Controlled archery hunts a win win for deer thinning
Communities looking to understand whether allowing controlled archery deer hunting can simply check in to Mentor, my next-door neighbor.
Even though my home port is Mentor-on-the-Lake, this small city is wedged on three sides by its much larger sibling, Mentor. If I wanted to exit “MOL City,” as we like to call it, without touching Mentor we’d need either swimming classes or a boat as Lake Erie completes the enclosure.
Anyway, the subject at hand is Mentor’s hugely successful controlled, archery-only deer hunt. Begun in the 2012-2013 deer-hunting season the program – and additional professional sharpshooting activities – has taken a whopping to-date kill of 817 animals.
Of this 817 figure, fully 435 were taken by city-permitted hunters, each of whom had to pass a qualification exam, hold an Ohio hunting license and appropriate deer tag as well as secured the written permission from a property owner. A few of the other requirements stipulate that a participant must take an antlerless deer before shooting an antlered animal, must hunt from an elevated platform, and no hunting on Sunday, plus other terms.
In all, there are 26 sets of rule hoops that participants must jump through, but there are certainly enough archery hunters willing to leap over the gauntlet. And they’ve been doing right well in lowering Mentor’s deer herd, too, which prior to the inaugural hunt had done a number on property owners’ shrubbery as well as motor vehicles traveling through the city.
That reduction is reflected in the general decline of Mentor’s once-swollen deer population to a much more moderate and manageable herd size. During Mentor’s first season, bow hunters killed 131 deer – a figure that rose to the program’s high-water kill mark of 137 animals during Ohio’s following 2013-2014 archery deer-hunting season.
By the end of the 2014-2015 Ohio archery deer-hunting season, Mentor’s archery-only deer kill figure had shrunk to 91 animals. Last year that hunter-initiated harvest total dipped even further; to 76 deer, or almost one-half of what was shot just two seasons earlier.
As for how the rest of the deer that were taken, those animals were shot by sharpshooting Mentor police officers with the resulting 27,000 pounds of venison going to three local charitable food banks.
Another way of looking at the program’s success is pointed out in the number of deer-motor vehicle accidents; or a better way of saying it – in the reduction in the number of deer-motor vehicle accidents.
Mentor reports that in 2013 the city had recorded 98 deer-motor vehicle accidents. That statistic largely succumbed to the success of the control archery hunt/culling operation whereby in 2014 only 46 such incidents were noted.
Unfortunately there was an uptick in the number of deer-motor vehicle accidents last year (70) that resulted in six injuries to humans. Yet given the dearth of acorns across most of Ohio last year which caused a noticeably larger-than-normal movement of deer seeking forage, it is possible that drivers in Mentor simply encountered more animals on the hunt for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Importantly, so tickled with the obvious success of the program in a general reduction in deer-motor vehicle accidents as well as fewer complaints from resident grousing about deer damaging their landscaping efforts, Mentor will again conduct the controlled archery deer hunt along with the culling operations in those areas the city considers unsuitable for civilian stick-and-string hunting.
A right good show that certainly can be copied elsewhere.