Delays for many disappointed hunters on Opening Day

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Opening day of this year’s Ohio gun season for whitetail deer was a disappointment for thousands of hunters.

Opening day

Harvest numbers for the heavily anticipated day, which is typically the best day of the weeklong season, was just 17,500, down nearly 23 percent from 2013 when hunters tagged 22,619 deer.

The lower numbers represent a goal by Ohio’s wildlife officials to reduce the overall herd, especially in counties where too many deer caused concerns to some stakeholders. It appears that lower deer seen and lower deer harvested in many counties is the present and the future for hunters.

Deer season

Overall, hunters took 191,459 deer in 2013 including those reported in all seasons; gun, muzzle loader, and archery. This year’s grand total will be less than that but even with planned reductions in the state’s deer population, Ohio continues to be a popular and productive deer hunting state.

deer count 12.10

According to information released by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, officials are committed to managing the state’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 land owners and motorists. This, they suggest, ensures that Ohio’s deer herd is maintained at a level that is both acceptable to most and biologically sound.

Management

Deer management, in layman’s terms, always means the reduction of animals by legal hunters or in some instances, by paid sharpshooters in non-hunting areas, and the issuance of nuisance permits. It also means the harvesting of does, a practice that is far more effective in reducing numbers than the killing of bucks.

Target management

DOW officials added that until recently almost all Ohio counties were above target management numbers for deer. In the last few years those numbers have been reduced through increased harvest and dramatic strides have been made in many counties to bring deer numbers closer to the goal.

Because Ohio’s management practices can and do change year to year and county by county, officials are hoping to maintain target goals once reached.

Interestingly, eight percent (1,805) of successful first day Ohio hunters killed their deer using center-fire rifles, allowed in Ohio for the first time this year.

Rifles allowed are limited to those that shoot straight-walled cartridge calibers, basically the same calibers already allowed for handgun hunters. Typical rifle calibers are .44 Magnum, .444, and 45/70.

NRA banquet

Interested Ohio shooters can look forward to May 29, 2015 when the 8th annual Western Reserve Friends of the NRA Banquet will be held in Mentor, Ohio.

For information about discounted advance ticket, rooms, and reserved tables, should email Chairman@WesternReserveFNRA.org.

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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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