The state has tallied up every deer taken by any means allowable by law for the 2016-17 season and the numbers were in line but far from spectacular.
By my calculations from a strictly numbers standpoint, it was the second-worst season of the last eight in the books.
A grand total of 182,169 deer were taken this year compared with 188,335 last year, a rather token decrease. The 2014-15 season saw only 175,745 deer tagged in. the peak was still the 2009-10 season when over 261,000 deer were harvested.
Where does that leave us? Pretty much where things have been for the last few years – the herd has definitely been cut down, but there are enough deer to make the pursuit worthwhile.
In most local areas the numbers were up albeit slightly. Tuscarawas County had 5039 checked in (vs. 4921 last year); Coshocton was at 5959 (5700); Carroll at 3586 (3557); Holmes at 3731 (3717); Stark claimed 2778 (2760); while Harrison County was down slightly from 3787 to 3763.
The bottom line is this: the herd is undoubtedly smaller than it was with similar factors working against it ever getting much bigger.
First off most farmers and pretty much all insurance companies hate deer and the damage they cause. I understand this though I’m not a fan of the kill permits at all. I’m no farmer for that matter, but a lot of different animals can cause crop damage.
As predicted by the late, great Eugene D. McCluskey some 10 years ago or more, the coyote population has exploded. These cagey predators are here to stay from the looks of it… and the trail cam pictures of them carrying dead fawns don’t lie.
At least the Ohio Division of Wildlife has done away with the herd-destroying 6-deer limits of a few years back. This year we were at two in Tuscarawas County, while chances are it will be three next year.
The entire deer hunting experience has changed dramatically since I first got into the game. Back then deer gun season was about all anyone cared about. Now it’s almost an afterthought.
In attempting to do some research (trust me you are not as shocked as I am!) on the deer kill in this state I ran across a fascinating report entitled the Ohio Deer Summary on wildohio.com.
It’s really long, too scientific for me at times, but interesting how things have changed from the late 1970s until now. Back in the day – even into the 1990s – the vast majority of deer were taken by shotguns during the weeklong gun season.
There is a graph detailing this and nearly 90 percent were taken by gun until the 90s. Pretty soon the deer taken with guns started a downward trend, while the deer taken with bows and crossbows shot upward.
Somewhere about 2012 or so there were more deer taken with bows than guns. Who would have guessed that 20 years ago?
I missed the boat when I was younger as I didn’t pick up a bow until I was like 37 years old. I’m here to tell you bow hunting presents the best opportunity to kill big deer as there is very little pressure on the deer plus you’re in the woods during the absolute best time to drop a brute – the rut.
Still I enjoy shotgun season as well and I don’t think I’ll ever turn into one of these bow hunting elitists who look down on those of us who enjoy gun hunting.
Whatever your weapon of choice is there are still ample opportunities to harvest deer in the state, though it has definitely gotten more difficult in the last 4-5 years.
With any luck, I hope to have more on deer hunting – where it’s going, where it was and where it is right now – next week.