COLUMBUS — Ohio hunters checked 75,408 white-tailed deer during the weeklong gun hunting season, Dec. 2-8, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
“With the muzzleloader season and almost two months of archery hunting yet to come, Ohio hunters have many more opportunities to harvest a deer,” said Scott Zody, chief of the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
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 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 Feb. 2. The muzzleloader season is Jan. 4-7.
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).
Ohio’s first modern day deer-gun season opened in 1943 in three counties, and hunters harvested 168 deer. Deer hunting was allowed in all 88 counties in 1956, and hunters harvested 3,911 deer during that one-week season.
Hunters are encouraged to donate deer to help the needy in their area. The ODNR Division of Wildlife is working with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry to help pay for the processing of donated venison.
Hunters who donate a deer to a food bank are not required to pay the processing cost as long as funding for the effort is available. More information about this program can be found online at fhfh.org.
Other opportunities for hunters to donate venison can be pursued through Safari Club International’s Sportsmen Against Hunger program. Information about this program can be found at safariclubfoundation.org.
Whitetails Unlimited chapters also use local funds for programs such as venison donation. Go to whitetailsunlimited.com to make a donation.
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 and lodging according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation publication.
More information about Ohio deer hunting can be found in the 2013-2014 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations or at wildohio.com.