Saturday, January 30, 2016

Wildlife Division's Deer Summit merges past, present, future management strategies

AKRON - In the span of three hours – duplicated twice – the Ohio Division of Wildlife reviewed the state’s deer management program’s past, examined its present, and then forged ahead to give Deer Summit attendees a peek at the playbill’s future.

Today - January 30th and eight days before the books were closed on Ohio’s all-inclusive 2015-2016 deer-hunting season picture – a troupe of Wildlife Division officials addressed a crowd of roughly 70 interested deer hunters, landowners and two Wildlife Council members in a morning’s worth of speaking and power-point presentations.

The same officials then repeated their agenda to a similar-sized group in the afternoon.

While the same process was held several days earlier in Columbus that presentation wasn’t exactly a bust though calling it a dud in terms of attendance would not be far off, either.

Combined, the two sessions at the Wildlife Division’s District Three headquarters in Akron saw an attendance rally roughly four times larger than it was for the Deer Summit scheduled held in Columbus.

Melding the past with the present, several agency speakers touched on any number of current hot-button issues. Among them were the computerized deer-check reporting system (a good thing), the status of Chronic Wasting Disease (a very bad thing), and the agency’s CWD surveillance efforts in Holmes County (another good thing).

As for the oft-times-lament by sportsmen of the maligned computerized deer-check system, Wildlife Division District One law enforcement supervisor Leighland Arehart pointed out that the deer-check process is easy on the successful hunter in a number of ways. Included is not having to rush around and find a check station that is still opened at night.

As for the system’s impact on the Wildlife Division; well, says Arehart, that’s all pretty positive, too.

“The system has been very good for us,” Arehart said. “It helps us by providing real-time data and access to that data, and we see far fewer data entry errors. It’s a more efficient system in saving time for our field officers.”

All of which saves sportsmen’s dollars, Arehart said.

Almost anticipating the sound of the “yes, but” wheels turning within the heads of at least some Deer Summit attendees, Arehart pointedly noted that while the computer-based deer-check system is hardly foolproof  - “no system is,” he said – the fact remains that on-going assessments have determined that it is no more and no less inclined to result in cheating by hunters.

“If that were the case, our biologists would note some sort of (reporting error) trend but we’re not seeing anything that cannot be explained,” Arehart said.

Adding another nail to coffin that the computer-based system is not up to the challenge of thwarting cheating hunters, Arehart said that as a percentage, violations for improper tagging under the old deer check system accounted for almost 25 percent of all deer-hunting violations.

Under the current computerized system the ratio is, Arehart says, also about 25 percent.

“It’s a terrible misconception that the system does not work,” Arehart said.

In moving up to the present, the Wildlife Division’s deer management program administrator Mike Tonkovich noted that Ohio’s deer hunters enjoyed an overall good hunt in 2015-2016; maybe even one of the best in the past few years.

Though the final deer kill numbers weren’t known at the Akron Deer Summit due to the fact that eight days still remained in the archery season, Tonkovich was confident enough to say that a total deer harvest of around 187,000 animals is in store, which would represent an increase of six percent over the total kill recorded last year.

Several factors found their way into the increased deer kill; chief among them being a generally poor mast crop statewide. Without a hearty stock of acorns the deer – especially bucks – began frequenting bait sites placed by archery hunters, Tonkovich said.

Then too, said Tonkovich, nice weather and an early harvest of standing corn that deer typically use as sanctuaries helped see to it that animals became more vulnerable to the arrow and the slug this year.

“Everything worked in favor of the hunter ,” Tonkovich said. “But we may pay the price a little next season with a slightly smaller herd size.”

One item that Tonkovich made sure to address was the abandonment of the two-day mid-October antlerless-only/muzzle-loading-only deer-hunting  season in favor of the two-day late- December general firearms deer-hunting season that was held this session.

The actual number of deer killed during the 2014 early muzzle-loading season was practically identical to 2015-2016’s two-day/ bonus gun deer hunt, Tonkovich said.

