MOUNT VERNON — Another leg of the 2009-10 hunting season wrapped up on Sunday with the close of the two-day deer-gun season. Hunters around the state killed 19,900 deer on Saturday and Sunday, including 488 in Knox County. Those numbers are up from the 2008-09 season, which saw hunters take 16,382 deer (320 in Knox County).
“Our goal was to reduce the deer herd in the county with the six-deer bag limit, and we had a good weekend,” said Knox County Wildlife Officer Mike Miller. “We had some snow cover, which helps with seeing deer and tracking deer. That was beneficial. Hunters have also adjusted to where the deer are at. All together, it was a pretty good two-day season. Now we’ll look forward to the muzzleloader season, which will be four days in January.”
Counties leading the state in deer killed over the weekend included: Tuscarawas — 1,164; Harrison — 725; Licking — 663; Ashtabula — 589; Holmes — 567; Columbiana — 543; Coshocton — 503; Knox — 488; Stark — 487; and Guernsey — 474.
A total of 198,297 deer have been taken statewide so far this season when taking all hunting methods into consideration, and the totals in Knox County are now on par with last year.
“There are several factors which have helped (catch up),” said Miller. “The snow cover played a big role, allowing hunters to track down their deer after they have been shot. Also, there is very little corn left standing in the county as compared to the beginning of the (weeklong) deer-gun season. The deer herd was roughly about the same as it was last year, but hopefully, this year, the deer kills will be up over last year. As of right now, it looks like we are a little ahead of where we were, but that is just going off the number of deer checked in. Generally, the number of deer killed in the county is higher than that.
“From talking to hunters, the north-central and eastern parts of the county have been the most productive. I know I’ve talked to my neighbors and people who hunt in the southern part of the county, and they were talking about not seeing many deer the past couple of days. I did talk to one hunter whose grandson killed a nice probably three-year-old buck. He said he passed up several bucks himself because he was looking for a real big wallhanger. He said he saw 100 deer on Sunday. That’s pretty good; that’s a lot of deer, so he must have been in a good spot.”
Hunters looking for the big bucks haven’t been disappointed this season. Miller said he has seen and heard of several 150- to 170-class deer being taken. The biggest he’s seen, however, is in Danville.
“There have been a lot of big bucks taken,” Miller said. “Here in the county, there is a picture of a deer hanging up at Danville Outdoors, and I don’t know how big it scores, but it is big. A local kid from Danville killed it during the youth gun season. That deer is a tremendous deer. It is probably the best deer I’ve seen in the county this year. It is a really pretty rack.”
Archery season continues through Feb. 7, and the muzzleloader season also provides hunters another opportunity to bag a deer. Muzzleloader season runs Jan. 9-12.
“The muzzleloader season should be a good season,” said Miller. “Muzzleloader season gives people extra opportunities to hunt deer. With the cold weather, people like getting out. ... It is a little later this year, but looking back, most hunters I’ve talked to like the fact that it is pushed back into January because it gives a break around the holidays. I think it will also give the deer a chance to settle down. I’m looking forward to another 450 to maybe 600 deer being killed during that time frame. There is a Saturday and a Sunday in there, so we should have a pretty good season. It would be beneficial if we had some snow cover also.”
Hunters have provided a boost to local food pantries this season through the Farmer and Hunters Feeding the Hungry program. The Division of Wildlife has teamed up with processors around Ohio in an effort to provide hunters donation opportunities. Hunters who donate their deer to a food bank are not required to pay the processing cost as long as they are taken to a participating processor. For more information, go online to www.fhfh.org.
“A lot of people have taken advantage of the extra deer tags and donated to the Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry program,” said Miller. “I talked to Linda Oiler at Oiler’s Meat Processing, and she said in the state of Ohio, Oiler’s is the no. 1 place for donations. So far, they have had over 3,000 pounds of venison donated and $2,059 donated for matching funds. There have been several businesses and churches that have donated, and hunters have also donated. I know they have provided 1,300 pounds of deer meat to the Salvation Army in Mount Vernon. If people are interested in the program, Oiler’s in one of the places that is participating in the program. The other is Young’s Locker locally.”