The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 16, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: State deer harvest down 5 percent

For the Star Beacon

— Ohio hunters checked 75,408 white-tailed deer during the weeklong gun-hunting season, Dec. 2-8, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

“With the muzzleloader season and almost two months of archery hunting yet to come, Ohio hunters have many more opportunities to harvest a deer,” Scott Zody, chief of the ODNR Division of Wildlife, said.

Hunting is the best and most effective management tool for maintaining Ohio’s healthy deer population. Hunters have harvested 162,720 deer so far in the 2013 hunting seasons, compared to 171,867 at the same point last year, a 5 percent difference.

The Division of Wildlife remains committed to properly managing Ohio’s deer populations through a combination of regulatory and programmatic changes. The goal of Ohio’s Deer Management Program is to provide a deer population that maximizes recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists.

This ensures that Ohio’s deer herd is maintained at a level that is both acceptable to most, and biologically sound.

Until recently, the populations in nearly all of Ohio’s counties were well above their target numbers. In the last few years, through increased harvests, dramatic strides have been made in many counties to bring those populations closer toward their goal.

Once a county’s deer population is near goal, harvest regulations are adjusted to maintain the population near that goal.

Archery season remains open through Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. The muzzleloader season is Jan. 4-7, 2014.

Counties reporting the highest number of checked deer during the 2013 gun season: Coshocton (2,658), Muskingum (2,604), Tuscarawas (2,604), Guernsey (2,401), Ashtabula (2,334), Harrison (2,133), Carroll (2,019), Knox (1,966), Licking (1,887) and Belmont (1,851). Coshocton County also had the most deer checked in the 2012 deer gun season (3,119).

Ohio’s first modern day deer-gun season opened in 1943 in three counties, and hunters harvested 168 deer. Deer hunting was allowed in all 88 counties in 1956, and hunters harvested 3,911 deer during that one-week season.

Deer hunting in Ohio continues to be a popular activity for many who enjoy the outdoors. Ohio hunters checked 218,910 deer during the 2012-2013 season.

Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries.

Hunting has a more than $853 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation publication.

More information about Ohio deer hunting can be found in the 2013-14 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations or at

Back off don’t push ‘em

It doesn’t matter how much you practice or how selective you are with your shots, sooner or later you are going to make a bad hit. Gun, bow or muzzleloader, things happen in the deer woods beyond our control.

While a bad hit is inevitable, losing your deer isn’t. Most wounded deer will bed down within a few hundred yards of where they were hit. Once pushed from that bed, however, there’s no telling how far the deer will go.

Watch and listen

What you do in the minutes immediately following a bad hit is critical. First, watch; keep your eye on the deer. The second you lose sight of it pick out a landmark and etch that landmark in your mind.

Next, listen; try to hear if the deer changes direction from where you last saw it. Also listen for a crash that could signal that the deer went down.

Lastly, if you’re sure you made a bad hit, leave the woods to get help. Do not go to look for the deer.

Do not disturb

If you are bowhunting and know where the arrow should be, it is okay to look for the arrow if doing so will not disturb your deer.

The arrow might give you key information on the type of hit. The most important thing to keep in mind is to not push the deer from its first and, hopefully, last bed.


Resist the urge

Most hunters cannot fight the urge to go looking for their deer, especially a big buck, after a bad hit.

While these same hunters realize they need to back off once they’ve pushed the deer from its bed, the mistake has already been made.

You have a much better chance of finding your deer if you let it alone right after the hit.

It happens but…

While a bad hit is going to happen to everyone, proper practice and good shot selection will help keep those bad shots few and far between.

While you can’t stop a deer from taking a step just as you shoot, there’s no excuse for not being proficient with your implement of choice.

Trin’s 9-pointer

Trinity (Trin) Sironen had sighted her gun the week before season. She had also readied all of her hunting clothes and put them in the garage in an effort to be ready to go when mom got home from work.

This would also help cut down on the scent somewhat also.

