Hunters harvest 13,617 deer in muzzleloader time


In Highland County, 237 deer were taken

For The Times-Gazette



COLUMBUS – Hunters checked 13,617 white-tailed deer during Ohio’s muzzleloader season that concluded Jan. 10, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. This total accounts for all deer taken with a muzzleloader or archery equipment during the four-day season.

Over the last three years, an average of 11,429 deer were taken during the muzzleloader season. In 2022, hunters checked 12,912 deer in the same period.

Deer hunters found success in all 88 of Ohio’s counties during the muzzleloader season. The top 10 counties for harvest were Coshocton (518), Muskingum (468), Tuscarawas (452), Knox (397), Licking (390), Guernsey (375), Washington (345), Carroll (338), Meigs (335), and Ashtabula (288). Coshocton County was top in the state during the 2022 season with 489 deer harvested.

In Highland County, 237 white-tailed deer were harvested, compared to a three-year average (2020, 2021, 2022) of 176.

During the 2023 muzzleloader season, hunters took 3,154 bucks (23% of deer taken), 8,421 does (62%), and 1,532 button bucks (11%). Bucks that shed their antlers and bucks with antlers less than 3 inches in length accounted for 510 deer, or 4% of the total harvest.

Gun hunters have checked 110,935 deer in the 2022-23 deer seasons, including 9,515 deer taken in the youth season, 71,932 deer taken in the seven-day gun season, and 15,163 deer taken in the two-day gun season. Ohio’s archery hunters have harvested 90,357 deer through Tuesday, Jan. 10, bringing the season total for all implements to 201,292. The 2022-23 season marks the first time since 2012 that the total deer harvest has gone above 200,000. Archery season is open until Sunday, Feb. 5.

As of Jan. 11, a total of 2,864 deer had been harvested in Highland County, including 1,158 by archery.

As of Tuesday, Jan. 10, 406,919 permits had been issued for deer hunting in Ohio. Many nonresident hunters purchase deer permits and a hunting license and travel to Ohio for the opportunity to harvest a Buckeye State whitetail. Pennsylvania (7,401 licenses sold), Michigan (5,301), West Virginia (3,657), North Carolina (3,290) and New York (3,162) represent the most popular states that hunters traveled from. Sportsmen and women from 50 different states tried their hand at deer hunting in Ohio this year.

Deer were extirpated from Ohio by 1904 because of unregulated shooting and habitat loss. In the 1930s, deer from the Roosevelt Game Preserve in Scioto County joined others moving in naturally from Michigan and Pennsylvania to rebuild Ohio’s population. Three southern counties were open to hunting in 1943, Ohio’s first modern day season.

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.

Hunters interested in tracking the season’s harvest can view weekly deer harvest reports at wildohio.gov. The Division of Wildlife posts deer harvest numbers each Wednesday throughout the hunting season. A final report is also posted after the conclusion of the archery season.

All deer harvested in Ohio are required to be checked in the Ohio Wildlife Licensing System. 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.

Help protect Ohio’s wildlife resources. Report any violations to the division’s Turn-In-a-Poacher (TIP) hotline by calling 1-800-POACHER (762-2437). All reports remain anonymous, and tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.

Information for this story was provided by the ODNR Division of Wildlife.

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In Highland County, 237 deer were taken

For The Times-Gazette