“So all it became was just a swap,” he said.

In the realm of the guessing-game of what’s in store in the way of laws, seasons, and such for the future, the near-term for 2016 will largely - if not, identically - mirror what deer hunters encountered this season past, said Mike Reynolds, the Wildlife Division’s point man on wildlife management when it comes to such critters as the white-tail deer and other forest game animals.

However, the Wildlife Division is poised to make a long-term change as to how the agency manages deer - and deer hunters - that puts even the flip to the computerized deer-check system a distant second in significance.

What the agency is moving towards is a deer management unit system instead of the present one that is based on population objectives for each of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Ultimately the Wildlife Division’s objective is for Ohio’s deer herd to get off the “roller coaster ride” of tough-to-manage high and low swings in animal numbers, Reynolds said.

“As an agency we’re going to form a committee on how to go down this path,” Reynolds said as how the Wildlife Division will formulate, refine and adopt a long-term deer-management strategy that will carry the program through 2030.

“We want to develop ‘adaptive harvest strategies,’ ” Reynolds said also.

Yet none of this can be accomplished without hearing from the Wildlife Division’s constituency groups, among them being the state’s farmers and who once were the only ones the agency surveyed.

Excluded were Ohio’s deer hunters but not anymore.

However, the silence on the part of these deer hunters has largely proven deafening.  While the agency’s deer management policy and strategy survey of farmers has experienced a very good return rate the same cannot be said of those forms sent to hunters and then subsequently returned to the Wildlife Division.

“It’s been only 14 percent; that’s not very good,” Reynolds said in an understatement. “We need to hear from you (the hunters.)”

To which Petering agreed.

“Communication is vital and it needs to be on-going and two-way,” Petering said in a conversation before the summit session began. “We need to learn to understand each other, and that the information presented in such a way that the process is better stretched out so that we as an agency and hunters as our constituency have time to absorb the information and have input into the process.”
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


Friday, January 29, 2016

A reminder that no profanity and no anonymous replies will be posted

Just a reminder that readers are free to agree or disagree with whatever is said here; including expressing the view that I'm a low-down, bush-whacking skunk if that's they're beef.

However, profanity will not be tolerated.

Also, anonymous comments will not be posted. That decision was made with the expressed belief that if a person has something to say than the individual must own up to his or her opinion by including his or her name.

No exceptions.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Poor mast crop credited with "artificial bump" in Ohio's increased buck kill

With only 11 more days left in Ohio’s long ledger of deer-hunting opportunities the number of antlered animals continues to leave the previous two seasons in the dust.

Credit goes to a couple of factors; one Nature-induced and the other a human-made product. The latter reason was designed to help keep the state’s deer herd from tumbling to a point where Ohio’s deer hunters begin looking around for tar and feathers to coat various Ohio Division of Wildlife officials.

The to-date antlered deer kill – as compiled through Tuesday, January 26th and reported January 27th stands at 75,804 animals, of which 39,123 were shot by archery hunters.

For comparison, the 2014 to-date equivalent figures were 66,635 animals and 34,118 animals, respectively. Also, the 2015 match to-date numbers were a respective 65,371 animals and 35,317 animals.

All of this being said, however, the total to-date figures – and which includes the number of antlerless deer killed along with the number of to-date antlered deer killed - are assayed at 184,791 animals whereas the 2014 equivalent figure was 188,963 animals and the 2015 figure was 175,096 deer.

When asked for the “why” in regards to the 15-percent increase in the antlered deer kill, Ohio Division of Wildlife deer biologist Clint McCoy called the up-tick an “artificial bump” and attributed it to a poor mast crop through much of the state.

“It is a significant increase in the harvest, and if you look at the counties with the biggest increases came the mast crop was especially weak,” McCoy said.

The bottom line is that deer have to eat and if they cannot find the fat-rich acorns from white oaks and to a lesser extent, red oaks, they’re going to seek out the corn placed by hunters, McCoy said.

