As of Oct. 26—33 days into deer season—statewide archery harvest is up about 10% over the three-year average, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources Deer Biologist Clint McCoy. The 2022-2023 season got off to “an incredibly fast start,” perhaps due to cooler-than-normal temperatures at the start of the season, he said.
Although the deer archery harvest so far is up by more than 5% in 50 counties, McCoy said, it has dropped by that amount or more in 13 counties—including Athens, Hocking and Vinton, where harvests are down by 14%, 11% and 37% respectively.
That could change, McCoy said; the “next month or so” are typically the highest deer harvest days.
Another factor affecting the harvest could be this year’s lack of acorns, said Michael Tonkovich, administrator of ODNR’s Deer Program.
“The poor mast crop this year could be actually masking some of the impacts of the hemorrhagic disease,” he said. “If the mast crop was a bit more of an average mast crop, we might see an even greater impact from hemorrhagic disease; we may see the harvest down even more.”
“Typically, when you start talking about managing deer, you can’t ever go there with one-word answers; it’s quite involved,” he said.
It will be hard to determine the total impact of EHD on Ohio deer until next year, Tonkovich said. If EHD does have a severe impact, certain counties may see bag limits decreased, he said.
“We’ll have to wait and see what next year’s harvest looks like. Is this an anomaly this year? Is it masked? Is it weather? Is it hemorrhagic disease?” Tonkovich said. “Is it all of the above?”
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