Excellent weather on opening day and good weather expected through the weeklong deer-gun season should produce a higher harvest than a year ago when lousy weather on opening day hindered results during the week.
The opening day harvest was up locally and statewide. The harvest increased in eight of nine Lima area counties this year. Only Van Wert showed a decline and that was by one deer. A total of 814 deer were checked in the area Monday vs. 638 check on opening day a year ago. That was nearly a 28 percent increase.
Deer checked locally this year on opening day with opening day results in 2018 in parenthesis were: Allen: 86 (45); Auglaize: 74 (61); Hancock: 91 (80); Hardin: 138 (91); Logan: 158 (137); Mercer: 75 (55); Putnam: 73 (61); Shelby: 77 (65); Van Wert: 42 (43).
The harvest was up more than 13 percent statewide with 15,501 checked Monday compared to 13,651 checked on opening day in 2018.
It will be interesting to see how the numbers turn out when released next week for the weeklong season, especially compared with those during the archery seasons.
Archery accounted for 46 percent of the deer season total last season and those who hunt with a bow have had huge success through the first nine weeks of the season.
Bow hunters have increased their harvest by nearly 15 percent by taking close to 75,000 deer thus far this season. Archers have checked 74,838 deer this fall compared to 65,110 checked a year ago through the same period.
The bow harvest is up in all nine Lima area counties through nearly half of the archery season.
Deer checked locally by archers this year compared to last season at the same time with in 2018 in parenthesis were: Allen: 477 (397); Auglaize: 411 (331); Hancock: 546 (424); Hardin: 529 (404); Logan: 917 (768); Mercer: 328 (292); Putnam: 366 (306); Shelby: 420 (354); Van Wert: 217 (172).
While archery season is a major contributor to the annual deer harvest, annual surveys show that archery participation has recently declined, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) Bow hunters hit a peak of 82 percent in 2014 and fell to 71 percent last year.
Other interesting statistics in the DOW report indicate bow hunters were more successful than gun hunters. Nearly 25 percent of archers posted a success rate while roughly one in five gun hunters reported a deer harvest. During the 2018-19 season, 71 percent of hunters bow hunted, 78 percent, 40 percent and 41 percent reported hunting in the gun, bonus gun, and muzzleloader seasons, respectively According to the DOW, approximately 70 percent of gun hunters are also bow hunters that likely hunt prior to the gun season.
Surveys indicated the vast majority of successful hunters (77 percent) harvested a single deer in the 2018-19 season. Just over 18 percent of successful hunters bagged two deer, 4 percent harvested three, and less than 1 percent took four or more deer, the wildlife agency said.
Landowners reported harvesting 47,961 deer, almost 28 percent of the total harvest. The proportion of the harvest taken by landowners increased substantially from 1995 (19 percent) to 2005 (28 percent), but has remained between 26 and 28 percent of the total harvest since.
While the total landowner harvest was nearly equally split between the gun (42 percent) and archery (44 percent) seasons, there was a notable difference in the timing of antlered and antlerless harvests. Most (54 percent) antlered deer were taken during the archery season (Table 4), but 63 percent of antlerless deer were taken in the firearms seasons.
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During the recent youth weekend hunt, the total deer checked up in five and down in four Lima area counties. The harvested was 422 compared to 387 a year ago. Deer checked locally this year during the youth hunt compared to the same two-day weekend results in 2018 in parenthesis were: Allen: 40 (35); Auglaize: 37 (38); Hancock: 51 (35); Hardin: 59 (42); Logan: 72 (90); Mercer: 45 (22); Putnam: 48 (42); Shelby: 44 (45); Van Wert: 26 (38).
Statewide the youth harvest was down with 6,234 checked this year compared to 6,585 check during the same weekend in 2018.
The fall wild turkey harvest in the Lima are was up slightly compare to results from the 2018 fall season. Only five Lima area counties are open during the fall season and 70 counties statewide area open. The season ran from Oct. 12-Dec.1
Turkeys checked in local counties with the 2018 harvest in parenthesis were: Allen 18 (8); Hancock 6 (4) Hardin 7 (2), Logan 7 (11) and Putnam 3 (5).
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL