One of Ohio’s most successful white-tailed deer hunting seasons concluded Sunday, Feb. 7, with 197,735 deer harvested, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. That total is the highest since 218,910 deer were taken during the 2012-2013 hunting season.
The final harvest totals represent all deer taken during archery, gun, muzzleloader, and youth hunting seasons that began Sept. 26. An average of 180,921 deer were harvested during the last three years.
Since September 2020, hunters harvested 94,691 deer with archery equipment, while 86,853 deer were taken with firearms during the weeklong and two-day gun seasons. In addition, 9,708 deer were harvested with muzzleloaders. Young hunters found success during the two-day youth season with 5,795 deer harvested.
Deer hunting occurs in all 88 counties and an estimated 310,000 hunters participated during Ohio’s deer seasons, and more than 409,809 deer permits were purchased or issued. Hotspots for deer hunting are found mostly in the eastern regions. Coshocton County leads the state in total deer harvests over the last five years, with 6,715 deer taken during the 2019-2020 season.
The popularity of hunting with archery equipment continues to grow, with 48% of deer taken during the 2020-2021 archery season, including 33% using a crossbow and 15% using a vertical bow. Gun harvest attributed to 52% of the harvest. This includes 22% with shotguns, 21% with straight walled cartridge rifles, 8% with muzzleloaders, and less than 1% with handguns.
Across all deer seasons, hunters harvested 80,003 bucks, accounting for 40% of the total harvest. Does represented 48% of the harvest with 94,771 taken, while 19,629 button bucks were taken, for 10%. Bucks with shed antlers and bucks with antlers less than 3 inches long accounted for 3,332 deer, or 2% of the harvest. Deer harvest summaries can be found on the Deer Harvest Summary page at wildohio.gov.
• Proposed hunting seasons that begin in the fall of 2021 for white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and small game were presented to the Ohio Wildlife Council on Wednesday, Feb. 10, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Hunting season dates and limits are proposed by the Division of Wildlife biologists.
Only one deer may be antlered, regardless of where or how it is taken, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit. All county bag limits are proposed to remain identical to last season. The proposed deer hunting season dates for 2021-2022 include: Deer archery: Sept. 25-Feb. 6, Youth deer gun: Nov. 20-21, Deer gun: Nov. 29-Dec. 5; Dec. 18-19, Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 8-11. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
A proposal will allow antlerless deer to be taken from all public hunting areas from Sept. 25, 2021 to Feb. 6, 2022, provided that a hunter takes only one antlerless deer from these lands per license year. Ohio’s public land deer regulations have resulted in improved hunter satisfaction on public hunting areas. Expanding the antlerless deer dates provides additional opportunities to public land hunters.
It was further proposed to expand deer management permits to all 88 Ohio counties from Sept. 25 to Nov. 28, 2021. Hunters can use the deer management permit up to the county bag limit. The proposal does not include public hunting areas, except Lake La Su An Wildlife Area, Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, and during controlled hunts. Only antlerless deer may be harvested with a deer management permit. An antlerless deer in Ohio is defined as any deer without antlers, or a deer with antlers less than 3 inches long.
Deer populations in Ohio have shown increased growth over the last several years. Expanding the use of deer management permits statewide on private lands helps keep populations near targeted numbers while also maintaining a healthy and robust deer population on public lands. This proposal also simplifies the use of these permits and allows for more targeted harvest in counties where necessary.
Ohio’s wild turkey hunting seasons for 2022 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 spring turkey dates and hours for 2022: Youth season: April 9-10, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset, South zone: April 23-May 1, 30 minutes before sunrise to noon. May 2-22, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. Northeast zone: April 30-May 8, 30 minutes before sunrise to noon. May 9-29, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
A proposal calls for a limit of one bearded wild turkey during the spring season on public hunting lands. The statewide limit during the spring remains at two bearded birds. This proposal is in response to several below average reproductive years, and is designed to maintain healthy wild turkey populations on public lands.
The Ohio Wildlife Council is an eight-member board that approves all Ohio Division of Wildlife proposed rules and regulations. Council meetings are held virtually and open to the public. A statewide hearing on all proposed rules will be held virtually on Thursday, March 18 at 9 a.m.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.