Controlled Bowhunting Program

The Five Rivers MetroParks Controlled Bowhunting Program is used to manage deer populations in several areas of select Five Rivers MetroParks facilities.

White-tailed deer populations have soared because of food availability and little predation. Increased development of adjacent land also contributes to high deer densities in some locations. High deer densities result in extensive grazing which significantly damages forests. In some cases, those forests never recover, and deer can become more susceptible to disease and starvation because of overpopulation.

Controlled bow hunting (compound bow, crossbow, long/recurve bow) is used in areas away from public access. It is the harvest of deer by selected experienced archers (youth and adult) to manage deer populations. Every year scientific data are collected to assess deer demographics and used to determine the amount of archer slots available. All hunting areas are at least 60 yards from designated public trails and facilities.

*NEW* An accessible deer management blind will be installed at Taylorsville MetroPark. This blind will be available for up to 4 participants (each with a designated hunting period) this archery season who need a modification to participate in the Deer Management (Bowhunting) Program. Registration for the blind is now closed. Please address any questions to

Registration is now closed for the 2023-2024 archery season. Registration for the 2024-2025 season will open in mid-June 2024.


Rules & Regulations

Introduction & Registration

In an effort to be more equitable with public participation while also maintaining an effective program, the 2023-2024 season will be open to the general public and participation will be reduced to the number of hunting spots available for the year. Selected participants will have the entire season to hunt their selected location.

All are welcome to complete the online registration from June 22 – July 14, 2023 but only 142 people will be selected to participate in the qualification process for the 126 viable hunting slots. For previous seasons (2021-2022 and 2022-2023) there were 371 and 378 people who registered, respectively. A random drawing will be conducted July 20th to select the individuals who will be allowed to participate in the qualification process. If more hunters successfully qualify than slots are available, some names will be drawn on a waitlist. If waitlist participants are not offered a spot by mid-season (Nov. 30) than they will be automatically selected to participate in the following season’s qualification upon registration.

Volunteers – Registered volunteers who have logged at least 25 hours with Five Rivers MetroParks Volunteer Services from July 15, 2022 – July 14, 2023 will automatically be selected to participate in qualifications upon registration.

If a team applies, both team members must log at least 25 volunteer hours individually to receive preference as a team. If only one individual within the team logs at least 25 hours, the volunteer would be selected to participate in qualification, but the non-volunteer individual must also be selected in the lottery in order to hunt as a team. An individual’s volunteer status does not ensure another persons selection; hours are not transferable. For more info about volunteering please visit our volunteering page.

Team – If two (adult) hunters wish to hunt together, hunters have the option of participating as a hunting team, both must register separately. Teams can NOT be assigned after registration. Team members will be considered together for the qualification lottery and lottery for areas. Teams will fill 2 spots within a hunting area.

Youth (ages 10-17) – Must have appropriate valid hunting license and tags and must be accompanied by a non-hunting parent, legal guardian, or person who is 18 years or older. Accompanying adult must have at least 3 years of experience hunting deer with a bow and appropriate proof of hunter safety education course. The accompanying adult must be a non-hunter and is responsible for the safety of the youth hunter and their actions in the field. Youth participant and accompanying adult must pass standard shooting qualification if both are planning to hunt. Adult participants who also wish to hunt in the program must complete a separate individual registration and also pay the $20 fee. There are no exceptions to the 10 year age restriction, the youth must turn 10 by the start of the archery season to apply.

Standard partner hunting rules apply as outlined above with the following exceptions:

  1. youth hunter must be within 4 feet of the accompanying adult at all times when handling a hunting device and when in the act of hunting
  2. youth hunter and accompanying adult must hunt from the same tree or blind
  3. adult may only oversee one youth hunter in the field at a time
  4. youth teams will count as one in the lottery

Registration fee is $20 per person; credit cards are accepted. No refunds will be given after the 142 participants for qualifications are randomly selected. Registration fees help cover the cost to manage this program and conduct deer management research.


