Ohio DNR appreciates volunteer deer surveyors

Steve PollickIf you are one of the 18,000 Ohio deer hunters selected to keep track of your hunting this fall for scientific research, Mike Tonkovich has a message for you: Thank you.

Tonkovich, a stand-up guy, is Ohio’s official deer biologist and for years he has done his job with both grace and cutting-edge capability, helping to steer the quality of the state’s deer herd to the enviable national reputation it enjoys, the grumblings of armchair experts aside. If you do not believe that, just check out how many out of state license plates you see down Southeast this time of year and on into shotgun season.

This fall Tonkovich sent survey requests to 18,000 hunters, asking them to keep track of the following information about their hunts: a) county hunted, b) number of days hunted, c) number and type of deer harvested, and d) whether or not you were hunting on public land. “We also ask that you take note of the acorn crop and the number of deer and deer hunters in the woods this year as compared to last year.”

The state deer man knows that the eyes and ears of so many other hunters in the woods are invaluable in collecting boots-on-the-ground observations that help form a correct picture of herd status. Why is why he recently sent out a thank you note:

“I recently emailed nearly 18,000 of you to inform you that you had been selected to participate in our annual deer hunter effort and harvest survey.  Many of you took the opportunity to respond.  The responses were overwhelmingly positive.  That feedback served as yet another reminder why after nearly two decades in this position, I still look forward to work every day.  Without your help and continued support, our program would be just another deer program.  You define our deer program.  You set it apart from the others.  In fact, you really do manage it.  You decide to hunt or not, shoot or not, report your deer or not, return your survey or not.  You need to know this and you deserve to be recognized.  Thank you for all that you do to make this program what it is.”

At the top of the actual survey- recruiting letter to hunters, Tonk also noted: “Information gathered through this survey will help us better understand how changes in deer abundance, hunter numbers, hunter behavior, and even changes in the landscape, may be influencing the annual deer harvest.”

All of which is plenty good enough reason to participate.  Near the end of October, those chosen will be receiving another e-mail from Tonkovich with a link to a short survey regarding their deer hunting trips during the 2013-14 Ohio deer season. The biologist notes that the survey will arrive before hunters have spent much time to afield this year, “so please enter your information as the season progresses.” Do not use last year’s information. Nor should participants  use estimates for the amount of time you expect to hunt. There will also be an opportunity at the end of the survey to provide feedback on any aspect of Ohio’s deer program.

My first foray afield will be Saturday morning for the antlerless muzzleloader weekend. I’ll be keeping track as one of the selected participants. I hope by the end of the statewide muzzleloader season in January, I will have lots to report, including good news about venison in the freezer.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, OhiBlogs, Ohio – Steve Pollick, Whitetail Deer

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