Once upon a time, the opening day of small game season in the Midwest was the big event for hunters, so much so that kids were allowed to play hooky from school to go afield with their dads and uncles and grandfathers in pursuit of rabbits and pheasants and such.
And while the typical first opening day of the fall hunting parade – for squirrels – did not quite cause as much hubbub, plenty of bushytail stalkers nonetheless headed into oak woods with .22 rifles slung on their shoulders, at least on the first Saturday, if not on the actual opener..
That was in the years before bowhunting for deer, fall wild turkey seasons, and Canada goose hunting moved to the forefront of field sporting interests in keeping with the expansions of those now supremely popular game species.
Nowadays, state game managers are scratching their heads a mite, trying to determine just how many of us actually hunt squirrels, rabbits, and pheasants, among a handful of other species, and how much pressure we exert on those populations. To put some “ground truth” behind suspicions, they are leaning ever more heavily on hunter surveys to help manage seasons, bag limits, and habitat management programs.
Which is why in the Buckeye State at least, hunters are being randomly selected to participate in an annual small game hunting survey by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Participants are being asked to record their hunts this fall for squirrel, mourning dove, ruffed grouse, woodcock, rabbit, pheasant, and quail. In turn, hunters can rely on that record to fill out a questionnaire about hunting effort and results, to be e-mailed at seasons’ end.
Mark Wiley, a state wildlife biologist at the Olentangy Wildlife Research Station, is in charge of the survey. He is asking participants to go on-line and click onto a website to print a simple, easy-to-use, but neat-looking one-page hunter logbook on which this fall’s small game records can be tallied. The site is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=BB4Xs_2fpDC840nXoqrycrqg_3d_3d.
The logbook can be folded up and slipped into a hunting jacket pocket. It will be a nice little hunting memento as well post-season. If you were not included in the original list of potential survey participants, and want to participate, or have questions, contact Wiley directly, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.