The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 2, 2012

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Gun season opens with a bang!

For the Star Beacon

— Hunters checked 29,297 white-tailed deer on Monday, Nov. 26, the opening day of Ohio’s deer-gun season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

Monday’s total represents a 24.1 percent increase from 2011, when rain-soaked hunters harvested 23,600 deer.

Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer checked in 2012: Coshocton (1,199), Muskingum (1,102), Tuscarawas (1,091), Guernsey (858), Harrison (845), Knox (830), Ashtabula (816), Licking (805), Carroll (776) and Washington (747). The top three counties were unchanged from 2011.

The deer-gun season was open through Sunday. It will reopen for an additional two days, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15-16. Approximately 420,000 hunters are expected to participate in this year’s season, including many out-of-state hunters. Find more information about deer hunting in Ohio’s 2012-13 Hunting and Trapping Regulations or at

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.

Note: A list of white-tailed deer checked by hunters during opening day of the 2012 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: 478 (395); Allen: 122 (67); Ashland: 497 (330); Ashtabula: 816 (609); Athens: 602 (505); Auglaize: 107 (50); Belmont: 674 (629); Brown: 334 (244); Butler: 100 (31); Carroll: 776 (620); Champaign: 163 (112); Clark: 61 (43); Clermont: 268 (150); Clinton: 115 (61); Columbiana: 603 (485); Coshocton: 1,199 (1,197); Crawford: 164 (118); Cuyahoga: 5 (4); Darke: 91 (37); Defiance: 340 (261); Delaware: 175 (120); Erie: 61 (24); Fairfield: 325 (298); Fayette: 35 (21); Franklin: 53 (35); Fulton: 151 (109); Gallia: 523 (465); Geauga: 157 (153); Greene: 98 (40); Guernsey: 858 (816); Hamilton: 59 (18); Hancock: 174 (105); Hardin: 148 (104); Harrison: 845 (882); Henry: 123 (78); Highland: 448 (299); Hocking: 664 (602); Holmes: 739 (617); Huron: 381 (284); Jackson: 463 (402); Jefferson: 649 (546); Knox: 830 (719); Lake: 55 (38); Lawrence: 342 (382); Licking: 805 (616); Logan: 234 (162); Lorain: 202 (167); Lucas: 26 (34); Madison: 39 (35); Mahoning: 242 (101); Marion: 111 (66); Medina: 202 (110); Meigs: 527 (499); Mercer: 100 (51); Miami: 54 (22); Monroe: 536 (532); Montgomery: 42 (16); Morgan: 587 (458); Morrow: 280 (178); Muskingum: 1,102 (964); Noble: 568 (584); Ottawa: 24 (18); Paulding: 191 (128); Perry: 587 (477); Pickaway: 168 (124); Pike: 294 (246); Portage: 189 (144); Preble: 82 (46); Putnam: 108 (46); Richland: 471 (434); Ross: 495 (385); Sandusky: 70 (58); Scioto: 303 (278); Seneca: 254 (148); Shelby: 155 (87); Stark: 253 (153); Summit: 43 (22); Trumbull: 471 (315); Tuscarawas: 1,091 (896); Union: 119 (76); Van Wert: 76 (45); Vinton: 544 (468); Warren: 129 (66); Washington: 747 (503); Wayne: 245 (167); Williams: 354 (299); Wood: 67 (47); Wyandot: 239 (224). Total: 29,297 (23,600).

Gobblin’ ’em up

Hunters harvested 1,338 wild turkeys during Ohio’s 2012 fall wild turkey season, according to the Division of Wildlife. Ohio’s 2012 fall wild turkey hunting season was open Oct. 13-Nov. 25.

This year’s total is a 2.5 percent decline from 2011, when hunters bagged 1,372 wild turkeys. The 2010 harvest total was 1,425.

“Wild turkey hunting is a challenging activity that thousands of hunters enjoy year after year with family and friends,” ODNR Director James Zehringer said. “Ohio’s wild turkey population remains strong, and we appreciate those hunters who participated in the fall wild turkey season this year.”

The top 11 counties for fall turkey harvest were: Ashtabula (61), Coshocton (56), Geauga and Tuscarawas (53 each), Knox (46), Clermont (42), Licking (41), Guernsey (39), Holmes (38) as well as Adams and Richland (37 each). Ashtabula was also the top county in 2011, with 67 wild turkeys.

Prior to the start of this fall’s hunting season, Ohio’s wild turkey population was approximately 180,000. More than 17,000 hunters, not including private landowners hunting on their own property, enjoyed Ohio’s fall wild turkey season. Hunters could pursue a wild turkey of either sex in 48 counties using a shotgun, muzzleloading shotgun, bow or crossbow.

More information about Ohio wild turkey hunting can be found at Hunters can share photos by clicking on the Photo Gallery tab online.