This 2023–2024 season, 142 people who have registered will be randomly drawn to participate in qualifications. All selected for qualifications must hold a valid hunting license and provide proof of purchase of a deer tag (deer management or either-sex) when they arrive at qualifications and prior to qualifying.

Taylorsville MetroPark, Vandalia, Ohio

August 3, 5, 10, 12, 2023.

An email will be sent out to participants to confirm their qualification date and time. Additional dates may be considered if scheduled in advance with the program administrator.

Shooting Qualification
All hunters must pass the shooting qualification each year regardless of whether or not they have previously participated in the program. Only one chance to qualify per archery type is permitted per hunter per year. Hunters may qualify with up to three types of archery equipment (compound bow, crossbow, long/recurve bow) but can only hunt with types with which they have passed qualifications.

To qualify, you must place four (4) out of five (5) arrows within a 7 1/2” target from 20 yards. Hunters are encouraged to practice and tune archery equipment before attending one of the qualification dates. Each hunter will be limited to one practice shot. A failure to qualify due to equipment malfunction will not be allowed to requalify. It is recommended that you bring at least 4 arrows to the qualification. No broadheads will be allowed during the shooting qualifications.

Five Rivers MetroParks does NOT have an archery range. Please explore local ranges to practice and tune equipment.

Lottery Process for Hunting Area
Once all hunters have completed the qualification and orientation process, a lottery will be held to choose 126 hunting spots. Hunters will be able to submit a list of their preferences for hunting areas. A preference may be given for FRMP volunteers with at least 25 hours and Youth (youth are not preferenced in the qualification lottery). The lottery will be filmed/witnessed at the Five Rivers MetroParks Main Office and available to view by all lottery participants. Hunters will then be emailed results and a hunting permission slip for the entire season. This permission slip will contain links to the online hunting log, harvest report, and non-recovery forms.

The Hunt

Scouting is allowed in any of the designated bowhunting areas, but only during designated dates in September. Scouting outside this time while participating in the program will result in removal from the program. Hunters may set-up stands, cameras, or place bait piles during the scouting period.

Individual hunters are permitted to have 2 stands or blinds and 2 bait piles. Hunters participating in a partner hunt are permitted to have 1 stand or blind and 1 bait pile per person. Trees cannot be marked with the intent of setting up a stand at a later date. Hunters may move stands or blinds to a new location during the hunting season but must contact their team leader(s) beforehand and must be courteous of other hunters.

Non-hunting individuals may accompany a permitted hunter, but they may not carry archery equipment or participate in the hunt and must remain with the permitted hunter at all times. If another individual helps to remove a deer, they must stay with the permitted hunter and the deer at all times. When a hunter requires assistance, they should contact the Team Leader for that area.

Each individual is responsible for submitting their hunting log, harvest report, and obtaining their permission slip. Failure to submit these forms will result in future ineligibility or immediate removal from the program.

Hunting Area
Hunting area boundaries are marked with orange flagging tape and maps will be provided upon program enrollment; stands can be placed only within the designated area.

It is each hunter’s responsibility to make sure that they are within the hunting area. Failure to follow this rule will result in immediate removal from the program. Hunters are prohibited in using orange flagging tape for any reason, as this could cause confusion with the hunting boundary. Flagging tape must be removed at the end of the season.

Hunting Equipment
All stands and blinds must be at least 60 yards from other hunters’ stand, blind, or bait site unless an agreement is reached between the respective hunters. All participants must hunt from a stand or blind; hunting from the ground while not using either method is prohibited. Natural blinds made from vegetation can only be constructed using non-native honeysuckle and must be broken down after use. All equipment must be removed by the end of the season.

All equipment must conform to State of Ohio requirements. Compound, long, recurve, and crossbows are allowed. Longbow: minimum draw weight 40 lb. Crossbow: minimum draw weight 75 lb. All bows may not have an arrow nocked and crossbow may be cocked but must have no bolt in the rail when moving from the parking area to a stand or blind or returning from hunting.

