By 1812Blockhouse, Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Hunters checked 12,712 white-tailed deer during Ohio’s four-day muzzleloader season that concluded on Tuesday, Jan. 9, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. This total accounts for all deer taken with muzzleloader and archery equipment between Jan. 6-9.

During the 2023 muzzleloader season, hunters checked 13,611 white-tailed deer. Over the last three years, the four-day season average was 12,255. During the 2024 muzzleloader season, hunters took 3,327 antlered deer (26% of deer taken), 7,797 does (62%), 1,284 button bucks (10%), and 304 (2%) bucks with shed antlers or antlers shorter than 3 inches.

The 11 counties with the highest harvest totals during the season were Coshocton (453), Tuscarawas (416), Muskingum (389), Licking (363), Knox (352), Carroll (342), Guernsey (335), Harrison (327), Ashtabula (323), Belmont (309), and Columbiana (309).

While several other counties saw decreases in harvest numbers, Richland County saw increased activity as compared to the average of the three previous years.

Hunters have checked 203,608 deer with all implements during the 2023-24 season as of Tuesday, Jan. 9. That total includes 10,039 deer taken with a gun during the youth season, 70,118 deer harvested in the seven-day gun season, and another 15,469 deer checked during the two-day gun weekend. The total gun harvest, which includes controlled hunts, is 108,529. The bow harvest thus far is 95,079, with the archery season open until Sunday, Feb. 4.

This season marks the second time in the last ten years that the total season harvest surpassed 200,000 deer, the last being in 2022-23. A deer can yield approximately 60 pounds of meat. So far this year, hunters have added more than 12 million pounds of venison to freezers.

As of Tuesday, Jan. 9, the Division of Wildlife has issued 412,956 deer permits. Ohio is a popular destination for out-of-state hunters, and hunters from all 50 states have purchased licenses for the 2023-24 season. The states with the most nonresident Ohio hunters are Pennsylvania (7,537 licenses sold), Michigan (5,158), West Virginia (3,624), North Carolina (3,281), and New York (3,069).

Last year, hunters generated $1.9 billion in economic spending in Ohio, according to a recent report released by the Wildlife Management Institute, Responsive Management, and Southwick Associates. The research found that 5% of Ohio’s adults, about 500,000 individuals, participate in hunting, with 91% of those hunters taking part in deer hunting.

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.

Richland County saw 250 deer harvested, as compared to an average of 216 in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

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