Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Little gain in weekly deer kill while heavy rains may impact up-coming two-day bonus gun season

With just five days until Ohio’s first-ever two-day/late-session firearms deer-hunting season, hunters have arrowed and shot a to-date combined kill of 155,340 animals and as reported today, December 23rd.

For comparison purposes the weekly tally as noted with the December 15th on-line report recorded a deer kill of 154,157 animals. Thus we see an additional deer kill of 1,183. That figure is slight (318 deer) increase from the 865 animals taken between the weekly December 8th and December 15th reporting period.

Continuing with the comparisons, the 2013 approximate same to-date time frame showed a deer kill of 165,940 animals while its close-enough 2014 figure was 151,598 animals.

As for some current to-date trivia; Twelve of Ohio’s 88 counties have each recorded deer kills of at least 3,000 animals. They are (with their respective current to-date figure followed by their respective to-date December 15th reporting figures in parentheses): Adams County – 3,474 (3,435); Ashtabula County – 3,986 (3,951); Athens County – 3,188 (3,207); Coshocton County – 4,644 (4,624); Guernsey County – 3,591 (3,575); Harrison County – 3,127 (3,120); Hocking County – 3,027 (3,011); Holmes County – 3,103 (3,092); Knox County – 3,717 (3,688); Licking County – 4,367 (4,317); Muskingum County – 4,067 (4,050); Tuscarawas County – 3,930 (3,898).

Also, of Ohio’s 88 counties, 47 have to-date deer kill totals numbering between 1,000 and 3,000 animals. The December 15th weekly to-date report also listed the same 47 counties.

Counties with to-date deer kill totals of 500 or fewer animals are (with their respective December 15th to-date weekly reporting figures in parentheses): Madison County – 412 (410); Ottawa County – 333 (323); and Van Wart County – 448 (446).

All of Ohio’s 88 counties showed an increase in the number of deer killed between the December 15th and the December 22nd to-date reporting periods. That is an improvement over the three counties that showed no deer kill increases between the December 8th and December 15th to-date reporting periods.

Granted, several of these counties showed the slimmest of increases. Henry County – for instance – showed an increase deer kill of only one animal: 622 deer as indicated with the December 22nd to-date reporting period verses its December 8th to-date reporting period figure of 621 deer.

And three counties saw an increase of only two deer killed each between the December 15th and December 22nd to-date reporting periods. They are (with their December 22nd figures only being shown):  Madison County – 412 deer; Mercer County – 553 deer; Van Wert County – 448 deer.

Just how much Monday (December 28th) and Tuesday (December 29th) “bonus” two-day general firearms deer-hunting season will contribute to any additional deer kill lies largely in the field of uncertainty.

All sorts of variables are in place. Such items as so-called hunter fatigue, who is on vacation or has holiday time-off from work will come into play, and who still has unfilled deer tags potentially will impact the deer kill tally sheet.

So too will the weather. And with this month already in the books as being the warmest December on record, Ohio’s deer hunters are also expected to confront above average temperatures statewide for the two-day season with a better than 50-50 chance of additional rain.

In fact, some weather forecasts are projecting that from one to three inches or rain may fall between Friday (December 25th) and the bonus season’s December 28th opener. Such a deluge could impede access to choice sitting stumps or possibly restrict conducting the always-popular deer drives.

And some forecasters are saying that rain also is likely for Monday and Tuesday.

In terms of temperatures, day time highs for each day may range from near 50 degrees in the southern reaches of the state, the mid- to upper-40s in the state’s middle, and the low 40s in the north.

Lows for the period are projected to stay just shy of the freezing point to even around the 40-degree mark throughout Ohio.

So with a mixed brew of unknowns even the scientists entrusted with managing Ohio’s deer herd are uncertain as to what will appear for the next weekly to-date reporting period, due for public review Wednesday, December 30th.

“There are a lot of unknowns and variables,” said Scott Peters, the wildlife management supervisor for the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) Office in Akron. “It’s a new season for everyone.”

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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