By Jake Fernberg, Photography by Stephen Takacs
Steve Berk and Matt Neumeier and their incredible passion for hunting are featured extensively in our fall issue, which you can read here. If their stories piqued your interest, here are two more pieces on hunting: one a brief history of Ohio hunting, the other tips to be mindful of, if you ever find yourself enjoying the great outdoors on a hunting trip of your own.
A Short History of Deer Hunting in Ohio
Native American deer-themed ceremonial artifacts date as far back to 1000 BC, but the history of hunting deer in Ohio really begins in the 1400s, when Native Americans returned to the region. Native Americans hunted deer primarily for their meat and hides but also used their bones as tools. Settlers came to Ohio partially in search of the valuable deerskins, and this competition between settlers and Native Americans for deer in the 1700s contributed to the elimination of whitetail deer. Other factors include the dramatic ecosystem changes like the transition of post-colonial Ohio to an agricultural state and the late 19th century industrialization of Ohio. By 1904, deer were extirpated.
As the age of conservationism began in the early 20th century, the idea of reintroducing deer to Ohio took root. In 1922, whitetail deer were reintroduced to Southern Ohio, and after they rose to a sizable population and were released into the Roosevelt Game Preserve, deer hunting became a legally regulated activity in 1943. That once-fledgling hunting season, only a few days in one county, has developed into a season that lasts for more than four months and is statewide.
Deer hunting season for archers will run September 26, 2015, to February 7, 2016, while gun hunting season will run from November 30 to December 6 and December 28 to 29, 2015. Visit wildlife.ohiodnr.gov for more information.
Tips for Hunting in Ohio: Firearms vs. Archery
Now that you’ve learned a tiny piece of the history of hunting in Ohio, here are some tips from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources regarding safety while hunting. The following four tips focus on hunting with a firearm, which is different than hunting with a bow. Bearing that in mind, similar precautions should be taken with regards to when to loose an arrow. Speaking to someone in an archery store about proper technique and equipment for each individual is also recommended.
The Four Cardinal Rules of Firearm Handling:
1) Treat every gun as if it is loaded
2) Always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
3) Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to safely shoot
4) Be sure of your target and also be aware of what is beyond your target.
Those four rules are taught as part of Ohio’s Hunter Education courses, along with other tips that help prevent other hunting related incidents. Those courses are available in a variety of formats: there is the regular, instructor-led course, a home study, or if you have experience from a different state, you can opt to take a proficiency test.
Of course proper licensure and being aware of hunting related laws is necessary for a safe hunt. It is also incredibly important to have a concrete plan for your hunt that you leave with family or friends and to stick to that plan. This is imperative for every hunt, no matter if you plan on using a bow or firearm.
If you’d like to learn more about safely hunting in Ohio, or find out more about Ohio’s Hunter Education courses, read more at http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/hunting-trapping-and-shooting-sports/hunting-and-trapping-basics