8 districts let young hunters out for deer season opener

Young hunters in eight Trumbull County school districts won’t have to worry about playing hooky to try to bag a buck on the first day of deer-gun hunting season Monday.

Getting an extra day added to their Thanksgiving vacation will be students in Bloomfield-Mespo, Brookfield, Badger, Maplewood, McDonald and Southington local school districts, Newton Falls Exempted Village School District and Trumbull Career and Technical Center.

David Bair, Badger superintendent, said the district regularly gives students the day off for the first day of gun season.

“We do this out of appreciation for our families. You see in a rural district, I have come to learn that the first day of hunting season is a family-values kind of thing,” Bair said.

Bair said that in a district like Badger, the first day of hunting season can be looked at as a holiday. About five or six years ago, Bair said, the district scheduled school to be in session for the first day just to see the effect on attendance.

“We saw a significant drop in attendance, maybe 25 to 35 percent absentee rate,” Bair said.

In Brookfield, Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor said the absentee rate on the first day is usually higher, especially the past couple of years.

“This year’s school calendar takes Monday off for that reason,” Taylor said. “We are hoping our hunters get their catch early and are able to return to school as scheduled Tuesday.”

Bloomfield-Mespo High School Principal Stan Koterba said the attendance rate is usually 15 to 20 percent below normal on the first day, but it levels off the rest of the week.

“My brother and dad are hunters, and I certainly have respect for the sport,” said Koterba.

Bloomfield-Mespo Superintendent Russell McQuaide said the hunting holiday has become a tradition in his district.

“Hunting is a family event for many folks, and we are always happy to see folks making nice memories with their children,” McQuaide said.

Bristol is one rural district that will be in session Monday, and Superintendent Christopher Dray said he expects some absences.

“We do experience a slight attendance decline but not enough that it would affect district calendar planning,” Dray said. “Hunting is important to our community, and we support that.”

Last year, hunters in Ohio checked 73,392 white-tailed deer, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. That was a significant increase from the year before, which had a harvest of 65,484 deer. During the 2013 deer-gun season, 75,408 deer were checked, according to ODNR. Over the two extra days last year, hunters checked 9,447 more deer.

Last weekend, young hunters braved less than ideal weather conditions and checked 5,930 white-tailed deer during a special two-day youth gun season. During the 2015 youth gun season, ODNR tallied 7,223 white-tailed deer.

During the special weekend hunt, youth hunters could pursue deer with a legal shotgun, muzzleloader, handgun or specific straight-walled cartridge rifle, and they were required to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult.


Firearm rules

Four primary rules of firearm safety:

• Watch the muzzle. Keep it pointed in a safe direction at all times.

• Treat every firearm with the respect due a loaded gun. It might be loaded, even if you think it isn’t.

• Be sure of the target and what is in front of and beyond it.

• Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.

SOURCE: National Handgun Safety Course

Hunting seasons

Ohio offers several opportunities for hunters of all ages to pursue deer. Gun season is Monday through Sunday and Dec. 17-18. Muzzleloader season is Jan. 7-10. Archery season is open through Feb. 5. More details are available at wildlife.ohiodnr.gov.

Deer harvests

Deer harvested during Ohio’s weeklong deer-gun hunting season

• 2015 — 73,392

• 2014 — 65,484

• 2013 — 75,408

Deer harvested during Ohio’s two-day deer gun hunting season

• 2015 — 9,447

• 2012 — 14,365

Ohio did not have the extra two days in 2013 or 2014

SOURCE: Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife