Area deer hunters fare better than state counterparts

Al Smith - Guest Columnist

Limaland deer hunters fared better than their counterparts across the state during the deer-gun weekend Dec. 15-16.

Local hunters checked in 703 deer compared to 674 taken a year ago on the extra weekend. Statewide, hunters harvested 9,625 deer compared to 14,115 taken during the 2017 season.

Weather affected the deer-gun week harvest when numbers were down drastically both locally and statewide. However, weather may have affected the harvest in some parts of the state last weekend, but another reason for the decline is that more and more people are taking their deer during the archery seasons.

The harvest was up in 6 local counties while it dropped in 3 of them. Area counties where the harvest increased with the weekend’s harvest along with last year’s in parenthesis were: Auglaize 66 (55), Hancock 89 (74), Hardin 112 (110), Mercer 59 (47), Putnam 54 (34) and Van Wert 60 (49). Those counties that declined with the weekend’s harvest along with last year’s in parenthesis were: Allen 55 (61), Logan 141 (269) and Shelby 67 (75)

Gun hunters have one more season to bag a deer. The muzzleloader season is Jan. 5-9, 2019. Ohio hunters still have 6 more weeks left of deer archery season, which remains open through Feb. 3, 2019.

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Jack Fetter, founder of Youth For Christ (YFC) Wilderness Ministry since 1990, will be the featured speaker at the Dupont Church of the Brethren’s sportsman’s banquet on Jan. 26. The church is located at 104 River St. in Dupont.

Fetter, who started Fetter and Friends Ministry, speaks to not only wild game dinners, but also to public schools, VBS, 4-H, church youth groups, YMCA camp, special needs programs and men’s breakfasts.

He also serves as a volunteer at the Answers In Genesis Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter in Northern Kentucky. He was in the YFC for 44 years and a member of the National Camping Ministry Leadership Team for YFC/USA.

The doors open at 5 p.m. A silent auction and wild game appetizers will be featured before the dinner begins at 6 p.m. Cost for the meal is $6 per person with the meal featuring Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, veggie, dessert and drink. Call 419-596-4314 for tickets. Deadline to call is Jan. 21.

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A free venison preparation and canning class is scheduled for Jan. 23 at the Antwerp Conservation Club.

Space is limited thus pre-registration is required by Jan. 18. Interested individuals can register by calling Andrea Altman at 419-429-8321.

The seminar will be held from 6-9 p.m. at the club, which is located at 17814 Road 53, Antwerp.

Trained professionals from the ODNR Division of Wildlife and Antwerp Conservation Club will cover topics including how to pressure can venison, a great way to save freezer space and preserve meat, and how to make venison jerky, which is a delicious way to use leftover meat from a previous season. Wild game smoking techniques and additional venison preparation recipes will also be shared.

For more information on venison meal preparation and other wild game recipes, visit the Wild Ohio Cookbook at

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While most people think of the western basin of Lake Erie when it comes to catching walleye and perch, the central basin should offer some excellent walleye fishing for the foreseeable future. Anglers move into central basin waters as summer gets warmer. The Central Basin consists of the area from from Vermilion to Conneaut.

The good news for this area is Division of Wildlife’s (DOW) results from the 2018 survey indicate that young-of-the-year walleye catch rates were the highest recorded in the past 20 years of the central basin trawl survey (32 fish per hectare). That’s great news to go along with an excellent 2015 year-class and means there should be an abundance of walleye. An acre is about 0.405 hectare and one hectare contains about 2.47 acres.

The wildlife agency said trawl survey results for yellow perch indicate the hatch was the highest observed since 2014 (40 fish per hectare) and just below the long-term average (45 fish per hectare) for the central basin.

The DOW said in the individual management units, the western portion of the central basin (Huron to Fairport) index was 28 per hectare, be.ow the average of 42 per hectare. The index in the eastern portion of the central basin (Fairport to Conneaut) was 51 fish per hectare, above the average of 41.

According to the DOW, because of low oxygen conditions that are often present in the central basin, trawl surveys are conducted later in the year than in the western basin of Lake Erie. Annual trawl surveys assess fish communities from Vermilion to Conneaut. Specific target species for the fall surveys include young-of-the-year and yearling yellow perch and walleye. Ohio central basin survey results, along with data collected by agencies from New York, Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada, provide biologists with an initial estimate of how many young fish will enter the fishable population two years later.

Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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