Opening-day deer harvest nosedives with foul weather
Columbus — While it was just an average year for Ohio’s fall wild turkey hunters, it was anything but for the opening day of the state’s seven-day firearms deer-hunting season.
The tally for the start of Ohio’s gun deer-hunting season, Monday, Nov. 26, was striking in its huge – 39 percent – drop from 2017. On Monday, hunters killed 13,614 deer compared to the 22,366 animals shot during the 2017 gun deer season opener.
Not a single one of Ohio’s 88 counties recorded an opening day this year that stacked up against 2017. Some counties experienced drops in excess of 40 percent or more. And just one county – Lucas – saw an identical kill.
Clearly poor weather statewide caused grief for hunters who were forced to deal with rain, high winds, sleet, snow, and everything else bad that Mother Nature could toss at them. The result was easily the slowest gun deer season opener since at least 2014.
The opening day deer kill numbers for the past five years: 2014 (17,512); 2015 (22,256); 2016 (18,776); 2017 -(22,336); and 2018 (13,614).
“Although there are several factors that influence deer harvest, Monday’s weather undoubtedly impacted the number of deer that were killed,” said Wildlife Division spokesman John Windau. “It is important to remember, though, that there is plenty of season left, which will provide opportunities for hunters to take deer.”
On the turkey front, Ohio’s 11,000-plus fall wild turkey hunters killed 1,117 birds, up slightly from the 1,053 birds taken during the 2017 season but markedly lower than the 2016 banner season when 2,168 birds were harvested.
This year, the fall wild turkey hunting season was open in 70 counties from Oct. 13-Nov. 25, an increase of three counties. This year, three counties were open during the fall turkey season for the first time, which combined yielded 22 of the statewide 1,117 bird total. Thirty-two of the 70 counties saw increases compared to 2017, five counties saw identical numbers, three counties were new, and the remaining counties experienced declines.
Also, the total fall turkey-hunting season kill for 2013 through 2017 was: 2013 (1,037); 2014 (1,239); 2015 (1,537); 2016 (2,168); and 2017 (1,060). By comparison, the spring 2018 turkey hunting season saw a total kill of 22,571 bearded birds only.
“I haven’t had the opportunity to look closely at the county-by-county harvest numbers to see if there were any regional changes, but this year’s overall harvest is pretty consistent with what has been seen in recent years,” said Mark Wiley, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s turkey management biologist.”