Ohio deer hunters off to fast start

Ohio deer hunting is just over a month old and already there is a hint this could be a phenomenal season for deer hunters.

Since the archery season began during the last weekend in September, Ohio hunters have killed 30,493 whitetails during the first 32 days (through Oct. 31). Last year for the first 32 days, the statewide total was 25,792. That’s an 18.23 percent increase.

“I guess you could say the weather has cooperated for the most part this year – except for that hurricane,” said Bret Beatty, wildlife supervisor for the District 5 wildlife office in Xenia. “And a lot of farmers have taken their corn off already. That makes a big difference.”

Beatty said counties in his district have shown a dramatic difference from one year to the next.

“Some have gone from Zone A to Zone B, which allows a hunter to take more deer,” Beatty said. A good example of that is Montgomery County in which 196 deer have been killed so far this year, compared to 126 during the same number of days in 2011.

“Indications are this will be a really good year, but it is still early. Some guys only want one deer, so they are already done for this year. And you never know what the weather is going to do,” Beatty added.

Here are the numbers for the first 32 days of the Ohio deer season (with last year in parentheses) in southwest Ohio counties:

Adams 635 (597), Auglaize 170 (123), Brown 331 (338), Butler 332 (354), Champaign 270 (264), Clark 151 (139), Clermont 639 (597), Clinton 161 (136), Darke 198 (137), Greene 204 (196), Hamilton 649 (645), Highland 372 (374), Logan 330 (361), 152 (117), Miami 214 (132), Montgomery 196 (126), Preble 257 (135), Shelby 218 (156), Warren 308 (292).

Miami Valley team 2nd again

One fish can be the difference between winning $40,000 and winning $5,000.

The Miami Valley team of Paul Eldridge of Spring Valley and T.J. Harper of Springfield finished second last weekend in the Cabela’s Crappie USA Classic on the Kentucky/Barkley Lakes. They won $5,000, but the first-place team from Tennessee won about $40,000 including a new Ranger boat and Evinrude motor.

Eldridge and Harper are the same guys who finished second in the Crappie Masters National Championship a couple of weeks prior, winning $10,000 there. So 15 grand in three weeks isn’t too bad.

“We just can’t seem to get past second place,” Eldridge said.

Their weight in the Crappie USA event was 18.58 pounds, but it took 19.18 to win.

“I caught a big ol’ black crappie, but when I got it in, its eyes had popped out. It was already dead. Had it been alive, it would have put us over. But that’s just how fishing is sometime,” Eldridge said.

Outdoors columnist Jim Morris can be reached by email at sports@DaytonDailyNews.com.

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