Deer archery season has finally arrived. Although the first few days of the season came record temperatures, it has at least cooled down enough to feel a little like hunting weather. Once that cold weather arrived, the deer movement certainly seemed to pick up.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, the white-tailed deer is the most sought-after game animal in Ohio. Approximately 370,000 people hunted deer in the state last year.
“Ohio’s deer hunters should expect a banner season this year,” said Kendra Wecker, Chief of the Division of Wildlife. “The public land harvest last year strongly suggests that the regulations imposed in 2018-19 protected a large portion of the antlerless population which will yield more deer on our public lands this fall. Although designed to reduce doe and button buck harvest, it appears that antlered deer may have also benefited. We’re looking for great opportunities on our public lands this fall!”
Last year, 46% of the total deer harvest (79,098) was from archery hunters. For the sixth year in a row, more deer were taken during archery season than the week of gun season. By comparison, just 15 years ago the archery harvest accounted for 25% of the annual harvest. During the 2018-2019 deer season 172,049 deer were reported harvested by hunters including 74,517 bucks, 80,763 does, and 16,769 button bucks.
The 10 counties with the highest deer harvest last year were: Coshocton, Tuscarawas, Ashtabula, Muskingum, Licking, Guernsey, Knox, Holmes, Carroll, and Trumbull.
During the 2018-2019 season, landowners reported harvesting 47,961 deer, almost 28% of the total harvest. The proportion of the harvest taken by landowners has increased substantially from 1995 (19%) and has remained between 26-28% of the total harvest since 2005.
Hunters are reminded that only one antlerless deer may be taken from Ohio’s public hunting areas per license year. In addition, from Dec. 9 through Feb. 2, 2020, no antlerless deer may be taken from public hunting areas in Ohio, excluding controlled hunts. A list of public hunting areas can be found at wildohio.gov.
In Ohio, hunters may only take one antlered deer regardless of location or method of take. Deer bag limits are determined by county, and hunters cannot exceed a county bag limit. Deer hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes past sunset for all deer seasons. Additional details and requirements for deer hunting are contained in the 2019-2020 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations booklet, available where licenses are sold or at wildohio.gov.
Ohio’s 2019-2020 deer seasons include: Archery: Sept. 28, 2019 – Feb. 2, 2020, Youth gun: Nov. 23-24, 2019, Gun: Dec. 2-8, 2019, and Dec. 21-22, 2019, and Muzzleloader: Jan. 4-7, 2020.
The 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.
• Six non-resident anglers were recently convicted of over-bagging on Lake Erie walleye and sentenced in Ashtabula Municipal Court according to the Division of Wildlife.
A surveillance operation coordinated by the Division of Wildlife in July revealed suspicious activity involving walleye fishing in Lake Erie’s central basin. State wildlife officers uncovered “double-tripping” activity as well as fish being passed from one boat to another on the water. According to the investigation, the anglers would catch their daily bag limits of walleye and then return to the lake the same day and unlawfully catch a second limit of walleye. The anglers also used different boat ramps every day to prevent detection by officers. Six individuals visiting from out-of-state were arrested and charged with catching a combined 99 walleye over their legal daily limits.
All six individuals were found guilty on all charges. A judge fined the defendants, ordered them to pay restitution for 99 walleye, and revoked their Ohio fishing licenses for three years (with the potential to shorten the revocation if all fines, costs, and restitution are paid). The defendants will also be entered into the Interstate Wildlife Violator’s Compact and could lose fishing rights in 46 other states.
All fish from the case were forfeited to the state and will be donated to charitable causes. Each angler was charged and convicted on three counts of exceeding the daily bag limit for Lake Erie walleye: Total fines and court costs: $4,410.00, Total Restitution: $4,950.00, Grand total: $9,360.00
The Division of Wildlife encourages anyone who is aware of a possible violation of wildlife laws to call or text the Turn In a Poacher line at 1-800-POACHER or to submit information online at wildohio.gov. All information received by the TIP program will remain confidential.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.