Deer hunters hope for cold spell

Success rises when temperatures go down

Dave Pottmeyer at Hickory Hill meat processors kneels next to a deer brought in for processing Monday morning. MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times

As of Sunday at midnight, the deer harvest for this hunting season in Washington County was up about 70 animals over the same period last year, according to statistics released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Monday.

Hunters checked in 1,572 deer as of midnight Sunday, the ODNR Division of Wildlife said Monday. In the state overall, the harvest was at 72,814, up by about 6,000 or 9 percent more than last year.

The increase came despite less than ideal weather for hunting deer.

“It’s been pretty slow, the weather’s been so doggone warm,” Preston Ginther, owner of Tall Timbers Taxidermy in Beverly. Ginther said he ordinarily has received 35 or 40 deer for mounts by this time but had seen only 15 come in as of Monday. In addition to local customers, he has also gotten orders from hunters who came in from Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.

“It’s difficult when it’s this unseasonably warm. The deer want to bed up until night, and they don’t want to move around during the day,” he said. “Toward the end of this week they’re forecasting highs in the 30s, and that’s what we really needed. Like a lot of things, it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time.”

At Hickory Hill meat processing in Marietta, Dave Pottmeyer said he’s kept busy, although some hunters have reported being unhappy with the weather.

“They’re not liking it because it’s warmer,” he said.

Pottmeyer said about 135 deer have come in to his processing plant, “which is pretty good.”

“I think everybody’s doing pretty good. In Churchtown, where I’m from, I’m pretty sure everybody filled their tags,” he said.

Sid Antill, president of the Washington County Fish and Game Club in Whipple, said he’s had a disappointing season so far and thinks that –at least in Lower Salem Township — the herd is down this year. Antill, 59, said he’s lived in the area all his life and started hunting when he was a teenager.

“Everyone I’ve talked to said they haven’t seen deer like they used to,” he said. “I hunted all week, and I only saw six deer.”

In addition to the warm weather, he said, the rut came in early this year when a cold snap hit in October, which might account for lower visibility of deer.

Ryan Donnelly, Washington County Wildlife Officer, said he’s seen a slight uptick in the numbers of deer killed.

“It was a pretty good week,” he said Monday. “The weather played nicely, it only rained a bit Thursday afternoon.”

Donnelly noted that his department has seen a decline in deer in some parts of the county, which could be attributable to EHD (Epizootic Hemorragic Disease) a virus spread by midges. The warm fall weather allowed the midge population to survive longer this year, he said, taking a larger toll on the deer population.

The disease is always fatal, he said.

One hunting accident has been reported in the county, he said. A 32-year-old man unintentionally discharged his rifle and shot himself in the foot, Donnelly said. The hunter is expected to make a full recovery, but the shooting is under investigation and no further details are being released.

Antill said he intends to go out again for the last two days of shooting season, Dec. 16 and 17.

“I’ll go back out, and whether I get one or not, I’m a hunter and I’ll enjoy it,” he said.

At a glance

Remaining white tail deer hunting opportunities in Ohio

¯ Gun: Dec. 16 and 17.

¯ Archery: Continues through Feb. 4.

¯ Muzzle-loader: Jan. 6-9.