2017 Ohio Deer Forecast
September 19, 2017
We cornered the state's top two white-tailed deer experts to try to get a handle on what hunters can expect to experience — and why — in the deer woods this season. Ohio Division of Wildlife Deer Biologist Clint McCoy and Deer Program Administrator Mike Tonkovich provided some excellent insight into the management of Ohio's deer herd and how they are working to help maintain the high quality of hunting the state's sportsmen have come to expect.
When asked about the notable aspects of the 2016/2017 season harvest, Tonkovich said that it depends on what we want to compare it to.
"Compared to the 2015 season, it was down," he said, adding: "But is that a legitimate comparison? We think 'year-over' comparisons are much like daily changes in the stock market — worthless. When you consider an investment, you look at past year, past three years and past 10 years. With the harvest being a function of so many factors, we believe that year-over comparisons can be misleading. Which is why we have begun evaluating harvest in a much broader, more meaningful context: how does the harvest compare to the 3-year average?"
According to McCoy, "2015 was a banner harvest year. Everything lined up for large harvest (poor mast crop, early crop harvest, decent gun season weather). The buck harvest was up nearly 15 percent. Because the 2015 season was so productive, it was unlikely from the outset that 2016 would be able to match it, even with a growing population," McCoy said. "With 2016 being an average year 'conditions-wise' for harvest, I expect buck harvest increases in 2017/18, signaling a growing herd."
Compared to the three-year average, last season harvest was off by 67 deer. Overall hunter success changed very little last season, when approximately 1 in 3 licensed adult hunters harvested at least 1 deer. Regulatory changes — including those that made additional straight-walled cartridge calibers legal — also probably had little effect on the total number of deer that hunters took.