The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 2, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Deer to their heart!

Young hunters harvest 6,000-plus across the state

For the Star Beacon

— Young hunters checked 6,645 white-tailed deer during Ohio’s two-day youth gun season, Nov. 23-24, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Young hunters were challenged by below-average temperatures and windy conditions during the two-day season.

“Congratulations to all the young hunters who participated and enjoyed Ohio’s youth deer hunting weekend,” ODNR Director James Zehringer said. “I want to thank the parents and adults who took the time to make the weekend a memorable one for the next generation of hunters.”

The Ohio counties that reported the most checked deer during the 2013 youth gun season: Coshocton (248), Tuscarawas (220), Muskingum (212), Holmes (196), Knox (189), Licking (189), Guernsey (183), Belmont (165), Harrison (165) and Carroll (161).

Youth hunters could pursue deer with a legal shotgun, muzzleloader or handgun and were required to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult during the two-day season. The youth deer-gun season is one of four special youth-only hunting seasons designed to offer a safe and early hunting experience for young hunters. Youth hunting seasons are also set aside for small game, wild turkey and waterfowl.

Youth hunters can commemorate their hunt with a First Harvest certificate, available at Participants can upload a photo and type in their information to personalize the certificate. Hunters can also share photos by clicking on the Photo Gallery tab online.

Ohio offers many more opportunities for young hunters to pursue deer. The deer-gun season is Monday, Dec. 2, through Sunday, Dec. 8. Deer-muzzleloader season is Saturday, Jan. 4, through Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. Deer-archery season is open now through Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. You can find complete details in the 2013-2014 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations or online at

A fine 9

Chris Stiltner works a 12-hour swing shift and lots of OT so he has to make the most of his time in the woods. He and his son, Hunter, utilize trail cams in an effort to get an idea of what they have on the their property. With that in mind, Chris had his sights set on a specific deer he had captured via trail cam.

Too hot to trot

On Sept. 30, 2013 Chris it was a warm on 65-70 degrees. A little warmer than Chris would have like but hey time is of the essence. Impervious to the weather conditions Chris arrived at this stand around 3:30. Buy the time he got there, working up a sweat, it was so warm that so warm he thought the mosquito’s were going to carry him away, they’re some mean little buggers.

Dashed expectations

In the past, he had pics on his trail cam of three doe that were coming in religiously between 6:15-6:30 p.m. With this in mind that was what he was expecting to see. The be-deering hour came and went with nothing. He thought to himself, “It’s just too stinkin’ hot, they just don't want to move or maybe they scented me. Well I’m gonna stick it out for a while longer, just in case.”

Whoa, dude!

Chris was sitting there contemplating his situation when  he heard the slight sound of a twig break behind him. He eased around and peered over his left shoulder. Whoa, dude, there he was, 10 yards out, the buck he had on camera and was hoping to get a chance at. When the buck moved behind a tree he snatched up his bow, hooked up his release and came to full draw.

Classic moves

Of course, the buck pulled a classic move, he stopped dead. It seems like an hour before he finally looked away and Chris could let his bow down due to fatigue. As Chris watched with anticipation his beast walked out in front of him but again and stopped, starring into the bean field, still no shot.

Chris thought to himself, “he’s going for the field, no no!” Just as fast that thought went through his mind the bug buck turned and headed his way. Chris again came to full draw; low and behold he stopped again, looked straight up at Chris and locked eyeballs, busted!

Big-buck stomp

The bruiser started doing the big-buck stomp, snort, bob and weave trying to figure what Chris was or get him to move. Suddenly, he made two jumps back towards the way he came, again, Chris let down his draw. Chris watched intently as he walked away, but unbelievably back toward the shooting lane where he had drawn on him originally.

Sttttrike 3, yer out!

Chris was now able to draw back for a third time but this was gonna be it, strike three yer out bubba! He touched off his release, heard the thwack, watched as his bruiser did a mule kick and was off and running. He sat down, regained his composure and began the waiting game.

Call the support staff

Chris’ eyesight is red / green deficient and he basically can’t track a deer unless he actually sees it drop so he called home to I enlisted the help of his wife and oldest son, Hunter. By the time they arrived, Chris had descended from his stand and retrieved his arrow. From there his tracking team had no problem picking up the trail and following it to the end where they found Chris’ buck expired.

Hoofin’ it

From there Chris went back to the house to fetch the four-wheeler. Regrettably it was out of gas and upon investigation so was his gas can. “Oh well guess we’re gonna be hoofin’ it back draggin’ this big ol’ boy was Chris’s thought.   

Chris’ stats

Chris Stiiltner harvested his 9-point buck on Sept. 30, 2013 while hunting in the Conneaut area. His bow of choice was a Teton Reflex bow throwing out Beman arrows tipped with 2-blade Rage broadheads. HI arrowed his target at 25 yards and he went another 50 before dropping. His camo was Mossy Oak and he had sprayed down with fresh earth Scent A-Way

Six pack

Twelve-year-old Hunter Stiltner, who is a seventh grader at Conneaut Middle School, and his dad, Chris, were supposed to head out top the deer woods at first light on Nov. 10, 2013.

But unfortunately, they woke to blustery winds and rain. Not a good scenario. Much to Hunter’s, dismay Chris coaxed Hunter into going back to bed for a while. Around 10 a.m., Hunter proceeded to get antsy asking since the rain had subsided could they go out now. Chris reluctantly agreed and they both proceeded top get suited up, Chris a little more slowly than Hunter.

Windy city

Winds were gusting up to 30 mph and Chris made the decision that tree-stand hunting would be a tad bit dangerous so they were going to hunt from the ground that day. Chris had a spot that he had scouted earlier on the far side of their hunting property and explained all the details to Hunter as they made there way to the honey hole.

All about location          

The hot spot was on the east side of a small draw where four heavily travel corridors crisscrossed through the area and extremely close to a bedding area. Normally, they wouldn’t hunt that close to it but this day the twosome played the wind and eased in with hoped of giving Hunter the best they could under the conditions.


Once they arrived at their destination, Chris went about getting the area cleaned up a little. He cleared the leaves and twigs away from the base of a downed tree where they were going to post as well as trimming a few branches to create some shooting lanes for Hunter. Next, he versed Hunter on the directions he hoped then deer would come from and they finally settled in.

‘Psst, Dad’

About a half hour had gone by when Hunter whispered, “Dad.” As Chris turned to see what Hunter wanted, he spied a buck. Hunter already had his bow up and was on target. Chris eased out a grunt and stopped the buck in a shooting lane and Hunter let loose, thwack. They knew it was a good hit as they both watched the arrow disappear through the deer being a double-lunged shot.


Once they calmed down after a bunch of high-fives and going crazy, they headed back to the house to get mom and the four-wheeler in anticipation of retrieving Hunters buck. This time the machine had gas and, hopefully, the drag would go easier.

Lessons learned.

Hunter’s stats

Hunter Stiltner harvested his 6- buck point on Nov. 10, 2013 while hunting with his father, Chris, in Conneaut . He was shooting an ambush crossbow armed with Easton Magnum arrows and Rage 2-blade broadheads. He arrowed his buck at 10 yards and he traveled another 50 before coming to rest. He was wearing mossy oak camo sprayed down with Scent A-Way spray, fresh earth, and Fresh Earth Scent Wafers hung strategically around his ground cover.

My call

It’s opening day, folks. I hope you’re not at home reading this in the a.m. Hopefully, you’re out in the woods in the process of shooting a bid un’ or maybe even dragging one back to wherever. No matter where you’re at or what you’re doing, hunt safe!

Every year, you hear of hunter accident incidents, please don’t be one of those statistics.

No. 1 rule, keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction at all times. Clearly identify your target before even contemplating pulling the trigger and know what’s beyond your target. Keep your safety on at all time until you’re ready to shoot. Safety first all time. If you even think it might be an unsafe situation or condition, pass on it. One day above ground is better than a lifetime under.

And remember, pass it on  or it will surely pass on.

Oh, deer!

This report is for the first 53 days of the 2013 Deer Archery Season. The percentages are in relationship to the same time frame in the 2012 archery season:

Ashtabula: Antlered: 648. Down –39.04 percent. Antlerless: 1369. Down, -31.75 percent

Geauga: Antlered: 342. Down 12.98 percent. Anterless: 673. Down, 23.52 percent

Lake: Antlered: 166. Down 22.43 percent. Anterless: 324. Down, 19.80 percent

Trumbull: Antlered: 608 Down 20.63 percent. Anterless: 1127. Down 20.41 percent

Statewide: Antlered: 33,381. Down 35.63 percent. Anterless: 48,848. Down, 35.72 percent.

Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. Reach him at