Today marked the 18th archery hunt of the season, totaling 48 hours, without so much as seeing an animal.
Note, not passing on a deer nor failing to have one come within crossbow range. Nope, those figures are without so much as catching a glimpse of a departing flagged tail.
The hunts are divided between three Lake County sites, each of which in years past provided antlered and antlerless deer. One of the sites is located on a friend’s property in a village that allows controlled archery deer hunting via a community-issued permit. Another is sequestered on a private arboretum that requires both its and a city’s permission. The last one is “free range,” located in a township without the legally binding demands of antler point restrictions or a doe-first policy as is the case with the other two spots.
However, I have taken note that over the past few years the numbers of deer I’ve seen - and consequently recorded in a journal - has dropped. Which is a good thing if you are the director of an arboretum or else a village or city police chief who has to send a squad car out when a Buick and a buck meet on a darkened highway.
For a deer hunter? Not so much. Which got me to thinking about the weekly deer kill updates I assemble utilizing data compiled by the Ohio Division of Wildlife and made available each Wednesday.
I’ve have taken note of my home county and a number of others that seem to be struggling in reaching the same deer kill levels they did at the same point in time one year ago. So dug a little deeper into the raw statistics.
Mind you, this is not a scientific report nor an in-depth research paper. Still, the information is cool in a “huh” sort of way. If nothing else it might provide fodder for discussion around the deer camp dinner table.
What I did was take Ohio’s four largest cities, their respective core county and all of the counties adjacent to them. Then I compared these urban/suburban/bedroom units’ respective to-date deer kills with their comparable 2017 to-date numbers.
The idea being to mull over whether more generous deer bag limits, increased allowance by communities to permit controlled archery deer hunting – along with the assumption that deer hunters are sticking closer to home – may finally be having an impact on deer herd size in Ohio’s urban/suburban/bedroom counties.
The cities are Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Toledo. Here is what I saw for each cell, using the current November 6th, 2108 to-date figures with their comparable November 7th, 2017 to-date figures.
Cleveland: The core is Cuyahoga County – 381 (417); Lorain County – 548 (582); Media County – 571 (515); Geauga County – 451 (506); Summit County – 491 (517); and Lake County – 252 (300). (I tossed out Portage County since the only the corners of Cuyahoga and Portage meet.) Consequently, five of the six counties have thus experienced to-date deer kill declines.
Columbus: The core is Franklin County – 214 (238); Fairfield County – 390 (349); Licking County – 1,082 (1,101); Madison County – 120 (110); Pickaway County – 133 (130); Delaware County – 417 (419); and Union County – 249 (249, identical). Consequently, three of these seven counties have thus far seen declines and one has seen identical to-date numbers.
Cincinnati - The core is Hamilton County – 565 (634); Butler County – 357 (410); Warren County – 309 (313); and Clermont County – 614 (634). Thus, all four counties have seen to-date deer kill declines.
Toledo – The core is Lucas County – 235 (278); Fulton County – 156 (166); Ottawa County – 125 (118); and Wood County – 237 (216). (I pitched Henry County for the same reason I did for the Cuyahoga-Portage reason.) Here, two of the four counties have seen to-date declines and two have seen to-date increasees.
It would be easy to dismiss such an examination since some individual county comparisons show minuscule differences. After all, there’s not much variance in Pickaway County’s two numbers nor those of Ottawa County.
Ah, here’s the “but,” though. Of Ohio’s 88 counties, 37 of of them have to-date deer kill declines when stacked up against their respective and comparable 2017 numbers. And 14 of those 37 counties are clustered around just these four major cities; four in the Cincinnati and five in the Cleveland areas alone.
Perhaps even more importantly I’ve watched a trend whereby these named counties are generally tracking in the decline column throughout the to-date 2018-2019 weekly deer kill tallies.
As for my own Lake County? Well, I’ve taken interest in noting the current to-date deer kill is about 18 percent less than its comparable 2017 numbers. Also, if my recollection is worth anything, it has continued to fall the past few years.
If nothing else, spending time with the numbers have helped given me a great excuse as to why I am not seeing many deer.