Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ohio's total deer harvest headed for dozen- or more-year low

With the finish line well in sight, Ohio’s deer hunters will almost assuredly fall short of last year’s all-seasons’ preliminary white-tail kill of 191,459 animals.

As of January 28, the Ohio Division of Wildlife reported a preliminary 2014-2015 to-date/all-seasons’ deer kill of 173,096 animals.

The whole 2014-2015 all-seasons’ package of archery, muzzle-loading, early muzzle-loading, general firearms and youth hunts ends promptly 30 minutes after sunset on Sunday, February 1.

By comparison, the 2013-2014’s to-date/all-seasons’ deer kill as of January 29, 2014 was 188,967 animals.

Thus, the to-date/all-seasons’ decline amounts to 8.40 percent; well within the agency’s initial pre-hunts’ anticipated drop of 5 to 10 percent.

Some of the state’s note-worthy deer-hunting counties that are posting declines include: Adams (down 14.76 percent), Ashtabula (down 11.65 percent), Belmont (down 21.36 percent), Coshocton (down 9.16 percent), Columbia (down 18.61 percent), Harrison (down 24.05 percent), Hocking (down 18.82 percent), Muskingum (down 14.89 percent), Noble (down 22.08 percent), and Trumbull (down 12.05 percent).

So far 33 of Ohio’s 88 counties are posting gains, however. Among them are Brown (up 2.48 percent), Lake (up 13.62 percent), Medina (up 3 percent), Wood (up 47.70 percent).

It may also be telling that the vast majority of counties which are demonstrating increased deer kills are tucked away in the state’s northwest and western regions as well as a number of counties that were positioned in the Wildlife Division’s once-designated Urban Deer Zones.

In the case of the former the Wildlife Division has long established restrictive bag limits in an effort to bolster their respective deer herds. The increased kills in these counties then could be the evidence that restrictive bag limits can allow a deer herd to either rebound or build from a near scratch population.

As for the latter, it could be argued the state is still trying to get a handle on deer herds in urban counties where hunting is a more difficult option for many communities to accept or accomplish.

In any event, with just a handful of days left in the archery deer-hunting season in all likelihood fewer than 4,000 animals will be added to the current 2014-2015 to-date/all-seasons. This point could mean that the total deer harvest may not reach 180,000 animals.
The last time that 180,000 or fewer deer were killed in Ohio by hunters was 2001 when 165,124 animals were taken.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

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