Wednesday, January 9, 2013

No deer, you say? Forty-four hours? Really?

Forty-four hours.

Forty-four hours and four counties (Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula, and Guernsey).

Forty-four hours, four counties and three firearms deer-hunting seasons.

Forty-four hours, four counties, three firearms deer-hunting seasons and Zero deer seen.

No, that’s not a misprint, typo or misrepresentation.

During Ohio’s seven-day, general deer-hunting season, the state’s two-day, so-called “bonus” gun deer-hunting season, and the just-concluded muzzle-loading deer-hunting season, I sat patiently waiting with the expectation that at any moment a deer wearing headgear - or even one without - would enter my sight picture.

Hour after hour, season into the next season, that expectation never diminished or wavered. Not until, however, the muzzle-loading season passed over the wooded tree to the west.

Oh, there were puzzled furrows plowed in my forehead as the hours rolled by and the deer-sighting
clicker never advanced, not even to “1.”

Eventually the head-shaking really took hold.

I mean, no deer seen in Lake County? Well, maybe.

What about Geauga County? Perhaps you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Okay then explain no deer being seen in Ashtabula County where you spent the bulk of those lonely hours of watching and waiting? Yes, that one is a bit puzzling, to be sure.

And Guernsey County with a recorded tour of eight hours? Now that one has me stumped.

Of course the Ohio Division of Wildlife will point to the stats, how the deer kill during the first part of the archery season was up. And they’re crowing about the increase in the kill during the muzzle-loading season.

All well, good and proper like when it comes to the black figures splashed on white paper.

Yet all a body has to do is ask around, query some deer hunters, request their thoughts on whether they saw as many deer this seasons as they have in the recent past.

The most recent copy of Ohio Outdoor News and its issue question posed to several hunters demonstrates that something is amiss.

An anomaly, perhaps because of EHD hitting harder than anticipated in more parts of the state than expected?

Maybe, maybe not. But something is gnawing away at the heart of Ohio’s long-standing regard by hunters who have come to expect seeing enough deer on an outing to keep interest at least simmering.

In my case, at least, the pilot flame went out after 44 hours hunting in four counties during the state’s three firearms deer-hunting seasons and failing to see a single animal.

A zero. Good heavens; a zero, for crying out loud.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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