Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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12,000 more does fell with early bonus tags

Athens – A single bar graph spit out of Mike Tonkovich’s
computer shows in raw numbers just how successful the bonus
antlerless tags were during the 2007 early archery season.

From the deer archery opener on Sept. 29 to when gun season
opened on Nov. 26, Ohio bowhunters killed 40,588 does. The same
graph shows the doe harvest from the same period in 2006 –

Tonkovich is the DNR Division of Wildlife’s top deer biologist
and as such is responsible for crunching the harvest numbers from
the recently completed deer season.

Last year was the first in which early season bowhunters could
take advantage of $15 bonus tags to kill antlerless deer.

“Our archery season is becoming a very valuable management
tool,” said Dave Risley, the Division of Wildlife’s administrator
for wildlife management and research. “We crossed 70,000 in archery
season and that eclipses the whole season of not too many years

Coming into the 2007-2008 deer season in Ohio, the Division of
Wildlife pushed for more antlerless harvest in an attempt to curb
an ever-growing herd that stood at 675,000 deer a year after a
record harvest of more than 230,000.

The idea was to allow archers to take does out of the population
early, thereby reducing the reproduction potential for the
following year.

An ideal result would be to see the early season antlerless
harvest increase while buck harvests decreased.

That’s exactly what happened. During those first six weeks, the
harvest of antlered deer fell from 30,447 in 2006 to 28,930 in
2007, that same bar graph shows.

In simple terms, the results show the system worked.

“One thing that we have that other states don’t is that our
hunters are willing to kill does,” Risley said. “And, if we give
them the right tools, they’ll do it.”

The Division of Wildlife is proposing to provide more tools this
year by extending the bonus tags to part of the gun season for one
part of Ohio. If approved by the Ohio Wildlife Council on April 2,
hunters in the 38-county region of Zone C in southern Ohio could
use bonus antlerless tags during gun season. These extra tags would
not count against a hunter’s normal bag limit in this zone.

“What we’re trying to do is shift (hunting) effort into Zone C
where most of our counties are above the (population) number where
we’d like them to be,” Risley said.

The stipulation is that the sale of these discounted, $15 bonus
tags will expire on Nov. 30.

“We’re trying to get our hunters to commit to shooting a doe
early,” Risley said.

If the new proposals pass, Risley said he expects a harvest of
250,000 deer next year.

Last year, antlerless harvest in the 18-county region of Zone A
during the first six weeks of bow season increased dramatically
from 1,311 in 2006 to 3,241 last year. The 2007 number represents a
147 percent increase. An average of 1.3 does were harvested to
every buck killed.

Antlerless harvest was also up in Zone B, which consists of 29
counties snaking from Butler County in the southwest to Ashtabula
County in the northeast. In this zone, hunters killed 10,901
compared to 8,346 in 2006 for a 31 percent increase. The buck
harvest was also lower in this zone by 6 percent from 2006. For
every buck killed in this zone, almost two does were harvested,
according to Division of Wildlife numbers.

The early bow harvest was up again in Zone C with 26,446 does
killed last year compared to 18,623 in 2006 for a 42 percent
increase. Buck harvest for the first six weeks of the season was
down 5 percent from 2006. For every buck harvested, 1.9 does were
killed, the division’s numbers show. The counties in this zone are
primarily southeast, but also includes the fast-developing counties
of Delaware and Franklin in central Ohio and Clermont, and Hamilton
in the southwest part of the state.

When all of the numbers shook out, the preliminary total of
antlerless harvest for the whole season was up from 141,395 in 2006
to 144,309 this past season. But, during the early part of bow
season, it rose from a total of 7,595 in 2006 to 8,556 last

“What we’re trying to do with all of this is watch hunter
behavior and see how that’s going to influence what we do down the
line,” Risley said.

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