Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Will Ohio's adult deer hunters do as well their youthful counterparts?

If on Monday the state’s adult deer hunters can take as good an aim as their children then Ohio’s deer herd better take cover.

During the Nov. 17 and 18 statewide youth-only firearms deer-hunting season, the participating young guns checked in 9,178 deer. This kill represents a 5.7 percent increase from 2011 when 8,681 white-tail deer were logged in as being harvested.

What’s more, the youth hunter deer kill total is the highest since 2009 when 9,269 animals were shot.

Youth hunters have checked in at least 8,300 deer every year since 2005, says the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

And these young hunters are safer than their adult counterparts as well.

As to why Ohio’s young hunters (and they could not be more than 17 years old) did so well a number of factors came into play, says Allen Lea, wildlife biologist with the Wildlife Division’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) Office in Akron.

“The weather was nice and so the kids didn’t want to quit and go home early,” Lea said.

That’s good for reason Number One. As for reason Number Two, Lea says the fact that 90 percent of the state’s standing crop is now harvested, reducing the once elephant eye-high stalks to just stubble.

“That certainly plays into the harvest because there are now fewer places for the deer to hide,” Lea said.

Lea says also that in spite of an excellent first-split archery season deer harvest and the exceptional youth gun season take, there is no need for adult gun hunters to fret they won’t see any animals come Monday.

“Obviously, whenever you increase the harvest in one category you can impact the harvest in another category, but if the weather is nice I would not be at all surprised that next week’s gun harvest is also up,” Lea said. “The fact remains that we still have a healthy deer herd.”

When it comes to being safe, Ohio’s youthful deer hunters stood head and shoulders above their adult counterparts, says Matt Ortman, the Wildlife Division’s hunter education coordinator.
Ortman says that no hunting accidents - called “incidents” in the parlance of wildlife law enforcement - were record during the youth-only gun deer season.

That’s not the case for the general firearms deer-hunting season, however.

Typically the state sees nine hunting incidents with one or two of them being fatalities, Ortman says.

In select Northeast Ohio counties during the youth-only season, the two-day kill (with their respective 2011 figures in parentheses) was: Ashtabula County - 166 (162), Cuyahoga County - 1 (1); Erie County - 24 (24); Geauga County - 65 (67); Huron County - 136 (92); Lake County - 19 (7); Lorain County - 63 (77); Medina County - 74 (56); Sandusky County - 27 (25); Trumbull County - 109 (97).

OHIO, GOOD; WISCONSIN, BETTER - If Ohio’s firearms deer-hunting season harvest figures are impressive - 137,016 animals registered last year - just look what Wisconsin’s deer hunters did during that state’s first two days of its still on-going nine-day firearms deer-hunting season.
Wisconsin deer hunters killed a reported 134,772 animals.

Yep, almost identical what it took Ohio’s gun deer hunters to do during the state’s regular seven-day firearms season plus the so-called two-day “bonus” weekend firearms season.

Wisconsin’s first two-day kill was up 19 percent from that observed last year, that state’s Natural Resources Department says.

“Deer hunting in Wisconsin is a fall, family tradition cherished by over 600,000 hunters,” said Tom
Hauge, director of wildlife management for the Wisconsin Natural Resources Department.

“These preliminary numbers are just a small part of the event we know as ‘opening weekend.’ I suspect for every deer reported there are 10 great deer camp stories out there.”

Last year, in all, Wisconsin’s firearms deer hunters shot 257,511 animals while the state’s archery deer hunters killed another 90,200 deer.

Wisconsin typically ranks second in the nation in the number of white-tail deer killed every hunting season, only behind Texas which sees an average of around 583,000 animals harvested annually.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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