“There’s also a few more deer out there; a small population increase,” McCoy said.

McCoy says as well that the El Nino-influenced more mild weather conditions during much of this year’s deer hunting seasons favored a good harvest of animals.

A natural question then to ask about why the antlerless deer kill has not kept a percentage-pace with the antlered deer kill is best explained by the Wildlife Division’s efforts to tamp down the number of does that hunters shoot, McCoy said.

Yet here, too, reality did not mesh with expectations. The Wildlife Division was shooting for a reduction in the number of antlerless deer killed somewhere in the neighborhood of five to eight percent, McCoy says.

What has happened instead is an increase of about one percent in the to-date kill of antlerless deer, primarily does, McCoy says.

Not that the agency is ready just yet to ratchet any proposed deer-hunting rules so as to shrink the antlerless deer kill further, McCoy says.

“If we had not dialed back on our regulations I believe we’d have seen a ‘bump’ in the antlerless deer harvest the way we’re seeing it with the antlered deer harvest,” McCoy said. “I really think we’re going to see an even keel (with deer-hunting regulations) for the next year or two.”

As for the to-date deer kill as noted in the Wildlife Division’s latest posting, again, the total as-of-January 26th stands at 184,791 animals. That is 1,930 more deer than were tallied for the January 19th report of 182,861 deer. This pretty much mirrors the roughly two-thousand additional animals shot between the January 12th and January 19th reports.

In trying to assess how many more deer will be taken between now and when the books close on February 7th, the previous two years showed that roughly an additional 2,500 to 2,700 deer were killed for each year.

If that holds true than the final number for the 2015-2016 all-seasons’ deer kill may be pegged at approximately 187,300 and 187,500 animals. The comparable 2014 figure was 191,488 animals and the comparable 2015 figure was 175,745 animals.

Some other statistics shows that Coshocton County maintains its hold on first place with a to-date deer kill of 5,603 animals. Licking County remains in second place with a to-date deer kill of 5,204 animals. Neither position is in danger of being overthrown, either.

The six counties with to-date deer kills of 4,000 to 5,000 animals (with their January 19th to-date deer kill figures in parentheses) are: Adams – 4,098 animals (4,067); Ashtabula – 4,764 animals (4,690); Guernsey County – 4,348 animals (4,311); Knox – 4,395 animals (4,362); Muskingum – 4,895 animals (4,851); Tuscarawas – 4,835 animals (4,722).

And of Ohio’s 88 counties, 26 still have to-date deer kills of fewer than 1,000 animals each. They are Auglaize (814); Clark (733); Clinton (779); Cuyahoga (741); Darke (730); Erie (734); Fayette (305); Franklin (772); Fulton (797); Greene (814); Henry (678); Lake (875); Lucas (728); Madison (485); Marion (884); Mercer  (598); Miami (818); Montgomery (646); Ottawa (396); Pickaway (787); Preble (945); Putnam (698); Sandusky (845); Union (919); Van Wert (489); and Wood (822).

All counties did record a gain in the reported deer kill between the January 19th reporting period and the January 26th reporting period; but some counties not by much. Both Van Wert and Fayette counties posted an increase of one deer each for the week-long reporting span.

Meanwhile, Putnam County and Mercer County each saw their tally grow by just two animals even as Fulton, Henry, Clark, and Wood counties each noted respective increases of three deer killed.
- 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.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ohio's deer season ebbs but the to-date antlered kill best in three years

With just 19 days left before Ohio closes the books on the all-inclusive 2015-2016 deer-hunting seasons, Coshocton and Licking counties remain the sole members of the elite Five Thousand Club.

This totally unofficial club is made up of Ohio counties in which at least 5,000 deer each have been killed. In Coshocton County’s case the to-date deer kill totals 5,563 animals and for Licking County the figure stands at 5,128 animals.

