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Published: 2/12/2013

Area counties see increase in deer harvest

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR

When Ohio’s lengthy archery season that spans about four months ended just over a week ago, that closed the books on deer hunting until next fall. It was time to check the ledger, get out the calculator, and do the math.

Hunters utilized the archery, muzzleloader, and statewide gun seasons, along with special youth hunts and area hunts, to harvest 218,910 white-tailed deer in the 2012-13 period. In the previous season, hunters harvested just slightly more deer — 219,748.

There were an estimated 500,000 hunters that took part in Ohio’s deer seasons, and they utilized several options to report their harvest to the state. About 40 percent of the successful hunters went online to report their success, while 44 percent opted to phone in their harvest information, and 16 percent went to a license agent to fulfill the game check reporting requirement.

The leading counties in the 2012-13 deer harvest are a familiar group, clustered in the east-central hill country or on the Pennsylvania border.

The most whitetails were harvested in Coshocton (7,413), Licking (6,928), Tuscarawas (6,813), Muskingum (6,457), Guernsey (6,151), Harrison (5,365), Knox (5,288), Ashtabula (4,974), Carroll (4,825), and Belmont (4,731) counties. The seven top-producing counties remained unchanged from the 2011-12 season.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources director James Zehringer looked at the numbers and touted Ohio’s ability to “provide some of the best outdoor recreational opportunities in the country.

“Ohio has become one of the nation’s top destinations for hunting white-tailed deer,” he said.

In northwest Ohio, the harvest numbers were up in most counties: Crawford: 1,236 (1,110 in previous season), Defiance: 1,911 (1,757), Erie: 719 (689), Fulton: 980 (846), Hancock: 1,338 (1,189), Hardin: 1,306 (1,145), Henry: 750 (723), Lucas: 677 (707), Ottawa: 379 (416), Paulding: 1,194 (1,127), Putnam: 786 (733), Sandusky: 794 (766), Seneca: 1,923 (1,609), Van Wert: 638 (646), Williams: 2,096 (2,099), Wood: 863 (705), and Wyandot: 1,670 (1,540).

Ohio has had a deer-gun season since 1943, when it took place in just three counties. By 1956, the deer hunting season took place in all 88 Ohio counties.

White-tailed deer are Ohio’s most popular game animal, with the Buckeye State ranking eighth in the country in annual hunting-related sales. Through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, and lodging, hunting’s economic impact in Ohio is estimated at $859 million annually.

THE 2013-14 SEASON: As one season ends, the focus quickly turns to the 2013-2014 hunting calendar. The ODNR will seek public comment on its proposed hunting season dates, bag limits and rule changes during a series of open houses at its Division of Wildlife district offices on March 2 from 12-3 p.m. For persons in northwest Ohio interested in taking part, the nearest session will be at the Wildlife District Two office at 952 Lima Ave. in Findlay.

A statewide review of proposed rules will take place on March 7 at 9 a.m. at the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s District One office at 1500 Dublin Road in Columbus 43215. That hearing is also open to the public and an opportunity for citizens to offer comments on the proposed rules.

After reviewing proposals from the Ohio Wildlife Council, the state is considering an October antlerless-only white-tailed deer muzzleloader hunting season, extended hunting hours and new bag limits. Under the suggested guidelines, hunting hours in all deer firearms seasons would be extended to 30 minutes past sunset.

Limits set by deer zones would be replaced by county bag limits of two, three or four deer, depending on the county. A proposed statewide bag limit of nine deer in being looked at, a reduction from last season’s 18 deer limit. Additional controlled hunt opportunities would not apply towards the statewide bag limit.

Under the county limit system, hunters in Erie, Hancock, Ottawa, Sandusky, and Wood counties in northwest Ohio would be limited to one either-sex permit and one antlerless permit. Henry and Van Wert counties would offer three either-sex permits and one antlerless permit to hunters.

Lucas, Crawford, Defiance, Fulton, Hardin, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca, Williams, and Wyandot counties would fall in the group with a limit of three either-sex permits and one antlerless permit.

The state is also considering making antlerless permits valid only until the Sunday before the deer-gun season, and eliminating the urban deer zones. The rules would continue to limit hunters to harvesting only one buck in Ohio, regardless of location or the method.

For the proposed dates for the 2013-14 deer season, go to The Blade Outdoors Blog: http://toledoblade.typepad.com/bladeoutdoors/.

MICHIGAN LICENSE FEES: As part of his 2013-14 budget, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed an increase in the fees charged for some hunting and fishing licenses. Snyder said the additional funds from the higher fees would allow the state to hire more wildlife officers and make improvements in habitat.

Most of the fee hikes would be felt by nonresident hunters and anglers. The proposed new basic hunting license would cost Michigan residents just $10, while nonresidents would pay $150 for the same license, good for migratory birds, waterfowl, and small game. Additional permits would still be required to hunt deer, bear, and wild turkeys.

An all-species resident fishing license would be reduced in cost from $28 to $25, while nonresidents would see their fishing license fee jump from $42 to $75.

State officials expect the license fee hikes to boost income from the sale of licenses nearly 40 percent, from $48.2 million to $66.6 million.

Snyder is also asking that the funding the Michigan Department of Natural Resources receives from the state be increased to $24.6 million in 2014, from the $17.6 million this year. The proposal calls for the state to apply the additional funds toward hiring more conservation officers, increasing the ranks from the current level of 173 to 214.

Contact Blade outdoors editor

Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.



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