Ohio hunters harvested 70,413 deer during the 2021 deer gun week that concluded on Sunday, Dec. 5, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. Over the past three years, hunters checked an average of 65,280 deer during the same week-long period, which marks an 8% increase in 2021. Deer gun season was open again on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 18-19. Although the harvest total will climb after this past weekend, I don’t expect it to be a significant increase because the weather on Saturday was horrible with lots of rain.
During the deer gun week, hunters harvested 25,263 bucks (36% of deer taken), 36,096 does (51%), and 8,021 button bucks (11%). Bucks with shed antlers and bucks with antlers less than 3 inches long accounted for 1,033 deer, or 1% of the harvest.
Through Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, 80,178 deer have been taken by Ohio archery hunters. Plus, Ohio’s youth hunters checked 7,634 deer during the two-day youth gun season, Nov. 20-21.
Because Ohio is known as a quality deer hunting state, many out-of-state hunters travel here during the season. The top five states for purchasing a nonresident hunting license in Ohio include: Pennsylvania (7,929 licenses sold), Michigan (5,533), West Virginia (3,898), North Carolina (3,740), and New York (3,597). Deer hunting participation remains high for all hunters, with 383,770 deer hunting permits sold or issued through Sunday, Dec. 5.
While gun hunting remains a favorite season, the number of hunters pursuing deer with archery equipment is growing rapidly. For the eighth year in a row, more deer were harvested during the 2020-21 archery season than during the gun season. The number of hunters who hunt using multiple implements is also increasing. In 2020, nearly 75% of gun hunters also participated in the archery season.
• The Lake Erie zone duck hunting season came to an end this past Sunday and there are less than two weeks left in the north zone as well. Although things can still change, for this veteran duck hunter, I can’t remember a more disappointing season.
A combination of a lack of serious winter weather fronts this season as well as I believe a drop in overall duck numbers has created many lackluster days in the duck blind. There is still over a month left in the south zone season for Ohio, so hopefully things will turn around for those that chase ducks in the southern part of the state.
• Although most fishermen have put their gear up for the year, those that are willing to brave the cold are still hammering the big female walleye up at Lake Erie. Trolling crankbaits at a very slow crawl is producing walleye north of the ten-pound mark. Slow crawl being defined as less than two miles per hour.
In fact, the Fall Brawl and Fall Slam contests concluded at the end of November and it took an eleven-pound walleye to make the top five and twelve and a half pound fish to win it. As long as the lake stays ice free and a fisherman picks their days wisely, a once in a lifetime walleye could be caught as the females continue their winter feed in preparation of the spring spawning season.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!