Ohio hunters checked 75,408 white-tailed deer during the state’s gun hunting season Dec. 2-8, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Counties reporting the five highest numbers of checked deer were: Coshocton, 2,658, Muskingum, 2,604, Tuscarawas, 2,604, Guernsey, 2,401 and Ashtabula, 2,334. Coshocton County also had the most deer checked in the 2012 deer gun season - 3,119.
Locally, the season was mixed, with three of four area counties recording fewer checks this season compared to 2012. In Ottawa County, 88 deer were reported this year – two more than last year, while hunters in Wood County reported 213 this year and 254 in 2012. In Sandusky County, hunters reported 208 deer this year; 16 fewer than in 2012 and Lucas County hunters reported 131 this year compared to 158 in 2012.
Until recently, the deer populations in nearly all of Ohio’s counties were well above their target numbers. In the last few years, through increased harvests, strides have been made in many counties to bring those populations closer to the goal set by the ODNR, said Scott Zody, chief of the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
Once a county’s deer population is near goal, harvest regulations are adjusted to maintain the population near that goal, he said.
Archery season remains open through Feb. 2, 2014. The muzzleloader season is Jan. 4-7, 2014.
Ohio’s first modern day deer-gun season opened in 1943 in three counties, and hunters harvested 168 deer. Deer hunting was allowed in all 88 counties in 1956, and hunters harvested 3,911 deer during that one-week season.
Hunting times were extended 30 minutes for all deer-gun seasons. Hunters were already allowed to hunt deer 30 minutes before sunrise, and this year an additional 30 minutes has been added after sunset for gun seasons.
Hunters are encouraged to donate deer to help the needy in their area. The ODNR Division of Wildlife is working with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) to help pay for the processing of donated venison. Hunters who donate a deer to a food bank are not required to pay the processing cost as long as funding for the effort is available
More information about the program can be found online at fhfh.org.