Yet with this being the caboose end of the state’s archery deer-hunting season, the gains are measured in inches and not in leaps and bounds.  The January 13th to-date kill for Coshocton County was 5,504 animals while for Licking County the figure was 5,050. Thus only an 59 additional deer were killed in Coshocton County this past week, and just 78 more deer were killed during that seven-day span in Licking County.

Membership in the Four Thousand Club remains unchanged at six, as well, with gains likewise being seen as incremental rather than as jet-propelled.  The same six counties - with their respective January 13th to-date numbers in parentheses – are: Adams County – 4,067 (4,033); Ashtabula County – 4,690 (4,638); Guernsey County – 4,311 (4,274); Knox County – 4,362 (4,322); Muskingum County – 4,851 (4,807); and Trumbull County – 4,787 (4,722).

And with just two more reporting weeks left the chances of one of these Four Thousand Club members joining the Five Thousand Club roster appears remote. Perhaps the only two which might squeak in would be Muskingum County and possibly (a long shot, at best) Trumbull County.

Occupying the state’s 88-county cellar are still Van Wert County – 488 (487: yep, an addition of only one animal this past week); Madison County – 479 (473); Ottawa County – 390 (383); and Fayette County – 304 (301).

Also, Henry County holds this reporting week’s dubious honor of failing to note any deer kill increase from the previous January 13th tally; each reporting period recording an identical deer kill of 675 animals. And there were a bunch of two-, three-, and four-deer kill increase counties, too.

As for where the season stands to-date, the total deer kill as of the January 20th report (and whose numbers are applicable up to January 19th) is 182,861 animals.  For comparison purposes, the like 2015 to-date deer kill was 171,189 deer. Meanwhile,  the corresponding 2014 to-date deer kill was 187,739 animals.

Of more than passing interest to Ohio’s bowmen, the state’s current to-date archery deer kill – and as noted in the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s January 20th weekly report - stands at 38,639 antlered animals and 40,453 antlerless animals

 From an historical standpoint, 2015’s to-date archery antlered deer kill was 34,872 animals and 42,769 antlerless animals. In 2014 the corresponding to-date numbers were 33,838 antlered deer and 48,778 antlerless deer.

Similarly the current to-date “All Harvest” antlered deer kill is leaving its 2014 and 2015 counterparts in the dust.

For the current January 20th report, the to-date “All Harvest” antlered deer kill stands at 75,314 animals. The corresponding to-date “All Harvest” antlered deer kill figure for 2015 was 64,923 animals and for 2014 the to-date “All Harvest” antlered deer figure was 66,354 animals.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What the Anti-Second Amendment crowd gets wrong about gun maker indemnity

The pandering and flip-flop decision by U.S. Senator Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders over his reversal to now do away with the firearms manufacturers’ indemnity from frivolous lawsuits is a sham.

.What the ignorant, confused and downright "untruthers" are failing to grasp is that firearms manufacturers are not given a free pass for making a defective product. They can - and always have - been libel for making a firearm that is potentially dangerous due to a design or manufacturing flaw.

A good case in point is how America’s oldest gun maker – Remingtom Arms – is having its legal feet held to the fire because of a potentially life-threatening defect with the company’s designated Walker Fire Control-trigger mechanism to its popular Model 700 rifles as well as 12 other of the firm’s high-power rifle models.

This is a $20 million class-action lawsuit that deals with a potentially serious design and manufacturing defeat.

What firearms manufacturers are protected against are frivolous lawsuits intended to hold the companies accountable for the criminal misuse of their products. Such lawsuits would be driven by individuals and groups that are part of what I like to call the “Anti-Second Amendment Lobby.”

These people simply abhor people owning firearms. We do not hold, say, Ford accountable if one of its Explorers in used as a get-away car during a bank robbery or if a Taurus is driven by a drunk driver that injures and kills someone.

Indeed, we are not holding Toyota legally accountable or are suggesting sanctions against this Japanese-based motor vehicle manufacturer because the firm’s pick-up trucks are widely used by Middle East terrorists’ groups; a point of vehicle usage that even President Obama referenced regarding ISIS and made during his January 12th State-of-the-Union address.

