Columbus – Hunters took 23,600 white-tailed deer on a rain-soaked opening day of Ohio’s gun season, according to the DNR Division of Wildlife. The deer gun season reopens for two days on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 17-18.
The preliminary figures show a decrease of 39 percent from last year’s opening day total of 39,071.
“Last year’s opening day harvest was exceptionally high. Even with ideal weather conditions, I’m sure this year’s harvest would have fallen short of the 2010 season simply because last year was an atypical season,” said Mike Tonkovich, Division of Wildlife deer project leader.”
He noted that the weather conditions on opening day in 2007 were so poor that the harvest was down an unprecedented 51 percent.
Tonkovich said that bowhunting continues to grow in popularity and has had an impact on the gun season harvest. Ohio has one of the most liberal bowhunting seasons in the country, which allows hunters to take advantage of the good weather earlier in the fall.
Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer checked on Nov. 28 included: Coshocton-1,197, Muskingum-964, Tuscarawas-896, Harrison-882, Guernsey-816, Knox-719, Belmont-629, Carroll-620, Holmes-617, and Licking-616.
Approximately 420,000 hunters are expected to participate in the statewide deer gun season. Ohio’s deer population was estimated to be 750,000 prior to the start of the fall hunting seasons.
The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in Ohio, frequently pursued by generations of hunters. Ohio ranks eighth nationally in annual hunting-related sales and 10th in the number of jobs associated with the hunting-related industry. Each year, hunting has an $859 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more.
The Division of Wildlife challenges all deer hunters to make this year special for Ohio’s hungry by donating a deer to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH). Last year, hunters showed they cared by donating nearly 500,600 meals to Ohioans in need.
Hunters who give their deer to a food bank are not required to pay the processing cost as long as the deer are taken to a participating processor and funding for the effort lasts. Counties being served by this program can be found at www.fhfh.org.