Ohio’s deer hunters didn’t kill 188,00 animals this past combined seasons nor even 187,000 whitetails as was possible but they still bested what they did during the 2016-2017 all-seasons’ tally.
When the final arrow was launched and the final figures tabulated, Ohio’s archers, firearms and muzzle-loaders shot a total of 186,247 white-tailed deer for the 2017-2018 season. That figure is 4,078 more animals than were killed during the 2016-2017 deer-hunting period which saw 182,169 animals being taken, or harvested in the vernacular of biologists with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
For comparison, the 186,247 figure falls into forth place in total kill over the past six deer-hunting seasons. The total deer kills for these seasons were: 2012-2013 – 218,91 animals; 2013-2014 – 191,503 animals; 2014-2015 – 175,801 animals; 2015-2016 -188,335 animals; and 2016-2017 – 182,169 animals.
Yet while the total overall deer kill was up over its 2016-2017 all-implements counterpart, that is not true for the harvest associated with archery tackle. Total deer kill figures for archery equipment were down for both antlered and antlerless deer when stacked up against their 2016-2017 numbers. The total archery-associated take for antlered deer for the just-concluded 2017-2018 season was 38,334 animals while the comparable 2016-2017 number was 40,705 antlered animals.
For antlerless deer the numbers were 41,945 animals and 42,616 animals, respectively.
“Based on a three-year average, this year’s total archery deer harvest was off by only three percent, and it’s important to remember that archers still account for almost 43 percent of the entire deer harvest total,” said Clint McCoy, the Wildlife Division’s chief deer management researcher-biologist. “In the world of biologists that three-percent figure is peanuts.”
The totals do show, however, that 63 of Ohio’s 88 counties saw gains this past season verses their 2016-2017 total deer kill status. Among the counties with significant increases were (in alphabetical order): Carroll – plus 349 animals; Coschocton – plus 630 animals; Guernsey County – plus 188 animals; Morgan County – plus 286 animals; Preble Couty – plus 122 animals; and Tuscarawas County – plus 683 animals.
“Most hunters want to see more deer and we are moving in that direction but we want to increase the numbers gradually,” McCoy said as well.
Some counties did see rather eyebrow-raising declines, though, and none more so than Jefferson County where the decline in the deer kill was 897 animals. Earlier in the hunting season when Jefferson County’s to-date numbers were coming it was suspected that the entire county’s deer herd likely was impacted by epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), McCoy said.
“At first blush the most obvious thing about this concluded season’s deer harvest was how much it was off in Jefferson County,” McCoy said. “But there were other counties, too.”
And other counties also recorded deer kill declines for whatever reason. This year’s deer harvest for Scioto County was off about 11 percent from the three-year average, for Pike County the deer kill was off around nine percent, and for Lawrence County the deer kill was off about eight percent, McCoy said.
“There were some southeast counties where we anticipated seeing increases in their respective harvests, and we did,” McCoy said.
It may or it may not be telling that a number of counties that are considered urban and suburban – and of which some were once enfolded into one of the Wildlife Division’s former Urban Deer Zones - had consistently shown to-date deer kill declines throughout the entire 2017-2018 deer-hunting season.
The urban-suburban counties of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Lorain, Lucas, Franklin, Summit, and Medina each saw declines when stacked against their respective 2016-2017 final figures.
And most of them experienced declines in their archery kill numbers, though McCoy is more than a little reluctant to say that their respective herds are now in check due to controlled archery hunts.
“I do not doubt for a second that there are communities within counties where controlled archery hunts are having an impact,” McCoy said, “but you have to look at the county as a whole; which makes it difficult to say that on a county-wide basis such hunts are having a widespread impact.”
list of all deer checked by hunters during the entire 2017-2018 deer season. The first number following the county’s name shows the harvest number for the 2017-2018 season, and the 2016-2017 season number is in parentheses.