For that matter no one executed a lawsuit against the owner of the rented Ryder truck used by Timothy McVeigh in his act of domestic terrorism by his blowing up Oklahoma City’s Murrah Building on April 19, 1995.

Neither were sued the makers of the explosives Tovex and the Primadet detonating cord also used by McVeigh, let alone seeking a judgment against the manufacturer of the ammonium nitrate-rich fertilizer and diesel fuel used by him to kill 168 people – including 19 children – as well as injuring 680 other people.

Ditto, we do not hold a Seagram or a Jim Beam or a Coors accountable if a person drinks too much and then becomes a drunken driver who instigates a vehicular tragedy.

And like a bartender who knowingly allows a customer to drink in excess that might result in producing a drunken driver, there are federal licensing rules for gun shops that forbid it from knowingly selling a firearm to a person who intends to turn around and resell it or give it away as part of a so-called "straw man" exchange.

Likewise, there also is a federal law administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agency that stipulates how a licensed gun dealer must report to a multiple number of law enforcement agencies the sale of two or more firearms within five business days and to a non-licensed dealer.

So, please, let's dispense with the disingenuous and specious argument that somehow gun makers and firearms dealers cannot be sued or held accountable. That line of thinking is flat-out and simply not true.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, January 14, 2016

UPDATED THROUGHOUT Ohio proposes significant smallgame rules changes

For once rules and regulation proposals impacting hunting in Ohio far and away overshadow talk about what will impact the state’s deer hunters.

On Thursday the Ohio Division of Wildlife - with virtually no fanfare, pomp or ceremony or even the clang of gongs - announced significant season changes for a host of flying critters, especially wild turkeys and Canada geese.

Spring wild turkey hunters in Northeast Ohio have long groused that the season on this species begins way too early, the late April start date being much more appropriate for southern Ohio than it is for the Snow Belt region that envelopes Northeast Ohio..

After hearing concerns expressed by hunters in the Snow Belt, the ODNR/Division of Wildlife conducted a two-year study to examine if turkeys were nesting later than in other regions of the state, said agency spokesman John Windau.

From 2014 to 2015, 28 hen turkeys were trapped and subsequently fitted with satellite telemetry devices in three of the Snow Belt counties. Twenty-one of the hens initiated nesting between April 29 and May 1, Windau said.

“That’s nearly two weeks later than hens in the southeastern counties,” Windau said.

 As part of the public input process, turkey hunters in the Northeast Ohio counties who were surveyed indicated they wanted the season to start later; the Monday closest to May 1, Windau also said.

“During the Wild Turkey Summit last August, the results of the study were presented and a two-zone approach was discussed. The discussion was well received and participants indicated their support,” Windau said.

Making up the proposed five-county Northeast Ohio Zone are the counties of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull, Windau said.

The proposed South Zone’s spring turkey season will run April 24th to May 21st, 2017. Meanwhile, the five-county Northeast Ohio Zone’s spring turkey season is proposed – note that word “proposed” – for May 1st to May 28th, 2017.

It is important to the point of being vital to note that these new two spring wild turkey-hunting zones and their respective dates are for 2017, NOT for this year since those dates were established last year.

Retained as part of the Wildlife Division’s proposal package is a two-turkey total season limit; either split between the two proposed zones or else taken in a single zone. This concept would be similar to Ohio’s one antlered deer rule regardless of how many different counties a person hunts.

In a highly unusual change is that the Wildlife Division is advancing season dates and bag limit proposals for waterfowl as well as for migratory upland game birds, including mourning doves.

In the past the Wildlife Division would have to sit back and wait to get the migratory bird-hunting rule options from the federal government. This step always took place about mid-summer for the early September migratory bird hunting seasons and not until late August for the regular autumn-winter waterfowl-hunting seasons/bag limit options.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees all migratory bird hunting regulations, and it recently changed its process that now allows Ohio to propose autumn waterfowl hunting regulations in January,” said Windau. “That’s more than six months earlier than in past years.”