Honey, I’m home

Once Mom arrived home, they quickly got dressed and were out at the stand by 3:30pm after dropping dad and brother at their stand.

Even though it was cold and snowy, they wiled away the time talking, laughing and sharing hunting stories to pass the time. It was a good bonding time.

Enough chatter           

Finally the chatter was interrupted by the sight of a deer coming in from the north wear end of the food plot.

It stopped 50 yards out in front of Trin and began to browse on the clover and grain filed. Food plots her dad and grandpa had planted specifically for wild game, deer and turkey.

Gentle reminders

Trin and Mom got out of their chairs and eased up to the shooting window, opened it and laid a pad on the edge of the window sill to use as a gun rest.

Mom quietly reminded her to get down on the gun, put her chin down, rest her cheek against the stock of the gun, and pull it pull it tight into her shoulder all while holding the gun steady.    

Shoot that deer!

Once in position and on target Trin asked, “Mom, are you ready?” Mom replied back, “Yes, Trin, shoot that deer!” Trin placed her finger on the trigger and eased it back; Ka Boom the gun went off.

Trin couldn’t see much through the cloud of smoke her muzzleloader created but mom saw the deer’s reaction, it was a good one. It jumped what seemed 10 feet off the ground and gave a big ol’ mule kick.

Mom watched as the buck ran toward the southwest side of the food and then into the wood line.

Crash and thrash

Trin was huffing and puffing and kept saying, “Mom I got it, mom I got it.” Mom interrupted her, “Sssh Trinity I need to listen.”

Then it came the crash and thrash in the woods, what a welcome sound. Mom told her, “You got it, it’s down, I saw how it reacted after you shot it, it was a good hit, you got him, he’s down.”

They were both excited, to say the least.

Call in the cavalry

From there, Mom called Dad and Brother to come help in the search. By the time they arrived, Trin and Mom had gotten down and located where the buck was when Trin shot it, they discovered lots of hair but no blood and that’s what dad’s are for.

Dad found blood, good blood, in the roadway leading to the woods.

Let him lay

They followed the trail until it went right to the edge of the woods and Dad stopped them. He decided to give him a while longer and let him lay, just in case. As Mom and Dad entered the woods Trin stayed behind. Dad followed the blood trail, while Mom went on a search and find mission.

Get in here!

While dad was still working the blood trail mom spied Trin’s deer and hollered to her, “Look, there he is. Trinity, get in here and get your deer.”

As Trin ran excitedly towards her buck she could see her dad just shaking his head and sayinig, “Wow, what a buck, wow!”  

Trin’s stats

Twelve-year-old Trinity Sironen, who is in the seventh grade at Conneaut Middle School, harvested her first deer, a nine-point buck, Nov. 23, 2013 at 4:20 p.m. while hunting with her mom in Monroe Township.

She was shooting a T/C Impact, 50 caliber, inline, blasting out a Powerbelt 245 grain sabot while packing 80 grains of Pyrodex. It was at 50 yards when she shot it and went another 30 into the woods before collapsing.

She was wearing hunter orange clothing and hunting from a homemade enclosed blind. Her buck was a nine point and weighed in at around 200 pounds. Grandpa and grandma are going to get it mounted for her at Skyline Taxidermy in the sneak position because that what he was doing when she shot him, sneaking a bit to eat.

Remember, pass it on or it will surely pass on.

Deer-harvest numbers         

Ashtabula: Antlered: 1334. Up, 0.15  percent. Antlerless: 3,136 Up, 18.56  percent

Geauga: Antlered: 522 Up, 7.85  percent. Anterless: 1,150. Down, 7.48  percent

Lake: Antlered: 219. Down, 10.25  percent. Anterless: 425. Down, 15.34  percent

Trumbull: Antlered: 1,015. Up, 11.17  percent. Anterless: 2,118. Up, 14.86 percent

Statewide Archery: Antlered: 60,443. Down, 8.75  percent. Anterless: 103,155. Down, 2.51  percent.

Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. Reach him at