2011-2012 Ohio Deer
Archery: Sept. 24-Feb. 5
Youth gun: Nov. 19-20
Gun: Nov. 28-Dec. 4 and Dec. 17-18
Muzzleloader: Jan. 7-10
Ohio’s most popular hunting season returns on Nov. 28. That’s when the week of deer gun season begins.
Although the first few weeks of the current archery season showed Ohio hunters behind 2010 in the number of whitetails killed, biologist Mike Tonkovich of the Ohio Division of Wildlife thinks any deficit can be made up quickly if conditions are right.
Tonkovich pointed to several factors when it comes to putting together good deer numbers.
— The weather. Last year’s total for the entire season (239,260) was lower than the year before (a record 261,260). But heavy rain washed out Tuesday of gun week and cold weather keep hunters out of the fields the rest of the gun season and during muzzleloader season.
— Food availability: Last year there was a bumper crop of acorns. That allowed deer to eat in isolated areas and not move around on deer trails to search for food. This year there are fewer acorns available.
— Corn still standing: Moist fields have left many fields with standing corn. Unless a large number of fields can be harvested in the coming week, deer will have many more places to hide.
— Hunter pressure: Tonkovich calls this the “great unknown.” Are there as many hunters as there were in 2009? If so, are they spending as much time hunting?
“If there aren’t as many people hunting, there won’t be as many deer killed,” he said.
As Tonkovich studies Ohio deer and works to keep the herd at a particular size, he is hoping to have the hunters fill in some of the blanks. He has mailed out 24,000 surveys to those holding deer permits and will send 20,000 more surveys by email.
“If we are going to come up with answers about the number of people hunting and how much time they spend in which counties, we will have to have a significant number of these surveys returned,” he said. “We really need to get these surveys back.”
Dave Kohler, district wildlife supervisor, said all regulations are the same as last year, including the number of deer that can be killed in each zone. With the proper permits and hunting in the right zones, a single hunter could legally kill up to 18 deer in Ohio this year. As always, only one can be a buck.
“The key to deer management is killing does.” Kohler said. “Ohio hunters are pretty well tuned in to that. You can’t reduce the size of the overall herd if you don’t kill large numbers of does.”
Keeping the herd size down helps reduce deer-vehicle accidents, cuts deer damage and helps control disease. There were an estimated 750,000 deer in Ohio when the archery season began on Sept. 24.
Kohler said Ohioans who do not have a hunting license or deer permits shouldn’t wait until the coming weekend to go to an agent to buy them. You can avoid long lines by buying licenses and permits earlier in the week or using the Internet (wildohio.com).
This year will also be different for checking in deer. Instead of hauling the deer to a check station, hunters can register their deer online at wildohio.com, take the completed tag to any license vendor or call (877) tagitoh (824-4864).
For more information, visit wildohio.com or call (800) WILDLIFE.