Ohio's DSA Zone Firearms Whitetail Hunt Oct. 8th - Oct.10th
All Ohio Deer hunters know the whitetail deer firearms season always begins the Monday after Thanksgiving. This year 3 counties, Wyandot, Hardin, and Marion counties will have an early 3-day firearms season from October 8th-10th Although the statewide archery season opens September 24th these 3 counties have been archery hunting since September 10th.
The ODNR discovered CWD in 2 free ranging deer in the 2020-2021 season that were harvested in or around the Killdeer Plains Wildlife area in southern Wyandot county. Since then, an additional 9 deer harvested within that area have also tested positive for CWD causing the state to declare a DSA (disease surveillance area) zone and special regulations to try and stop the spread of CWD.
For those who are not familiar with CWD, it attacks the brain and nervous system of a whitetail causing a slow and painful death. A protein known as prion causes CWD. CWD prions can remain in the soil and transmit through the plants that grow in that soil for years. A prion is an abnormally folded protein that lacks DNA. The prions replicate and rearrange themselves into a misfolded structure causing CWD.
So even though this is very unfortunate you may be asking yourself how can you firearms hunt during the October 8th -10th firearms season? If you are not a landowner in one of these 3 counties there several options.
- Take the old-fashioned approach and take a day and start knocking on doors and asking for permission.
- Dig through your network of acquaintances and start asking if anyone has a family member or friend who lives within those 3 counties that would entertain the thought of giving you permission to hunt.
- Hunt on Public Wildlife areas
Wildlife areas you ask. I am not even familiar with that part of the state. Do not despair. We have done a little research on your behalf and listed the public hunting area's below. We would like to note that we suggest calling the park office ahead of time and confirming that firearms hunting these 3 days is legal.
Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area Map
Big Island & Big Beaver Wildlife Area Map
For those who are curious to the quality of deer hunting in these 3 counties we referenced back to an earlier article we wrote regarding deer harvest per square mile. Ohio Deer Harvest Per Square Mile By County - Where Does Your County Rank? (see chart below) In addition we checked the Ohio Big Bucks Club records and found that Wyandot has registered 66 bucks that score 140" or better, Hardin 56 bucks, and Marion 36 bucks. Those bucks are the total registered since the Ohio Big Bucks Club has been keeping records in 1957.
If you do find permission from a private landowner or hunt public lands within the DSA zone, there are specific rules and regulations you need to be aware of.
- Baiting deer through food or minerals is prohibited within DSA zone.
- Use rubber gloves when gutting your deer and wash hands afterwards. In addition, wash knife thoroughly.
- Testing for CWD will be mandatory during the 3-day gun season and test locations can be found in the Hunting Regulations book
- If you choose to leave the DSA area without processing your deer, it must be dropped off at certified meat processor or taxidermist within 24 hours of leaving the DSA area
- If your deer tests positive for CWD do not consume the meat.
Remember that all other state hunting laws and bag limits remain in effect in the DSA zone including the use of Hunter Orange and type of firearm that maybe used.
Good luck if you decide to take advantage of this opportunity and lets all keep our fingers crossed that CWD can be contained within these 3 counties.