Ohio: 2018 Deer Harvest Down, But Big Buck Kill Up

ohio gary nov 8 2018Hunters checked 172,040 whitetails deer during Ohio’s 2018-2019 season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). That’s down from last year, when 186,247 deer were checked. Some of the decrease can be attributed to poor weather throughout the fall of 2018.

While the overall harvest was down, the number of big bucks killed with a bow was impressive.

In the photo: Gary Bendele shot this giant (170 net Booner) with his bow on November 8, 2018 in Fayette County.

Ethan  Featheroff’s monster non-typical, shot last October, grossed 220!

Facts about deer hunting in Ohio: Regulations set by ODNR over the past four seasons have been designed to allow for moderate herd growth throughout most of the state; herd growth is achieved by reducing harvest and protecting female deer.  

Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting has a more than $853 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging, etc.

Ohio ranks #3 in America in terms of deer killed and tagged with a bow; of the estimated recent harvests of 172,000 to 186,000, some 45% were archery kills.

2018 Pennsylvania Deer Harvest Highest In 14 Years…State “has never managed whitetails better.”

???????????????????????????????From the York Dispatch: “The (Pennsylvania Game Commission) reported that a total of 374,690 deer were harvested during the state’s 2018-19 hunting seasons, which closed in January.

“That total tops the previous year’s harvest of 367,159 by about 10 percent.”

The 2018 antlerless harvest of 226,940 was up about 10 percent over last year. Data show that most does—64%–killed by hunters were 2.5 years old, and the remainder were 1.5 years old.

The 2018-19 buck kill of 147,750 was down 10% from the previous season. The commission says that steady, heavy rain during opening weekend of gun season was the biggest reason for the decline—it kept a lot of hunters out of the woods, and the bucks didn’t move well in the poor conditions.

During any year, about half of Pennsylvania’s overall buck harvest typically occurs on opening day of firearms season. It’s like that in many states.

In a positive trend that you see in states across the country, the percentage of older bucks in the 2018-19 PA harvest was high. About 64 percent of the bucks shot by hunters were at least 2½ years old.

“That almost two-thirds of the bucks…were at least 2½ years old is a tribute to the science our deer managers use and the sacrifices a generation of hunters made in the commonwealth,” said Bryan Burhans, the game commission’s executive director. “The bucks being taken every day in Pennsylvania’s deer seasons are living proof that this commonwealth has never managed whitetails better.”

In the photo: Longtime BIG DEER blogger Terry “Big Daddy” Murphy shot this buck on October 16, 2018 on his land in Potter County. It was Big Daddy’s 40th archery buck in 40 years of hunting Pennsylvania, which is a 1 buck per year state. 

2018 Virginia Deer Harvest

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In my home state of Virginia last season, hunters harvested 190,636 deer, including 96,239 antlered bucks, 12,342 button bucks, and 82,055 does.

Bowhunters killed 26,676 of those deer. For the first time since crossbows became legal for all archery hunters in fall 2005, the number of whitetails taken with crossbows exceeded the number taken with vertical bows.

Blackpowder hunters shot 43,749 deer during the popular November muzzleloader season. Firearms hunters (rifles and shotguns) killed 120,074 deer, or 63% of the total.

Approximately 161,800 deer (85%) were checked using the Department’s electronic telephone and Go Outdoors Virginia online checking portal.

Virginia Deer Project Coordinator Matt Knox expected the fall 2018 harvest total to be down for 2 reasons. First, much of the Commonwealth experienced heavy rain and/or high winds on several of the big deer hunting weekends.

Second, the continued steady decline in the number of licensed deer hunters in Virginia inevitably results in fewer animals being harvested. In a worrisome trend, Virginia has lost one-third of its deer hunters (300,000 down to 200,000) in the last 25 years.

As is the case in all states, a portion of this decline can be related to the “baby boomers” get older and retiring from hunting.

Ohio Bowhunter Builds Incredible Fighting Buck Mount!

Last November bowhunter Lee Fackler shot a huge 17-point buck in Putnam County, Ohio, but in reality he scored a 27-pointer. As you can see below, Lee’s buck had a recently expired 10-point buck entangled with it. Lee tagged his buck and called in the Ohio DNR, which gave him a salvage tag for the second deer.

UPDATE: Lee recently picked up the 2 heads, which his taxidermist had mounted separately. Lee went home and built this awesome display and fitted the bucks back together in fighting form as he had encountered them that day last November.

Incredible job sir, looks amazing!

Special thanks to Nikisha Fackler for providing these pictures

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5 Massive Deadhead Bucks

Some shed hunters that roam the woods from now till early spring will find “deadheads,” or the skulls and antlers of bucks that died months earlier. A deadhead might have perished of any number of causes: hit by a car, lost by a bowhunter the previous season, winterkill, predators or natural causes.

Most deadhead finds are small to medium-size, but each year a few people stumble upon massive skulls, like these 5.

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This first picture popped up on my Twitter feed yesterday and is the first mega-deadhead of the 2019 shed season. It was found in southwest Ohio.

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The top skull of 2018 also showed up on Twitter last winter. @Tylerknott4 posted:Never know what you will find in the woods of Iowa! Found this giant shed hunting. Gross scored 205.

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I never got many details about the 190-class double-drop skull that was found in 2016, but what a monster!

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In early 2014, a hunter named Drew sent this picture of a tremendous buck he had been hunting for 3 years. “A truly remarkable animal that we called Moose,” Drew wrote. “Unfortunately, Moose died due to another bowhunter’s mistake (not mine) and we recovered his body and antlers this spring. Drew says the rack was scored at 252 1/8″ and that “was after squirrels had chewed off 20 inches during the winter.” Scorers think it might have been the 6th overall biggest buck to be harvested by any means in Ohio.

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In 2011 some guys were bird hunting in southeastern Kansas and came upon a mud pit, where they saw just a little piece of the left beam sticking up in the mud. After a closer look they realized it was a whole deer buried in the pit.

They dug out the skull and it was in good shape; they figured the mud had protected the rack from the weather and animals. They rough-scored it at 164 gross with only a 10” inside spread…6 points on the right beam, 9 on the left and the spike in the middle with a fork on it!

Remember if you stumble across a skull and antlers (any size) this spring and want to take it home, chances are you’ll need to get a salvage permit.

Good hunting!