Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday's rains could dampen Monday's exceptional deer harvest

Ohio's chief deer management biologist wonders if Monday's 12.5-percent opening day deer kill gain was diluted by today's (Tuesday's) continuous heavy rains and high winds.

Regardless, the state's 420,000 to 450,000 hunters earned their deer-management stripes Monday when they killed a preliminary 37,805 white-tails. That figure is a 12.5-percent jump from the 2009 opener deer harvest of 33,607 animals.

Mike Tonkovich - the Ohio Division of Wildlife's deer management administrator - credits two factors for the jump in the opening day harvest. Chief among them was excellent weather with milds temperatures, light winds and sunny skies. Those elements merged to keep hunters in the field instead of fleeing for the comforts of home or deer camp, Tonkovich said.

The second prong, Tonkovich says, is a good white-tail carry-over from the lower-than-typical deer kill during the first six weeks of the state's archery deer-hunting season. That first six weeks showed a general decline in the deer harvest, attributed to a massive white oak acorn crop that kept deer where the hunters weren't.

"I fully expected the harvest to be up for the opener; in fact, at this point there is only a 646 animal harvested difference between the total to-date kill between last year and this year," Tonkovich said. "So we are spot on for the harvest."

That being said, however, Tonkovich believes that Tuesday's heavy downpour and the forecast for snow and possibly a return to rain in some parts of the state at least for Saturday could cut into the gains.

"Maybe we'll pick up during the two-day bonus season and the muzzle-loading season," Tonkovich says. "But no question, the deer are there."

As for the individual county-by-county deer check-in reports those are across the board in nearly every one of Ohio's 88 counties.

Still, Tonkovich reminds hunters that these figures are preliminary only. They represent where deer were officially checked in and not necessarily in the county where taken, Tonkovich said.

With that being said, here are the preliminary deer check-in for various counties, with their 2009 opening day figures in paranthesis: Lake - 83 (63); Geauga - 268 (188); Cuyahoga - 30 (25); Ashtabula - 983 and ranked 8th for Monday's opener (836); Trumbull - 639 (572); Lorain - 233 (210); Medina - 200 (146); Erie - 96 (112); Tuscarawas - 1,806 (1,793); Harrison - 1,439 (1,374); Guernsey - 1,406 (1,284).

Ohio's firearms deer-hunting season runs through Sunday. A bonus two-day firearms deer-hunting season is set for Dec. 18 and 19 with the statewide muzzle-loading season set for Jan. 8-11.

For the all-seasons' 2009 deer kill, hunters shot 261,314 white-tails. Ohio's pre-all-hunting-seasons' deer population was estimated at 750,000 animals.

- Jeffre L. Frischkorn

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