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?”
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.
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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.