hunters and their hunting partner may use any
implement legal during the regular archery season. The hunts are scheduled for Oct. 11-12, and
permits are good for both days. A nonhunting adult must accompany the youth pair.
As for the distance to the numerous other special hunts, Ohio being a relatively small state and
Columbus being a central location, any of the opportunities is no more than a 21/2-hour drive.
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