With the dust all ready settling on Ohio’s 2015-2016 deer kill totals only 24 hours after the archery season ended, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is expected to announce as early as within the next 72 hours what the 2016-2017 deer-hunting proposals will look like.
In all, Ohio’s hunters bagged and tagged 188,335 deer. That figure is up 12,590 animals that hunters killed for the all-inclusive 2014-2015 deer-hunting year. For this deer-hunting year (2014-2015) hunters killed 175,745 animals.
For the previous 2013-2014 all-inclusive deer-hunting year Ohio recorded a kill of 191,465 animals, which is only 3,130 more animals than hunters arrowed and shot during the just-concluded 2015-2016 all-inclusive deer-hunting year.
Then again, the entire intend behind 2015-2016’s ramped up deer-hunting restrictions was to cut back on the number of animals killed, not to produce an increase.
That being said, the modest gain of 12,590 deer being killed is tolerable, Ohio Division of Wildlife game biologists are saying.
This belief is enhanced given the fact that the weather during the 2014-2015 all-inclusive deer-hunting year was not kind to deer hunters while the El Nino-driven weather for the just-concluded year enhanced hunter activity, agency biologists are saying.
And when the fact that a widespread dearth of hard mast – fat-rich white and red acorns – is factored in, the state’s slight deer kill gain is understandable. Deer simply had to keep on the move in order to sustain good health by finding a decent meal, says Clint McCoy, the Wildlife Division’s deer biologist.
“Yes, our regulatory changes were designed to cut back on the antlerless harvest, and though that didn’t happen as we had hoped, it did help prevent the sort of harvest increase we saw with antlered deer,” McCoy said.
A breakdown of the 2015-2016 all-inclusive deer-hunting year’s antlerless and antlered deer kills show that 76,689 antlered deer were taken and 111,640 antlerless deer were killed. For the comparable 2014-2015 hunt the figures were, respectively, 66,058 (antlered) and 109,687 (antlerless) deer.
In bringing the view into sharper focus with an additional comparison – the best way that numbers have meaning – for the 2014-2015 all-inclusive deer-hunting year the figures were 67,267 (antlered) deer and 124,188 (antlerless) deer.
Thus, Ohio’s 2015-2016 all-inclusive buck kill is way up from what was produced during any of the previous two all-inclusive deer-hunting seasons.
“Obviously we couldn’t predict the big hurt on the mast crop nor the change in the (climatic) weather,” McCoy said.
All in all then, McCoy says, Ohio’s deer hunters ought to expect seasons dates and lengths, bag limits, and all of the other deer-hunting rules to closing shadow those encountered during the 2015-2016 all-inclusive deer-hunting year.
“I don’t believe there will be many changes,” McCoy said.
In looking at the county-by-county deer kills, the Number One spot goes to Coshocton County. Here, a recorded total take of 5,700 animals was posted. The previous all-inclusive deer-hunting year saw a take saw a total deer kill of 5,727 animals, representing a miniscule drop of just 27 white-tails.
Second place goes to Licking County with a kill of 5,365 deer. The previous all-inclusive seasons’ kill was 5,281 animals. Simple math shows that Licking County’s kill rose by a minuscule 80 animals.
A closer look at the county-by-county deer kill shows that some 23 of Ohio’s 88 counties saw declines; most by small amounts. However, there were some noticeable drops. Among them were Erie County – falling from a posted 2014-2015 deer kill of 951 animals to 750 animals (a decline of 201 deer, or 21 percent); and Morrow County – dropping an even 100 animals; 1,437 deer taken during the just-concluded all-inclusive 2015-2016 deer-hunting year and 1,537 animals shot there the year before.
The county that brought up the rear turns out – once again – to be Fayette County where only 310 were shot this past all-inclusive deer-hunting year. Fayette likewise finished last during the 2014-2015 all-inclusive deer-hunting year with a kill of 380 animals as well as the 2013-2014 all-inclusive deer-hunting year with a kill of 292 animals.
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.