White-tailed deer

White-tailed deer are plentiful in Ohio.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally published by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Stay local. Stay natural. Eat wild game.

Hunting is one of the most inexpensive and ethical ways to fill your freezer with natural, free-range meat.

It will be available soon, too, as Ohio’s white-tailed deer archery hunting season opens on Saturday, Sept. 25.

But taking up hunting can be challenging and intimidating. Don’t let this discourage you. We can help you with all the information and resources you’ll need to safely and responsibly hunt and harvest your own local food.

The basics of hunting deer in Ohio is outlined below, and you can also get started learning with our interactive Introduction to White-tailed Deer Hunting online learning module. This content covers the basics, including deer ecology, rules and regulations, an overview of deer hunting, and places to hunt … all at your own pace.

A fact sheet, outdoor skills YouTube videos, and other resources are also available. After reviewing introductory information, we encourage you to attend a virtual or in-person learning opportunity with friendly and knowledgeable staff for hands-on experience.

What Makes Deer Hunting Different?

Deer have an excellent sense of smell, and scent is a key factor in successfully harvesting deer. Pay attention to which way the wind is blowing to ensure you are not setting up where the wind will blow your scent to deer in the area, which will spook them.

Many hunters will scout in the area they will hunt before the season starts and select a few spots in case the wind isn’t ideal in one location on a given day.

When hunting for deer, you can use a firearm or a bow in Ohio. While the firearm season for deer is shorter in Ohio than the archery season, hunters can ethically harvest deer from greater distances.

In contrast, while archery season is significantly longer than the firearm season for deer, hunters harvest deer from shorter distances and need to get closer to take an ethical shot.

Learn more about firearms on our Getting Started: Firearms page or learn more about archery options on our Getting Started: Archery page.

Harvest Your Own Natural Food

Hunting is a source of natural, free-range, and inexpensive food. Not to mention the meat is lean and healthy!

The Challenge

On a hunt, your senses are sharpened. Awareness of your surroundings is heightened. This is more than observing the environment – it’s active engagement. Hunting challenges the mind and the body. It demands skill, knowledge, and patience.

Experiencing Nature

Hunting brings us closer to nature and understanding our natural environment.

Conservation

Hunting in the United States is highly regulated, which helps make it a safe, sustainable, and highly popular activity. The sale of hunting licenses, permits, and stamps provides much-needed funds to wildlife research and management programs. Ethical hunters care about the environment. Without proper conservation, our wild spaces could be lost.

Ecological Balance

The Division of Wildlife manages healthy animal populations by implementing regulations, which are directly related to the need to manage species’ numbers. Without hunters, the carrying capacity, or the number of animals that the habitat can support all year, may be unsustainable, which would lead to damage for the wildlife or the habitat.

Why Hunt?

Learn more about how nature, local food, and a variety of motivations are linked through hunting in “Why Hunt?”, a publication of the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Established in 1982, this conservation organization works to inspire an ethical relationship between people and nature through the legacy of Aldo Leopold.

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