By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s oldest outdoor radio show
The number of deer hunters with archery equipment in Ohio continues to grow. In the 2020-21 deer season, 48% of deer were captured with archery equipment, of which 33% were using a crossbow and 15% using a bow vertical. Overall, archery hunters harvested over 93,000 deer last season, the highest total on record.
Deer hunting is open in all 88 counties and approximately 310,000 hunters participate. In 2020, nearly 410,000 deer hunting licenses were purchased or issued. Hunters harvested 197,735 deer during the 2020-21 season. Among the total, there were 80,003 males, representing 40% of the total harvest. Deer represented 48% of the harvest with 94,771 catches, while 19,629 button billy goats were caught, for 10%. Males with stray antlers and males with antlers less than 3 inches long accounted for 3,332 deer, or 2% of the harvest. Deer Harvest Summaries can be found on the Deer Harvest Summary page at wildohio.gov.
Ohio offers many opportunities for hunters of all ages to pursue deer with both bow and rifle. The young hunters had the chance to harvest a deer during the youth weekend, November 20 and 21. Statewide gun season opened from Monday, November 29 through Sunday, December 5, and again on December 18 and 19. The deer muzzle loading season is open from Saturday January 8 through Tuesday January 11, 2022. Full details can be found in the Ohio Hunting Regulations 2021-22.
Landowners can now receive an incentive to allow hunter access during specific hunting seasons through the Ohio Landowner and Hunters Access Partner Program. Visit the Ohio Landowner and Hunter Access Partnership Program page on wildohio.gov to register as a landowner or hunter. For those who want to try hunting Ohio public lands, go to wildohio.gov for a list of locations.
One of my favorite apps, the free HuntFish OH mobile app can be downloaded to easily purchase fishing and hunting licenses, check out the game, view wildlife area maps and more. The HuntFish OH mobile app is available for Android and iOS users and can be found in the App Store. Users can access the Division of Wildlife’s online system to check for deer slaughtered in the field, even without a Wi-Fi connection.
The Wildlife Division wants to help both new and experienced hunters get the most out of their outdoor activities. You can visit the Wild Ohio Harvest Community page at wildohio.gov for information on getting started, hunting opportunities, and wild game recipes.
Extended CWD test area
Speaking of deer hunting, testing for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the Ohio white-tailed deer population continues throughout the 2021-22 hunting season. CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer and other similar species, including mule deer, elk, and moose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no strong evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans.
Two CWD positive wild deer were confirmed during the 2020-21 hunting season in Wyandot County. A disease surveillance zone has been established in response to confirmed cases, and intensive surveillance will continue for at least three years in Wyandot County as well as parts of Hardin and Marion counties.
Specific regulations apply to hunters who hunt a deer in the specified area, including mandatory testing during the seven-day gun season, November 29 to December 5. In-person sampling is available at the Big Island Wildlife Area Headquarters, Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area Headquarters, and the Wyandot County Fairgrounds on these dates. Self-service kiosks are also available. A list of kiosk locations and instructions can be found at ohiodnr.gov/cwd.
In addition to mandatory testing, the following regulations apply in the disease surveillance area:
• Prohibits the placement or use of salt, mineral supplements, grains, fruits, vegetables or other foods to attract or feed deer
• Prohibits deer hunting using salt, mineral supplements, grains, fruits, vegetables or other foods
• Prohibits removal of a complete carcass or high-risk portions from the disease surveillance area, unless the carcass complies with deer carcass regulations or the carcass is delivered to a taxidermist or a certified transformer within 24 hours of leaving the area. Additional information on carcass regulations and a full list of certified processors and taxidermists can be found at wildohio.gov.
• Normal agricultural activities, including feeding of domestic animals, as well as deer hunting on food plots, natural or cultivated plants and agricultural crops are not prohibited.
To help protect the Ohio deer herd from CWD, hunters should properly dispose of their deer carcasses by duplicating all high-risk parts (brain, spinal cord, eyes, and lymphoid tissue) and placing them with their household garbage for garbage collection. Those without a garbage collection can double bag the carcass and take it to a municipal solid waste landfill or bury the carcass at least 3 feet deep on the harvest property. Proper handling of carcasses, trimmings and parts greatly reduces the risk of the spread of CWD.
The Division of Wildlife has conducted routine surveillance for CWD since 2002, with over 30,000 deer tested. CWD has previously been detected in captive deer breeding facilities in Ohio. CWD has been detected in 26 states and four Canadian provinces.
Hunters can test a slaughtered deer at the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory for a fee. Call (614) 728-6220 for more information.
Seneca County Special Deer Hunting
Continuing on the theme of white tail hunting, the Seneca Conservation District of Seneca County is accepting nominations for the annual Keith Owen Memorial Deer Hunting for People with Disabilities at Miller Conservation Farm, an opportunity offered annually. in cooperation with the Tiffin-Seneca Chapter of the Izaak Walton League since 1998. This fall’s hunt will run until December 3 to give people with mobility challenges the opportunity to enjoy the outdoor experiences associated with deer hunting.
Hunters are chosen at random through a lottery system for four hunting blinds positioned throughout the farm, each hosting one hunter for each day. Volunteers from the Izaak Walton League will help hunters get to their blinds, train deer and provide meals.
Anyone interested in participating in the hunt can enter the lottery by visiting conservesenecacounty.com or by calling Wildlife Technician Rick Hassinger at (419) 447-7073.