Category Archives: Gun Hunting

Ohio changes my holiday tradition …

Don’t get me wrong. I really do enjoy the annual pilgrimage – Griswold style – to Ohio around the holidays to visit my in-laws. They’re good people and it’s nice to catch up with our extended family. And I generally like the state of Ohio. But the last decade of December’s trips across the Ohio River carried with them the added anticipation of hitting the deer woods for the state’s muzzleloader season. And deer hunting in Ohio is always worth getting excited about.

Ohio’s Wildlife Council voted in early 2009 to change the muzzleloader season to Jan. 9-12, 2010 (which, by the way, means that the 2009 calendar year did not truly have a muzzleloader season), making it the first year in many that I will not be chasing the whitetail in the buckeye state. And I’m bummed about it. There’ll be no chance to take to the field with my brother-in-law, normally our only chance to share a few hunts together all year.

According to Dave Risley, the Ohio Division of Wildlife executive administrator of wildlife management and research, “the addition of the extra weekend of gun hunting, decline in muzzleloader season harvest and the compression of the calendar, we felt that a move into January would add a little ‘downtime’ for deer hunters and deer, and reinvigorate the season.”

Each visit to this site makes me more disappointed in Ohio's decision to move its muzzleloader dates

The state’s extra weekend of hunting has seemed to work out to help the state meet its desired hunter harvest, but I’m anxious to see if the move to January will indeed pay dividends. One of those metrics for success surely is revenue from license sales and my gut tells me that this move will not help in this area. I am among the many out-of-state hunters that have forked over the $164 (the 2009 fee) to hunt in Ohio. I will not be making the purchase this year only because my schedule doesn’t jive with the state’s regulations. To the state’s defense, I could purchase my license to hunt with my bow in tow, but the investment becomes greater when facing only three days to hunt and very little pressure forcing the deer out of their nocturnal ways (especially on the heels of the state’s shotgun season).

I can’t be alone. The January muzzleloader season might do some help in getting the state’s resident hunters into the woods a few extra days, the out-of-staters coming into the state for the holidays are less likely to return in January for a three-day season. That is purely my assumption at this point, but the post-season numbers should tell us the facts.

With a couple of out-of-state trips planned for hunting in 2010, my goal is to find a way to get back in the Ohio deer woods in some capacity. Perhaps it will be an extended weekend trip during the rut or something of that nature. Regardless, this year’s trip back for the holidays is going to miss a little something.

Time changes gun openers too …

As the 2009 New York gun season approaches this Saturday, I’m reminded of how my excitement for that first day has changed throughout the years.

During my elementary school years, it took everything I could to make it through the school day (the season opened then on a Monday) in order to race home and check with my mom if she had heard from my father. On more occasions than not, my dad had taken a buck on that first day – a feat I couldn’t wait to get to school the next day to brag to my classmate and early hunting nemesis (and later hunting comrade) Andrew Harris.

Shortly thereafter, my opening day anticipation changed to checking on the success of both my dad and oldest brother, Mike. It was about this time, that I looked very much forward to Thanksgiving and the first Saturday as those were days that my dad usually let me tote along as bystander of the hunt. After his rookie season, Mike also decided to allow his little brother to tag along with him in the woods. It was many of those initial trips with him that set the foundation for my hunting future. My middle brother, Doug, would start hunting a couple years after Mike and the three of us would start sharing the woods togehter.

Because you needed to be 16 to hunt Big Game with a gun in New York, my early teen years focused very much on the archery season. Having a leg up on taking a deer made it much easier to sit among the older hunters at the poker table in deer camp. During these years, I got to tag along, but toting a shotgun had to wait.

Then came my own rookie season. As if The Big Guy upstairs had it all planned out, my birthday falls right smack dab in the heart of deer hunting. It was with my 16th birthday that my dad surprised me with a new shotgun the day before the gun opener. After practicing for months with his first gun (Ithaca Deerslayer 20 ga.),

The Ithaca Deerslayer was the gun targeted to join my first hunt!

I was shocked beyond belief when the new shotgun was in the leg of my new hunting suit (where I stored the trusty Ithaca) upon arrival at deer camp. A few Remington Sluggers out of the barrel and I was ready to roll.

My primary focus on the gun opener in those early years was laser targeted on success. While my brothers, uncles, cousins, etc. all relished in the camaraderie that came with deer camp, my priority was on making sure I did everything I could to take a deer.

It’s amazing how a few years and a notch or two in that leather sling will change that perspective. I’m fortunate in that I spend many hours a year with a bow in tow to get my ultimate deer hunting fix. And I still enjoy taking to the woods with a gun. But the primary reason of anticipation for the gun season now is the opportunity to catch up with family and friends, share stories about the buck that got away or the IOUs written on napkins from poker games past.

That is what the gun opener is about.