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ODNR Offers Deer Season Summary

September 21, 2014

The Strategy:

The goal of Ohio's deer program is to provide a deer population that maximizes recreational opportunity including viewing, photographing, and hunting while minimizing conflicts with agriculture, motor travel, and other areas of human endeavor. This has been our goal for over 50 years.

Farmer attitude surveys have been used to establish population goals for most counties. Although these goals are based on social values, the resulting populations have never exceeded the biological carrying capacity of the habitat. Deer herd condition data collected annually and through periodic studies confirm this. While we believe these goals represent a reasonable compromise concerning appropriate deer population levels, we plan to update population goals using a combination of farmer, hunter, and general citizenry surveys in summer of 2015. Our deer management goal ensures that Ohio's deer herd is maintained at a level that is acceptable to most, and biologically sound. Maintaining the deer population at or near goal is accomplished through harvest management.

Article Photos

Luke Greschaw with a six-point buck, taken last season in Harrison County, OH.

2013-14 Season Summary

Seasons, Permits, and Game Check

A valid hunting license (resident = $19, nonresident = $125) and an either-sex ($24) or antlerless permit ($15) are required (landowners are exempt) to hunt deer in Ohio. Hunters could harvest up to nine deer with a combination of either-sex and antlerless permits (Figure 1), however, they were limited to one antlerless permit per county. Permits were valid statewide during the first nine weeks of the archery season, as well as during all Division of Wildlife controlled hunts.

Fact Box

The Division of Wildlife issued 535,676 deer permits in license year 2013-14, nine percent fewer than last year and the fourth consecutive year that sales have declined.

Hunters were limited to one antlered deer, and had the opportunity to hunt deer during Ohio's four seasons including archery (Sep. 28, 2013 - Feb. 2, 2014), antlerless muzzleloader (Oct. 12-13), gun (Dec. 2-8), and muzzleloader (Jan. 4-7, 2014). Youth (17 and under) season was Nov. 23-24.

The Division of Wildlife issued 535,676 deer permits in license year 2013-14, nine percent fewer than last year and the fourth consecutive year that sales have declined. Permit sales for 2013-14 were off by nearly 14% from the peak in 2009-10. The decreasing trend is likely due to several factors including fewer deer in many areas of the state; the statewide buck harvest of 70,100 was nearly 27% lower than the record 2006-07 antlered buck harvest (Figure 2). The other factor influencing the decline is an aging hunter population.

The most notable change in permit numbers was the decline in free permits issued to seniors and disabled veterans. In 2012-13, 58,498 free permits were issued to seniors and disabled veterans. This past year, this dropped to 35,606, a decline of nearly 40%. This decline may be partly a function of our decision to delay the sale of deer permits. In 2013-14, deer permits went on sale July 1st.

Historically, these permits were available along with all other permits and licenses at the start of the license year, March 1st. The change affected only deer permits and would have meant another trip to the license outlet. Perhaps this discouraged some folks and contributed to the observed decline.

Beginning with the 2011-12 spring turkey season, licensed hunters were no longer required to present their turkey or deer at a check station for permanent tagging. Instead, both deer and turkey could be checked on-line, over the phone, or at any license vendor. Expectations were high, and for the most part, all were met or exceeded. Aside from the conveniences the Wild Ohio Customer Relationship Management System (WOCRMS) afforded our hunters and the time savings it created for DOW staff, our new license and game check system created opportunities to examine permit and harvest data in a manner that previously had been impossible or difficult at best. These new opportunities have and will continue to allow us to offer products, licenses, and permit packages that best suit our customer's needs.

For 2013-14, most hunters (77%) bought their permits in person, at a license vendor. Seniors and veterans were most likely to purchase their permits in person, with 89% of their permits bought at a license vendor. Non-residents were the most likely group to buy their permits on-line (39%).

In the 2013-14 season, 47% of deer were checked over the phone, making it the most popular method, with on-line reporting a close second at 42%. Only 11% of the deer harvest was checked in person. If you exclude deer harvested by landowners, no less than 60% of deer were checked using the phone, regardless of permit type (Figure 3).

Because WOCRMS relies on a 10-digit deer permit number to operate the phone-in check, deer harvested by landowners (who are not required to purchase a permit) cannot be checked using this method. For this reason, 76% of landowner harvests were reported on-line. Not surprisingly, because of their limited options, landowners were also more likely to complete their game check transaction at a license vendor than other hunters. Non-residents were least likely to use the internet to report their harvest, and preferred to check their deer over the phone more so than any other group.



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