MOUNT VERNON — Ohio’s hunting season kicks off on Tuesday, and by all accounts, it should be a good one. A mild summer has helped the populations boom, especially among migrant birds.
Knox County Wildlife Officer Mike Miller expects hunters to find success all season long.
“On Sept. 1, the season begins for snipe, rails and mourning doves; and teal season begins Sept. 5 and runs through the 20,” Miller said. “The early Canada Geese season also begins on Sept. 1. The biggest of all those seasons is mourning doves, which runs through Oct. 25. There is a daily bag limit of 15 doves and a possession limit of 30. The early geese season, which runs through Sept. 15, has a daily bag limit of four geese and a possession limit of eight.”
While mourning dove season is the most popular around Knox County, it can be tough if you don’t have a place to hunt. There are some alternatives to private land available to hunters.
“Locally, if you are interested in mourning dove hunting and you don’t have a spot to go, the Kokosing Wildlife Area is a good spot. We planted some sunflower fields, and those are managed specifically for mourning doves. On opening day, that would be a good place to go. ... You will have to get there early to pick your spot. Usually the first couple of days, places get hunted pretty hard and are productive. After that, it is kind of spotty.
“Something to key in on if your hunting for mourning doves is to look for wheat field stubble and also for where people are chopping silage. Those are good places. Also, watering holes and farm ponds are good places.”
The early geese season should also be a productive one. The birds are plentiful for any hunters interested in the challenge.
“The early geese season started to help control the population,” said Miller. “It adds extra opportunities for those who like to hunt geese. ... For a number of years now, it has helped control the local populations of Canada Geese. ... For the most part, they can be found in some of the same places (as mourning doves). They are usually around water, wheat stubble fields and sometimes fresh mowed hay fields. It takes a few days to scout them to find out where they fly in and out of.”
Squirrel season also opens on Tuesday and runs through Jan. 31, 2010. All in all, hunters have a prime opportunity to take advantage of the season.
“Everything should be good,” Miller said. “The squirrel populations are equal to or better than what they were last year. Mourning doves are the same. The waterfowl populations are up this year. Even for the late segment of the duck season, hunters are going to have a six-duck bag limit. This should be a good year for hunting, particularly if you like to hunt migrant birds.”
September 1 also marks the opening of a different type of hunting season — ginseng. The season runs through Dec. 31, and is quite popular because of its value.
“Ginseng season starts on the first also,” said Miller. “I talked to a guy the other day, and he was quoted a price of $110 a pound for green ginseng. That’s not a bad price starting off with the way the economy is this year.
“The ginseng crop in the county is typically very good. A few years ago, we calculated that out of the entire statewide harvest, like 500 or 600 pounds came from Knox County,” Miller added. “Roughly 200 to 250 roots make a pound, so that harvest is a lot of Ginseng roots. ... Last year, ginseng prices fluctuated wildly. They were anywhere from about $230 to $335. That a rough estimate, and prices should be about the same this year.”
Much like hunting animals, there are guidelines that must be followed. State law protects the plant, and as such, it falls under Miller’s jurisdiction. Ginseng theft is a crime, and landowners should be on the lookout for any illegal harvesting.
“For ginseng, just like hunting, you’ve got to have written permission from the landowner,” said Miller. “You have to dig three-pronged plants or larger, and the plants are also required to have ripe berries on them. You are also required to keep written records of where you dug the roots at. You have to keep those records for a year as required by law.
“I encourage landowners to pay attention for strange vehicles parked in their area, particularly if they have notes on them saying they are looking for a lost dog or it broke down. That’s one of those tricks that ginseng diggers who trespass try to use. Also, look for vehicles that may be dropping people off and picking people up alongside the road. If you see people walking alongside the road, document that and then give me a call. The best way is to contact the sheriff’s office and have them get a hold of me. Be sure to write down any license plates you find parked on your property and document descriptions of people.”