Ohio deer hunters who thought they sensed less activity than expected in the woodlands and fields last week during the week-long deer-gun hunting season may have been right.
The preliminary check-station totals for the deer kill during the week were sizable, 125,681, up 8.34 percent statewide over 2003. But that is below the one-week record of 133,000-plus in 2002 and well below the forecast 2004 gun-week bag of 140,000 to 145,000.
With the exception of one stormy, windy day, Wednesday, hunting weather during the season was favorable. Deer totals varied widely from county to county since 2003, with some county bags down 20 to 30 percent and yet other county bags up by similar margins.
Wildlife District 4's 19 deer-rich counties accounted for 54,525 deer, or 43 percent of the statewide total.
The lower-than-expected bag may bode well for a lot of activity during the remainder of the statewide archery season, which continues through Jan. 31, and during the statewide muzzleloader or black-powder rifle season Dec. 27 through 30.
The latter often is regarded as a makeup season for hunters who may not have taken deer in the shotgun season. A bag of about 32,000 deer is forecast for the black-powder season, but the figure could be higher with very favorable weather and the makeup factor.
When combined, the gun season plus the first six weeks of archery season and the weekend-long youth deer season account for 173,320 deer taken, compared to 157,453 at the same time in 2003, the Ohio Division of Wildlife said in announcing the preliminary gun totals.
By comparison, Ohio's first modern deer-gun season was in 1943 in three counties and 168 deer were taken. In 1956, deer hunting was allowed in all 88 counties and hunters took 3,911 deer in a week.
The 2004 season was comparatively safe, with one shooting fatality and 11 nonfatal shooting injuries, three of them self-inflicted. While wildlife authorities always stress that one shooting death or even one shooting accident is one too many, the accident rate nonetheless is very low given 400,000 hunters afield.
None of the shootings occurred in northwest Ohio's 20-county Wildlife District 2.
Thirteen counties reached 3,000 or more deer taken. The totals, followed by the corresponding 2003 figure, are:
Tuscarawas 5,103/4,193; Coshocton 4,424/3,811; Washington 4,221/3,715; Guernsey 3,957/3,835; Muskingum 3,883/3,726; Athens 3,868/3,513; Harrison 3,742/3,637; Licking 3,627/3,414; Jefferson 3,460/2,809; Meigs 3,288/2,789; Holmes 3,148/2,745; Belmont 3,077/2,451; Knox 3,062/2,239.
All five of the state's regional wildlife districts registered increases. District 1, central Ohio, was up 14.12 percent; District 2, northwest Ohio, up 7.91 percent; District 3, northeast Ohio, up 6.58 percent; District 4, southeast Ohio, up 8.11 percent, and District 5, southwest Ohio, up 7.18 percent.
The totals by county for northwest Ohio/Wildlife District 2, followed by 2003 totals, are:
Allen 435/459; Crawford 893/894; Defiance 752/456; Erie 270/270; Fulton 325/321; Hancock 370/400; Hardin 701/590; Henry 239/206; Huron 1,303/1,353; Lucas 318/373; Ottawa 110/149; Paulding 570/553; Putnam 524/415; Richland, 1,089/1,453; Sandusky 261/267; Seneca 1,004/685; Van Wert 210/123; Williams 1,152/917; Wood 405/285; Wyandot 815/716.
The first of three winter fur sales by the Northwestern Ohio Fur Traders Inc. is set for Saturday at the Junior Fair Building, Wood County Fairgrounds, West Poe Road, Bowling Green. Doors open at 7 a.m. and sales begin at 9 a.m. For details call Keith Madaras, 419-287-4920, or Sam Dewyer, 419-352-0171.
Today through Thursday -Toledo Trap and Skeet Club, 2 to 9 p.m. daily, 3150 State Rt. 295, Berkey; 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 - North Branch Boys Fly Fishing Club, supper 6:30 p.m., Toledo Sailing Club at Walbridge Park, followed by program of fly-tying demonstrations by Ron Dilbone, Chris Helm, Matt Honan, Dick Walle, Glenn Weisner; call Art Raker, 419-661-1777.
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.