By Tom Cross –
Ohio’s deer gun season opens Monday, Nov. 28 and continues through Sunday, Dec. 4. Prior to that is the youth deer gun season opening this weekend, Nov. 19 -20 for hunters 17 years of age or younger.
Thus far bow hunters in Adams County have harvested 811 deer which represents a near 30 percent decrease from the deer take a year ago when archers bagged 1,147 deer. Currently in Adams County 423 bucks have been harvested and 388 antlerless deer have been taken.
In neighboring Brown County 543 deer have been taken so far, Clermont County with 656 deer. That represents a 21 (Brown) and 24 (Clermont) percent decline from a year ago.
Youth season and the deer gun season figures will undoubtedly be down as well as ODNR had set a course for a vigorous antlerless harvest the past several years. However in an about-face this season, for the first time in a long time, no antlerless permits are available for either Adams, Brown, or Clermont counties. Locally, only in Hamilton County are antlerless permits valid. I suspect if this downward harvest trend continues Adams County will join the ranks of the two -eer limit counties. Currently hunters in Adams, Brown, and Clermont can bag three deer, of only one of which may be a buck. Interestingly enough Adams County leads the state in non-resident deer harvest. Total deer take in Ohio as of Nov. 8 stands at 42,268, down over 15 percent across the state from last year.
In an effort to stay ahead of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), portions of Holmes and Wayne counties in Ohio are again under disease surveillance. All deer harvested in those areas are required to have the carcass checked for the disease. A CWD outbreak at a captive deer facility in Holmes County a few years back prompted such action as it is suspected some of the deer escaped thereby placing the wild deer herd at risk.
The trend across the state, and locally as well, is the decreased participation in the deer gun season. Once the centerpiece of Ohio’s deer season, its popularity has declined as more hunters are turning to the long archery season to harvest their deer. For the past three years more deer were taken by archery hunters then gun hunters. Over 10,000 more deer were bagged by bows and crossbows then fell to the gun last deer season. In Adams County last year 2,238 deer were taken by gun hunters during all the gun seasons, 1,890 deer were tagged by archers.
One local hunter was lucky in more ways than one. Lear McCoy from Peebles bagged a big non-typical in late October that green scored over 200 B&C points. The big 16-pointer had a 9-inch drop tine hanging from its right side and forked back tines on both sides.
McCoy had gotten some trail cam pics of the buck in mid-October and set up tree stands at two different locations. One stand was near a creek bottom which he’d only hunt in the mornings, the other was higher up on a hillside which was his evening stand. The area was a mixture of bottom lands, hardwoods, and thick cedars.
On Saturday morning Oct. 29, McCoy had been in the stand a couple of hours without seeing any deer when a small yearling doe suddenly appeared and stopped to look behind her. About 50 yards behind her was the big non-typical he had photos of from his trail camera. The buck was moving slowly head on towards the stand but after a few minutes turned broadside offering the shot he was hoping for. At the sound of the crossbow firing the big buck wheeled and turned quickly getting his huge rack tangled in a sapling and after managing to free itself, shot straight for the dense woods and disappeared.
McCoy, confident of his shot, waited about an hour before getting down and walked over to where the buck stood and found ample evidence of a good hit. He returned to his truck and went into town to grab a bite to eat hoping to give the buck plenty of time to bed down and die. A few hours later McCoy and J.T. Sowards from Peebles went out to the spot to take up the blood trail but could not find the deer. Late that afternoon they were back in Peebles and saw Larry McFarland’s roll-back truck with a front end crashed car that had hit a deer.
McCoy called McFarland to inquire about the crashed vehicle and McFarland said, “Somebody got your deer.” McFarland went on to explain that a woman had hit the deer near the area where Lear had been hunting and the state highway patrol gave a receipt for the deer carcass to James Jarvis from Bentonville, who happened to be passing by at the time because the driver who hit the deer didn’t want it.
Wanting to see if he could recover his deer, Lear paid a visit to the state highway post in Georgetown on Monday and they called Jarvis and left a message for him to contact McCoy. Jarvis called McCoy Monday evening and Lear explained the circumstance of his unfortunate hunt. He described the deer and fact that the arrow was still lodged in the deer’s carcass helped sway Jarvis that it was indeed the buck Lear had arrowed that Saturday morning and agreed to give the bucks head and rack to McCoy. Fortunately, the buck’s rack was not damaged by the collision and that someone local with a big heart was there on the scene to take ownership of the carcass, otherwise it could have been lost forever and left McCoy with a big mystery as to what did happen to the buck.
Officially the deer is listed “killed by an auto” and luckily Lear received a transfer of ownership paper from Jarvis. McCoy’s big non-typical buck he shot with a crossbow Saturday morning is now officially a road kill. No word yet as to the condition of the car.