Polar Vortex or not, Ohio's sportsmen and anglers are gearing up by purchasing their hunting and fishing licenses.
With good, legal reasons, too.
New 2014-2015 Ohio hunting and fishing licenses are required beginning this Saturday, March 1. This is an all-inclusive requirement whether the prospective license buyer is a resident of the state or a non-resident of Ohio.
Even obtaining a state waterfowl-hunting authorization is now available, though the first goose can't be legally killed for another six months-plus.
About the only permits not on sale right now are those required to hunt deer. The reason: Ohio is in the initial stages of the required comment period for deer-hunting regulation proposals announced earlier this month by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Even so, anglers and hunters are stepping up to the plate and buying the necessary point-of-sales paperwork needed to legally fish and hunt for the respective 2014-2015 fishing and hunting seasons in Ohio.
At Gander Mountain's Mentor, Ohio outlet, a sales staff member said this morning (Wednesday, February 26) that store has already sold more than 1,000 fishing and hunting licenses, mostly the former.
That's a remarkable number given that sales of Ohio's 2014-2015 hunting and fishing licenses did not even begin until this past Saturday (February 22).
As for cost, for Ohio residents age 16 to 65 an annual fishing (or hunting license, for that matter) costs $19. For Ohio residents age 66 and older born after Jan. 1, 1938, an annual fishing or hunting license costs $10.
Ohio's one-day fishing license for either resident or non-resident costs $11 and may also be exchanged as credit if a person desires to upgrade.
A one-day Lake Erie charter-fishing license also costs $11, though the details on this document has always left me confused. Best to read a free fishing license guide that is available at virtually all license-issuing agents.
An annual non-resident fishing license costs $40 while a three-day non-resident “tourist” license costs $19.
Duplicate licenses for those documents either lost, stolen, destroyed or eaten by the family dog are available for $4 at any license-issuing agent.
But a license holder can avoid this expense by simply photocopying his or her newly acquired document. I make two copies; one that I keep in my car and the other that I keep in my gun vault.
Yes, it is perfectly legal to copy your license and use that as a spare. Some Wildlife Division personnel I know follow the same protocol as me.
As for March 1 being significant for other Ohio outdoors reasons, Lake Erie anglers need to remember that the daily bag limit on Lake Erie- and Lake Erie tributary-caught walleye drops from six fish to four fish. This restriction eases beginning May 1 when it returns to six walleye per day.
Not to be forgotten either is that on Saturday – once again, March 1 – the Ohio Division of Wildlife will host a series of fish and (mostly) game law hearings around the state.
This year's fish and game hearings are particularly relevant and important. That is because the Wildlife Division is proposing several significant changes to the way it manages the state's deer herd, regulates hunting and hunters.
And the agency is even advancing the idea of allowing the use of a host of straight-walled cartridges chambered in rifles for pursuing deer during the statewide general firearms deer-hunting season.
Each of the Wildlife Division's district's will host a hearing, all at the same time from noon to 3 p.m.
The district offices for Wildlife District One, Two, Three and Four will all serve as hearing venues. Meanwhile in Wildlife District Five (southwest Ohio), the Greene County Fish and Game Club in Xenia is pegged as that unit's hearing site.
In addition, the Lake Erie Shores and Islands Welcome Center in Port Clinton will supplement the process by being a fish and game hearing site.
So too will the Fairport Harbor Fisheries Research Station in Lake County.
For specifics on any of these matters or for directions to one or another fish and game hearing site, contact the Wildlife Division at 1-800-WILDLIFE.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn