Ohio’s annual deer gun hunting week concluded yesterday and it got underway with 21,754 deer checked on Monday, Nov. 29, the opening day of the season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. During the past three years, hunters took an average of 13,349 deer on opening day.
Ohio’s weather for this year’s opening day was perfect for deer hunting: mostly to partly sunny and cool temperatures. In 2020, during a snowy and rainy gun opener, hunters bagged 10,905 deer. In fact, the entire week was near perfect weather for chasing deer.
The top 10 counties for deer harvest on the opening day of Ohio’s gun season include: Coshocton (850), Tuscarawas (729), Ashtabula (725), Knox (679), Muskingum (677), Holmes (650), Guernsey (642), Carroll (607), Licking (572), and Ashland (504). In 2020, Coshocton County also led the state on opening day with 356 deer taken. Locally, Morrow county had 217 deer checked in on the opener and Crawford county checked in 191 with Richland county checking in 414. All three counties were significantly higher compared to last year.
Ohio archery hunters have taken 79,538 deer through Monday, Nov. 29. Plus, Ohio’s young hunters checked 7,634 deer during the 2021 youth gun season, Nov. 20-21.
Ohio deer hunting has come a long way from the first gun hunting season in 1943, when 168 deer were taken. Because Ohio is known as a quality deer hunting state, many out-of-state hunters travel here during the season. The top five states for purchasing a nonresident hunting license in Ohio include: Pennsylvania (6,994 licenses sold), Michigan (4,801), West Virginia (3,595), North Carolina (3,050), and New York (3,009). Deer hunting participation remains high for all hunters, with 339,991 deer hunting permits sold or issued through Sunday, Nov. 28.
Ohio offers many more opportunities for hunters to pursue deer. The gun season opens again on Dec. 18-19. Deer muzzleloader season is Saturday, Jan. 8, through Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. Bowhunting is open until Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022. Find complete details in the 2021-22 Ohio hunting regulations.
• Ohio hunters checked 694 wild turkeys during the 2021 fall hunting season, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. The 2021 fall season was open in 70 counties from Saturday, Oct. 9 to Sunday, Nov. 28.
The top 10 counties for wild turkeys taken during the fall 2021 hunting season include: Highland (29), Trumbull (29), Columbiana (27), Ashtabula (25), Stark (25), Coshocton (22), Tuscarawas (21), Guernsey (20), Clermont (19), and Knox (18).
The average harvest for the previous three fall seasons (2018, 2019, and 2020) is 1,079. In 2020, hunters took 1,063 birds. The Division of Wildlife issued 7,470 fall turkey hunting permits in 2021. This is 21% below the 3-year average (9,428 permits).
• Waterfowl hunters continue to struggle as there are very few birds migrating through the state as of this writing. Although the weather hasn’t been extreme yet, the local waters are now cold enough that it won’t take much to start freezing them up. Clear Fork Reservoir was trying to make ice around my decoys this past Saturday.
Hopefully, when the waters north of us start to freeze up, it will push some birds our way, but I am starting to be concerned about the overall duck population numbers. We just haven’t been seeing the number of birds we should be seeing the last four or five years. The southern zone of Ohio opens up on December 11 and stays open until the end of January. Hopefully, they will be able to take better advantage of a migration than what the northern half of the state has been able to.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!