Deer numbers are up so far this hunting season
Mother Nature sure smiled on the Ohio deer gun hunters this week with much improved weather over last year.
Because of it, harvest numbers are way up. Hunters checked 29,297 white-tailed deer on Monday, Nov. 26, the opening day of Ohio’s deer-gun season, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Monday’s total represents a 24.1 percent increase from 2011, when rain-soaked hunters harvested 23,600 deer.
Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer checked in 2012: Coshocton (1,199), Muskingum (1,102), Tuscarawas (1,091), Guernsey (858), Harrison (845), Knox (830), Ashtabula (816), Licking (805), Carroll (776) and Washington (747). The top three counties were unchanged from 2011.
The biggest complaint I am hearing from many deer hunters, including archery hunters, is that they just aren’t seeing the deer like they used. However, the harvest numbers as of Nov. 26, according to the ODNR website, says that for the first sixty days of the Ohio deer season, 127,918 deer have been check in statewide which is up sixty-three percent from last year.
Local hunters will argue that the higher harvest numbers are because of the tremendous deer numbers in the eastern part of the state. But again, the harvest numbers say differently. Morrow, Knox, Crawford and Richland counties all have a sixty-two percent or higher harvest compared to the first sixty days of last year’s season.
Granted, a big chunk of that gain is from much better weather that we experienced this year’s opening day of gun season compared to last year’s opening day soaker. However, the improved weather doesn’t account for all of that gain in harvest. The archery numbers were up before the gun season opened up and the youth gun weekend harvest was up from the previous year as well.
I know I have spotted more quality sized bucks driving around at dusk and dawn the last three weeks than I can ever remember. Bottom line is the deer are still here in very large numbers, they may just be not where many guys have traditionally done well.
The deer-gun season isn’t over as it will reopen for an additional two days, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15–16, we still have the muzzle loader season, and the archery season still has a couple of months left as well.
Expect those harvest numbers to continue to climb especially if we have decent weather. No, it won’t be a record year, but it won’t be the doom and gloom that many seem to think it is either.
The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in Ohio, frequently pursued by generations of hunters. Ohio ranks eighth nationally in annual hunting-related sales and 10th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting has an $859 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more.
Hunters are encouraged to donate any extra venison to organizations assisting Ohioans in need. ODNR Division of Wildlife is collaborating with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) to help pay for the processing of donated venison. Hunters who donate deer are not required to pay the processing cost as long as the deer are taken to a participating processor. To see which counties are involved in this program, go to fhfh.org.
• Hunters harvested 1,338 wild turkeys during Ohio’s 2012 fall wild turkey season, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Ohio’s 2012 fall wild turkey hunting season was open Oct. 13-Nov. 25.
This year’s total is a 2.5 percent decline from 2011, when hunters bagged 1,372 wild turkeys. The 2010 harvest total was 1,425.
The top 11 counties for fall turkey harvest were: Ashtabula (61), Coshocton (56), Geauga and Tuscarawas (53 each), Knox (46), Clermont (42), Licking (41), Guernsey (39), Holmes (38) as well as Adams and Richland (37 each). Ashtabula was also the top county in 2011, with 67 wild turkeys.
Prior to the start of this fall’s hunting season, Ohio’s wild turkey population was approximately 180,000. More than 17,000 hunters, not including private landowners hunting on their own property, enjoyed Ohio’s fall wild turkey season. Hunters could pursue a wild turkey of either sex in 48 counties using a shotgun, muzzleloading shotgun, bow or crossbow.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!