COLUMBUS — The final figures for the 2016-17 Ohio white-tailed deer hunting season reflects a trend that has been surging across the state, the Great Lakes region, and the United States as a whole.
This is no secret — archery hunting is growing in popularity — and in this most recent hunting season, which closed Feb. 5, archery hunters harvested almost half of all the white-tailed deer that were taken in the Buckeye State.
Figures from the Ohio Division of Wildlife showed that 182,169 deer were checked by hunters in the state from the start of the more than four-month archery season Sept. 24 to its close. That figure includes the archery total, plus deer taken in special youth hunts, the four days of muzzleloader hunting in early January, and the week plus two bonus days of firearms hunting in November and December.
With 83,321 deer taken by archery methods — 40,705 antlered deer and 42,616 antlerless deer — that amounts to about 46 percent of the total harvest. Just 10 years ago, in the 2006-07 seasons, archery hunters took 67,612 deer out of the total harvest of 237,316 from all of the specific seasons. That was just 28 percent of the total harvest.
“Archery just continues to pick up more hunters, with more and more gun hunters coming over and taking up archery,” said Rock Vetell, owner of Rock Solid Archery in Haskins. “Archery just gives you so many more days in the woods, and hunters are taking advantage of that.”
Those total harvest numbers for Ohio for the 2016-17 season broke down as 75,626 antlered deer and 106,543 antlerless. That 182,169 total deer harvest reflected a slight drop from the previous year, since 188,329 deer were checked in during the 2015-16 season.
Michigan’s harvest numbers are not available until later in the spring, but Chad Stewart, the Deer, Elk, and Moose Management Specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said preliminary observations from the state’s field check stations indicate the harvest likely was down about 7 percent from the 335,000 deer harvested in the previous year.
Locally, archery hunters in Lucas County took 192 antlered deer and 393 antlerless in the recent 2016-17 season, which accounted for 585 of the 755 deer that made up the total harvest in the county for all of the specific seasons.
In Wood County, archery hunters took 466 deer of the total harvest of 857. That total harvest was made up of 430 antlered deer and 427 antlerless.
Fulton County hunters took 826 deer overall, with 356 of those harvested by archery. There were 345 antlered deer in that total harvest, and 481 antlerless.
Hunters in Ottawa County harvested 450 deer overall, with 261 of those whitetails taken by archery methods. There were 178 antlered deer in the total harvest in the county, and 272 antlerless.
Henry County saw archery hunters take 262 deer throughout all of the specific seasons, with 312 antlered deer and 396 antlerless making up the total harvest for all seasons of 708 whitetails.
Here’s a breakdown of the harvest in other Northwest Ohio counties: Defiance — 626 by archery from the 1,675 total harvest; Erie — 424 by archery from the 868 total harvest; Hancock — 574 by archery from the 1,179 total harvest; Paulding — 373 by archery from the 954 total harvest; Sandusky — 487 by archery from the 862 total harvest; Seneca — 722 by archery from the total harvest.
Vetell said he saw a buck that should score around 165 inches brought into his shop, and a couple other trophy-class bucks that were harvested in the area, but he thinks most of the bigger bucks were taken by hunters in the southern part of the state.
“I can’t speak for everyone, but overall it seems that there were just not as many trophy bucks checked around here this season,” Vetell said. “A few lucky guys got some, but it wasn’t a banner year in general. People just aren’t seeing the big deer and the numbers of deer that they have in the past.”
The ODNR Division of Wildlife’s official position on deer management states a goal of providing a deer population “that maximizes recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists.”
State biologists and wildlife officials draft deer hunting regulations “to allow for moderate herd growth throughout most of the state” which they say is achieved by reducing harvest and protecting female deer.
The Ohio Wildlife Council is reviewing proposals for 2017-18 deer hunting that call for the archery, youth, gun and muzzleloader seasons with dates and lengths similar to those of the recently concluded season. They are also looking at a proposal to reduce the bag limit in Allen, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Putnam and Williams counties from three deer per county to two per county, which biologists said was “designed to encourage herd growth in these counties.”
METROPARKS CULLS COMPLETED: The removal of 50 white-tailed deer from Swan Creek Preserve Metropark was completed in the early hours Tuesday. The cull, conducted by sharpshooters from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and approved by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, took just a few hours. Sharpshooters removed 150 deer from Oak Openings Preserve Metropark on three nights in January and early February. The removal of the 200 deer was deemed necessary by biologists to reduce the ecological damage in those protected areas closely associated with an overabundance of deer in the parks. The terms of the culling permit allowed for up to 25 percent of the removed animals to be antlered deer, but only 6 percent of the 200 culled animals were antlered. The culled deer are being processed locally, and the venison will be donated to area food pantries.
Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6068.
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