Thursday, November 12, 2015

Rut is fueling rise in Ohio's deer-kill numbers

Only Fayette County remains as Ohio’s last triple-digit hold-out deer-kill county with only 77 deer taken there since the archery season began September 26.

Contrast that lowly number to the nine Ohio counties that have all ready cleared the four-digit hurdle. In alphabetical order these go-to deer-hunting counties – with their respective as-of November 10 reporting figures followed by the respective as-of November 3 reporting figures in parentheses - are: Adams -1,147 (766); Ashtabula – 1,409 (1,046); Coshocton – 1,389 (943); Holmes – 1,108 (818); Knox – 1,251 (885); Licking – 1,611 (1,166); Muskingum – 1,055 683); (Trumbull – 1,248 (998); Tuscarawas – 1,124 (801).

Another 11 counties are poised to dip over the four-figure deer-kill mark, each of them having seen at least 800 white-tails taken thus far. These counties – also in alphabetical order – are Ashland - 816; Athens - 808; Clermont – 866; Columbiana – 816; Guernsey – 921; Hamilton – 916; Harrison – 861; Lorain – 891; Richland – 972; Ross – 808; Stark – 893.

In terms of total numbers, the to-date deer kill as of the November 10th reporting period is 49,818. That is up 14,185 animals from the November 2nd to-date reporting figure of 35,633 deer.

Clint McCoy, Ohio Division of Wildlife game biologist assigned to the agency’s deer management program says that with seven reporting periods in the files the agency can begin taking a closer look at how the deer kill will shape up with the intended goal of better managing Ohio’s deer herd.

“In general terms, statewide our antlered (buck) harvest is down only one percent so far,” McCoy said. “Our antlerless harvest is down four percent, though, and we’re hoping that this harvest would be down five to seven percent. But that figure is still pretty close to where we’d like it to be.”

“We’re pretty much stable with our antlered harvest and a little off on our antlerless harvest,”

An important consideration for the significant jump in the deer kill from the November 3rd to the November 10th reporting period is that Ohio’s deer herd is now at the peak for the rut. The rut is when bucks are more likely to toss their usual caution to the wind as they seek out receptive does for breeding.

“We’re going to kill a lot of bucks between this Wednesday and next Wednesday as we did between last Wednesday and this Wednesday,” McCoy said.

A head-scratcher last year and again this year, says McCoy, is the deer kill in Adams County. Here, the reporting data shows Adams County’s to-date antlerless harvest up a surprising 23 percent.

Meanwhile, lowly Fayette County has seen its to-date antlered deer kill fall 30 percent.

“But we’re really not talking a lot of numbers to begin with,” McCoy said.

And so the Wildlife Division game managers, scientists, and law enforcement sections all will be following closely the week-to-week deer kill numbers, trying to make sense of it all with an eye on what the agency will plan for the 2016-2017 deer-hunting seasons’ picture.


-      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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