The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 10, 2012

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Hunters bag more than 86,000 deer

For the Star Beacon

— Hunters enjoyed great weather as they harvested 86,964 white-tailed deer during Ohio’s traditional weeklong deer-gun season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

The harvest yielded an anticipated slight decrease of 3.7 percent from 2011, when 90,282 deer were checked.

“The traditional deer-gun week is enjoyed by thousands annually, and this year was no exception,” ODNR Director James Zehringer said. “Ohio’s healthy deer population offers a great source of outdoor recreation to many Ohio residents and out-of-state hunters.”

Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer checked during the 2012 gun season: Coshocton (3,119), Muskingum (2,927), Tuscarawas (2,860), Guernsey (2,620), Harrison (2,370), Licking (2,271), Washington (2,163), Knox (2,159), Belmont (2,127) and Carroll (2,062). The order of the top six counties remained unchanged from last year.

Ohio’s weeklong gun season was Nov. 26-Dec. 2. Hunters still have one weekend of deer-gun hunting, Dec. 15-16, and archery season remains open through Feb. 3, 2013. The statewide deer-muzzleloader season is Jan. 5-8, 2013.

The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in Ohio, frequently pursued by generations of hunters. Ohio ranks eighth nationally in annual hunting-related sales and 10th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting has an $859 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more.

More information about Ohio deer hunting can be found in the 2012-2013 Hunting and Trapping Regulations or at Hunters can also share photos by clicking on the Photo Gallery tab online.

Hunters must still report their deer harvest, but they are no longer required to take their deer to a check station for physical inspection. Hunters have three options to complete the automated game check:

A. Online at

B. By telephone at 877-TAG-ITOH (824-4864). This option is only available to those required to have a deer permit to hunt deer.

C. At all license agents. A list of these agents can be found at, or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).

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

Note: A list of white-tailed deer checked by hunters during the 2012 weeklong, deer-gun hunting season is shown below. The first number following the county’s name shows the harvest numbers for 2012, and the 2011 numbers are in parentheses:

Adams: 1,554 (1,727); Allen: 393 (293); Ashland: 1,240 (1,096); Ashtabula: 2,052 (1,777); Athens: 1,983 (2,059); Auglaize: 362 (192); Belmont: 2,127 (2,431); Brown: 1,094 (1,229); Butler: 350 (345); Carroll: 2,062 (2,252); Champaign: 487 (554); Clark: 226 (276); Clermont: 835 (980); Clinton: 348 (373); Columbiana: 1,686 (1,738); Coshocton: 3,119 (3,690); Crawford: 543 (441); Cuyahoga: 30 (37); Darke: 312 (223); Defiance: 882 (725); Delaware: 620 (594); Erie: 171 (137); Fairfield: 1,040 (1,152); Fayette: 111 (104); Franklin: 176 (170); Fulton: 413 (302); Gallia: 1,747 (1,844); Geauga: 598 (623); Greene: 318 (287); Guernsey: 2,620 (2,982); Hamilton: 244 (298); Hancock: 558 (402); Hardin: 512 (354); Harrison: 2,370 (2,772); Henry: 347 (279); Highland: 1,347 (1,432); Hocking: 1,966 (2,184); Holmes: 1,837 (2,013); Huron: 1,006 (925); Jackson: 1,439 (1,515); Jefferson: 1,830 (2,044); Knox: 2,159 (2,480); Lake: 207 (185); Lawrence: 1,286 (1,574); Licking: 2,271 (2,678); Logan: 755 (760); Lorain: 764 (739); Lucas: 158 (129); Madison: 141 (167); Mahoning: 664 (563); Marion: 410 (320); Medina: 596 (556); Meigs: 1,764 (1,974); Mercer: 318 (203); Miami: 241 (194); Monroe: 1,695 (1,960); Montgomery: 162 (144); Morgan: 1,712 (1,804); Morrow: 844 (851); Muskingum: 2,927 (3,223); Noble: 1,647 (2,028); Ottawa: 86 (81); Paulding: 551 (416); Perry: 1,726 (1,832); Pickaway: 500 (466); Pike: 973 (1,077); Portage: 608 (644); Preble: 323 (267); Putnam: 327 (238); Richland: 1,418 (1,714); Ross: 1,512 (1,723); Sandusky: 224 (195); Scioto: 1,138 (1,224); Seneca: 803 (603); Shelby: 456 (305); Stark: 833 (661); Summit: 163 (151); Trumbull: 1,237 (1,060); Tuscarawas: 2,860 (3,180); Union: 352 (354); Van Wert: 290 (194); Vinton: 1,583 (1,577); Warren: 406 (412); Washington: 2,163 (2,225); Wayne: 784 (644); Williams: 906 (787); Wood: 254 (208); Wyandot: 812 (661). Total: 86,964 (90,282).

