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Hunting & Fishing FAQs
Hunting and fishing equipment

Hunting & Fishing FAQs

It is legal to use goldfish from a pet store as bait, but it is not recommended. We do not want to introduce goldfish into lakes.

Bluegill/sunfish can be used as bait, but they must be caught by the angler by hook and line. You cannot sell recreationally-caught sunfish to other anglers as food or bait, but you can use it yourself.

Yes, you need a license even if you don't plan to keep the fish. "Fishing" means taking or attempting to take fish by any method commonly used to take fish, whether resulting in a taking or not.

Target areas with a high likelihood of success. Catching a few fish on the first few outings will peak children's interest and make them look forward to the next trip. View Taking Kids Fishing for more tips.

Yes. For a fee of $33, the Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab (ADDL) at the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) in Reynoldsburg can test your deer for you, provided that the deer is suitable for testing. Deer that have head wounds or are in advanced stages of decomposition will likely be unsuitable for testing. If you are considering having your deer tested, be sure to keep the head in a cool dry place until you can deliver it to the lab. Do not freeze the head. You are advised to make arrangements with the lab (614-728-6220) before dropping your deer head off for testing.

There is no scientific evidence that chronic wasting disease (CWD) can be transmitted to humans by any means including consuming the meat of an infected animal. Since the prion that causes CWD accumulates in the brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils and spleen, these tissues should be avoided.

There currently is no evidence that chronic wasting disease (CWD) can be transmitted to humans. Because some people in Europe contracted a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease after presumably eating beef contaminated with BSE prions (mad cow disease), some feared that humans could contract CWD, or similar disease, after eating CWD-infected venison from a CWD infected deer.

Continued surveillance for similar diseases in humans has yet to reveal an instance where humans have contracted a related disease from butchering or eating meat from CWD infected animals. In fact, the rate of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) diseases among humans in Wyoming and Colorado is less than the national average, despite the fact that CWD has been in these two states for almost 50 years.

Further, research on primates and genetically-altered mice directly exposed to CWD prions have provided evidence that there is likely a species barrier that prevents humans from getting CWD. However, as a precautionary measure, public health officials recommend that human exposure to CWD be avoided as they continue to evaluate the potential risk, if any.

There is no evidence that chronic wasting disease (CWD) can be naturally transmitted to livestock, pets, or other animals. Research has shown that cattle living amongst CWD-infected deer and elk showed no signs of disease, even after 10 years of exposure.

As with any deer that appears sick with chronic wasting disease (CWD), do not attempt to contact, disturb, kill, or remove the animal. Instead, please immediately contact your nearest Division of Wildlife District Office or county wildlife officer. We will then make arrangements to investigate the report. District Wildlife Offices are located in Columbus (614-644-3925), Findlay (419-424-5000), Akron (330-644-2293), Athens (740-589-9930), and Xenia (937-372-9261).

In early stages of infection, animals may not show any clinical signs of the disease. Except in the later stages of the disease, most deer with chronic wasting disease (CWD) do not appear sick, typically only displaying subtle behavioral changes. In fact, 94% of deer that tested positive for CWD in Illinois otherwise appeared healthy. As the disease advances, animals will begin to lose body condition and behavioral changes become much more pronounced.

Animals will stagger, carry their heads and ears lowered, drool excessively, and show little if any fear of humans. Deer with late-stage CWD will often appear emaciated or "boney" — thus the name "wasting disease." Unfortunately, most of these symptoms are not unique to CWD.

Yes. On October 23, 2014 the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Division of Wildlife confirmed the first case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Ohio in a captive deer herd in Holmes County. The source was an adult buck taken on a shooting preserve in Millersburg and tested as part of Ohio's CWD monitoring program.

Since 2002 the Division of Wildlife has conducted CWD surveillance throughout the state, testing more than 11,000 free-ranging deer. To date, there has yet to be a wild, free-ranging deer test positive for the disease in Ohio.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal disease of the central nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, Rocky Mountain elk, and moose. CWD is a prion disease (not a bacteria or virus) caused by abnormal proteins that ultimately destroy brain tissue.

This type of disease is known as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). This family of diseases includes bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("mad cow disease"), scrapie in sheep, and Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD) in humans.

Yes, you can hunt for coyotes from a deer stand in Ohio.

Yes, hunters can bait for coyotes ad use road-killed deer if (1) the hunter has a receipt for the deer (2) the bait is not used on public property and (3) the hunter has permission from the private landowner to hunt and use the carcass as bait.

Navigable waterways are public domain, however, the land along the shore and underneath the water is privately held, unless the waterway passes through public property. For that reason written permission to hunt is necessary in most cases.

Written permission is not required only when a river or stream passes through public property where hunting is allowed; or if the hunter and all hunting equipment are floating and not touching the shore, any structure on the shore or in the river, or the bottom of the river or stream.

Hunting waterfowl on the Ohio River, the tributaries to the Ohio River within the boundaries of Ohio, or the tributaries to the Ohio River within the boundaries of West Virginia are regulated by a reciprocal agreement between Ohio and West Virginia, which may differ from regulations elsewhere in the state. Please see Publication 404 for more details.

Mute swans are a protected bird in Ohio, so you cannot hunt them at any time. It is illegal to hunt mute swans because many hunters cannot differentiate between mute swans and trumpeters or tundras.

However, if you have a mute swan that is being a nuisance, you may apply for a permit from your District Wildlife Office to have the swan removed.

You may hunt in a public hunting area even if there is a Wetland Reserve sign posted. The Wetland Reserve Program is a federal habitat program and some private landowners enroll their land in WRP.

When the land is later purchased or donated, it remains part of the WRP.

No. The only exception is if the deer is taken within a high fence operation that has been licensed as a hunting preserve by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.Rifles using straight-walled cartridges are not considered "high-powered" and are legal for use during the youth and gun seasons.

Consult the hunting regulations digest for a list of legal calibers.

It is considered a felony to discharge a firearm from a motor vehicle. There are only a few exceptions: Landowners (and tenants) on agricultural property they own, outside of the deer gun season, may shoot coyotes and groundhogs from a vehicle.

Holders of an EPAPV permit may hunt from a vehicle on designated wildlife area roads. Hunting from farm machinery is permitted only while actively farming.

Yes, but only on private property.

According to the Ohio Revised Code: "It is unlawful for any person to hunt, shoot at, kill, take or attempt to take any wild bird or wild quadruped from or by any means, aid or use of any aircraft, or any motor-driven conveyance or its attachments.

Shooting wild animals, except migratory game birds, is permitted from agricultural equipment when being used in normal farm operations. It shall be unlawful to hunt small game and furbearers, except migratory game birds, mink, muskrat, river otter and beaver from a powercraft."

It may not be a public road (check township maps for abandoned roads), but you still cannot hunt from a motor vehicle, possess a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, or discharge from a motor vehicle regardless of public or private road.

The latter two violations are felonies in the Ohio Revised Code.

It is unlawful to shoot from, on, across or along any public road or highway. As a rule of thumb, this means that you must be beyond the ditch (on the opposite side of the ditch from the roadway), beyond the telephone poles away from the roadway, etc.

You can also check with the county auditor to determine the legal distance from the roadway.

There is no Division of Wildlife regulation that mandates hunting outside of a set distance from private residences or buildings.

The Ohio Revised Code, however, has several statues that discuss shooting a firearm near certain premises. Discharging a firearm:

  • At or into an occupied home or school safety zone, or within 1,000 feet of any school building or school premise boundaries is prohibited.
  • Upon, over or within 100 yards of a cemetery  is prohibited. 
  • On land adjacent to any church, schoolhouse or other inhabited dwelling of someone else is also prohibited.

A resident hunting license, resident youth hunting license, nonresident season license, three-day non-resident tourist license, OR an apprentice hunting license is necessary.

A printed Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp endorsement is required of all persons 18 or older; the actual Ohio Wetlands Habitat stamp does not need to be carried by waterfowl hunters. Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification is required.

A signed federal Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp is required of all persons age 16 and older and the stamp MUST be carried by waterfowl hunters.

Hunting licenses and Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp are available at license vendors across the state or online.

Federal Duck Stamps are available at some license vendors, at U.S. Postal Service locations and online vendors starting annually approximately July 1 at duckstamp.com or usps.com. Shipping time for online orders of the federal stamp is determined by the vendor so plan ahead and order early.

Hunters 17 years old and younger at the time they purchase their youth hunting license and youth deer permit, and who are accompanied by a non-hunting adult may hunt the youth deer gun season.

A resident would be considered an individual who resides in Ohio for six months or longer. Criteria an officer looks at when they verify residency is your drivers license, where you pay taxes and where you are registered to vote.

If you are working out of state but still maintain your dwelling and residency in Ohio, you would be considered a resident.

However, if you purchase a hunting license in March and then move out of state and wish to return for the sole purpose of hunting, you would need to purchase a nonresident license.

Yes, but they must not participate in any way with the hunt. They cannot carry the weapon or ammunition, run dogs, drive or call the wildlife, etc. They must only be an observer and they should have a vest, coat, jacket or coveralls that are either solid hunter orange or camouflage hunter orange.

You cannot purchase a "regular" hunting license in the Online Customer Center because it only lets you buy one hunting license. If you buy an apprentice license and then you take hunter education and have your card to prove that you completed the course successfully, then you can hunt on the apprentice license as a regular hunter if, and only if, you have the hunter education card/proof with you when you are hunting. The apprentice license can be treated as a regular hunting license only under those circumstances.

If you are calling a turkey for another hunter you are required to have both a valid hunting license and a current turkey permit. If you have already killed a turkey you are not required to purchased another turkey permit, but you must have purchased one for the current year. This rule applies even if you will not have a gun in your possession.

There are no restrictions for motorized wheelchairs on public hunting grounds.

The lottery drawings have always been completely randomized by a computer. Each applicant is assigned a random number for each hunt and then a random starting point is generated by the computer.

As far as the Division of Wildlife is concerned you only need written permission from one of the landowners whose name is on the deed (as far as criminally being covered for wildlife violations dealing with written permission). 

Under ORC 2923.13, any person convicted of a felony of violence or a specified drug offense would likely be prohibited from possessing firearms. This is frequently known as "firearms disability." This section of law does not prohibit a person from possessing or using archery equipment or obtaining a hunting license in general. In most cases, a convicted felon would be able to bow hunt. 

A holder of a valid hunting license or fur taker permit cannot accompany more than two holders of any type of apprentice hunting license or apprentice fur taker permit at one time.

Laser range finders project a beam of light onto a target that is designated to be used during the set up of the range finder. Since it can potentially be used at any time as a sighting device, it is illegal to attach one to a bow.

No, you cannot take pheasants, even in a dog training area, during deer gun season. Dog training is a hunting activity and hunting of all game except deer, coyote and wild boar is prohibited during deer gun season.

You can, but you must be in a designated dog-training area while training your dog.

Crows are a migratory species and their harvest is subject to federal hunting season guidelines. The Division of Wildlife tries to provide the best hunting opportunity for crows under the federal guidelines without disturbing them during the breeding season (April to early-June).

Hunting on Friday, Saturday and Sunday allows for recreational opportunity over most of the year.

It is okay to use illuminated nocks. Regulations state that "while hunting, it is unlawful to have attached to a longbow or crossbow any mechanical, electrical or electronic device capable of projecting a beam of light."

This only pertains to items that would allow a light to be projected on the target, i.e., a mini mag-light inserted into the stabilizer or a laser-type sight that projects a red dot on the target.

The use of lead shot for hunting waterfowl was banned in some states beginning with the 1987-88 hunting season, and was banned nationwide in 1991. Non-toxic shot regulations apply only to ducks, geese (including brant), swans and coots. Any shot type that does not cause sickness and death when ingested by migratory birds is considered non-toxic.

Please see the Allowable Hunting Equipment Section of Ohio's Hunting Regulations.

Apprentice hunting licenses and apprentice fur taker permits allow new hunters and trappers, both adults and youth, to sample the experience of hunting and trapping under the mentorship of a licensed adult prior to completing a hunter or trapper education course. Learn more about hunting for beginners including ways to practice and how to find a mentor

You can view hunting and trapping regulations and fishing regulations on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife's website.

To see if a fish is safe to it, see Ohio's sport fish consumption advisory.