Although the archery season has been going on since late September, some Ohio hunters don’t get into deer hunting until the gun season begins. The first part of this year’s deer gun season begins Monday, Nov. 28 and ends Sunday, Dec. 4. This year’s bonus weekend will be Dec. 17-18.
Ask any deer hunter: “When you go after deer, what is your motivation?” The politically correct answer is they hunt to put meat in their freezer.
But when John Doe Deer Hunter is sitting in his tree stand and a doe comes into his sights, will he squeeze the trigger or wait a little to see if a buck will follow? It depends.
There are things to consider. Like, the time of day. If you go out in the morning and see the doe right away, you might pass, thinking the day is young and a buck has plenty of time to show. But if it’s late in the day or late in the season, you’ll take the doe. Filling the freezer is always a consideration.
But hunters like to hunt. It’s not about killing. But it is about antlers. Every deer hunter, whether he/she admits it or not, has dreams of bringing home a trophy buck.
“I hunt bucks because of the challenge,” said Joe Dickerson of Troy. “Does aren’t nearly as hard to get as bucks. And at this time of year bucks are by themselves. They’re more wary than does, so they are harder to find.”
Dickerson and his sons hunt whitetails on family property each year. They hunted the youth season (Saturday and Sunday) with his 13-year-old. “He’s the hunter, I’m the guide service,” Dickerson said.
They will all hunt the gun season (Nov. 28-Dec. 4 and Dec. 17-18) and they take part in bow hunting (through Feb. 5). They could also try the muzzleloader season, Jan. 7-10.
“I have always told my boys to look for bucks. Any buck. But I admit, I look for the older, more savvy bucks with larger racks,” Dickerson added. A few have been large enough for mounting.
When one of those big bucks comes into view, Dickerson admits he gets “buck fever,” a condition some hunters get when a big buck comes along.
“Sometimes you see them with your binoculars and you get excited, hoping they’ll turn your way. I even get excited when I see a doe, because I’m hoping she has a buck in tow,” Dickerson said.
Dave Kohler, ODNR’s executive administrator for wildlife management and research, says for some hunters it doesn’t matter whether they take a buck or doe, but most would like the opportunity to hunt a trophy buck.
“You get drawn to the challenge of hunting a buck,” he said. “You just don’t see that many. If it’s a larger buck you are after (3-5 years old), typically the deer will be older … and they don’t get that old being stupid.”
Brian Stephens of Clayton put a buck in the record books in 2009, shooting it with a muzzleloader on his family’s farm in Highland County. It’s still among the largest (232 5/8 inches) ever killed in Ohio and it has the longest main beams (35 1/8 inches on the left and 34 1/8 on the right) of any whitetail in the world.
Stephens had seen the monster buck earlier, but had no shot. When it came around again the same afternoon, he didn’t miss with his muzzleloader’s single shot.
“The opportunities for does are definitely better,” Stephens said. “You can take two or three does in some counties, but you are only allowed one buck per year, and generally we see does just about any time.”
So Stephens will be picky when it comes to deer hunting, passing on smaller bucks until he sees an older one.
“I will pass on a four-point … even an eight point and wait for that 3 ½-5 ½-year old. I say let them grow up.”
Youth Hunters Kill Nearly 6,000
According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife, Ohio’s young hunters braved less than ideal weather conditions over the weekend and checked 5,930 white-tailed deer during the two-day youth gun season, Nov. 19-20, During last year’s youth gun season, 7,223 white-tailed deer were checked.
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