Ohio’s white-tailed deer hunters took advantage of an extra weekend of gun hunting and checked 13,995 deer on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 21-22, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. During the 2018 season, 9,625 deer were taken during the same period. Having near perfect weather for deer hunting helped as well.
“The deer-gun weekend is an additional chance for Buckeye State hunters to put food on their table and spend time outdoors with family and friends,” said Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker. “Ohio continues to be a top destination for deer hunters. As the new year approaches, make a resolution to take someone new with you on your next outdoor adventure.”
Top 10 counties for deer harvest during the 2019 two-day gun season include: Ashtabula (533), Coshocton (434), Tuscarawas (425), Knox (383), Carroll (377), Holmes (370); Licking (362), Trumbull (357), Guernsey (319) and Columbiana (318). All of the area counties were way up
The total harvest during the nine days of the 2019-gun season was 77,488 deer. Hunters harvested 70,377 deer during the nine days of the 2018-gun season. Through Dec. 22, Ohio archery hunters have taken 79,934 deer. Ohio’s youth hunters checked 6,234 white-tailed deer during the 2019 two-day youth gun season, Nov. 23-24. Plus, 63,493 deer were checked by Ohio hunters during the weeklong deer-gun season, Dec. 2-8.
Ohio offers more opportunities for hunters to pursue deer. Deer-muzzleloader season is from Saturday, Jan. 4, to Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. Deer-archery season is open now until Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020.
Approximately 370,000 people hunted deer in Ohio this year, and the Buckeye State is a popular hunting destination for many out-of-state hunters. To date in 2019, more than 34,000 nonresident Ohio hunting licenses have been sold. The top five states for purchasing a nonresident hunting license in Ohio include: Pennsylvania (6,704), Michigan (4,465), West Virginia (3,806), North Carolina (2,908) and New York (2,446).
• It has been a strange roller coaster ride of weather the last few weeks. Right before Christmas, frigid temperatures froze up most of the ponds and lakes in the northern half of Ohio. As soon as that quick freeze passed, we enjoyed a very long stretch of sunny and fifty degree weather, not the most ideal situation for waterfowl hunting. I can’t ever remember not duck hunting over Christmas break, but there just wasn’t much of a point with the weather more conductive for fishing than hunting and it wasn’t worth breaking ice for.
The Lake Erie Marsh Zone and Northern Zone waterfowl seasons have come to an end but there are a few more weeks left in the South Zone and the goose season continues as well. I must admit this year’s duck season was a tad better than the last two years but I still believe the Division of Wildlife is doing the duck hunters in this area a disservice but not having the season open during the the week of Veteran’s Day and most hard core duck hunters will agree with me.
More years than not, we traditionally have a weather movement of either high winds or frigid temperatures during that week of Veteran’s Day in early November that pushes a lot of ducks through northern Ohio as they migrate from Canada to warmer waters to the south. This year was no different as the northern half of the country and Canada had an early frigid blast that pushed a lot of ducks south. However, our Division of Wildlife continues to use that week for the North Zone split and the season isn’t open for a small stretch in northern Ohio. It sure is frustrating to watch year after year a big portion of our migrating ducks pass through the area when we can’t chase them.
• Speaking of fishing weather, the guys who are brave enough to adventure out in the cold are still slaying the walleye up on Lake Erie. Success is coming to both bank casters and trollers who are using crankbaits. A lot of the big females are feeding very close to the shoreline, especially at night and a lot of large fish limits are being taken.
December Lake Erie fishing isn’t for the faint of heart, but those who are diehard walleye fisherman who dress well are being rewarded for not winterizing their boats yet. I know a lot of fishermen think these diehards are crazy fishing on the big lake in December, but those are the same guys who will be the first to head out on the lake in late March and early April in much worse weather.
The weather has been warm and sunny and the winds have been calm and despite the water being in the mid thirties, the fish are still biting. Several guide services who can trailer boats are still taking clients as long as the weather holds out, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of some bonus extra late fishing weather if you desire to load up your freezer with some more tasty fish.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.