As deer season approaches, time to look at numbers

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Odds of hitting a deer in the next several weeks are pretty good — or bad if it really does happen. In fact, Ohio drivers rank high nationally on the unlucky side according to numbers released by the State Farm Insurance Co.

Annual insurance claims illustrate quite accurately where each state ranks in the risk lottery for deer-car collisions, a fancy way of saying who is most likely to hit a deer or be hit by a deer.

Ohio is not the leader but does in fact, rank 11th, at one deer and car collision for every 127 vehicles.

Don’t sit back and relax. That’s a lot of bent fenders, broken grills and expensive repairs. And don’t think that just because you consider yourself a safe driver that you can avoid a collision. All too often the deer chooses you and proves it by rushing blindly into a side door.

Neighboring states

West Virginia drivers have the best chance to hit a deer with a 1 in 39 risk factor and a Pennsylvania risk factor of 1 in 71 puts the Keystone state in second place. Montana is third at 1 in 75, trailed closely by Iowa with a risk factor if 1 in 77.

South Dakota is fifth at 1 in 82, Mississippi is No. 6 at 1 in 84, Virginia is No. 7 at 1 in 88, and South Carolina ranks No. 8 at 1-93. Kentucky and North Dakota claim numbers nine and ten respectively.

The insurance industry supports an influential lobby in the overall statewide whitetail deer management strategies, encouraging wildlife officials to keep deer numbers down.

Deer numbers

Deer hunters, did you know? The following are statistics reported by Ohio’s Division of Wildlife about last year’s deer seasons results.

Even with very liberal limits, Ohio deer hunters for the most part, bagged just one deer during last year’s Ohio deer seasons.

Just 19 percent of successful hunters (hunters who killed at least one deer) killed two deer, just 5 percent tagged three deer, and only 2 percent claimed four or more.

About 80 percent of all Ohio deer hunters hunted with archery equipment (either archery alone or in addition to other means) and about one in five archers killed deer — gun hunters reported the same success rate.

Archery tops out

For the first time, archers accounted for more deer killed than gun hunters did during the week-long gun season.

The Division of Wildlife sold 535,676 deer permits last year, a number that continues to decline each year.

Only 11 percent of the 191,503 deer killed by hunters last year were checked in person at an official check station. Most of the remaining 89 percent were checked by phone (48 percent) or online (42 percent).

Non-resident trophy hunters accounted for 11 percent of deer permit sales and they claimed 12 percent of the total buck harvest. Non-resident hunters tagged the majority of their harvest in archery season.

The 2013-14 harvest of deer, which was 12.5 percent less than the year before, included 70,100 bucks, 99,587 does, and 21,816 button bucks.

Crossbows continue to increase in popularity. Crossbow hunters took more than 49,000 deer last year.

While the regulations governing deer hunting saw considerable change for the 2013-14 seasons, this year’s regulations are for the most part unchanged with the exceptions being the addition of allowable straight-walled cartridge rifles and cut backs on the use of the popular $15 antlerless tags.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.

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