Hunters Enjoy Successful Deer-Gun Season

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Ohio hunters took 116,004 deer during the state’s popular week-long deer-gun season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

“Deer-gun season is a very enjoyable time for Ohio’s hunters. A large cross-section of people look forward to the deer season year after year. We are very happy 2003 was another good year for hunters,” said Steven A. Gray, chief of ODNR’s Division of Wildlife.

The preliminary total of deer killed during this year’s December 1-7 gun season is about 12 percent less than the previous year’s preliminary total of 133,163 – the state record for a one week deer-gun season. Twenty-eight counties had an increase in the number of deer taken over 2002’s numbers, while 60 had a decrease in kill.

Ohio’s first modern day deer-gun season opened in 1943 in three counties where hunters harvested 168 deer. In 1956, deer hunting was allowed in all 88 counties and hunters killed 3,911 deer during that one-week season.

At the beginning of the 2003-04 deer season, the statewide deer population was estimated to be 681,000. Approximately 450,000 hunters were expected to participate in the statewide deer-gun hunting season.

Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer brought to Ohio check stations last week included:

* Tuscarawas 4,193

* Guernsey 3,835

* Coshocton 3,811

* Muskingum 3,726

* Washington 3,715

A total of 11 hunting incidents were reported for the week, a majority of which were self-inflicted accidents. Only one fatality was recorded, which was self-inflicted and is still under investigation in Knox County.

Deer hunting contributes an estimated $266 million during the season to Ohio's economy and helps to support thousands of jobs. Deer hunters also contribute thousands of pounds of venison to community-based organizations that help feed less fortunate Ohio residents through special programs such as Safari Club International's Sportsmen Against Hunger program.

Hunters still have eight weeks of white-tailed deer hunting available to them. Archery season remains open until the closing day of deer season on January 31, 2004. The statewide primitive season, also known as muzzle-loader season, will be held December 27 through December 30. During this period hunters may use a black powder muzzleloading rifle, .38 caliber or larger or muzzleloading shotgun of 10, 12, 16, 20, 28, or .410 gauge using one ball per barrel.