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Outdoors: Ohio hunters’ deer take up

When Ohio Division of Wildlife deer biologist Clint McCoy looked at the results from the recently completed whitetail deer hunting season, he said, “It looks like we are moving in the right direction.”

Hunters checked 186,247 white-tailed deer during Ohio’s 2017-2018 season that ended last Sunday. A total of 182,169 deer were checked during the 2016-2017 season.

The goal of the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Deer Management Program is to provide a deer population that maximizes hunting opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists. Those goals were established after a survey taken three years ago indicated hunters wanted to see more deer.

“We would like to see the population stabilize at some point,” McCoy said. “There will be a new survey in the fall, so we’ll see how it looks then.”

Deer hunting regulations over the past three seasons have been designed to allow for moderate herd growth throughout most of the state. Herd growth is achieved by reducing harvest and protecting female deer.

For the counties in southwest Ohio, McCoy said hunters averaged 5 to 10 percent more deer killed than the three-year average.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting has a more than $853 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more.

Following are the totals for area counties for the 2017-18 Ohio deer hunting season. The 2016-2017 season number is in parentheses.

Adams 3,231 (3,272), Allen 979 (1,039), Auglaize 848 (751), Brown 2,521 (2,448), Butler 1,401 (1,231), Champaign 1,197 (1,118), Clark 685 (661), Clermont 2,471 (2,343), Clinton 810 (719), Darke 731 (679), Greene 778 (816), Hamilton 1,639 (1,589), Highland 2,668 (2,587), Logan 2,055 (1,919), Mercer 677 (661), Miami 787 (774), Montgomery 704 (591), Preble 969 (847), Shelby 983 (961), Warren 1,186 (1,095).

Winter hikes

• The picturesque cliffs of the Little Miami River provide the backdrop for the second annual winter hike Feb. 17 at Little Miami Gorge. This guided hike, which is free, will follow the river for approximately six miles, passing several historical sites, and will include living history encounters along the route. Hikers can learn about some of the unique geological features of the Little Miami River Gorge, as well as the cultural history of this site. Guided groups will leave at 10-minute intervals from 9-11 a.m. starting at John Bryan State Park, located on Ohio 370, two miles west of Yellow Springs.

Hot beans and cornbread will be available for donation at the halfway point at Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve’s nature center. This event will take place regardless of the weather so warm clothing and sturdy shoes are recommended. For questions, contact the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve manager at 937-537-6173 or John Bryan State Park manager at 1-614-949-7998.

• At Caesar Creek State Park, start at the Wellman Meadows Trailhead parking lot on Feb. 24 at 10 a.m. for a self-guided hike to Horseshoe Falls via the 103-foot swinging bridge. Warm up with soup available at the nature center before going on to Crawdad Falls. The proceeds of the lunch will go toward more nature programs at the park. People can hike either three or six miles. For more information, call 513-897-3055.