Call it good news or bad news but Ohio hunters killed a whole lot of deer this year. If numbers are to be trusted, 188,335 to be exact, according the Ohio Division of Wildlife. That’s 12,590 more than last season. However, in the not too distant past 191,465 deer were taken two seasons ago during the 2013-14 season.
Last year’s 2014-15 season yield of 175,745 deer caused the Division of Wildlife to enact some rule changes to curb the harvest of antlerless deer by practically eliminating the $15 antlerless permit and reducing bag limits. They did, however, re-open the two-day bonus gun season during the Christmas holidays which left some to wonder where the wisdom went. In the opinionated bunch of outdoor writers I share notes with, some speculate that back room political arm twisting came into play, pointing out that the first proposals of deer regulations submitted to wildlife counsel for approval was quickly replaced with a new slate of proposals after a meeting with state senators. Call it the new reality, but politics trumps all if you like your job.
Officials I’ve talked with and others don’t necessarily believe there are any more deer on the landscape, but poor mast crop and nice weather brought out the hunters and the deer which combined for a seven percent increase in the overall take.
“With the increased kill, hunters may see fewer deer next fall,” said one wildlife biologist.
Locally Adams County had a significant 27 percent jump in the total deer take of 4,157 for the 2015-2016 season. The season before, Adams County hunters bagged 3,278.
Brown County had a slight six percent increase for a total bag of 2,754 deer. Highland County had an increase of 10 percent over last year with 2,919 deer tagged. Scioto County experienced a huge jump of 41 percent to finish out the year with 3,034 deer harvested. The Pike County deer take increased by nearly 27 percent to 2,382.
For those keeping statistics there were 1,701 antlered deer (bucks) taken in Adams County this past season, and 2,456 antlerless deer (button buck and does) taken. Statewide for the 2015 -16 season, the antlered harvest was 76,689 which is an unexpected 16 percent increase. The antlerless deer take for this past season was 111,640 for a very modest increase of 1.7 percent. Biologists were rather stumped for an answer as to why the antlered kill was way up. Everybody’s got an opinion but I would venture a guess that there just aren’t as many does and fawns as there used to be.
A conference call with wildlife officials last Thursday revealed that a license fee increase for non-resident hunters was not on the horizon after a twice failed attempt by the Division of Wildlife. This past season non-resident hunting license sales rose by four percent for a total of 39,360 non-resident hunting license sold during the season. Adams County leads the state in non-resident deer harvest. Also shelved was the plan to go to 26 deer-management units (DMU), doing away with county by county management.
It appears the direction the Division of Wildlife is heading is toward the status-quo, which sometimes isn’t a bad thing. The proposed deer regulations for next fall’s hunting season is same old –same old, a mirror image of the 2015 regulations; no-changes. Only the dates have been changed as allowed by the calendar. Bow season opener and closer is slated for Sept. 23 – Feb 5. The much debated youth season is Nov. 19-20. Deer gun opens the Monday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 28 – Dec. 4.
The equally debated “bonus” gun season is Dec. 28-29, and the late muzzleloader season, which is now later than ever, Jan. 14-17. All deer bag limits remain the same. Mark March 5 on your calendars as that is the date of the Division Of Wildlife open houses where the public is welcome to comment on these matters and more. Times and locations are in the back of the 2015-16 hunting regulations.