Hangers and Steps
It is unlawful to construct, place, or use a permanent-type tree stand, or to place spikes, nails, wires or other metal objects into a tree to act as steps or to hold equipment.

Name Tags
Hunters are required to visibly attach a durable, waterproof, windproof name tag at the base of stands or inside of blinds left in the field. Stands or blinds without name tags will be confiscated. This rule is in place to ensure all stands/blinds in the area belong to permitted hunters.

Cameras may only be used in the hunting area. Each must be labeled with the hunters name with a waterproof tag. No use of cameras outside the hunting areas or outside the hunting season is permitted without written permission from FRMP. To prevent theft/damage, hunters are strongly encouraged to lock cameras.

A harness MUST be worn while hunting from a stand; failure to do so will result in loss of hunting privileges. Climbing, ladder, and tripod stands are all allowed. Hunters are strongly encouraged to lock stands or remove them at the end of each day. All shots must be downward into an earth backstop. Youth participants are permitted to hunt from ladder stands or blinds only; lifeline and harness are required if hunting from a stand.

Hunting from the ground is only permitted in select hunting areas. When hunting from a blind in these areas, no shots may be taken without an earth backstop.

Harvest and Reporting Procedure
Hunters are required to wait at least one hour to follow-up after a shot unless the deer falls within sight of the hunter. Hunters must harvest an antlerless deer first and complete Ohio Division of Wildlife check-in procedures. The FRMP bowhunting program is an Ohio Division of Wildlife controlled hunt and FRMP is considered “private property”.

Harvest Reports and Hunting Logs
For all deer harvests, hunters are required to submit a harvest report within 3 days of the harvest and prior to harvesting another deer. Maintaining hunting time, deer sightings, and harvest records are a critical element to the deer management program. Failure to submit these forms will result in future ineligibility or immediate removal from the program

Bait is allowed, but only one bait site per stand/blind is permitted. Both scattered bait and automatic feeders are allowed.

Removing Vegetation
Only limited clearing of shooting lanes is allowed and only by hand (no use of motorized equipment such as weed-eaters, mowers, etc.) and in such a way that the native trees and vegetation are not harmed. For example, removing/cutting/trimming any native plant is prohibited, but honeysuckle and autumn olive may be removed.

Hunters are responsible for disposing of deer entrails and/or recovered remains. Entrails may be placed away from trails, parking areas, or any other place easily visible by other users. Deer carcasses must be removed from FRMP property and properly disposed of. FRMP finds wanton waste unethical. Hunters must utilize the meat of harvested deer or donate the meat otherwise.

Compliance with MetroParks Policy and State Laws

All harvested deer must be checked according to State of Ohio procedures. Bowhunters may be checked periodically by Ohio Division of Wildlife officers or MetroParks rangers to ensure compliance. Selected hunters must have a copy of the FRMP issued permission slip on their person while hunting. Hunter must obey verbal commands from FRMP staff.

Video and Photographs
Video-taping a deer harvest in FRMP is strictly prohibited. Still pictures after the hunt are allowed as well as video of live deer as long as the harvest is not filmed. Specifically prohibited is posting any photos of deer harvested in FRMP where they can be accessed by the public online (i.e. social media, Instagram, etc.).

Motorized Equipment
Vehicles are permitted in designated parking areas only; no motorized vehicles or equipment are allowed outside of those parking areas. Failure to follow this rule will result in removal from the program. A human-powered cart is allowed.

Other Species
The controlled bowhunting program is an ecological management tool for white-tailed deer only. All other animals, including coyotes and turkeys, are protected. The only exception is feral pigs which may be harvested when observed while hunting according to program rules. Hunters must report any feral pig sightings immediately.

Reporting Violations
It is important to report violations immediately when they are observed or discovered. You can report program violations to the program administrator. If you witness a legal violation, contact a MetroParks ranger through Montgomery County dispatch at 937-225-4357 with the location, time, and type of violation observed. Be sure to indicate that you are in a MetroPark and require a MetroParks ranger. Note a description and license number, if applicable.

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