Hunters harvested 71,932 white-tailed deer during the 2022 gun week that concluded on Sunday, Dec. 4, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. In the same week-long period over the past three years, hunters checked an average of 68,534 deer. In 2021, the weeklong number was 70,381. Deer gun season opens again for the weekend of Dec. 17-18.

During the deer gun week, hunters checked 26,355 bucks (37% of the harvest), 36,546 does (51%), and 7,983 button bucks (11%). Bucks that had already shed their antlers or bucks with antlers less than 3 inches in length accounted for 1% of deer taken (1,048).

Deer hunting occurs in all 88 Ohio counties, as it has since the first statewide season in 1979. The top 10 counties for deer taken during the week of gun season were: Coshocton (2,457), Muskingum (2,326), Tuscarawas (2,321), Ashtabula (1,987), Knox (1,909), Carroll (1,902), Guernsey (1,848), Licking (1,729), Washington (1,628), and Holmes (1,521). Coshocton County also led the state in 2021 with 2,403 deer checked.

Straight-walled cartridge rifles have become more popular since becoming legal for deer gun hunting in 2014. This year, straight-walled cartridge rifles were used to harvest 55% of the deer checked during the seven-day gun season. Shotguns accounted for 38% of the total. In addition, 5% were taken with a muzzleloader, 1% with archery equipment, and less than 1% with a handgun.

All deer harvested in Ohio are required to be checked in the Ohio Wildlife Licensing System. Deer harvest reporting has been required since 1962. This mandatory reporting gives the Division of Wildlife a long-term data set that aids wildlife biologists in monitoring deer health, distribution, and relative abundance. Thus far in the 2022 deer season, 164,589 deer have been checked by archery and gun hunters. Archery hunters have taken 82,729 of those deer (50%). Youth hunters harvested 9,515 deer during the youth gun weekend, Nov. 19-20.

This year, 376,617 deer permits have been sold through Sunday, Dec. 4. Nonresidents have purchased 38,109 hunting licenses, many of them to enjoy Ohio’s terrific deer hunting opportunities. The most popular states that hunters traveled to Ohio from include: Pennsylvania (6,969 nonresident licenses), Michigan (4,914), West Virginia (3,546), North Carolina (3,129), and New York (2,870).

Hunting drives $866 million of spending in Ohio each year through the sale of food, equipment, fuel, lodging, and more, according to the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation’s Economic Impacts of Hunting and Target Shooting Technical Report. An estimated 479,000 hunters enjoy the state’s excellent outdoor recreation each year. The economic benefits of hunting-related industries translate to 15,500 jobs in Ohio, $68 million in state and local taxes, and $753 million of the state’s GDP.

• The trees are trimmed, and the halls are decked with holiday cheer at the Great Ohio Lodges at Ohio’s state parks. The ODNR is excited to help people celebrate with family gatherings, reunions, office parties, or festive getaways throughout the season. From Punderson to the brand-new Hocking Hills lodge, the halls are glowing with holiday décor, ready to welcome visitors who want to get away this season.

More than 50,000 lights and 44 fully decorated trees will be on display at the Shawnee State Park lodge. A full-size nativity scene and an all-natural Noah’s Ark will add to the holiday décor at the lodge. Shawnee also features a best in show tree selected by the Ohio Association of Garden Clubs. Salt Fork State Park Lodge is also ready for the holidays. Guests can soak in the warmth at three fully decorated fireplaces. And the spirit spreads beyond the lobby. Holiday touches can be found on all four levels of the lodge.

The Hocking Hills Lodge and Conference Center will celebrate its first holiday season with shining lights and several trees adorned with red and gold decorations. Cozy up by one of the fireplaces draped with garland and plan your next outdoor adventure.

As you make your holiday plans, consider visiting one of our lodges for an overnight stay or for one of our special events. There will be festive family programming every week of December concluding with New Year’s Eve parties and specials to ring in the New Year. The lodges will also offer holiday add-on packages. These will differ from lodge to lodge, but could include hot cocoa, campfire mugs, and other holiday-themed keepsakes. To include an add-on or to plan your seasonal trip at one of the Great Ohio Lodges, visit the Ohio lodges website or call the reservations team at 1-800-AT-A-PARK.

Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!

Water and Wings by Ken Parrott

Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.