Thursday, October 1, 2015

Very early returns show continued Ohio deer season kill decline

Hot, buggy and muggy weather stalked the first four days of Ohio’s more than four-month-long archery deer-hunting season.

And such meteorological-related affairs may help explain why that quartet of archery-hunting opportunity resulted in a decline of the associated deer kill numbers.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division noted on its web site that 4,587 deer were killed during this archery season’s first four days.

And although the agency is no longer including with its electronically provided weekly deer kill updates comparing year-to-year data – saying such information lacks relevancy for game management purposes – the information still exists in the Natural Resources Department’s historical record.

Thus, for the first for days of the 2014-2015 Ohio archery deer-hunting season the total deer kill was 4,801 animals; for an arguably minuscule deer kill decline of 214 white-tails.

However, the drop does dovetail into what may be an indicator of a trend. For the first four days of the 2013-2014 Ohio archery deer-hunting season, the apples-to-apples/to-date comparison showed that 5,779 animals were killed.

Consequently, the difference contained in the historical record shows that a drop of nearly 17 percent occurred between the first days of the 2013-2014 archery deer-hunting season and the first days of the 2014-2015 archery deer-hunting season.

Among some of the counties showing four-day starting gate declines from this year and 2014 were (with 2014 deer kill figures in parentheses):  Coshochton  - 94 (125); Ashtabula – 160 (168); Trumbull – 162 (187); Muskingum – 79 (120); and Richland – 79 (99).

Among the to-date early rising deer kill counties were: Adams – 123 (98); Knox – 110 (86); Hocking – 86 (42); Harrison – 70 (67); Hamilton – 154 (144); and Washington – 61 (34).

With all of this being said and based on the historical record, the deer kill statistics for Ohio’s 2014-2015 archery deer-hunting season picked up speed when slightly more than one month later the gap between it and the 2013-2014 comparable number had narrowed to less than five percent, though still showing a decline.

The historical record does show, however, that as the various deer-hunting season forms concluded and their respective figures merged that the 2014-2015 weekly tally occasionally overtook their respective 2013-2015 numbers.

Even so, when the smoke from muzzle-loading rifles cleared, the blasts from shotguns, handguns and rifles no longer echoed, and the final arrow was launched, Ohio’s total deer kill had declined by slightly more than eight percent.

Total deer kill figures as assembled in the Natural Resources Department’s 36-page “2014-2015 Annual Ohio Deer Summary” included a total figure of 175,801 animals as having been taken during the 2014-2015 combined-all-seasons’ tally with its relevant and comparable 2013-2014 count of 191,503 animals being killed.

As for expectations for the just-begun 2015-2016 Ohio deer-hunting process, the deer summary document notes the expectation of state biologists is for an all-seasons’ deer kill of between 163,000 and 168,000 animals.

The last comparable deer kill total occurred during the 2001-2002 accumulated deer-hunting seasons. That is when 165,124 animals were killed.
By 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 125 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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