Early bow kill up 4 percent

Columbus – Ohio bowhunters killed 53,959 deer during the first
six weeks of the state’s archery season. According to the DNR
Division of Wildlife, this year’s early archery season harvest is 4
percent higher than last year’s kill of 51,976 deer.

“I_was glad to see it wasn’t higher than that …. because I
predicted (an overall harvest) about at or below where we were last
year,”_said Mike Tonkovich, a deer biologist with the Division of
Wildlife.

Pursuing deer with a bow continues to grow in popularity among
Ohio hunters. The season started Sept. 26 and will carry on through
Feb. 7, 2010.

The sale of $15 antlerless permits is up 10 percent in the early
going, said Tonkovich, which could explain the increase in
harvest.

“It would be really nice to know what those deer were,”
according to sex, Tonkovich said. “That way we could tell if it was
primarily due to the antlerless harvest or whether it was a
combination of antlerless and antlered harvest.

“Our metric for gauging population size is our buck harvest,” he
said. “If (the early season success) is driven by antlerless
harvest then I am really excited. Killing more does is what it’s
all about.”

Division of Wildlife was to begin crunching the numbers on the
sex ratio of the early harvest, but those numbers were not yet
available in time for this story.

“Not until (a new game checking system comes online in) 2011
will you be able to call me and find out how many bucks were
killed,” Tonkovich said. “Right now, it’s just dead deer by county
of check.”

However, Tonkovich said he’s been getting reports from officers
in the field that they are seeing fewer deer, a good sign in the
realm of herd management.

“Maybe we’re finally having an impact,” on the overall herd,
Tonkovich surmised. “We’re slowly inching our way toward
progress.

When looking at the early harvest by wildlife district, 1
(central Ohio), 2 (northwest), and 5 (southwest) were up while 4
(southeast) was down and 3 (northeast) was relatively the same as
last year.

“I’m happy with guarded optimism that we’re doing well,” he
said. “October was a good month for hunting. The weather was decent
when you compare apples to apples.”

Tonkovich theorized that the reason the harvest is down in
southeast Ohio is because that’s where the reduced price antlerless
permits may be used later into the season. Antlerless permits in
Zone C, which primarily constitutes southeastern Ohio, may be used
through gun season.

“Maybe this is proof that giving hunters more time (to use
antlerless permits) simply means they will take more time,”_he
said. “That, in essence, is the answer to why we don’t allow
(antlerless permits) to be used during muzzleloader season.”

Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer brought to check
stations were: Licking – 2,334, Holmes – 1,969, Tuscarawas – 1,770,
Coshocton – 1,451, Ashtabula _- 1,348, Harrison – 1,278, Trumbull –
1,251, Stark – 1,204, Knox – 1,175 and Fairfield – 1,142.

The statewide deer population was estimated to be 650,000 in
early October. Approximately 345,000 bow hunters are expected to
participate in the statewide deer archery hunting season.

Bow hunters harvested a total of 85,856 deer during last year’s
four-month archery season.

A detailed listing of deer-hunting rules can be found in the
2009-2010 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest that is
available wherever licenses are sold, and online at wildohio.com.

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