Columbus, OH – The season for three of Ohio’s most popular game species—ring-necked pheasant, cottontail rabbit, and bobwhite quail—begins Friday, November 4, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.
“The state’s cottontail population has been very good for the last several years, and this year should provide some excellent opportunities for sportsmen,” said Nathan Stricker, project leader with the division’s Olentangy Wildlife Research Station. “Statewide, rabbit numbers have increased over last year.”
According to Stricker, quail and pheasant populations may be lower than previous years. “Heavy snows this past winter, followed by an extremely wet spring have resulted in lower observed numbers of pheasants in parts of Ohio. Quail numbers are down slightly from last year, but they seemed to have done better than we had hoped following the severe winter weather of this past February,” said Stricker.
Private lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) have been very important to supporting upland game populations. Williams and Defiance counties in northwest Ohio have strong pheasant populations because of the habitat contributions by local landowners. Upland game populations are responding positively to habitat programs in other areas around the state, especially in counties with significant enrollment in Scioto Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and Quail Buffer practices in CRP known as CP33.
Cottontail rabbit hunting continues through February 29, 2012. Ring-necked pheasant hunting is open through January 8, 2012. Both seasons are closed during the statewide 2011 deer-gun hunting season, November 28 through December 4, as well as the extra weekend of deer-gun hunting December 17-18.
Rabbits, pheasants and quail may be hunted from sunrise to sunset. The daily bag limit for all three species remains unchanged from last year at four rabbits, two pheasants (roosters/males only) and four quail.
Hunters are reminded that snowshoe hares are not legal game in Ohio and may not be taken. Recently reintroduced to northeastern Ohio after nearly a century of absence, snowshoe hares are brown early in the season, resembling cottontail rabbits. To avoid confusion between cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares, portions of Geauga and Ashtabula counties will be closed to all rabbit hunting from November 4 through December 4. The coats of most hares will have turned white by early December, allowing for proper distinction.
There are two restricted zones that cover portions of Geauga and Ashtabula counties. The first restricted area encompasses parts of Geauga and Ashtabula counties and is bordered by U.S. Route 6 to the north, U.S. Route 322 to the south, Kile Road to the west, and State Route 534 to the east. The second restricted area is in Ashtabula County bounded on the north by Cork-Cold Springs Road, on the west by Windsor-Mechanicsville Road, on the south by New Hudson Road and on the east by U.S. Route 45. A map of these two areas can be viewed in the 2011-2012 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations and on the Internet at wildohio.com.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife releases pheasants on selected public hunting areas throughout the state prior to opening day of the pheasant season, the second Saturday of the season and Thanksgiving Day.
Bobwhite quail hunting is limited to 16 counties in southern Ohio: Adams, Athens, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Highland, Jackson, Meigs, Montgomery, Pike, Preble, Ross, Scioto, Vinton, and Warren. The season continues through November 27.
Additional hunting information is contained in the 2011-2012 Ohio Hunting Regulations brochure, which is available where hunting licenses are sold, on the Internet at wildohio.com or by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE.
The ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at www.ohiodnr.com.