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2011/12 Ohio Deer Harvest Falls

by Gordon Whittington   |  February 6th, 2012 10

Zach Barker took this wide load with his crossbow in Perry County, Ohio.

With a full-season take of 219, 698 whitetails, the official harvest numbers from Ohio show what many of us had expected: a significant reduction in the overall kill. The previous season’s total was 239, 379, for a drop of nearly 20,000 deer in the collective pot. That’s a whole bunch of venison still in the woods instead of the crock pot.

Warm, windy weather during the early bow season and a notable lack of cold weather during the 4-day January muzzleloader season couldn’t have helped hunters in their quest for venison. Neither could full-moon conditions during the peak time frame for the November rut and the January muzzleloader season. It just wasn’t a great year for daytime deer activity, especially mature bucks.

But perhaps the reported drop wasn’t entirely due to a lower kill. It might have had something to do with methodology, as well.

This season, for the first time ever, Ohio didn’t require successful deer hunters to physically check in their kills. They had the option of doing it by phone or online instead. According to the Division of Wildlife, 44 percent took the online route, while 36 percent reported by phone. The remaining 20 percent still traveled to a license agent’s location and physically checked in what they shot.

“Telechecking” — remotely reporting deer harvest by some form of electronic communication, rather than in person — has both fans and critics. On the plus side, it’s mighty handy for hunters and state agencies, whose budgets and personnel are stretched thin these days. Checking in deer by phone or the Web can be a cost- and time-effective way to document the outcome of hunting season and gather data.

The downside is that it can facilitate illegal harvest by those who choose to misrepresent what they shot — or not report it at all. That concern seems especially valid in a one-buck state, such as Ohio. With so many trophy bucks running around this state, the opportunity to shoot more than one is more than some folks can resist.

Does your own hunting area have “telecheck” in one form or another? If so, what’s your opinion on it? And if your area doesn’t have it, do you think it should? I’m interested to hear what those of you in the field think about the recent trend toward hands-off data collection.

  • Trevor

    I live in Ohio and I love the new telechecking system. It was always very time consuming to take bow kilIs and turkeys to check stations around here, and I'm glad this system helps free up DOW resources for more important things, like catching poachers. I think people who break the rules are going to do it regardless of what system our DOW uses. I know people who don't check their deer in or take more than one buck each year, and they are exactly the caliber of person that you would expect that behavior from- definitely not the cream of the crop. Ohio's one buck limit is one of the big reasons why our state is so rich with trophy bucks.

  • Chuck Rogers

    NJ just started this past winter bow season(currently on going) and I haven't seen any untagged deer (I am a processor) in fact more deer are coming in and checked right off my computer. I believe those who play by the rules will continue to do so, while the very small minority will abuse any system regardless.

  • anonymous

    My initial feeling on the telecheck system was "I hate it" I felt it would allow for more dishonesty. However it was very intelligently explained to me by a local wildlife officer that "dishonest people are going to be dishonest no matter what. This just makes things easier for the honest people." I have to agree. Folks can just as easily not bring a deer to a check station as they can not call one in. what makes the difference? My only continuing issue is that because we are a one buck state, I think the telecheck will help those who are "on the fence" about being honest, to become dishonest. I agree that the numbers may be down slightly because of the system, but feel that the major reason for the decline is the weather.

  • hmgary

    I live in the telecheck state of Maryland. I think the system may have had a reverse effect on the deer harvest numbers. Maryland is a "two buck state." It requires that you must shoot two does after harvesting your first buck before you are eligible for your second buck. I know of people that shoot a buck, report it, then report two does that they didn't shoot to become legal for their second buck. But no matter what system is in place cheaters will be cheaters.

  • Rick

    I live in Kentucky but also hunt Ohio which is only five minutes away "across the river" and when I heard Ohio was going to telecheck I told my friends that will be the end of the great deer hunting in Ohio over the years in Kentucky I have seen numerous drops in deer numbers my belief telecheck is just a way poachers can get by with it no doubt in my mind poachers take advantage of the so called telecheck system

  • Bryan

    Poachers are Poachers.. New system or not! The numbers being lower is directly related to the liberal bag limits and is exactly what the ODNR wanted.

  • Ohio hunter

    Guess no body took into consideration the increase in doe tags the state gives each hunter the past 4 years.
    5 or 6 does is way too many for one hunter to be taken. We have seen a major decrease in deer numbers on our trail cam surveys

  • Ohio hunter

    Every deer is at SOMEONES property during daylight. Just because the dnr gives out too many tags and killing off the population has nothing to do with how many deer came "OUT" in daylight. Every deer I'd at someones property during noon they don't just magically disappear. The dnr can make as many excuses about the weather they want. Venison in the woods? More like too much dead venison to meet past years numbers.

  • Bry

    I live in Ohio and think the new phone/web checking system is a terrible idea. True, dishonest people will continue to do dishonest things but I think this new system might encourage others to not check their deer. The DNR needs to make "examples" out of the first several people who are caught poaching/cheating the system. This will hopefully discourage others from engaging in this activity and hurting the excellent deer hunting in Ohio. The bad hunting this year though can probably be attributed to poor weather conditions.

  • Nicely

    The weather definitely had an impact on the number of deer as well as the quality of deer I saw this year in Ohio. I hunt public land on Wayne National and have harvested five P&Y bucks in the last five years but this year seemed to be different. The big deer I usually see never made any sign or even showed up. I sat one morning on a draw and watched 13 does come by at 10 yards at 7:30 before I saw my first buck at 11:00. In past years, I would have saw 13 bucks and only a few does but times are changing as is the weather. Methodology is what it is… like it or not. Be honest and check the animal out and give it its justice. At least the license still under two hundred dollars for out of state…could be a lot worse.

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