Ohio muzzleloading kill sees big bump in numbers

Columbus — Nasty weather once again stalked Ohio’s deer-hunting community, though the state’s muzzleloading sportsmen and sportswomen were more than up to the challenging conditions.

In all, during the four-day season Jan. 7 through Jan. 10 the state’s muzzleloading hunters killed 15,843 deer, up 3,338 animals from the 2016 muzzleloading season total deer kill of 12,505 animals. That 15,843 figure is the most since the 2014 muzzleloading season.

In some cases, the muzzleloading season harvest increases were substantial. Ashtabula County saw a harvest increase of 193 deer (463 animals this past season versus 270 animals for the 2016 season); Belmont County saw a 108 animal increase (391 deer versus 283 deer); Coshocton County recorded a 166 deer harvest gain (591 animals versus 425 animals); Guernsey County noted a 147 animal harvest jump (490 deer versus 343 deer); Harrison County saw a harvest rise of 206 deer (499 animals versus 293 animals); Morgan County recorded a jump of 156 animals (429 deer versus 273 deer); Muskingum County reported a 218 deer kill increase (602 animals versus 384 animals); and Washington County saw a deer kill rise of 182 animals (472 deer versus 290 deer).

Of Ohio’s 88 counties, only 18 recorded muzzleloading season-to-season declines while two – Champaign and Montgomery –posted identical muzzleloading season-to-season kill figures.

“Out the gate, I am somewhat surprised, and I wouldn’t have guessed (an increased kill) but sometimes we over-think things,” said Geoffrey Westerfield, a wildlife biologist for the DNR Division of Wildlife.

Westerfield did say that he’d like to examine the numbers more closely, especially looking at the daily figures. He suspects that perhaps the good weather on the Monday of the season enticed more hunters into the field since both the season’s Saturday and Sunday saw universally blustery conditions statewide.

Even so, the current to-date total deer kill is still off by some 5,085 animals when the numbers are laid alongside the comparable 2016 to-date figures (175,832 deer currently to-date versus 180,917 deer to-date as of Jan. 12, 2016).

And with only a few weeks left in Ohio’s archery deer-hunting season this deficit probably will not be made up. Last year between the Jan. 12 weekly deer kill report and the end of the season, Ohio hunters killed an additional 7,412 animals. Thus, hunters would need to shoot 12,497 deer just to match the 2015-2016 all-deer-hunting seasons total of 188,329 deer.

That being said, if any hunter wants to complain to the Division of Wildlife about the status of the state’s deer herd they won’t be able to voice their thoughts at any agency-sponsored “Deer Summit.” The reason is that the wildlife division has shelved the popular hunter-agency get-together for this year as officials map out the details of a 10-year deer management plan.

Sportsmen will have to “wait until 2018 when more information is available to share,” said John Windau, the wildlife division’s communications manager.

As for how muzzleloading hunters have fared over the past several years, last year Ohio’s four-day muzzleloading deer-hunting season produced a kill of 12,505 animals. Other previous and recent muzzleloading season deer kills were: 2015 – 13,726 animals; 2014 – 16,464 animals; 2013 – 21,555 animals; 2012 – 19,251 animals; and 2011 – 17,375 animals.

Regarding the annual Ohio Deer Summits, Windau says that “since the plan is still in the early stages and stakeholder input has not been incorporated yet,” the division has decided not to hold deer summits in 2017.

“Based on input and discussions with attendees from past deer summits, the ODNR Division of Wildlife is taking steps to develop a comprehensive white-tailed deer management plan,” Windau said. “The purpose of the plan is to provide a 10-year framework for how Ohio’s huntable deer populations will be managed based on historical perspectives, stakeholder interests, and science-based management.”

Windau did say that anyone who has an interest in expressing his or her opinion on the state’s deer management objectives, goals, protocols – either currently or long-term –  can still do so at the agency’s yet-to-set district open houses, online at www.wildohio.gov, or directly by email to Wildinfo@dnr.state.oh.us.

Regarding the current to-date numbers, 34 of Ohio’s 88 counties have posted deer kill increases while one – Putnam County – has posted an identical 2016 and 2017 deer kill to-date figure. On the tally board, select counties with their current to-date kill figures, followed by their respective 2016 to-date numbers in parentheses, are: Adams – 3,186 (4,033); Auglaize – 738 (807); Ashtabula – 4,880 (4,638); Athens – 3,538 (3,854); Belmont – 3,150 (3,119); Brown – 2,347 (2,652); Carroll – 3,469 (3,431); Clermont – 2,169 (2,596); Columbiana – 3,120 (3,190); Coshocton – 5,729 (5,504); Crawford – 1,101 (1,142); Cuyahoga – 940 (669); Defiance 1,624 (1,723); Delaware – 1,438 (1,570); Fayette – 306 (301); Franklin – 780 (736); Gallia – 2,679 (2,863); Geauga – 1,761 (1,714); Guernsey – 4,454 (4,274); Hamilton – 1,427 (1,801); Hancock – 1,147 (1,141); Harrison – 3,674 (3,686); Henry – 696 (675); Highland – 2,519 (2,837); Hocking – 3,153 (3,611); Holmes – 3,602 (3,621); Jackson – 2,772 (3,096); Jefferson – 2,725 (2,562); Knox – 4,370 (4,322); Lake – 886 (818); Licking – 4,739 (5,050); Lorain – 2,390 (2,267); Miami – 739 (800); Madison – 470 (473); Meigs – 3,361 (3,496); Monroe – 2,522 (2,533); Morgan – 2,929 (3,035); Muskingum – 4,982 (4,807); Noble – 2,781 (2,889); Perry – 2,722 (2,799); Portage – 2,105 (2,066); Richland – 3,138 (3,072); Ross – 2,941 (3,281); Scioto – 2,409 (2,930); Stark – 2,652 (2,626); Trumbull – 3,543 (3,172); Tuscarawas – 4,865 (4,722); Van Wert – 457 (487); Vinton – 2,619 (2,995); Washington – 3,320 (3,434); Wayne – 1,976 (1,906); Williams – 1,638 (1,792); Wyandot – 1,422 (1,459).

Categories: Whitetail Deer

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