With more elbow room the Wildlife Division will more time to inform hunters of upcoming seasons, so they can better plan their vacations and seasons. It will also allow the agency – along with its partners, to hold controlled waterfowl drawings in the summer, concurrent with drawings for other species., Windau said.

“Migratory bird season dates and bag limits can now be included in the hunting and trapping regulations booklet, rather than in two separate additional publications in the fall,” Windau said. 

For the early waterfowl and upland game bird seasons the Wildlife Division is proposing that the one for mourning doves would begin September 1st and run to November 6th and again from December 15th to January 8th, 2017.

A key mental note to savor here is that both the nine-day early Canada goose-only and the 16-day teal season don’t begin until September 3rd.

Consequently, hunters won’t have to choose between picking a dove field or a goose-filled farm pond to hunt the opener since each will have a different start date. Or more correctly, proposed start dates.

Going into autumn the proposed three-split season dates for the North Goose Zone are October 22nd to November 6th; November 19th to January 1st (2017); and January 7th to February 7th: both in 2017. Let that last season component sink in for a moment. January 7th to… February 7th; February, 2017, for goose-honking out loud!

For the duck hunters, no real changes are being proposed. The proposed Duck-North Zone season dates are October 22nd through November 6th and November 19th through January 1st  2017.

All of the proposed rules – including changes – must pass muster with the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council. This council will vote on the proposals but only after the public has had an opportunity to share its two-cents’ worth.

Open houses where sportsmen and sportswomen can voice their thoughts are scheduled for March 5th at the Wildlife Division’s districts One, Two, Three, and Four headquarters, as well as the Greene County Fish and Game Association clubhouse in Xenia, Windau said.


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.
For once rules and regulation proposals impacting hunting in Ohio far and away overshadow talk about what will impact the state’s deer hunters.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ohio's muzzle-loaders add to deer kill total; possible year-end tally of 188,000 animals

Ohio’s deer hunting has rounded third base and is headed for home.

The to-date January 12th deer kill figure stands at 180,917 animals. That statistic includes the 12,505 animals taken during Ohio’s wintery weather-plagued four-day statewide muzzle-loading season. And that latter number was – no surprise here – a decline from the 2015 muzzle-loading season kill of 13,724 deer for a drop of 1,219 animals.

Taken a step further, remove the 12,505 deer from the 180,917 figure and what’s left is a kill of 168,412 animals. Thus, extrapolating the data a tad more and we see that only 871 deer were taken by archery hunters between the reporting period of January 5th and January 12th.

Clearly the deer-hunting clock is not only ticking down, Ohio’s hunters have turned off the alarm, affording them the opportunity to sleep through the remainder of the state’s archery deer-hunting season which draws the curtain on February 7th.

 That’s not a whole lot of time for the fat lady to sing her final aria.

As for the statewide muzzle-loading season January 9th through 10th, Ohio’s primitive weapons deer hunters saw it all weather-wise: Rain, freezing rain, snow showers and snow squalls, and winds that whipped up gusts at times and in some locations that approached 50 mph.  Such poor conditions are hardly conducive for good hunting of anything but especially, deer.

In examining the four-day muzzle-loading season’s data comes the finding that of Ohio’s 88 counties 27 posted gains from the 2015 statewide muzzle-loading season. Among some of the noteworthy counties that saw increases (with their comparable 2015 statistics in parentheses) were Hocking – 319 (284); Tuscarawas – 410 (363); Athens – 357 (335); and Jackson – 274 (249).

Also, three counties recorded identical kills for both the 2015 statewide muzzle-loading season and the 2016 statewide muzzle-loading season. These counties were Clinton (both 64); Cuyahoga (both three); Morrow (both 88).

The rest of Ohio’s 88 counties experienced weather-associated deer kill declines. A few of the more noteworthy were (with their respective 2015 statewide muzzle-loading season figures in parentheses): Ashtabula – 270 (323); Coshocton – 425 (553); Guernsey – 343 (395); Jefferson – 211 (266); Muskingum – 384 (445); and Trumbull – 147 (234).

