You certainly could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather when the Ohio Division of Wildlife announced Wednesday the results of the recently concluded four-day muzzle-loading deer hunting season. A harvest of 18,000; maybe 20,000 deer, was what I was expecting.
But when the agency said hunters killed a near record 24,078 deer - up 17 percent from the 2008 season - I was stunned. And wiping egg off my face.
Then again, that was true for Mike Tonkovich. He's the Wildlife Division's chief deer management game biologist.
Tonkovich said he "flabbergasted" with the huge kill. Especially since a fair portion in extreme Northeast Ohio was covered in snow that was measured in feet and not just inches. Meanwhile the entire state saw bitterly cold temperatures at least for the first two days of the season.
"It's hard to hunt when the temperature is 2 degrees," Tonkovich said.
How true but Tonkovich eagerly wants to see the harvest data for the Monday and Tuesday portion of the hunt. His desire is to determine whether those two days saw a healthy harvest, which would indicate that muzzle-loading hunters were utilizing the weekdays and not just the weekend to be afield.
"In spite of what we've seen before where the bonus two-day firearms weekend set the world on fire we still took a bunch of deer during the muzzle-loading season so there's something to say about moving it from late December to January," Tonkovich said also.
No question Ohio's hunter will kill more animals this 2009-2010 deer hunting season than they did during the 2008-2009 season when 252,017 animals were arrowed or else shot. So far this year Ohio's deer hunters have harvested 251,826 animals.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn