It’s fall, and for many across the country, it’s finally time to hunt your favorite game. While there are common standards for hunting seasons, like the opportunity to hunt deer and upland birds in the fall, things can change from state to state and county to county. In today’s article, the team at Copper Ridge Outdoors dives into the logic behind hunting seasons. Read on to learn more, and find all the outdoor hunting gear you need for your favorite season here in our online collection!
About Hunting Seasons
A hunting season is a specific range of time during which it’s legal to hunt and kill a specific animal. For example, in many regions, you can hunt deer using a bow from late September to early October and with a gun from late October to November. Some animals can be hunted year-round, such as pests like wild hogs. Hunting outside of an animal’s open season is illegal and considered poaching.
You may be thinking, “But open, unrestricted hunting is how our ancestors did it!” It’s true that animals certainly don’t look at their watches to decide when it’s time to wander in front of local hunting ladder stands. Why put restrictions on hunting? It’s a good question that we endeavor to answer in today’s blog post.
Why Hunting Matters
Clearly, hunting matters to you, but do you understand the impact of your favorite way to spend time outdoors? For one, hunting generates a lot of business. Not only can the states, counties, and cities issuing hunting licenses make a profit, but hotels, restaurants, outfitters, and other local businesses also benefit from hunters’ need for outdoor supplies and hospitality.
Hunting also benefits the outdoors we so love. Many local governments use the profits from hunting licenses to reinvest in protecting the area’s natural resources. This form of recreation also helps protect and maintain the animal populations we hunt, from deer and waterfowl to prized predators like wolves and bears.
Why Hunting Seasons Matter
Hunting helps control animal populations, but established hunting seasons offer even more data and control. The purpose of hunting seasons is to maintain the natural balance of the local ecosystem, ensuring enough space and food sources for all the local animals. The opening and closing date of each season is typically determined by the state department of natural resources or a similar organization with an understanding of what the local habitat can support. Deer, for example, can practically strip an area bare of foliage and other food sources, and overpopulation can make it harder to sustain the deer in addition to other animals within that ecosystem. Animals like coyotes or mountain lions may suffer if the deer population falls too low.
Hunting is a great way to avoid overpopulation, but history has shown that unrestricted hunting can lead to dangerously low numbers. In some areas, hunting was illegal for several years rather than months because the species’ population needed time to recover. Limited hunting seasons for each type of animal allows the local government to adjust in real time and protect the ecosystem without such extreme measures.
Why Do Some Areas Have Different Regulations?
If you’ve ever wondered why there isn’t a U.S.-wide season determined for each animal — that would be easier for everyone, wouldn’t it? — then you’re not alone! The argument for keeping these seasons flexible and locally determined comes down to the fact that there are many factors that go into protecting and maintaining an animal population, and every region has different needs.
If hunters in one county are particularly successful one year, then that county may decide to issue fewer hunting licenses the next year in order to allow the population to recover. In another county, the population may have grown more than expected, and more hunting licenses may be issued to make up for it.
How Hunting Seasons Are Determined
There are many factors that go into deciding a species’ hunting season. Controlling an animal population may sound simple, but there are a number of things to consider.
Counting the Population
The hardest – and most important – part of determining a hunting season is determining how many animals there are to begin with. Do you wander into the woods and start counting every deer you see? In some cases...yes! There are a few ways to count a local animal population, from recording the amount of roadkill found to counting the number of deer in a specific area and using that to create an overall estimate for the region. Counting from the bird's-eye view of a plane offers greater scope, and using infrared technology from 1,000 feet in the air leads to increased accuracy.
Considering Breeding and Weaning Periods
Once your local organization has the data to determine how your local animal population has changed, they have to decide what changes should be made to that year’s hunting regulations. Adjusting the hunting season based on that species’ breeding and weaning periods is an effective way to do so.
Does the local turkey population need to be thinned more this year? Then open season might begin during their gobbling stage, when males are attracting mates. They will be out in the open and moving more often, making it easier for that season’s hunters to kill more turkeys.
On the other hand, if your local government is worried about the population falling too low, the season may be adjusted to a later time, such as during the turkeys' nesting period. Females will be tucked away and less available, and males will have already had a chance to mate, which means whatever a hunter harvests is less likely to affect the species’ overall numbers. This is also the logic behind a fall hunting season for deer — there may still be some young fawns, but most will have grown enough to survive the loss of their mother.
Other Hunting Restrictions
Even after open season has been declared, there may be restrictions on what you can harvest. These are other ways your local organization protects the animal population and ecosystem. You still have a chance to hunt, but now you may only be able to bring home male deer with at least four antler points, for example. This preserves the overall population by leaving the females to mate another year and letting younger deer grow and produce offspring, often many times, before they become eligible for hunting.
The underlying purpose is not to make your experience more difficult. Think of it as a challenge of your skills and patience instead! These restrictions are in place to make hunting a recreational activity that you, your friends, and your family can enjoy for years to come.
Prepare for Open Season With Copper Ridge Outdoors
Now you know a little more about what hunting seasons are and why they are in place. All that’s left is to look forward to your next chance to hunt your favorite game! Copper Ridge Outdoors offers a wide variety of outdoor hunting gear, from two-man deer stands to portable shooting benches and ATV equipment, and we are dedicated to creating gear with quality you can’t beat. Find what you’ve been looking for, and order today!