Although hunters are often asked if they were successful, the majority of Ohio’s deer hunters find success in just being there whether they manage to bag a deer or not. Regardless, hunting success will always be rated by a number. So let’s look at the numbers for deer hunters who hunted at any time during the recent Ohio 2011-2012 archery, gun, and muzzle loader seasons.
Just one third of hunters actually killed at least one deer. That’s a fact that is hard to digest especially for non-hunters who think whitetail deer are behind every tree and that in some areas hunters are permitted to take multiple deer under an array of regulations that vary from zone to zone and specially identified areas. But just 157,726 hunters took one or more deer.
Now let’s break that number down.
Of the “successful deer hunters” most, or nearly 73 percent, took just a single deer and for most deer hunting families one deer worth of venison per year is about right. While most Numbers declineharvested deer end up in standard butcher cuts, the popularity of deer sausage, jerky, and other specialties increases each year.
Now the numbers drop dramatically. Just 19.11 percent or 30,147 successful hunters killed and checked in two deer and only 8,581, or 5.44 percent harvested three deer. Follow that with less than 2 percent who tagged four deer and less than 1 percent who took five or more deer.
Ohio hunters are permitted to take more than one deer each using an array of license options including less expensive doe tags, all with wildlife management strategies in mind. Deer multiply quickly and wildlife officials are constantly juggling numbers in an attempt to keep Ohio’s herd under control.
Ohio is one of few states that have successfully promoted the harvest of does. Several states with a longer deer hunting history stuck with a buck only strategy until deer densities grew to unhealthy numbers resulting in some real management problems.
But even provided with incentives to harvest more does, it is obvious that the vast majority of deer hunters are satisfied with just one deer, buck or doe.
Speaking of constantly changing deer hunting regulations, Ohio’s Wildlife Council, an official body of stake-holder citizens which reviews all wildlife proposals, has approved new rules and season for the coming year. Included is a change of seven counties southwest counties from deer hunting Zone A to Zone B allowing a different harvest number.
Another important change has a more local affect. Hunters in Zone C, covering most of hilly and wooded southeast Ohio will no longer be able to use the cheaper doe antlerless permits during the first full week of gun season. Instead, they will have to purchase more expensive “either-or” tags.
This fall, archery season begins Sept. 29, youth gun season for deer is set for Nov. 17 and 18, and the special extra weekend for deer gun season will be Dec. 15-16.