Ohio hunters checked 13,614 white-tailed deer on Monday, Nov. 26, the opening day of Ohio’s deer-gun hunting season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Seven of those harvested were by hunters that participated in the inaugural South Central Ohio Buck Pole. Despite the rain, snow, sleet and cold temperatures, the event held at Holtfield Station in Hillsboro drew large crowds of interested people throughout the day.
Event organizer John Ingersoll of Buckeye Boat Repair & Mobile Service, said that 225 hunters preregistered to enter the contest. With the wind and the rain Monday morning deer were not moving, and many hunters dropped by Holtfield to share that they had been out all morning and hadn’t seen anything.
However, a couple hunters got the job done on the morning hunt including Bill Palmer, who checked in the first buck on the pole weighing in at 167.6 pounds. Next came Justin Sword checking in with his buck weighing 174.8 pounds, the first two checking in around 11 a.m. It wasn’t until around 4 p.m. that Craig Hurley checked in his buck weighing 173.6 pounds, followed by Jeff Smith with his buck weighing in at 150.4 pounds. A few hours later Tom Cox arrived with his buck weighing a day’s best 219.8 pounds, followed by John Raber with his 168.4-pound buck and Paul Byler’s buck coming in at 7:58 p.m. weighing 170.6 pounds.
As the number of deer on the buck pole grew, so did the visitors.
Sarah Roe, Ingersoll’s daughter, volunteered at the event and said she talked with folks from Highland, Ross, Adams, Brown and Greene counties that came by to chat and learn more about the event. Some had heard about it, while others just happened to be passing by.
“I’m positive this event will grow in years to come, simply by word of mouth by the hunting community” she said.
The event was free to enter, and awards were given out as advertised for the three heaviest bucks:
* Tom Cox of Middletown took home the first place prize — a Bushmaster 450 rifle with a Redfield 3x9x50 scope for his 219.8 pound buck.
* Second prize went to Justin Sword of Greenfield, who took home a Parker Thunderhawk Pro Crossbow.
* Craig Hurley of Buford won third prize — a CVA Optima V2 Stainless Steal Muzzleloader with a 3x9x40 scope.
All contestants received a set of hunting knives for participating thanks to the local sponsors: Buckeye Boat Repair, Holtfield Station, Ponderosa, Five Points Implement, DAGR Home Inspections, Wolfe’s Welding, Adena Greenfield Medical Center, Buckeye Dentistry, Boyer Territory Real Estate, RD’s Whitetails, Rhoads Retreat, Wilmington Savings Bank and Garen T. Excavation.
John Holt and Mark Edenfield of Holtfield Station provided the site for the event and provided financing to build the buck poles.
Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting has a more than $853 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation.
Ohio’s deer-gun season remains open through Sunday, Dec. 2. Two additional days of deer-gun season (Saturday, Dec. 15 and Sunday, Dec. 16) have been added to increase the opportunity for people to hunt with firearms.
Find more information about deer hunting in the 2018-19 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations at wildohio.org, or pick up a brochure at the Visitors Bureau of Highland County located at 130 S. High St., Hillsboro. It is open Monday and Friday mornings, and by calling 937-763-7012.
Destiny Bryson is the executive director of the Visitors Bureau of Highland County.