Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Bonus weekend kill down 4,000 in Ohio

Athens, Ohio – Hunters harvested an additional 16,766 deer during the extra weekend of gun hunting, Dec. 17-18, according to the DNR Division of Wildlife.

In 2010, hunters took 20,916 deer during the additional two days.

Mike Tonkovich, the Division of Wildlife's deer project leader, said he's received mixed messages about the deer kill.

"The minute I tell people we might have gotten into (the deer herd), I get a couple of calls… telling me that the deer and deer hunters are just not there," he said.

One thing that can't be blamed for the kill fall off is the weather. The weekend was perfect weatherwise throughout much of the state.

"That takes all the smudges off the glass, so to speak," Tonkovich said. "The job seems to be getting harder and harder to interpret what the harvest means."

Anecdotally, Tonkovich said it appears that hunting pressure was light during the weekend.

"The hunters that were out probably saw plenty of deer," the biologist said. "But, it's difficult to say anything without getting people riled up because it's going to agree with a few but those guys who didn't see any deer but saw lots of hunters are going to think I've lost my mind."

Before the season began, Tonkovich mailed out 24,000 deer hunter harvest and effort surveys. It is imperative that hunters who received such survey should fill it out and send it back, Tonkovich said. In total, about 1,200 people have sent the survey back to the Division of Wildlife.

Deer permit sales are up just a little over last year though the number of hunting licenses sold are down, Tonkovich said.

"So, they're probably where they've been for a five-year average," he said. "What we really don't know is even though we've got people buying licenses it could be that they're hunting 40 percent less. That's the bottom line: How many hours are you spending in the woods trying to kill a deer?"

The hunter effort survey, therefore, is vital information for those setting the regulations and various bag limits, Tonkovich said.

"The point is, if you want us to do a better job at interpreting the data, making predictions, and most importantly setting harvest regulations for the next year, it's vital to know how (hunter effort) is changing from one year to the next," the deer biologist said. "It's a vital part of the equation that can only come from (hunter) cooperation."

If the survey response doesn't improve, another 20,000 "reminder" notices will be sent after muzzleloader season wraps up.

It's too early to tell whether regulation or bag limit changes will be in the offing for the 2012-2013 deer season, Tonkovich said.

"We'll tally things up at the end of the season and go from there," he said.

The extra weekend was first offered in 2006 in response to hunters' request for an increase in the number of weekend days to pursue white-tailed deer, the state's number one big-game animal.

"The mystery continues as to whether it's fewer deer, less effort, or a combination of both," Tonkovich said about the reduced kill.

Counties leading the state in deer killed over the weekend included: Coshocton – 593; Tuscarawas – 541; Muskingum – 499; Licking – 483; Harrison – 477; Guernsey – 446; Carroll – 442; Belmont – 416; Ashtabula – 387; and Knox – 373.

Hunters must still report their deer harvest, but are no longer required to take their deer to a check station for physical inspection. Instead, hunters have three options to complete the new automated game check:

• On the Internet at wildohio.com.

• By telephone at 1-877-TAG-ITOH (1-877-824-4864). This option is only available to those who are required to have a deer permit to hunt deer.

• At all license agents. A list of these agents can be found at wildohio.com or by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE.

Hunters are showing support for all three game-check methods. Since the beginning of deer season, 44 percent of hunters have used the phone method, another 36 percent are reporting their harvests over the Internet, and the final 20 percent are traveling to a license agent's location to check their game.

The Division of Wildlife is collaborating with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry to help pay the processing fees of donated venison. Donations of extra deer will be accepted throughout the entire deer season. Hunters who donate their deer to a food bank are not required to pay the processing cost as long as the deer are taken to a participating processor and while funding for the effort is available. Counties being served by this program can be found online at www.fhfh.org.

The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in Ohio, frequently pursued by generations of hunters. Ohio ranks 8th nationally in annual hunting-related sales and 10th in the number of jobs associated with the hunting-related industry. Each year, hunting has an $859 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more.

A detailed listing of deer-hunting rules is contained in the 2011-2012 Ohio Hunting Regulations, available where licenses are sold. It may also be viewed online at wildohio.com.

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