Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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OH: Early archery harvest takes small decline

Athens, Ohio – DNR Division of Wildlife deer biologist Mike
Tonkovich is not concerned about the slight drop in the number of
deer taken in the fist six weeks of the state’s archery season,
which began Sept. 25.

Ohio bowhunters killed 49,384 deer during that period, a drop of
8 percent from 2009’s 53,959 deer.

Tonkovich said a couple of factors could have contributed to the
drop, the most significant being the huge acorn crop recorded in
Ohio this year (probably the best acorn crop since at least 2005).
White oak acorns are the favorite food of white-tailed deer and
they will ignore corn and other food sources when they are
available, Tonkovich explained.

Hunters who hunt the “normal” routes deer travel between bedding
areas and food sources such as cornfields may not see any deer
because the deer are bedding near the oak stands producing acorns
and moving very little.

“But if you’re in the right place, it can be a great year,”
Tonkovich said.

“Corn means nothing to a deer until the acorns are gone,” he
added. “Hunters have to change tactics.”

Once the white oak acorns are gone, deer will turn to other food
sources. One factor hunters should consider is that due to the dry
weather this fall, almost all crops were harvested by early
October. So, that in addition to what waste corn or beans remain in
fields, deer will be looking for plants such as honeysuckle and
other food sources.

Human error is another possibility to consider in the count. The
six-week count is determined by having game protectors call the
check stations with their counties.

“There’s a lot of potential for human error,” Tonkovich said.
More accurate numbers will come from the final tabulation of deer
checked at the end of the season.

The drop is also small enough that it will be made up by the end
of gun season, said Tonkovich.

“I expect that any deficits we see now will be made up by the
close of gun season when the acorns are nearly gone,” Tonkovich
said.

Extreme weather can hinder gun season success, but “If we have
decent conditions I expect we’ll have a typical gun season,” he
added.

One thing the state is doing, Tonkovich said, is building a
“data set,” which shows the relationship between the mast (acorns
and other nuts) crop and hunter success. He noted that Connecticut
has a “great project,” which has shown an inverse relation between
hunter success and mast availability. In the years with a heavy
mast crop, such as this year in Ohio, hunter success is lower,
while in years with smaller nut crops, like 2009 in Ohio, hunter
success increases.

That’s because hunters take advantage of deer movement, either
between bedding and feeding areas or due to the rut, to hunt
successfully.

However, Tonkovich also added that if the 8 percent drop
continues, it could be an indication there may be fewer deer and
that state efforts to reduce deer populations in some areas have
made some progress. He noted that in some areas where the state has
issued a lot of damage permits in past years, fewer have been
requested this year, which also might indicate a sightly smaller
deer population.

The deer season will continue through Feb. 6, 2011. Gun season
runs Nov. 29 to Dec. 5 plus and extra weekend Dec. 18-19.

Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer brought to check
stations so far were: Tuscarawas – 1,897 (up 127 from 2009);
Licking – 1,779 (down 555); Holmes – 1,537 (down 432); Coshocton –
1,352 (down 99); Harrison – 1,274 (down 4); Ashtabula – 1,247;
Clermont – 1,196; Trumbull – 1,074; Guernsey – 1,029; and Stark –
1,027.

The statewide deer population was estimated to be 750,000 in
early October. Approximately 345,000 bowhunters are expected to
participate in the statewide deer archery hunting season. Tonkovich
also said he did not know yet whether the number of deer hunters is
up or down this year, a number which won’t be known until license
sales totals are compiled.

Bowhunters harvested a total of 91,546 deer during last year’s
four-month Ohio archery season.

A detailed listing of deer-hunting rules can be found in the
2010-2011 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest that is
available wherever licenses are sold, and online at
wildohio.com.

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