Early Ohio archery kill shows bump over last year
Athens, Ohio — Ohio’s hunters took a fast jump on the deer kill, though with just a four-day tally the numbers are likely just a quick first step rather than a marathon run.
Even Ohio’s top deer biologist agrees with this point as hunters – virtually all archers – shot 4,978 animals from Sept. 26 through Sept. 29. For the first four days during the 2019-2020 season, that number was 3,138 animals, for an increase of 59%.
Hold the applause though until the end when all of Ohio’s various deer-hunting seasons end Feb. 7, 2021, says Mike Tonkovich, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s deer management administrator.
“It should be a great Ohio deer season, but I wouldn’t bet on it being up 59% come Feb. 8, 2021, when we have the final numbers,” Tonkovich said.
Similarly, Tonkovich says biologists, administrators, and hunters have all been talking for years about the dangers of reading too much into these rather dramatic swings, especially when “One, we are dealing with four days of a 125-day season, and two, normal weather as opposed to record warm temperatures,” he said.
That last point is exceptionally relevant, says Tonkovich, because Ohio was in the throes of record-setting warm temperatures during the first four days of the 2019-2020 archery deer-hunting season, unlike this season’s first four days.
Tonkovich said also that it’s “worth noting” that deer permit sales are up 28% over last year, fueled by a 153% increase in non-resident deer permit sales.
“Now, we’ve not had a chance to determine if this has translated into more hunting and more importantly, more harvest, or if it is simply a response to concerns about the availability of permits later this year,” Tonkovich said.
Tonkovich says, too, that he “would be remiss if I didn’t mention the pandemic.”
“Sadly, many people are finding themselves with lots of time on their hands right now,” Tonkovich says.
“Anecdotes suggest that many hunters are hitting the squirrel woods and others may be spending some of their free time in a deer stand or blind. Perhaps reactivation, short-term or otherwise, is contributing something to the uptick in the harvest – finally!” he said.
In the end, says Tonkovich, the Wildlife Division is anticipating the total 2020-2021 deer kill to be up 3 to 5% over last year’s take of 184,465 animals.
In part, the deer management administrator concludes, “because of a few more deer in the population and changes in our antlerless harvest regulations.”
As for the first four days, only two of Ohio’s 88 counties saw deer kill declines for the first four days this year when compared to the first four days of the 2019-2020 season. Those counties were Shelby – 18 deer for this season verses 20 deer for the first four days for the 2019-2020 season; and Van Wert County – four deer for the first four days of this season verses six deer for the first four days of the 2019-2020 season.
Also, there were 11 counties where 100 or more deer were killed in each one during the first four days of the 2020-2021 season. In the 2019-2020 season, that figure was three.
The 11 counties for the first four days of the 2020-2021 season were, in alphabetical order: Ashtabula – 164 deer; Clermont – 108 deer; Coshocton – 169 deer; Guernsey – 107 deer; Hamilton – 104 deer; Holmes County – 110 deer; Knox – 103 deer; Licking – 158 deer; Muskingum – 109 deer; Trumbull – 201 deer; and Tuscarawas – 146 deer.