More and more hunters are finding Ohio's woods and fields a great place to pursue whitetails, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
Ohio's deer hunters know they are chasing whitetails in one of the most well-known trophy states in the country, and the state is receiving equal attention from hunters in other states. In 1995, the division sold 10,156 out-of-state licenses to deer hunters. That number had increased to 14,491 by 2001; and by 2006, it was 25,523. About one in every 20 Ohio hunters is from out of state.
"A number of factors have combined to make Ohio a deer hunters' Mecca," says Dave Graham, chief of the Division of Wildlife. "Our deer herd is healthy and several world-record bucks have been harvested here in recent years - most specifically the 39-point Beatty Buck in 2000. In addition, we've expanded our archery hunting season from September to February and added an extra weekend to the traditional one-week gun season."
The Beatty Buck, taken in Greene County by bowhunter Michael Beatty, holds the World Record for a non-typical white-tailed deer, according to the Pope & Young Club, one of North America's leading bowhunting and conservation organizations.
Overall, hunting contributes an estimated $747 million to Ohio's economy each year, with deer hunting alone contributing $266 million of that amount. About 465,000 people hunt deer in Ohio, with 400,000 of them participating in the gun season. White-tailed deer are the state's only big-game animals.
Ohio ranks sixth nationally in hunting-related sales and fourth in the number of jobs associated with hunting. The average hunter spends $1,896 annually in pursuit of the pastime, with most of that amount going for equipment. In the east north-central region of the United States, which includes Ohio, about 11 percent of people older than 16 hunt.
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. Since the start of this fall's deer hunting season, hunters have harvested a total of 167,965 whitetails when combining the adult and youth gun seasons, early muzzleloader season and the first six weeks of the archery season.