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NEW MARSHFIELD, OH -- Many good deer hunting opportunities remain for hunters planning to participate in the statewide primitive weapons deer season, December 27-30, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

A majority of hunters will carry muzzleloading shotguns and rifles, but may also legally use longbows and crossbows. The four-day blackpowder deer season, as it is also known, allows those hunters who did not fill their tags during the archery or gun season the opportunity to do so during the primitive weapons season.

Last year, hunters checked 22,513 deer during the statewide primitive weapons season.

“Ohio’s deer season is off to a tremendous start this year,” said Mike Reynolds, deer management project leader for ODNR's Division of Wildlife. “With favorable weather conditions during the primitive deer season, hunters should easily top the 1995 deer harvest record of 179,543.”

Archery hunters took 36,073 deer during the first six weeks of the statewide archery season, which began October 7 and continues through January 31. Hunters checked 133,163 deer during the statewide deer gun season held December 2 through 8. Another 214 deer were taken during the special bucks-only primitive deer season held October 21-26 on the Shawnee, Salt Fork and Wolf Creek wildlife areas.

Prior to hunting season, Ohio’s deer population was estimated at 575,000. The Division of Wildlife expects as many as 160,000 hunters will hunt deer during the four-day primitive season.

Ohio is divided into four primary deer hunting zones. A limit of one deer may be taken in Zone A or Zone R. Hunters may take a second deer in Zone B and three deer in Zone C by purchasing additional deer permits. Hunters may purchase up to four urban deer permits to take antlerless deer within Ohio’s five urban deer zones.

Deer hunters must possess the proper permits, and regardless of zone, method of taking or season, hunters may take only one antlered deer.

Legal hunting hours during the statewide primitive deer season are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Deer must be checked by 8 p.m. of the day after harvest, except those killed on December 30, which must be brought to a deer check station by 8 p.m. that day.

During Ohio’s blackpowder season, Ohio’s small game, furbearer and waterfowl seasons also will be open. Those hunting game other than deer may use firearms legal during the primitive deer season or may use shot shells containing shot no larger than #4. Small game hunters, in addition to deer hunters, must visibly wear a coat, jacket, vest or coveralls that are either solid hunter orange or camouflage hunter orange in color during the statewide primitive deer season.

This year, for the first time, Sunday hunting on private land will not be restricted by acreage size requirements. Earlier this year Governor Bob Taft signed the Sunday Hunting Bill, which removed private land restrictions for hunting on Sundays. Public land was already open to Sunday hunting with no restrictions.

Deer hunting contributes an estimated $266 million to Ohio's economy and helps to support thousands of jobs. Deer hunters also contribute thousands of pounds of venison to community-based organizations that help feed less fortunate Ohio residents through special programs such as Safari Club International's Sportsmen Against Hunger program.

Additional hunting regulations and maps of deer zones are contained in the 2002-2003 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest. This free publication is available where hunting licenses are sold and from the ODNR Division of Wildlife by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE or on the Internet at ohiodnr.com
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