Ohio hunters bagged 75,408 white-tailed deer during the weeklong gun hunting season, Dec. 2-8, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The tally was 11,555 less than last year — a 13 percent drop.
So far in this year’s hunting season, which includes bow and muzzleloader rifles, hunters have killed 162,720 deer compared with 171,867 at the same point in 2012, a 5 percent decline.
ODNR considers the decrease a sign of success in Ohio’s efforts to keep the number of deer at healthy levels.
“Until recently, the populations in nearly all of Ohio’s counties were well above their target numbers,” a department spokesperson said. “In the last few years, through increased harvests, dramatic strides have been made in many counties to bring those populations closer toward their goal.
“Once a county’s deer population is near goal, harvest regulations are adjusted to maintain the population near that goal.”
Coshocton County leads the deer harvest for the third consecutive year with 2,658, followed by Muskingum (2,604), Tuscarawas (2,604), Guernsey (2,401), Ashtabula (2,334).
Cuyahoga County saw 31 deer taken, the smallest total among Ohio’s 88 counties.
Medina posted 555 deer, about 7 percent less than last year.
Among neighboring counties, Wayne reported the most deer (724), followed by Lorain County (678) and Summit County (140).
Scott Zody, chief of the ODNR Division of Wildlife, said the totals will go higher because archery season remains open through Feb. 2 and the muzzleloader season is Jan. 4-7.
”With the muzzleloader season and almost two months of archery hunting yet to come, Ohio hunters have many more opportunities to harvest a deer,” Zody said.
ODNR considers hunting “the best and most effective management tool for maintaining Ohio’s healthy deer population … while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists.”
Ohio’s first modern-day deer-gun season opened in 1943 in three counties and hunters harvested 168 deer. Deer hunting was allowed in all 88 counties in 1956, and hunters harvested 3,911 deer during that one-week season.
Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries.
Hunting has a more than $853 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation publication.
For more information on deer hunting and the state’s hunting regulations, go to www.wildohio.com.
Season’s feedings: Hunters donate meat
Ohio hunters donated 1,170 white-tailed deer to local food banks — enough for nearly a quarter-million meals — so far during the 2013 hunting season.
Food banks have received about 58,500 pounds of venison, according to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
One processed deer amounts to about 50 pounds of venison — enough for 200 meals.
Venison donations will be accepted through the end of the deer-archery season, Feb. 2.
Ohio ranks fifth nationally in hunter-donated venison, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Nationally, hunters were responsible for more than 11 million meals to people in need.
Health officials say wild venison is among the most nutritious meats — lean with little fat and high in protein and iron. Wild venison also has no additives or hormones, and is low in calories, fat and cholesterol when properly prepared.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife collaborates with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry to assist with the processing costs associated with donating venison to a food bank.
Venison donated to participating food banks must be processed by a federal-, state- or locally inspected and insured meat processor. Hunters wishing to donate their deer are not required to pay for the processing of the venison as long as the program has available funds.
Ohio has 77 participating meat processors.
For more information, go to www.fhfh.org and click on the local FHFH tab. The website includes a list of coordinators, participating butchers and the counties they serve.