MARIETTA - Deer-gun season began Monday in Ohio and over the next six days about 420,000 hunters are expected to roam the woods and fields in search of a trophy white-tail, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
Deer-gun season runs Monday through Sunday, with two extra days on Dec. 15 and 16. Washington County usually is among the top counties for deer kills each year.
Shelby Offenberger, 20, of Waterford planned to be out early with friends and family on Monday.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Ted Offenberger, right, owner of Southeastern Trading Post, shows a pink .22-caliber rifle to Carissa Bosch of Logan at the gun shop in Waterford Sunday afternoon.
"I look forward to it every year," she said. "There's usually a big group of us out hunting. We're up around 6 a.m. to get ready to go."
Offenberger said the more experienced hunters try to help the younger members of the group bag their first deer.
"I've taken one so far since I started hunting-but I'm just looking for a nice trophy-sized deer I can put on my wall," she said.
White-tail Deer Season In Ohio
* Gun season for white-tailed deer in Ohio began Monday and runs through Sunday.
* Ohio also provides an extra weekend for deer hunting with a gun on Dec. 15 and 16.
* Muzzleloader season for white-tailed deer will run from Jan. 5 to 8.
* Bow season for deer began Sept. 29 and continues through Feb. 3.
* Bow hunting for deer is permitted within the city of Marietta during the archery season.
* For more information about in-city hunting, call (740) 373-1387.
Offenberger's father and mother, Ted and Jenny Offenberger, are owners of the Southeastern Trading Post hunting supply shop on Main Street in Waterford.
"We have five children, and all of them hunt-even our 9-year-old son," Jenny said. "They really like it."
She said deer-gun season is great for business, too.
More information about Ohio hunting is available at www.ohiodnr.com
Hunters who want to donate a deer to help feed the hungry can find information at the Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry Web site, www.fhfh.org
"We're doing good. This is our season," Jenny said. "We're selling a lot of shotguns and mounting scopes-and we're doing gun repairs. People are also buying a lot of cold weather gear."
Shelby also works at the Workingman's Store on Putnam Street in Marietta where hunting season sales are brisk, too.
"The Workingman's Store normally does get a lot of business this time of year," she said. "People come in to buy boots, hats and jackets for going out in the cold."
Hunting is an $859 million economic impact each year in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food lodging, the state Division of Wildlife said.
Russ Farley, owner of Farley's Fishing and Hunting Supplies in Malta, said business has been "crazy" on this past weekend. Hunters were getting lsat-minute supplies, he said.
"We're open extended hours this week, but people were already waiting at the door when we opened (Sunday morning)."
Farley said ammunition probably makes up the lion's share of his sales this time of year and hunters are purchasing blaze orange on hats and coats.
"But the state already makes a lot of money on licenses in the weeks before deer season," he added. "Hunters from out of state pay $125 for their license, plus a $24 sales tax. That's $149 from every guy that comes here from another state."
Many of those hunters are staying at local hotels and motels.
At least 20 checked in on Sunday at the Holiday Inn on Pike Street, said Trista Burns, a desk clerk. She said most of the hunters-many from out of state or from northern Ohio-stay through Wednesday or Thursday.
Across the street, the Comfort Inn also sees an uptick in business during deer season.
"There's always a flood of business for a week or two during hunting season," said front desk manager Shane Vincent.
Some arrive Sunday, others on Monday, he said.
Marietta councilman Mike McCauley hunts with a group of other deer hunters-some from out of state-every year. He was packing for this year's trip on Sunday.
"We stay at a couple of deer camps, one in the Dalzell area, then move to another near Waterford," he said. "We get to spend some time with guys we don't normally get to see for the rest of the year."
McCauley said the hunters usually stay at the camps for the entire week.
"We play cards, eat our meals and go hunting together," he said. "It's just a good time for a lot of camaraderie."
Deer can be hunted with a muzzleloader, handgun or shotgun from one half-hour before sunrise to sunset during the deer-gun season. The state encourages all hunters to take proper safety precautions, such as using safety harnesses in tree stands and wearing hunter orange.
Hunters also are encouraged to donate any extra venison to organizations assisting Ohioans in need.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.