The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported Monday that deer hunters have taken 162,720 so far in the various 2013 hunting seasons, a 5 percent drop from the 171,867 tallied at the same time last year.
The drop was more pronounced during the week-long gun hunting season, Dec. 2-8, when hunters took 75,408 deer. That’s a drop of 13 percent, said John Windau, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Windau said Ohio’s deer population hit a peak about a decade ago but has been falling, and that’s likely reflected in the numbers. “In most areas, the herd is smaller” he said.
The state added a season for hunting deer without antlers and a muzzle-loading season, so there’s probably been a shift away from the gun hunting season, Windau said.
Comments from local hunters also suggest the deer population is down, said Jeannie Gore, owner of the Hunter’s Needs store in Bellevue.
“The majority of the people are saying they’re not seeing the deer they normally do,” Gore said.
“If they’re bow hunting, they still have the opportunity to get out and still harvest deer,” she said. “That’s one of the advantages of being a bow shooter — you have a lot more time frame”
Archery season continues until Feb. 2, while the muzzle-loading season is Jan. 4-7.
Windau said the state’s hunting regulations seek to balance creating opportunities for hunters with reducing contact with drivers and landowners.
Statistics from the Ohio Department of Public Safety on crashes blamed on deer also suggest that deer hunting has reduced the deer population to more manageable levels.
The numbers show that the number of deer-related collisions has fallen every year since 2009, from 25,139 crashes in 2009 to 20,999 in 2012.
The trend apparently will continue in 2013.
Although obviously final numbers aren’t in yet, there were only 14,631 crashes through Nov. 30 this year, compared to 18,824 in the like time period in 2012.