Ohio’s deer gun harvest close to past years


Ohio’s weeklong white-tailed deer gun hunting season concluded on Sunday, Dec. 3, with hunters taking 70,118 deer, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. Last year, hunters took 71,931 deer during the gun week. The three-year average for deer harvest during the seven-day gun season is 71,322. An additional weekend of deer gun hunting will happen on Dec. 16-17.

During the deer gun week, hunters checked 25,044 antlered deer (36% of the harvest) and 45,074 antlerless deer (64%), a category which includes does and button bucks.

The top 10 counties for deer taken during the week of gun season were: Coshocton (2,441), Tuscarawas (2,260), Ashtabula (2,189), Muskingum (2,076), Knox (1,880), Carroll (1,864), Guernsey (1,798), Washington (1,582), Licking (1,570), and Harrison (1,533). Coshocton County also led the state in 2022 with 2,457 deer checked.

Straight-walled cartridge rifles have become more popular since becoming legal for deer gun hunting in 2014. This year, straight-walled cartridge rifles were used to harvest 60% of the deer checked during the seven-day gun season. Shotguns accounted for 34% of the total. In addition, 4% were taken with a muzzleloader, 1% with archery equipment, and 1% with a handgun.

This year, 389,181 deer permits have been issued through Sunday, Dec. 3. Nonresidents have purchased 37,543 hunting licenses, many of them to enjoy Ohio’s terrific deer hunting opportunities. The most popular states that hunters traveled to Ohio from include Pennsylvania (7,078 nonresident licenses), Michigan (4,733), West Virginia (3,560), North Carolina (3,105), and New York (2,852).

In the 2023 deer season, archery and firearms hunters have taken a total of 167,732 deer through Sunday, Dec. 3. Hunters have another opportunity to harvest a deer with a firearm during the bonus gun weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16-17. The muzzleloader season is Jan. 6-9, 2024. The archery season remains open through Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. Find more details in the 2023-24 Hunting and Trapping Regulations.

Last year, hunters generated $1.9 billion in economic spending in Ohio, according to a recent report released by the Wildlife Management Institute, Responsive Management, and Southwick Associates. The research found that 5% of Ohio’s adults, about 500,000 individuals, participate in hunting, with 91% of those hunters taking part in deer hunting.

• A recently released report from the Wildlife Management Institute, Responsive Management, and Southwick Associates showed that wildlife-based recreation contributed nearly $12.5 billion to Ohio’s economy in 2022, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.

Collectively, the four study activities provided nearly 80,000 jobs in Ohio and $4 billion in income, plus $1.1 billion in local and state taxes, as well as more than $600 million in federal taxes. The activities contributed a total of $6.7 billion to Ohio’s GDP in 2022. Of the $12.5 billion of economic activity created through these activities, residents contributed $12 billion.

According to the survey, about 18% of Ohio’s adults fished in 2022, a legion of 1.7 million anglers. Ohio’s anglers combined to spend $5.5 billion last year and supported more than 34,000 jobs. Not surprisingly, the most popular counties for anglers were those along Lake Erie and the Ohio River, and 37% of anglers took at least one trip to Lake Erie to fish.

Hunters generated $1.9 billion in spending last year and supported 12,000 jobs. Each of the state’s 500,000 hunters spent an average of $3,500. Approximately 5% of Ohioans older than 18 hunt. White-tailed deer were the most popular game species, with 91% of hunters taking part. Firearms were used by 83% of hunters, a bow by 72%, and many used both.

Meanwhile, 1.1 million target shooters spent $2.6 billion in 2022, supporting more than 22,000 jobs. Around 20% of Ohioans participate in target shooting each year. Outdoor shooting ranges were used by 71% of target shooters, and indoor ranges by 46%. Interestingly, 40% of target shooters visited the range for reasons other than preparing to hunt. Hamilton, Franklin, and Cuyahoga counties – Ohio’s most populous counties – were among the most popular for target shooters, as were Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

Wildlife viewers poured $1.6 billion into Ohio’s economy last year and supported 11,500 jobs. Most (91%) of the 4.1 million viewers looked for birds. Mammals, insects, reptiles, and amphibians were also sought out. Wildlife viewers, a group that included photographers, were likely to stay near home, with a third of participants traveling fewer than 10 miles to enjoy their hobby. A third of wildlife viewers also relied exclusively on public land, emphasizing the importance of making these recreation areas accessible.

• The walleye fishing at Lake Erie continues to be very strong. If you don’t mind bundling up in layers for the cold chill, there are still charters that you can hire to take you out. Many fishermen are also having success at night fishing from the shore as the walleye come in to feed on the shad. Slowly retrieving stick shaped crankbaits is the best method. The lake water temperature is currently in the low forties, so you really have to slow down your retrieve speed. Most anglers are having the best success trolling the crankbaits.

Since the weather has been generally too warm for productive duck hunting, I have been fishing a lot more this fall and just last weekend I caught my biggest walleye of the year. December walleye fishing can be the best time of the year to catch a monster walleye as they feed constantly to prepare for winter and to produce their eggs for spawning in March. Bundle up in layers and wear that life jacket if you venture out.

Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!

Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.

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