Note: A list of wild turkeys checked by hunters during the 2012 fall 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: 37 (35); Ashland: 22 (17); Ashtabula: 61 (67); Athens: 32 (27); Belmont: 27 (32); Brown: 21 (26); Carroll: 29 (39); Clermont: 42 (32); Columbiana: 29 (37); Coshocton: 56 (44); Cuyahoga: 2 (0); Defiance: 20 (13); Gallia: 25 (36); Geauga: 53 (31); Guernsey: 39 (53); Harrison: 34 (38); Highland: 32 (37); Hocking: 28 (20); Holmes: 38 (42); Jackson: 21 (17); Jefferson: 23 (20); Knox: 46 (55); Lake: 9 (7); Lawrence: 14 (21); Licking: 41 (40); Lorain: 9 (29); Mahoning: 22 (24); Medina: 11 (17); Meigs: 30 (15); Monroe: 34 (45); Morgan: 17 (23); Morrow: 16 (11); Muskingum: 35 (36); Noble: 31 (50); Perry: 29 (26); Pike: 21 (21); Portage: 19 (18); Richland: 37 (39); Ross: 20 (19); Scioto: 24 (22); Stark: 17 (23); Summit: 9 (3); Trumbull: 36 (31); Tuscarawas: 53 (53); Vinton: 34 (21); Washington: 24 (24); Wayne: 7 (9); Williams: 22 (27). Total: 1,338 (1,372).


For those of you who have had a successful harvest you might want to take note of this. The answer is yes, to a point. If you look at the third molar (from the front) on the bottom jaw, and that tooth has three parts — called a “tricuspid” — then the deer is 1.5 years old. Note that the tooth might actually look like three separate teeth but has only one root. You can take that to the bank.

But if that same tooth is made up of only two parts — a “bicuspid” — the deer is at least 2.5 years old. Beyond that, you can make an educated guess based on wear, but you can’t be certain. Factors such as the type of food the deer eats and its genetics play a big role in tooth wear, so one 3.5-year-old deer’s teeth might wear more than another of the same age. Biologists can make a cross-section cut of the tooth and look at it under a microscope to get exact age, but such methods are beyond most hunters.

So with a deer past the age of 2.5, it’s possible to make a good guess based on tooth wear, but aging any deer older than 2.5 based on tooth wear alone is still an educated guess at best.

Body language

Psychologist can interpret a person’s mood by reading his body language, and a hunter can do the same thing with deer. Deer will give you a lot of signs if you pay attention. Watch the deer’s tail. If the tail gets in an arched position with the ears alert, something is wrong. When everything is all right, the deer will twitch its tail a few times and go back to feeding.

If a deer starts stomping its foot and tensing up, something’s wrong. If the deer spots you in a stand and starts bobbing its head up and down, it’s trying to get you to move and confirm its suspicions. When deer are staring at you and their body language is nervous, sit absolutely still and even squint your eyes so less of the white shows.

Pay special attention to the doe with a yearling. She’s the spookiest animal in the woods. If you spook her, she will alert every other nearby deer. If mamma doe doesn’t like whatever is happening, daddy isn’t coming, either.

When you’re watching deer in a field or other feeding situation, they will tell you when other deer are coming. If the deer look up and stare into the cover, that’s a sign that another deer is approaching. If you watch a little buck, he’ll tip you off that a bigger buck is heading your way. Not only will a small buck watch a bigger buck approach, but he’ll also act nervous. Deer have a fascinating way of communicating with one another through body language, and you’ll pick it up if you watch carefully.

Dyin’ on the vine

Hey folks I’m like a Harpersfield grape dyin’ on the vine here. Sure I like giving you hot tips and keeping you informed about what’s happening with the division of wildlife. I also feel obligated to keep you up to date as to what’s going on in the various seasons, as well as new laws and regulations and the reported harvest numbers.

But ya wanna know what I like best? Doing stories on successful harvests from in and around Ashtabula County. I especially take pleasure in doing harvest articles on youth. To get their picture and story in their home town newspaper not only helps to solidify their love of the sport but it also makes the a celebrity for a day in school. I can’t begin to tell you how many thank you notes I’ve gotten from parents, and kids too, after their tale has been printed in the Monday morning Star Beacon.

Subsequently I need yer help. Now I know we’ve killed some deer in Ashtabula County, 1098 bucks so far. Youth weekend the younger generation harvested 166 total deer of both gender but not a story one, hmm?  

It’s real simple folks, email me at I’ll send you a form to fill out with all the info I create my stories from, you email it back to me with as several pictures I create a story out of it and wham bam thank you hunter it get put into the paper.  By the way I’m kinda choosy about what goes in picture wise, no blood and guts. If need be I will crop and edit the picture as much as possible to make it aesthetically pleasing to all our readers.

OK, I’m waiting, don’t send them all at once, he who hesitates is lost, ya need a newspaper article to hang on the wall next to yer mount, ya wanna look good in front of all yer buddies, don’t ya?

Here it is again:

Oh, deer!

As of Nov. 27, 2012 the deer harvest stats for Ashtabula County and some surrounding counties are as follows:

Ashtabula — Bucks taken 1098, does taken 1560, Button Bucks 411, 2012, Total 3069.

Geauga — Bucks taken 403, does taken 693, button bucks taken 177 — Total, 1273.

Lake — Bucks taken 222, does taken 325, button bucks taken 71 ‚ Total 618.

Trumbull — Bucks taken 791, does taken 1029, button bucks taken 362 — Total 2182.

Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. Reach him at