By Tom Cross –
For the second year in a row Ohio’s youth deer gun season, Nov. 18-19, was hit with wind and pounding rain that would have discouraged all but the most fervently committed parent and young hunter. Still those who braved the elements in Adams County managed to bag a total of 106 deer. That is down from last year’s youth harvest of 139 deer. The special youth deer season is open to young hunters 17 years old and younger accompanied by a non-hunting adult. Statewide the youth season resulted in a total of 4,958 deer being tagged, down nearly a thousand from last years take of 5,930. Past records indicate young hunters usually tagged between 6,500 to 7,000 deer during the weekend of the youth hunt.
Locally Brown County had 60 deer taken during the youth season, Highland County 97, Pike County 59, and Scioto County had 70 deer taken.
For as far back as I can remember Ohio youth season has been subject to the usual norms of weather patterns of late November. Cold, wind, or rain could be counted on for most of that weekend prior to Thanksgiving. Our neighbor to the south, Kentucky, also has a youth season but had the better sense the set their season during mid-October when milder weather conditions could usually be counted on.
Some years ago an attempt was made by the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) to move youth season to mid-October but was met with a good bit of opposition and move was nixed. There are also concerns about youth season being held during the peak of the rut and just prior to the regular gun season opener and how it affects that. There has always been an unproven assumption of how many of the big bucks were taken by juniors versus taken by the parent or guardian. According to some off-hand info I received from DOW, participation in the deer youth season has declined. Perhaps this latest weather-related youth season numbers will cause the DOW to take another look at the timing of the season.
Ohio deer gun season opened Monday and to much better weather. I expect the deer take to be substantial on opening day. Although deer numbers are said to be up across the state, the total deer harvest to date (Nov. 21) is down over seven percent from last year at this time. Ohio bow and youth hunters have taken 67,291 deer in 2017 this far into the season. Last year’s 2016 harvest prior to gun season was 72,483. Archery hunters in Adams County have bagged 1,235 deer as of Nov. 21, very similar to the 2016 Adams County archery harvest which stood at 1,311.
I’ll have a complete wrap-up of the deer numbers at the end of gun season. Be safe out there this week.