Ohio Division of Wildlife says many factors play into deer kill numbers each year, especially the weather, which cooperated nicely.
Hunters killed 188,335 deer during the recently completed 2015-16 Ohio whitetail season, a total that upped last year’s 175,745 by 12,590 or just over 7 percent.
That number apparently pleased the regulation-setters at the Ohio Division of Wildlife enough that next year’s hunting regs will be virtually the same, as proposed to the Ohio Wildlife Council earlier this month.
“We thought we would see an increase in the number of deer killed this year, but not by that much,” said wildlife administrator Dave Kohler. “There were several factors that played into the higher total.”
He pointed first to a lower than average mast crop (acorns) which made deer more active in looking for other food sources. Secondly, he pointed to farmers having most of their crops harvested before gun season (especially in western Ohio) and, third, the weather was very good throughout the fall.
About the only change for next season will be the days of the week when the bonus gun season will be held. The calendar days will be the same, Dec. 28 and 29, but instead of a Monday and Tuesday (in 2015), it will be a Wednesday and Thursday.
“We found out we needed to leave a little more time after Christmas, so we went to three days,” Kohler said. “So it will be the same next season … it’s just a calendar thing.”
Hunters came in with the higher total despite the sales of hunting licenses and permits being pretty close to flat (actually off 1.6 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively). The number of non-resident hunting licenses rose 4 percent.
A few years ago the Division of Wildlife announced it would be switching from county-by-county bag limits to a smaller number of management units. That is apparently on hold.
“We are still talking about it, but it won’t happen this year and probably not next year. Most of our counties are right at goal,” Kohler said.
According to the proposed bag limit map, most of Ohio’s southwestern counties will have two-deer limits. Near the Ohio River, Clermont,
Brown, Highland and Adams counties will have three-deer limits. Hamilton, like the state’s other urban counties, will have a four-deer limit. The statewide limit remains at six with only one antlered deer allowed.
Next up will be district open houses on March 5. District 5’s open house will be at the Greene County Fish & Game. Following that, there will be a statewide hearing on March 17 at the District One office in Columbus. All sessions are open to the public. The council will vote on the regulations on April 13.
Ohioans can also make comments online at wildohio.gov until March 6.
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