Hunters hit the woods and fields of Washington County early Monday morning in hopes of bagging a deer or two as Ohio’s 2013 deer-gun season opened. An estimated deer harvest of 80,000 to 90,000 is expected statewide during the week-long season that ends Sunday.
“That’s about the same harvest numbers we’ve had in previous years for deer-gun season. But overall last year, including the muzzleloader and bow seasons, just under 220,000 deer were harvested across the state,” said Lindsay Rist, communications specialist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division.
She noted a couple of changes in the deer-gun season this year.
“Hunters have already been able to hunt a half-hour before sunrise in Ohio, but this year they can also hunt a half-hour after sunset,” Rist said.
She said research done in Pennsylvania and other surrounding states has indicated there is no increase in hunting accidents due to hunters being allowed in the field for an additional 30 minutes after sunset.
Another change this year is there will be no additional deer-gun hunting weekend.
“We used to have a bonus weekend in December and we eliminated that this year,” Rist said. “But we did add an early muzzleloader deer season during one weekend in October.”
Each county has its own bag limit for gun-deer season. In Washington County hunters can take one buck and one doe, or two does during the week.
“But in no case can they take more than one buck,” Rist said.
On Monday morning Don Ingraham was checking his first deer kill, a 10-point buck, at the Hickory Grove store near Vincent.
“I have some farm property on Walsh Road and have been watching the deer eating out of my field there all summer,” he said. “This one I shot with a muzzleloader around 7:45 this morning.”
Ingraham said he also owns some property in the Walker, W.Va., area with several other hunters and plans to hunt for another buck there during the coming week.
West Virginia’s two-week buck firearm season began Nov. 25 and continues through Dec. 7. Officials won’t have a deer harvest count for that period until sometime next week, according to Tim Coleman, spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.
“Except for the first day the weather was pretty lousy during that first week, so the number of hunters statewide seemed to be down from last year, but most of those who have gone out had a successful hunt,” he said.
In 2012 West Virginia hunters harvested a total of 56,276 bucks during the buck firearm season, and officials expect this year’s harvest will be similar. WVDNR estimates the state will see a total of approximately 330,000 deer hunters throughout this year.
Hunting seemed to be light in Washington County on Monday, according to Rick Smith of Waterford who was out with his 10-year-old grandson, Harley Miller, that morning.
“We’re just seeing does,” Smith said. “And it seems like there’s few people hunting today. I think some hunters may be losing interest.”
Cutler area resident Larry Curfman did kill an 8-point buck on his property Monday morning, but said the overall deer population seemed to be lower this year.
“I’m not seeing nearly as many deer as I normally see this time of year,” he said. “There hasn’t been a good acorn crop for a couple of years, and that’s what the deer usually feed on, so that may be why the numbers are down.”
Hunters and community members in the Barlow and Vincent areas can grab a hot lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Barlow Volunteer Fire Department through Saturday this week.
“We’re serving chili, vegetable soup and hot dogs today, but the menu will change every day. We don’t charge for the food, but people can leave a donation,” said Carolyn Ollom with the Barlow Volunteer Fire Department.
Hunters are also welcome to take lunch through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cutler Community Center, served by the Cutler Community Ladies Aid group.
And a “Late Breakfast Brunch” for deer hunters and the public is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday only at the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 52 on DAV Road a mile off Ohio 821 in Fearing Township.