The 2018-19 deer hunting seasons came to a quiet end on a spring-like day Sunday when the temperature flipped more than 70 degrees from a polar vortex a few days earlier.
It’s no surprise that weather had an effect on the deer harvest, which wound up being more than 14,000 fewer than a year ago. The preliminary harvest of 172,040 was down from the 186,247 harvest total during the 2017-18 seasons.
Locally, the harvest was down in all 9 Limaland counties. A total of 8,702 deer were harvested during the 2018-19 seasons compared to 9,303 during the 2017-18 seasons. The number of deer checked in Limaland counties along with last year’s in parenthesis were: Allen 787 (979), Auglaize 824 (848), Hancock 1,142 (1,228), Hardin 1,160 (1,253), Logan 1,943 (2,055), Mercer 673 (677), Putnam 695 (781), Shelby 855 (983) and Van Wert 492 (499).
Bow hunters continue to take a large portion of deer harvested. They took 46 percent of the total harvest of 172,040 with 79,593. Broken down, they harvested 38,173 antlered deer and 41,720 antlerless deer. In the total harvest, 71,365 were antlered and 100,675 were antlerless.
Locally, archers took 47 percent (4,094) of the total 8,702 deer harvested. Of the 4,094 harvested locally, 1,796 were antlered and 2,298 were antlerless.
Breaking down the harvest numbers locally:
• Allen County had 475 checked by archers of which 231 were antlered and 244 were antlerless. In it total harvest of 878, 378 were antlered and 500 were antlerless.
• Auglaize County had 380 checked by archers of which 159 were antlered and 221 were antlerless. In it total harvest of 824, 321 were antlered and 503 were antlerless.
Hancock County had 5355 checked by archers of which 266 were antlered and 269 were antlerless. In it total harvest of 1,142, 507 were antlered and 635 were antlerless.
• Hardin County had 499 checked by archers of which 209 were antlered and 290 were antlerless. In it total harvest of 1,160, 437 were antlered and 723 were antlerless.
• Logan County had 949 checked by archers of which 378 were antlered and 571 were antlerless. In it total harvest of 1,943, 734 were antlered and 1,209 were antlerless.
• Mercer County had 315 checked by archers of which 124 were antlered and 191 were antlerless. In it total harvest of 673, 248 were antlered and 425 were antlerless.
• Putnam County had 333 checked by archers of which 168 were antlered and 165 were antlerless. In it total harvest of 695, 311 were antlered and 384 were antlerless.
• Shelby County had 423 checked by archers of which 182 were antlered and 241 were antlerless. In it total harvest of 895, 352 were antlered and 543 were antlerless.
• Van Wert County had 185 checked by archers of which 70 were antlered and 106 were antlerless. In it total harvest of 492, 207 were antlered and 285 were antlerless.
According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW), deer hunting regulations over the past four seasons have been designed to allow for moderate herd growth throughout most of the state. Herd growth is achieved by reducing harvest and protecting female deer. The DOW projected the harvest to be up slightly this year. But the weather likely negatively affected participation on some key days. Some lousy weather days during the weeklong gun season had an adverse affect. The harvest was down 12,000 from the previous year and numbers the rest of the year did not make up for that huge difference.
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Agape Distribution Center in Sidney received nearly 400 pounds of venison recently from the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW). The venison donation was illegally harvested and the meat was ordered to be donated to those less fortunate. This occurs once such cases are finalized in court. According to the DOW, venison that is donated must be processed by a state inspected and insured meat to the processor.
Agape food pantry specializes in providing food for those whose income qualifies them to receive such benefits. Food pantries rarely get donations of red meat and must spend a lot of donated money to buy meat.
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People can participate in the 22nd Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) by checking what species they see for only 15 minutes Friday through Monday (Feb. 15-18). This annual event draws bird watchers from more than 100 countries. More than 180,000 bird checklists reporting a record 6,456 species–more than half the known bird species in the world - were reported during the 2018 count.
Anyone with internet access can participate. You count the birds you see in your yard while watching for at least 15 minutes on any of the three days. You are not limited to your property. You may count anywhere you may see birds. To learn more about how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, visit birdcount.org.
Around our bird feeders this winter, my wife and I have seen usual winter visitors consisting of cardinals, house finches, blue jays, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, tufted titmouse and chickadees. We have also seen some robins who winter in Ohio.
On trips in the Lake Erie area, we’ve seen several bald eagles. In January, we saw a pair sitting close to each other in a tree only yards from the Lake Erie shore in the Magee Marsh Wildlife area. Winter is a good time to see eagles since they are active and trees are bare.
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL