DHI Media Staff Report

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VAN WERT — The number of white-tailed deer taken locally during deer-gun hunting this season dropped from last year’s totals. In 2014, a total of 283 deer were taken by area hunters, but in 2015, that number shrunk to 237. Across the state, the trend was reversed with a significant increase in the harvest numbers — 73,300 in 2015 compared to 65,484 in 2014, for the period of Nov. 30-Dec. 6.

To date, for the total 2015 deer hunting seasons, hunters have checked 152,554 deer. Last year at this same time, hunters had harvested a total of 148,821 deer. Given that the year-to-date harvest is only slightly higher, the significant increase in this year’s deer-gun season can most likely be attributed to better weather conditions compared to the 2014 deer-gun season. A smaller contributing element could be the fact that there was not an antlerless muzzle loader season in October this year. This year’s harvest was closer to the 2013 deer-gun season harvest, which also points to last year’s poor weather as the primary factor for the increase.

There are two days remaining in deer-gun season for the year. Those additional days are Monday, December 28, and Tuesday, December 29. The muzzle loader season is Jan. 9-12, 2016, and archery season remains open through Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife remains committed to properly managing Ohio’s deer populations through a combination of regulatory and programmatic changes. The goal of Ohio’s Deer Management Program is to provide a deer population that maximizes recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists.

Until recently, deer populations in nearly all of Ohio’s counties were well above goal. In the last few years, through increased antlerless harvests, most counties are now at or near goal. Therefore, to help stabilize deer populations, bag limits were reduced, and antlerless permit use has been eliminated in most counties for the 2015-2016 season.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife is in the process of revising Ohio’s population goals and is asking hunters that receive the survey to help by completing and returning their survey as soon as possible. Hunters for this year’s survey were randomly selected from the list of hunters who purchased a license and deer permit by Nov. 16. Landowner surveys have already been completed, and hunter surveys were mailed last week. Public input is an important part of Ohio’s deer management program, and survey participants are asked to complete and return their surveys to ensure that hunters have a clear voice in helping to decide the direction of deer management in Ohio.

Across the region, mixed statistics were released Monday by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The harvest was lower in Defiance County at 865 (compared to 871 last year) and Putnam County with 304 (compared to 315 in 2014). Numbers were slightly higher in Allen County 387 compared to last year’s 348, and Mercer County 325 (compared to 206 in 2014).

In Ohio, the county with the largest number of deer checked in was Tuscarawas County with 1,999 animals checked in, compared to 2,074 in last year’s deer-gun season.

According to the ODNR, hunting is the best and most effective management tool for maintaining Ohio’s healthy deer population. Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting has a more than $853 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more, according to the National Shooting Sports’ Foundation Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation.

Find more information about deer hunting in the Ohio 2015-2016 Hunting and Trapping Regulations or at wildohio.gov.