Last updated: December 17. 2013 1:50PM - 696 Views

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‪Ohio hunters checked 75,408 white-tailed deer during the weeklong gun hunting season, Dec. 2-8, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.‬

According to the ODNR, hunting is the best and most effective management tool for maintaining Ohio’s healthy deer population. Hunters have harvested 162,720 deer so far in the 2013 hunting seasons, compared to 171,867 at the same point last year, a 5 percent difference.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife remains committed to properly managing Ohio’s deer populations through a combination of regulatory and programmatic changes. The goal of Ohio’s Deer Management Program is to provide a deer population that maximizes recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists. This ensures that Ohio’s deer herd is maintained at a level that is both acceptable to most, and biologically sound.

Until recently, the populations in nearly all of Ohio’s counties were well above their target numbers. In the last few years, through increased harvests, dramatic strides have been made in many counties to bring those populations closer toward their goal. Once a county’s deer population is near goal, harvest regulations are adjusted to maintain the population near that goal.

Archery season remains open through Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. The muzzleloader season is Jan. 4-7, 2014.

Counties reporting the highest number of checked deer during the 2013 gun season: Coshocton (2,658), Muskingum (2,604), Tuscarawas (2,604), Guernsey (2,401), Ashtabula (2,334), Harrison (2,133), Carroll (2,019), Knox (1,966), Licking (1,887) and Belmont (1,851). Coshocton County also had the most deer checked in the 2012 deer gun season (3,119).

Deer hunting in Ohio continues to be a popular activity for many who enjoy the outdoors. Ohio hunters checked 218,910 deer during the 2012-2013 season. Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting has a more than $853 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation publication.

Locally, all the area counties were way down compared to last year’s gun season harvest, and lately, the trend continues to be a decrease from each previous year. For example, Morrow County hunters harvested 640 deer compared to the previous year’s 844. Knox County hunters checked in 1,966 this year compared to last year’s 2,159 and Richland County hunters checked in 1,182 compared to last year’s 1,418. You certainly can’t blame it on poor weather. Sure, opening day had some nasty fog that lingered around forever but the rest of the week was pretty good for hunting. Some might try to partially blame the low harvest on a lot of standing corn still around but the bottom line is the deer numbers just aren’t what they used to be.

I have talked to a lot of deer hunters who hunt in all three of the counties mentioned above and they all tell me they just aren’t seeing the deer they are used to seeing. It is getting to the point where some hunters are starting to express their frustration and they are asking when is enough enough in regards to the ODNR continuing to strive to lower the state’s deer herd? • Mother Nature has thrown winter at us very hard with most of the lakes and ponds making some serious ice right now but it is still a great time to be hunting waterfowl. The area is holding a lot of Canada geese and mallards and if you can find some open water (mainly creeks and rivers) or the corn fields where they are feeding, you can have some very good hunts. Hunting in these frigid temperatures is not for the faint of heart, but you can very successful if you put some work into it.

• As I mentioned, the frigid temperatures has the water turning hard and in many places it should be over four inches of ice, which is what I consider the minimum amount of ice that is safe to be on. Before long, the hard water fishermen will be out in full force, if they aren’t already. I am told that for the first time, Clear Fork Reservoir will be open for ice fishing as soon as the ice is thick enough to be considered safe. Check at the office at the ramp for any indication that the lake is open for ice fishing.

If you have never ice fished before and want to learn, you can join the experts from the ODNR Division of Wildlife for a free ice fishing workshop on Thursday, January 9th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. The evening will take place indoors at Wildlife District Three, 912 Portage Lakes Drive, Akron. Topics to be covered during the two-hour workshop will include: planning and preparation, equipment usage, fish identification, and safety. The workshop is free but pre-registration is required as seating is limited. Call Ken Fry, Division of Wildlife, at (330) 245-3030.

Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!

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