Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

State deer kill nearly 250,000

Columbus – While the numbers aren’t entirely dry just yet, the
DNR Division of Wildlife’s previously stated prediction of a
2008-2009 deer kill of 250,000 will be a close call.

At last count, the total deer harvest of 248,515 would still set
a new record. The previous mark of 237,316 was set in the 2006-2007
season.

“It will be a close call,” Dave Risley, the Division of
Wildlife’s administrator for wildlife management and research, said
on Feb. 17.

Whether it tops 250,000 or not, Division of Wildlife deer
managers have said the season’s harvest should help cut the overall
herd back, but even more liberal regulations are proposed for next
season.

The division, said Chief Dave Graham, has taken criticism in
some circles for a perceived too aggressive management plan. Some
of that has come in this newspaper in the form of letters to the
editor.

Graham, speaking to the Ohio Wildlife Council in early February,
said he has “complete confidence in our deer managers.”

Graham said those who believe the state is trying to wipe the
landscape clean of deer aren’t seeing the big picture.

“That’s the equivalent of me being the best left-handed pitcher
in baseball and sticking my hand in a meat grinder,” he said.

“They think we’re caving into special interest groups or
insurance companies, but that’s only one part of the puzzle,” he
said. ” … I think we can shoot this herd back and still be as well
off as we ever hoped to be.”

Graham said his division is aware it is operating in a tough
economic climate.

Deer hunting nationwide, Graham said “is worth billions. We are
not going to try to destroy that.”

The deer dense 38 counties in Zone C have been a particular
focus for deer managers, who allowed hunters for the first time
this year to use discounted permits to kill does. According to the
proposals currently on the table, the $15 tags would again be
offered for gun hunters in Zone C.

But, after the traditional gun week, Nov. 30 to Dec. 6, those
discounted tags can no longer be used. Sales of the tags will be
cut off after Nov. 29. And, nearly 14,000 Ohio hunters pushed it to
the last day this past season when they waited to buy their bonus
tags on the last day they were sold.

Risley says there’s a method to the seeming madness. Cutting off
sales of the tags prior to the start of gun season forces hunters
to commit to killing antlerless deer if they choose to buy extra
tags. It’s a sociological tactic to manipulate hunter behavior to
achieve targeted results – thinning the antlerless population.

“A lot of this stuff is very counterintuitive,” Risley told the
Ohio Wildlife Council on Feb. 4. “But, I feel like it’s the right
thing to do.”

According to division sales statistics through the end of the
year, sales of the $15 tags was brisk to say the least. The tally
increased by nearly 40,000 tags over 2007, the first year they were
offered. In 2007, license outlets sold 83,874 antlerless tags with
that figure jumping to 121, 413 in 2008, a 45 percent increase.
Total revenue for those tags alone last year was more than $1.8
million.

The bigger question, though, is how many of those permits were
filled, which isn’t yet fully known.

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