Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni
After an unusually cold start to winter in December, it was nice to experience some of the warmer temperatures this week. Of course, the warm spell was short lived, which is characteristic of a January thaw, a phenomenon of weather many consider a myth. According to the weather people, however, the January thaw is real enough although it doesn’t take place every year. It’s a frequently recurring blip in the average temperature changes that occurs in mid to late January more often than not. It can’t be explained, just happens, and most people in our part of the country look forward to it. It’s a false sign of spring and usually comes to an abrupt halt with a significant weather change, which is being predicted this coming week.
Regardless of the weather, sportsmen are constantly reminded that we live in an area that is identified by four distinct seasons. Each one offers its own unique recreational opportunities, and any pertinent information that becomes available is relevant no matter when it is released. For example, although the 2017-2018 hunting season is just winding down, some of the 2018-2019 regulations are already being announced. Next fall’s small game and migratory bird hunting seasons have been proposed to the Ohio Wildlife Council and contain many traditional opening dates. The deer season proposals will be presented to the Council at its February meeting.
Waterfowl hunters should be pleased with new bag limit modifications. Hunters will be able to take two hen mallards, two black ducks, and two pintails instead of one as part of a six-bird limit. North and South Zone lines are expected to remain the same. I’m assuming the bag increase is due to the steady, above average, duck population and related harvest numbers. Game management professionals make these calls, and historically have done an excellent job which is evident by their successes.
Proposed waterfowl season dates, lengths, and bag limits are similar to last year. The 2018 goose season dates in the Lake Erie Marsh Zone are October 13 to October 28, November 10 to December 23, and January 5, 2019 to February 9, 2019. The 2018 North Zone proposed dates are: October 20 to November 4, November 17 to December 30, and January 5, 2019 to February 9, 2019. The 2018 South Zone goose season will run from October 20 to November 4, and November 22 to February 9, 2019. The proposed daily bag limit in all zones is three Canada, white-fronted geese and brant. There is a 10-bird limit on light geese, which seldom show up in Ohio. The Lake Erie Zone duck season runs from October 13 to October 28, and November 10 to December 23. The North Zone dates are October 20 to November 4 and November 17 to December 30, and the South Zone dates are October 20 to November 4 and December 15 to January 27, 2019. The daily six-bird bag limit may not include more than four mallards (two may be hens), three wood ducks, two black ducks, two redheads, three bluebills, two canvasbacks, two pintails, or one mottled duck.
Erie, Hancock, and Sandusky Counties will be added to the 2018 fall turkey season. That makes a total of 70 counties where fall turkey hunting is permitted. Spring turkey hunting is open in all 88 Ohio counties. The 2019 wild turkey spring season in the South Zone runs from April 22, 2019 through May 19, 2019. The five-county Northeast Zone season is a week later running from April 29, 2019 to May 26, 2019. There is a two-bird season limit statewide in Ohio.
Squirrel, early Canada goose, early teal, and dove seasons all open on September 1. The early goose season, statewide, runs from September 1 through September 9, 2018 with a daily limit of five. Many hunters, as well as the public, consider the early season as pest control. The early teal season runs from September 1 through September 16. This season is designed to take advantage of the early migration patterns of the blue-winged teal. The daily bag limit is six. The dove season opens on September 1 and runs through November 4. It reopens on December 15 and closes on January 8, 2019. The daily limit is 15. The Ohio squirrel season is very generous running from September 1 to January 31, 2019. The bag limit on squirrels is six. The rabbit season opens on November 2 and runs through February 28, 2019. Ring-necked pheasant may be hunted from November 2 through January 13, 2019. The daily limit on rabbits is four and the daily pheasant limit is two, male birds only.
Open houses will be offered by the Ohio Division of Wildlife to receive public comments about hunting, trapping, fishing regulations, and other wildlife issues. The open houses will be held on March 3 from 12-3 p.m. at the District One, Two, Three, and Four offices, and at the Greene County Fish and Game clubhouse in Xenia covering District Five. A state wide hearing will be held on March 15 at 9 a.m. at the District One office at 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus. Seasons will be finalized after these hearings are completed.
It’s a good thing that these early dates are available so hunters can make plans for the fall. The deer season dates are probably even more important, and the proposed and finalized versions will also be available in short order. Also, serious hunters should take advantage of the various open houses and hearings being made available to them. Voice your opinions and concerns. Public input has an impact on the decision making process.