Even with pleasant weather this past weekend, Ohio’s young guns failed to top the harvest seen during last year’s youth-only firearms deer-hunting season.
For the two-day hunt conducted Saturday and Sunday - Nov. 20 and 21 - properly licensed hunters aged 17 and under shot a preliminary 9,024 deer. During the 2009 youth-only gun hunt the kids killed 9,331 deer.
This decline somewhat mirrored the drop in the kill for first six weeks of Ohio’s archery deer-hunting season.
However, the youth-only gun season kill was up in Northeast Ohio, with the exception of Lake County. Here, the preliminary harvest figures were identical: 14 deer killed last youth-only gun season and 14 deer taken during this year’s youth-only gun season.
Geauga County saw a kill of 40 deer this youth-only season, a preliminary gain of just two animals taken there during the 2009 youth-only season.
Cuyahoga County saw an increase as well; from the 6 deer shot there during the 2009 hunt and up this season to a preliminary 11 animals.
The local heavyweight - Ashtabula County - likewise experienced a gain. This year’s youth-only season saw a preliminary 149 deer killed and compared to the 117 deer taken there during the 2009 youth-only two-day season.
Trumbull County’s youth-only kill was up by only one animal. This year’s preliminary youth-only deer kill was 97 animals; last year it was 96 deer.
Lorain County saw a modest increase. Here, young hunters shot a preliminary 84 deer and compared to the 61 animals shot there during the 2009 season. Huron County experienced gained ground by an even less modest amount: Up 108 deer this season from the 105 deer killed there during last year's youth-only season.
Medina County noted a pretty big drop, though. This year the young hunters there killed a preliminary 49 deer, down from the 72 deer shot there in 2009.
Knox County was one of the counties that scored a huge gain: From 265 deer shot there during the 2009 youth-only season to 416 deer during this year’s youth-only season.
Many of the other traditional high deer-kill counties in southeast Ohio saw slight to modest declines. Among them were Guernsey County (265 deer this season compared to 276 animals last youth-only season), Muskingum County (179 deer this youth-only season compared to 198 deer last youth-only season), and Harrison County (265 deer killed this youth-only season compared to the 351 animals shot there last youth-only season).
Of course, the unsuccessful youth hunters can join their elders for Ohio’s general firearms deer-hunting season. This season will run Nov. 29 through Dec. 5 with a “bonus” two-day gun season set for Dec. 18 and 19.
Ohio has an estimated 450,000 to 500,000 deer hunters. The Ohio Division of Wildlife estimates that between 125,000 and possibly as high as 130,000 deer will be shot during the up-coming firearms deer-hunting season.
The all-seasons' deer kill could reach 250,000 or more animals out of a population estimated at around 750,000.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn