Hunters say that now there’s not enough deer in Ohio

Posted: February 1, 2015 by gamegetterII in hunting
Tags: , , , , ,

DROPPING DEER NUMBERS

2009-10 DEER KILL

261,000

2014-15 DEER KILL

175,000 (estimated)

 

Years of liberal bag limits, fostered by the sale of discounted antlerless permits starting in about 2007, definitely knocked down the herd, wildlife officials acknowledge. But the build-up over decades in the number of Ohio’s whitetails, considered among the most robust and trophy-worthy in the country, clearly showed the strains of food competition. Ohio deer in recent years have taken longer to mature, to grow in body size and antler dimensions, and to produce young.

A smaller, better-fed herd should begin to reverse some of the physiological impacts, said biologist Mike Tonkovich, deer project leader for the wildlife division. In terms of managing the herd size, the acceptable number of deer on the landscape must fit what the human population — read: farmers — can tolerate.

Some hunters believe the herd has passed the point of going in the wrong direction.

“Our hunters are hanging on by a thread,” Dennis Malloy, one of two Ohio field representatives for the national group Whitetails Unlimited, said after the summit.

The future of deer hunting in Ohio might be more in flux than in doubt, but the numbers suggest the recent golden age of sorts has passed.

Hunters killed more than 261,000 deer during the 2009-10 season after tagging about 252,000 the season before. The kill has dropped annually since, from 239,400 in 2010-11 to 191,400 in 2013-14.

Through last weekend, this season’s whitetail harvest totaled 173,096, down 8.4 percent from the same point last year. When the season closes today, the final numbers likely will be around 175,000 — lower than any season since 2001-02.

The gun harvest has experienced a similar decline, having fallen every year since 2008. Hunters checked nearly 117,000 whitetails that year, and only 65,485 in the most recent gun week, in December.”

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/sports/2015/02/01/hunters-say-that-now-theres-not-enough-deer-in-ohio.html

Notice that Mr. Tonkovich did not even mention coyotes as one of the reasons for the decline in deer herd numbers.

I’ve had e-mail discussions with Mike Tonkovich in the past,he’s always responded to questions,and I’ll be the first to admit the guy does know what he’s doing-for the most part. The recent increase in the ‘yote population isn’t something the ODNR people seem to have noticed. Most don’t spend all that much time in the field,including the wildlife officers.

ODNR needs to start listening to those of us who spend more than a few days out in the fields and woods of Ohio.

I know that ODNR is pressured by both farmers-due to crop damage caused by deer,and by insurance companies,due to cars hitting deer, to reduce the deer population. As the article states,ODNR instituted low-cost doe tags,created urban zones where the doe tags were valid all season,not just until the day before gun season. Until this year,hunters were allowed to harvest 18-24 deer statewide by harvesting the max number in each zone.

Years of these policies,combined with the explosive growth of the coyote population,have reduced the deer population far too much. The recent changes made by ODNR are to little,too late. It’s going to take years for the deer population to recover-and it’s never going to recover unless the coyote problem is addressed.

Fawn predation by the ‘yotes is only going to increase,because not enough people hunt them. Unless the ‘yote population is knocked down by at least half-the size of the deer herd is going to decrease to the point there are very,very few deer-it will be like deer hunting was in Ohio during the 1970’s-when you could hunt the entire week of gun season and not see a single deer.

This year,Ohio harvest to a county by county bag limit,and limited hunters to a total of 6 deer statewide,as before,only one buck may be taken no matter where in the state it’s taken you can only take one,the rest must be does.

That’s still too many does,ODNR should limit the harvest to two deer per hunter so the herd can increase in population again.

ODNR’s claim that there is not enough food for more deer is pure bullshit-the only way there would not be enough food is if farmers stopped planting corn and soybeans.This fall,Ohio is going to institute WMU’s-(Wildlife Management Units)

Western states have been using this method for decades,most have had success using WMU’s.

I’m all for Ohio going to WMU’s,although it will make the hunting regs more confusing,it will allow wildlife biologists to manage game populations more effectively,because they can manage each area for the optimum deer population.

WMU’s are better because the bag limits can be adjusted for each unit,meaning higher bag limits in some,lower bag limits in others. This will allow the statewide deer herd to be healthier,and if managed correctly, we should see more big  bodied deer,and bucks with heavier antlers,and bigger racks.

The change to WMU’s will help the deer herd,as long as ODNR starts urging hunters to kill ‘yotes.

Fur prices are reasonable this year,so hunting ‘yotes funds itself,skin ’em out,salt and dry the hides,sell the hides,and you can even turn a profit.

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