In looking at the January 12th to-date deer kill – all such reports come from the Ohio Division of Division and appear the following day, typically a Wednesday – what is seen is a holding pattern among the top counties.  That said, Ohio now has two counties with to-date kills exceeding 5,000 animals. They are Coshocton County – 5,504 deer; and Licking County – 5,050 deer. Last week’s report showed only Coshocton County as the sole member of the Five Thousand Club.

Another six counties are in the commendable Four Thousand Club. They include Adams County – 4,033 deer; Ashtabula County – 4,638 deer; Guernsey County – 4,274 deer; Knox County – 4,322 deer; Muskingum County – 4,807 deer; and Trumbull County – 4,722 deer.

Almost assuredly these eight counties will end up in the state’s Top Ten deer kill counties for the all-inclusive deer hunting seasons’ total scorecard.

And just as for sure are the twenty-six Ohio counties which have not even popped the cork in celebrating deer kills of at least one thousand deer each. The bottom few of this lowly group are: Van Wart County – 487 deer; Madison County – 473 deer; Ottawa County – 383 deer; and Fayette County – 301 deer.

What comes next are the last remaining three reporting periods before the books close on all of Ohio’s various deer-hunting seasons. Just how many more deer that hunters will kill up through February 7th is a matter of conjecture, of course, though history is often a pretty reliable indicator that the number of animals taken is not particularly impressive.

Last year between the January 14th and final February 2nd reports, Ohio archery hunters shot just 6,566 deer. That figure was even less for the same 2014 mark-up: 5,108 deer, to be exact.

Consequently, it wouldn’t be out of line to say that another 5,000 to 6,500 deer could be killed before the game-ending whistle blows. Tack that range of figures onto the to-date number of deer killed and the all-inclusive seasons’ take may very well number between 186,000 and 188,000 deer. The comparable 2015 figure was 175,745 deer while the comparable 2014 figure was 191,455 deer.


A list of all white-tailed deer checked by hunters using muzzleloaders during the 2016 four-day deer-muzzleloader season is shown below. The first number following the county’s name shows the harvest numbers for this year’s season, while the 2015 numbers are in parentheses.

Adams: 274 (277); Allen: 45 (57); Ashland: 224 (253); Ashtabula: 270 (323); Athens: 357 (335); Auglaize: 49 (38); Belmont: 283 (393); Brown: 221 (245); Butler: 72 (85); Carroll: 277 (341); Champaign: 72 (83); Clark: 41 (33); Clermont: 173 (168); Clinton: 64 (64); Columbiana: 222 (206); Coshocton: 425 (553); Crawford: 50 (59); Cuyahoga: 3 (3); Darke: 34 (28); Defiance: 92 (97); Delaware: 81 (53); Erie: 18 (37); Fairfield: 111 (141); Fayette: 11 (20); Franklin: 23 (29); Fulton: 21 (23); Gallia: 204 (281); Geauga: 83 (94); Greene: 49 (48); Guernsey: 343 (395); Hamilton: 42 (40); Hancock: 49 (63); Hardin: 87 (99); Harrison: 293 (321); Henry: 19 (32); Highland: 214 (243); Hocking: 319 (284); Holmes: 259 (264); Huron: 127 (147); Jackson: 274 (249); Jefferson: 211 (266); Knox: 309 (311); Lake: 28 (30); Lawrence: 129 (173); Licking: 322 (390); Logan: 144 (128); Lorain: 104 (126); Lucas: 24 (23); Madison: 27 (31); Mahoning: 109 (141); Marion: 54 (45); Medina: 107 (114); Meigs: 355 (404); Mercer: 17 (29); Miami: 29 (37); Monroe: 256 (244); Montgomery: 29 (33); Morgan: 273 (316); Morrow: 88 (88); Muskingum: 384 (445); Noble: 270 (272); Ottawa: 28 (24); Paulding: 47 (62); Perry: 201 (229); Pickaway: 44 (77); Pike: 174 (180); Portage: 94 (81); Preble: 62 (55); Putnam: 17 (26); Richland: 204 (241); Ross: 284 (301); Sandusky: 56 (51); Scioto: 196 (199); Seneca: 77 (122); Shelby: 63 (60); Stark: 174 (167); Summit: 28 (30); Trumbull: 147 (234); Tuscarawas: 410 (363); Union: 43 (41); Van Wert: 20 (22); Vinton: 268 (243); Warren: 74 (65); Washington: 290 (340); Wayne: 119 (137); Williams: 95 (86); Wood: 31 (47); Wyandot: 115 (91). Total: 12,505 (13,724).

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ohio's deer hunters gaining ground in the all-seasons' final leg

Over the previous seven days Ohio’s archers either were battling hunter fatigue or else had run out of tags.

Only 2,180 deer were taken between December 29th and January 5th, and as noted in the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s weekly deer kill summary. This summary is issued each Wednesday.

In all and as noted in the Wildlife Division’s January 6th summary, 167,541 deer had been killed for the all-inclusive to-date seasons. The December 30th report noted a then to-dated all-inclusive to-date kill of 165,361 animals.

For a relatively close comparison, the January 7th 2015 to-date tally was 167,399 animals. Meanwhile the apples-to-apples look with the respective 2014 to-date kill was 184,891 deer.

However, those apples aren’t really the variety. The most recent to-date deer figure of 167,541 deer does not include animals taken during the statewide four-day muzzle-loading season. For a very good reason, too; that being, this season isn’t set to start until this Saturday, January 9th.

On the other hand the January 7th 2015 to-date figure does include that year’s four-day muzzle-loading season, which ran January 2nd to 5th 2015. That season produced a deer kill of 13,726 animals.

Subtract that 13,726 from the January 7th 2015 to-date tally of 167,399 animals and a better comparison is 153,673 deer for a side-by-side look with the current January 6th 2016 to-date deer kill of 167,541.

Thus, the to-date deer kill continues its weekly trend of seeing more deer taken by hunters than animals were killed at roughly the same point one year ago.

And going one step further, the 2014 to-date deer kill of 184,891 animals included the 16,464 deer shot during that year’s January 4th to 7th muzzle-loading season. So subtracting the muzzle-loading kill shows a more reflective (to the current to-date tally) to-date total of 168,427 animals.

Or looked at it from a different angle, Ohio’s deer hunters appear poised to beat 2014’s deer kill and are almost certain to way better the 2015 mark.

In a further look at the current numbers we see that one county – Coshocton County – has a to-date deer kill exceeding 5,000 animals; that tally being 5,065 deer.

Also, five of Ohio’s 88 counties have to-date deer kills exceeding 4,000 animals. They are: Ashtabula County (4,347 deer); Knox County (4,004 deer); Licking County (4,697 deer); Muskingum County (4,414 deer); and Tuscarawas County (4,293 deer).

Another 10 counties have to-date deer kills exceeding 3,000 animals. They are: Adams County (3,742 deer); Athens County (3,480 deer); Carroll County (3,141 deer); Guernsey County (3,909 deer); Harrison County (3,389 deer); Hocking County (3,276 deer); Holmes County (3,355 deer); Meigs County (3,133 deer); Trumbull County (3,005 deer); and Washington County (3,128 deer).

However, there are still 27 of Ohio’s 88 counties with to date deer kills of less than 1,000 animals each. The Bottom Five in descending order are: Mercer County (574 deer); Van Wart County (467 deer); Madison County (441 deer); Ottawa County (349 deer); and Fayette County (288 deer).

Next Wednesday’s (January 13th) weekly to-date deer kill tally will include figures from Ohio’s statewide muzzle-loading deer-hunting season, which should largely tell where in the pecking order of deer harvests this season falls.
By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn