Times Bulletin Staff Report

VAN WERT - The 2012 deer-gun season continues through Sunday in Ohio. If the harvest during the whole week has continued the way the opening day of the season, this promises to be a successful year for area hunters.
According to statistics released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, the total of deer checked in on Monday was 24.1 percent higher than opening day of 2011. This year, 29,297 white-tailed deer were taken by hunters on the first day of the season compared with 23,600 one year ago. Weather may have played a factor in that rise, as much of the state saw rainy and cold conditions during opening day last year.

Locally, the number of check-ins in Van Wert County was 76 on Monday, up from 45 last year. That same trend was seen all across the region. In Mercer County, 100 deer were taken this year compared to 51 last year, while Paulding County hunters harvested 191 deer in this year, up from 128 in 2011. Other totals this year included Allen County with 122 (up from 67), Auglaize County with 107 (up from 50), and Putnam County with 108 (up from 46).

Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer checked in 2012: Coshocton (1,199), Muskingum (1,102), Tuscarawas (1,091), Guernsey (858), Harrison (845), Knox (830), Ashtabula (816), Licking (805), Carroll (776) and Washington (747). The top three counties were unchanged from 2011.

The deer-gun season will remain open through this Sunday, and it will reopen for an additional two days, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15-16. Approximately 420,000 hunters are expected to participate in this year's season, including many out-of-state hunters.

The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in Ohio, frequently pursued by generations of hunters. Ohio ranks eighth nationally in annual hunting-related sales and 10th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting has an $859 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more.

Hunters are encouraged to donate any extra venison to organizations assisting Ohioans in need. ODNR Division of Wildlife is collaborating with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) to help pay for the processing of donated venison. Hunters who donate deer are not required to pay the processing cost as long as the deer are taken to a participating processor. To see which counties are involved in this program, go to fhfh.org.