Where Did The Deer Go In Ohio?

John J. writes from Ohio to ask about this year’s deer season (2013). “What has happened to our deer? It was quiet in the areas I hunt in Ohio. The first day of gun season I normally hear lots of shooting and see some bucks. This year it was quiet, and I just didn’t see deer. The same was true for my friends in other areas of Ohio. What gives?”

Dr. Dave Samuel
Dr. Dave Samuel

John, I had the same experience the first week of November bowhunting in Illinois, and also on the 10th of November when I bowhunted Kansas. There were no deer chasing until the 16th, when I shot a smaller buck.

I have friends in Iowa who complained about no deer seen as well. I don’t know about where you hunt and I have no magic answers, but here are several thoughts.

First, there were tons of leaves on the trees in Illinois, and my friends there tell me they have never seen them on so late. I heard the same thing from my Iowa friends, so weather patterns were different than the norm.

Second, it was windy in November with LOTS of wind.

Third, there was some Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) scattered all over the Midwest. On one farm I hunted in Illinois there was no EHD, and no dead deer along streams or ponds, but on a farm five miles away we found at least seven dead deer along a small river. And farmers there found some, too.

Fourth, there were no acorns where I hunted. This always changes things, but normally you see the deer in fields when acorns are light. Then there is the coyote situation. Coyotes definitely kill fawns, and I’ve heard that numbers in parts of Ohio are high.

So, who knows what happened where you hunt. It could be one thing or a combination of factors. My guess is that next fall the deer will be there.

Be sure to visit Sportsman’s Guide for the latest selection of hunting gear.

Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.

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4 Responses to “Where Did The Deer Go In Ohio?”

  1. Dale

    The real reason we aren’t’ seeing deer in the state of Ohio is because the Ohio Division of Wildlife has let us harvest way too many deer for way too long. In several meeting I went to on the subject they admitted the deer herd as a whole was down throughout the entire state. That was their objective to decrease the herd population. Through our insistence, several large conservations clubs, leagues and federation’s, they even backed off on several counties on the amount of deer being allowed to be harvested. This is an ongoing battle we as sportsmen and hunters in the state of Ohio need to stay vigilant on.

  2. James Linser

    I live in Sandusky County Ohio. I have about 50 acres of cornfield behind my house and about 125 acres of forests around the farm fields. There are always 8-23 deer in the corn remains out back, saw 9 last night. 4/15/2015

  3. sunny

    beach city wild life area – over the last 4 years that i have been there the number of “ALL” wildlife has decreased…last year it looked like a ghost town…this year so far – a very marginal slight improvement…the reasons : 1) the Amish have a crew of 50+ that have hit the area several times over the past few years (according to local home owners in the immediate area 2) too many hunters 3) predators have increased in the vicinity areas (and most likely beach city as well) (two years ago we saw bear tracks with a cub and last year another hunter reported seeing bear tracks as well) (i have seen both bobcat and coyote tracks) 4) personally i believe pollution from up stream (as the beaver and fish population has decreased as well) 5) possible local farmers spraying crop fields with airplanes (planes spotted but not spraying)…to sum it up – the wildlife has been hit from all sides…

    • 1Hunter

      It boils down to harvesting way too many Does because the Car Insurance companies and possibly a few farmers with nuisance problems most likely put pressure onto the Div. of Wildlife for the Herd reduction over approximately the last decade or more is my opinion. Kill lots of Does and the Herd drops very fast. Now we also have the Coyote after the Deer which adds to the Herd reductions, but not as much as over harvesting the Does every season for many years. A possible solution is for everyone to back off on the harvesting of Does on our own, until the Herd rebounds. Only take the minimum, if any. That would need most Hunters thinking the same way. Just my opinion here.