Tori Mathia scores again

Vince and Tori (Victoria) Mathia set out early Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, morning and made it to Tori’s tree stand just as it was getting light. It was a cold morning with and about an inch of snow had fallen making it easy to see through the woods. Vince had spent several hours the weekend before clearing shooting lanes in front of the stand so Tori would have a clear shot come opening day. Hopefully setting the stage for a successful hunt.

Hey, a doe, wait, a buck!

As they were sitting there waiting for the break of day they could hear a few shots off in the distance. Around 8 a.m. Vince noticed a doe walking through the woods about 150 yards away and told Tori to get ready. As she started looking at the doe they noticed a huge buck walking several yards behind the doe. They grunted and bleated in an effort to stop the big guy and get him to come their way. He stopped several times and looked but would not leave the doe.

Parental sacrifices

Vince told Tori that it was just too far for her 20 gauge to shoot but his 12 gauge could reach out and touch him easily. As Vince raised his gun he saw two twigs out at about 100 yards between him and the buck. The buck was huge and one of the biggest he had seen in a while. Typically, he would not have hesitated but he started thinking that if he shot, Tori’s morning hunt would be done and as it were she couldn’t hunt again until Saturday. Not wanting to take a shot that might get deflected, and worse yet, end Tori’s best chance at getting a deer, Vince decided to let the buck pass.

High hopes

To keep her hopes high they talked about how great a day it already had been (heck it was only 8 in the morning!) and how lucky they were to have seen such a magnificent buck. About 10 to 15 minutes went by and Vince saw a deer coming in from behind them. As it approached they noticed it was a nice buck! Here we go again!

A second chance

He told Tori to set up on the right hand side of the 2-person tree stand hoping that the deer would hit the four wheeler path and follow it straight to them. Unfortunately, the buck was walking straight, not taking the path and ended up behind the stand. Tori whispered to Vince that she had to stand up to get her gun out the back of the stand, he told her to go for it but to move slowly.

She had trouble getting the gun around his safety harness tether and may have made a little too much movement. Suddenly, the buck looked up, got spooked, and jumped back a few steps. He stood there motionless for a few seconds, decided it was nothing and continued he quest, whew!

Hey, I’m not ready!

As her bruiser got closer, Vince grunted to stop him, unknowingly ignorant to the fact that Tori was not ready to shoot. Nonetheless she collected herself and squeezed off a shot. They both watched as the buck dropped his head and ran off out of sight in an erratic manner. Hopefully, a good sign that he shot would be a fatal one.

Deer tracks everywhere

After a short wait they get down from their lofty perch and started to look for blood…NONE!!! To make it worse there were deer tracks everywhere in the snow and they couldn’t figure out which ones were the bucks. They both scoured the area to no avail, nothing, no blood anywhere. They started a grid search though the woods but after about 45 minutes Vince decided to try a different approach.

Start from the beginning

Vince told Tori to follow the path back to her stand and stay there until he got back, he would follow shortly after. Once they got back to the stand Vince had Tori show him exactly where the buck was when she shot. Vince put his orange hat at the spot and started over.

He noticed he was right next to the path he thought the deer would walk down. Out of sheer happenstance Vince went to the path and there was a set of tracks from a running deer! He followed the tracks about 200 yards and there was Tori’s buck, piled up in the brush at the end of the path that Tori had just walked down. Vice called for Tori and told her to meet him at the end of the trail.

Needless to say, she was a very happy hunter! This is Tori’s second buck.

Tori’s stats

Fourteen-year-old Tori (Victoria) Mathia who attends Joseph Badger in Kinsman where she is a freshman harvested her buck on Nov. 26, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. while hunting with her father Vince in Kinsman Ohio. Her buck was at 50 yards when she shot it and it went 200 more before expiring.

Tori was using a 20 gauge Remington 870 pump action shotgun powered by Remington Premier 2 3/4-inch copper solid slugs. Her and dad Vince were hunting from a double ladder stand with camo siding and roof 15 feet high. Her trophy had a 9-point rack and field dress in at around 150 pounds. This is Tori’s second buck since she’s started hunting.

Jess Bianco’s bruiser

I quote my friend Jess Bianco, “Here ya go Dale. No good story to go with it. I was just stalking / still-hunting and happened to come across him. Pure luck on this one lol.”

Sometimes, that’s the way it happens, folks. Ya know how it is when yer in the right place at the right time. Well, this time, Jess was in the right place and definitely there at the right time.

Jess’ stats

Jess Bianco harvested his bruiser at 10 a.m. on Nov. 24, 2012 while hunting in Ravenna Arsenal. He was packing a Remington 870 12guage pushing out Federal 3” Barnes expander sabots, topped with a Nikon 3x9 scope.

His bruiser was at 100 yards and went another 400 before dropping. Jess was stalk hunting while wearing Mossy Oak Breakup and the prescribed amount of hunter orange.

He was using Hunters Specialties Fresh Earth Scent Wafers and Buck Bomb as cover scent and attractant. His buck weighed n at 150 pounds and sported a 10-point rack that scored 135 5/8 with 10 6/8 deductions.

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

Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. Reach him at