Providing a deer population that maximizes recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists, is the goal of Ohio’s Deer Management Program.
The just concluded deer-gun season provides further evidence that the Division of Wildlife’s commitment to properly manage Ohio’s deer population is right on target.
More than 65,000 white-tailed deer were checked in during the week-long deer-gun season, which was 10,000 less than a year ago. The decline is right in line with the strategy the Division of Wildlife implemented six years ago of using liberal hunting regulations to better manage the deer herd. At one time each of Ohio’s 88 counties had deer herds that were above their target numbers. The change was brought about by allowing some counties to have increased harvests, then adjusting it once the county’s deer population was near goal.
Keeping the deer herd “right sized” is an important and challenging job for the Division of Wildlife, given the economic impact that deer hunting has in Ohio. Figures from the National Shooting Sports Foundation point to an $853-million economic impact in Ohio from the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more. That adds up to a No. 5 ranking nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries.
Eastern Ohio, in particular Southeast Ohio, continues to sport the largest deer herds. Counties reporting the highest number of checked deer during the 2014 gun season: Coshocton (2,308), Muskingum (2,084), Tuscarawas (2,074), Guernsey (1,788), Ashtabula (1,730), Knox (1,727), Licking (1,655), Harrison (1,491), Carroll (1,477) and Belmont (1,428).
The nine-county Lima region was led by Logan, 672; Hardin, 487; and Hancock counties 443.