Ohio’s young hunters braved less than ideal weather conditions during the two-day youth deer-gun season that was held Nov. 18-19. Even so, 4,958 deer were harvested during the statewide hunt, a few less than last year’s 5,930 total.
During this two-day season, young hunters were able to use a shotgun, muzzleloader, handgun or a specific straight-walled cartridge rifle and were required to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult.
The youth deer-gun season is one of four special youth-only hunting seasons designed to offer a dedicated hunting experience for young hunters. Youth hunting seasons are also available for small game, wild turkey and waterfowl.
Ohio offers many more opportunities for hunters of all ages to pursue deer. The statewide deer-gun season began last Monday and will end tomorrow. An additional weekend will add Dec. 16-17 to the season.
Deer-muzzleloader season is Saturday, Jan. 6, through Tuesday, Jan. 9, and deer-archery season remains open through Sunday, Feb. 4. Complete details are found in the 2017-2018 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations or at www.wildohio.gov.
Youth hunters can commemorate their hunt with a First Harvest certificate, available at wildohio.gov. Participants can upload a photo and type in their information to personalize the certificate. Hunters can also share photos by clicking on the Photo Gallery tab online.
Local harvests for the youth deer-gun and the comparative number from last year are: Allen: 21 (37); Hancock: 34 (40); Hardin: 28 (48); Putnam: 27 (34); Seneca: 68 (75); Wood: 25 (30); and Wyandot: 51 (52).
If you find yourself with a freezer full of venison after these hunting seasons, you might want to check out the Division of Wildlife’s free online cookbook. There are plenty of mouthwatering ideas that are sure to get you headed back to that tree stand.
My suggestions? I’d give the Horseradish Crusted Venison Tenderloin or Texas Snakebite Chili a try. Of course, there are nearly 100 to choose from “¦ and that’s just the venison recipes.
Visit: http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/education-and-outdoor-discovery/wild-ohio-cookbook.
“It is my fixed conviction that if a parent can give his children a passionate and wholesome devotion to the outdoors, the fact that he cannot leave each of them a fortune does not really matter so much.” — Archibald Rutledge

Along the way
Looking for a way to celebrate the holiday season with some outdoor fun that’s appropriate for the entire family? I recommend you take a little time out during this hectic time for a little relaxation, courtesy of the Division of State Parks and Watercraft.

Candlelight holiday tours at Malabar Farm State Park
Tour Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and conservationist Louis Bromfield’s “Big House,” all decorated for the holidays. Visitors will also enjoy freshly baked cookies and hot cider. The candlelight holiday tours will be held today and tomorrow and next weekend, Friday through Sunday (Dec. 8-10). Enjoy the tours from 5 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and then from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The cost is $5 for an adult; $4 for children ages 6-17; and kids 5 and under are free.
Winter solstice celebration at Maumee Bay State Park
Come to the nature center at Maumee Bay State Park from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, for holiday crafts and cookies during a winter solstice celebration. Enjoy the nature-themed decorations and spend some time at the wildlife window taking in the quiet beauty of the season. Learn from staff naturalists where the animals go and what they do during the winter months.

Owl walk at Mohican State Park
Welcome to an evening all about owls in Ohio at Mohican State Park on Saturday, Dec. 30, at 7 p.m. Learn about the different species of owls and their life histories. Then take a short hike to call our region’s most stealthy predator, the owl! Dress for the weather. Call 419-994-5125, ext. 20, to sign up. The walk will be easy to moderate. Meet at Camp Area A.

New Year’s Eve night hike at Maumee Bay State Park
Maumee Bay State Park will be hosting their annual New Year’s Eve night hike on Sunday, Dec. 31. Meet at the nature center at 5:15 p.m. You will test your night vision on the boardwalk and bring in the New Year naturally. All ages welcome, make sure to dress for the weather.

First day hike at Mohican State Park
Join the naturalist at Mohican State Park on Monday, Jan. 1, at 10 a.m. to bring in 2018 with a continuous hike from Camp Area A through beautiful Lyons Falls, Pleasant Hill Dam, the Mohican covered bridge, Hemlock Gorge Trail, and back. Meet at the nature center, which is located at the park’s Class A campground, just south of Loudonville on Ohio 3 in Ashland County.

New Year’s Day hike at Maumee Bay State Park
Welcome in the New Year and get started on those resolutions at Maumee Bay State Park by taking a naturalist-guided stroll around the 2-mile boardwalk through the beautiful Lake Erie marsh. Meet at the nature center at 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. The boardwalk is easy to walk and wheelchair/stroller accessible. Dress for the weather.
For more information, contact Stephanie Leis, ODNR Office of Communications: 614-265-6860.

Step outside
• Today and tomorrow: Tri-State Gun Collectors show, Allen County Fairgrounds.
• Tomorrow: Trap shoot, 1 p.m., Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186.
• Tomorrow: Paper shoot, 1 p.m., Black Swamp Muzzle Loaders, patched round-ball only, Portage Township 19, quarter-mile west of Hancock County 139. Contact: skinner1840@yahoo.com
• Thursday and Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• Dec. 16: Coyote trapping workshop, Columbus, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., professionals will cover topics such as life history, laws, and trapping techniques. The workshop is free but pre-registration is required and no walk-ins will be admitted. Participants must be 18 years of age or older. Attendees will be provided with location and directions. Register by calling 614-644-3925, or email Derek.Klein@dnr.state.oh.us. This course is hands on with some demonstrations taking place outdoors. Dress appropriately.
• Hunter and trapper education class information and registration is found online at www.wildohio.gov or call 1-800-WILDLIFE.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard 45867-0413 or via email at jimsfieldnotes@aol.com.