ODNR official says snow, cold weather helped deer hunters this season

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Michael Tonkovich, of ODNR, said the number of deer harvested is only one way to measure the season's success

(WKBN) – It was a big year for deer hunters in Ohio. Ohio’s white-tailed deer hunting season wrapped up on Feb. 7, and a total of 197,735 were harvested.

That’s the highest since 218,910 were harvested in the 2012-2013 season, according to the Ohio Division of Natural Resources.

Trumbull County was 10th in harvested deer, with 4,015; and Coschocton was first, with 6,791.

There are multiple reasons for the high number, according to Dr. Michael Tonkovich, deer program administrator for the Division of Wildlife.

One is the weather. Snow makes deer move more, making it easier to track.

Officials have also changed some tag limit regulations, and more hunters were out for gun and archery season.

“Harvest numbers are simply one way to measure a season’s success,” Tonkovich said. “More importantly, we need to take a look at some of the other factors. For me, safety and an opportunity to enjoy yourself in a season that you haven’t had that opportunity for a long time makes it a really special season.”

Tonkovich said Ohio did have a fatality this year that the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department handled, but the number of fatalities has gone down over the years.

Part of this is due to how people hunt. Hunters are no longer on their feet, walking around trying to push deer. Instead, many are opting to use tree stands.

Tonkovich also said the number of hunters from last season to this season is up, but compared to decades ago, the overall number of hunters is down.

3:20 “A lot has changed. Numbers of deer hunters and the way deer gun hunters hunt probably has contributed, as well as the three-shot plug that was implemented a number of years ago.”

Tonkovich also isn’t ruling out that more people might have taken up the sport during the pandemic.

While it was a record year, Tonkovich said they’re not in the business of setting records. From a management standpoint, success is defined by if the regulation changes they’ve made are making the desired impact, but that’s too early to explore given the season ended three days ago.

Tonkovich also said a wildlife council meeting is being held Wednesday night to go over the season and any changes they’d like to see next season.

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