Ohio’s 2021-22 deer hunting season concluded Sunday, Feb. 6, with 196,988 deer checked, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. Ohio’s average harvest compiled from the past three seasons is 184,746 deer.
The final totals represent all deer harvested during archery, gun, muzzleloader, and youth hunting seasons that began on Sept. 25, 2021. Since September, hunters harvested 96,209 deer with archery equipment, while 79,805 deer were taken with firearms during the 2021 weeklong and two-day gun seasons. In addition, 12,141 deer were harvested with muzzleloaders in January 2022. Youth hunters found success during the November 2021 youth season with 7,634 deer checked. The statewide harvest in 2020-21 was 197,721.
The top 10 counties for deer harvested during the 2021-22 deer season include: Coshocton (7,144), Tuscarawas (6,303), Muskingum (5,331), Knox (5,290), Licking (5,244), Ashtabula (5,193), Guernsey (5,104), Holmes (4,905), Carroll (4,197), and Trumbull (3,994).
Deer hunting occurs in all 88 counties, and Ohio hunters purchased 396,370 permits across all hunting seasons. The popularity of hunting with archery equipment continues to grow, with 49% of deer taken during the 2021-22 archery season, including 35% using a crossbow and 14% using a vertical bow. Gun harvest contributed 51% of the final tally. This includes 19% with shotguns, 23% with straight-walled cartridge rifles, 9% with muzzleloaders, and less than 1% with handguns.
Across all deer seasons, hunters harvested 85,580 bucks, accounting for 43% of the total. Does represented 46% of the total with 89,858 taken, while 18,161 button bucks were taken, for 9%. Bucks with shed antlers and bucks with antlers less than 3 inches long accounted for 3,389 deer, or 2%.
Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting generates more than $853 million in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging, and more, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundations’ Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation publication.
• The Ohio Wildlife Council received proposals for the 2022-23 white-tailed deer hunting season from the ODNR Division of Wildlife. If approved, deer hunting bag limits will increase in 18 counties in September 2022.
The 2022-23 deer hunting dates are similar to last season. As in years past, only one antlered deer may be harvested, regardless of where or how it is taken, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit. The proposed deer hunting season dates for 2022-23 include: Deer archery: Sept. 24-Feb. 5. Youth deer gun: Nov. 19-20. Deer gun: Nov. 28-Dec. 4; Dec. 17-18. Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 7-10. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
Deer bag limit increases are designed to slow herd growth and provide additional hunting opportunities. Deer bag limits were proposed to be increased in 18 counties. Three counties are proposed to increase to two deer (from one deer): Clinton, Fayette, and Pickaway. Fifteen counties are proposed to increase to three deer (from two deer): Allen, Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Mercer, Miami, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Preble, Putnam, Shelby, Van Wert, and Washington.
The proposals also included separate deer hunting regulations in an expanded Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance area in Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties. A disease surveillance area was established following the discovery in 2020 of two CWD-positive deer in Wyandot County. Further testing revealed eight more CWD-positive deer in 2021. The Division of Wildlife has proposed additional measures to increase the deer harvest, decrease the possibility of disease transmission, and limit the spread of CWD in Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties. CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer and other similar species.
Proposed deer seasons in the disease surveillance area include a longer archery season that opens Sept. 1, and an early gun season during three days in early October. Further, public land deer hunting restrictions are proposed to be removed at Big Island, Andreoff, and Wyandot wildlife areas. Public land restrictions were previously removed at Killdeer Plains and Lake La Su An wildlife areas.
Ohio’s wild turkey hunting seasons for 2023 were also proposed to the Ohio Wildlife Council on Wednesday night. These proposed dates maintain a 30-day spring turkey season in the south zone and northeast zone, with opening days on Saturdays.
The proposed 2023 spring turkey dates: Youth season: April 15-16, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. South zone: April 22-April 30, 30 minutes before sunrise to noon. May 1-21, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. Northeast zone: April 29-May 7, 30 minutes before sunrise to noon. May 8-28, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
The fall 2022 wild turkey season was proposed to be reduced by three weeks during the January meeting of the Ohio Wildlife Council. The proposed dates are Oct. 15-Nov. 13.
It was proposed to remove the requirement that a crossbow have traverse limbs and a stock that is at least 25 inches long. A shoulder-mount stock will still be required under this proposal. This will update the definition of a crossbow to allow newer designs that are shorter and have differing limb configurations.
It was also proposed to remove the restrictions for carrying a concealed firearm while hunting. Under this proposal, a person may carry and hunt with a legally concealed firearm.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!