Ohio deer hunters, afield under ideal conditions that included snow much of last week, took 133,163 deer during the week-long annual gun-deer season that ended Sunday, the Ohio Division of Wildlife said yesterday.
The bag is a substantial 33.7 percent higher than the 99,599 of a year ago and is more than 20 percent higher than the forecast bag of about 110,000.
“This year's gun-deer season began and ended with ideal weather,” summed Mike Budzik, chief of the wildlife division. “The three-deer bag limit in much of east and southeast Ohio provided additional opportunities for Ohio's hunters and the elimination of Sunday hunting restrictions [earlier this year] gave hunters an extra day afield.”
Wildlife authorities recorded 11 shooting accidents, one of them fatal, and they were investigating a 12th possible accident, involving a 39-year-old woman in Jackson County last Thursday. Northwest Ohio recorded only one shooting, involving a 23-year-old man in Williams County on Sunday, the last day of the season.
A detailed accident account appears in the regional and local news pages today. By comparison, a year ago there were seven shooting accidents, including a fatality, and in 2000 there were 11, with a fatality.
Up to 450,000 hunters were afield, taking advantage of tracking snows early in the week in northern Ohio and later in the week in southern Ohio. Another contributing factor was the fact that the statewide herd was estimated to be at record numbers.
A statewide primitive weapons season, dominated by users of muzzleloading rifles, is set for Dec. 27-Dec. 30. In the comparable season in 2001, hunters took a record 22,513 deer.
The archery hunting season continues through Jan. 31. In the first six weeks of the season, which began in October, bowhunters took 36,073 deer. A year ago archers took 32,546 deer the first six weeks and 41,526 overall.
In short, last week's hunt set the stage for a record all-seasons deer bag for 2002-2003, possibly exceeding 200,000 animals for the first time.
The current all-seasons record of 179,543 was set in 1995 during an experimental two-week gun season. A total of 115,063 deer were taken the first week and 137,811 during both weeks, not counting the totals from that year's archery and primitive weapons hunts.
The top five counties statewide in the Dec. 2-8 gun season, with corresponding 2001 figures in parentheses, include: Tuscarawas 5,056 (3,423); Washington, 4,869 (3,377); Guernsey 4,844 (3,383); Athens 4,697 (3,667), and Coshocton 4,484 (3,229).
Two other counties also exceeded the 4,000-deer plateau, Muskingum, 4,366 (3,614), and Licking 4,095 (2,890).
The 20-county Wildlife District 2, which includes all of northwest Ohio, turned in a preliminary bag of 10,223, up nearly 29 percent over 2001. The totals include:
Allen 594 (451); Crawford 661 (505); Defiance 487 (344); Erie 248 (167); Fulton 308 (312); Hancock 422 (210); Hardin 566 (432); Henry 197 (149); Huron 1,095 (904); Lucas 382 (286); Ottawa 129 (94); Paulding 460 (461); Putnam 378 (252); Richland 1,440 (961); Sandusky 272 (184); Seneca 735 (594); Van Wert 95 (88); Williams 851 (795); Wood 228 (181), and Wyandot, 677 (558).
Van Tea, a District 2 spokesman, said that overall in northwest Ohio he noticed less of the unacceptable “road hunting” by vehicle and gang hunting. “Most of the people were in the woods doing it the way it's supposed to be done.”
Today through Thursday - Public trap, skeet, 5-Stand Sporting Clays, and indoor pistol shooting, 2 to 9 p.m., Toledo Trap & Skeet Club, 3150 State Rt. 295, Berkey; repeats Friday noon to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; call the club, 419-829-5101.
Tonight - Public trapshoot, 6 to 10 p.m., Dundee Sportsmen's Club, 2300 Plank Rd., Dundee, Mich., repeats Thursday 9 a.m. to noon and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.; also, Saturday, euchre, 7:30 p.m.; call the club 734-529-3581.
Tonight - Public trap and skeet shooting, 6 to 11 p.m., Camp Perry Shooting Club, Camp Perry, State Rt. 2 west of Port Clinton, repeats Thursday 6 to 11 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.; call the club, 419-635-2682.
Tomorrow - Public trapshoot, 6 p.m., Elmore Conservation Club, Portage River Road South, just west of State Rt. 590; call Richard Gremling, 419-729-9518.
Tomorrow - North Branch Boys Fly Fishing Club, annual holiday meeting, dinner 6:30 p.m., program 7:30 p.m. on fly tying; at Toledo Sailing Club, Walbridge Park; call Jerry Szelagowski, 419-837-5325.
Thursday - Trap and skeet shooting, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monroe Rod and Gun Club, 6280 Lighthouse Rd., Monroe, Mich.; call Jim Warren, 734-243-9774.
Thursday - Trapshoot, 6 p.m., Sandusky County Sportsmen's Club, State Rt. 600 east of Gibsonburg.
Thursday - Public trapshoot, 6 to 9 p.m., Ottawa County Conservation League, Martin-Moline Road, Martin; call Bob Reinbolt, 419-855-8409.
Thursday - Public trapshoot, 7 to 10 p.m. Progressive Fishing Association, 8050 Schadel Rd., Whitehouse; call Mike Adcock, 419-897-8446.