The final deer harvest numbers are in. Hunters checked 188,335 white-tailed deer throughout Ohio’s 2015-2106 deer season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Last year, 175,745 deer were checked during the 2014-2015 season.
Locally, Morrow county was down exactly a hundred from last year, but a lot of that is due to the change in the bag limit. Crawford, Marion, Knox, and Richland all saw slight increases from the year before. As mentioned before in my column, the harvest may be down a bit but this year will be remembered as one of the most successful for the trophy hunters. A lot of large racked deer were harvested this year and will end up on a lot living room walls.
To help stabilize deer populations, bag limits were reduced this year, and antlerless permit use was eliminated in most counties. This year’s increase can be attributed to the poor mast crop throughout much of the state, particularly the eastern half where many species of wildlife, including deer, rely heavily on acorns as an important source of food. Other reasons for the increase include the more favorable weather for hunters compared to last year and the earlier harvest of agricultural crops.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife remains committed to properly managing Ohio’s deer populations. The goal of Ohio’s Deer Management Program is to provide a deer population that maximizes recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists.
Until recently, deer populations in nearly all of Ohio’s counties were well above goal. In the last few years, through increased antlerless harvests, most counties are now at or near goal.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife is in the process of revising Ohio’s population goals and is asking hunters who received the survey to help by completing and returning their surveys as soon as possible. Hunters for this year’s survey were randomly selected from list of those who purchased a license and deer permit by Nov. 16. Landowner surveys have already been completed, and hunter surveys were mailed early in December. Public input is an important part of Ohio’s deer management program, and survey participants are asked to complete and return their surveys to ensure that hunters have a clear voice in helping to decide the direction of deer management in Ohio.
Hunting is the best and most effective management tool for maintaining Ohio’s healthy deer population. 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.
• Now that Mother Nature is giving us some hint of spring weather, it’s time to start dusting off those fishing rods. A lot of ice disappeared on the local waterways this past weekend thanks to the big winds from the south and sixty degree weather. It won’t be long before the water warms up and the crappie start biting. Now is the time to get your fishing gear in order so that you are ready to go when the fish are biting. The best place to start is to get your fishing reels broken down so that you can lube up the gears. Lubing the gears on a yearly basis will greatly prolong the life of the reel.
It’s also a good time to strip off the old fishing line and replace it with new. More fish are lost by line breaks than anything else and regularly changing the line will help avoid that. There are a lot of line choices out there. Do you homework and get the correct type and size for the type of fishing you will be doing.
Lastly, it’s also a great time to inventory the lures and gear that you have. Find out what needs replaced and have fun shopping to replace it. While doing your inventory, clean out the tackle box and sharpen those dull hooks. You will be glad you did when fishing season finally arrives.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.