Deer hunters happy to comply with inspections for CWD
MILLERSBURG — Hunters in Holmes County did not seem to mind taking a few extra minutes out of their day to have their deer inspected for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) at the temporary deer check station in Millersburg, located at the regional Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) building on state Route 83.
Ohio’s deer-gun season has just opened. It runs through Sunday, with a bonus weekend Dec. 16-17.
Because of the infected deer found in Holmes County a few years ago, the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODW) requires hunters in Holmes County to have their killed deer inspected.
“I have to pull the lymph nodes out so we can send them out for testing to make sure that there is no CWD,” said Jim Duckworth, a ODW area technician, who partners with another technician, Joe May, who records the data, gathers the pertinent information and sends it off to the labs to be tested.
ODW officers report the majority of people they deal with understand why the regulations are in place, and for the most part, everyone is compliant.
“Last year, I don’t think they were as compliant, but we did a lot more advertising and reaching out to the media to get the word out, and so far, it looks like it has paid off,” Duckworth said.
A steady stream of hunters brought their deer in for testing.
Joe Phillips of Hiram hunts on the land of a family friend in Killbuck, where he bagged his buck.
“It was a perfect morning: It was cold, the sun was shining, just a perfect morning to be out hunting,” Phillips said. “I was out hunting with my father. He’s still out in the woods, hoping something else comes by.
“I applaud what they’re doing here,” he continued. “They’re checking to make sure everyone has a healthy deer, and the herd around here is healthy. It’s good to see what they’re doing so the sport can keep going.”
He said it may have taken an additional five minutes to come have the deer tested.
“I’ll come to town, get some lunch, get a new tag and go back out into the woods,” Phillips added.
Ferman Schlabach of Millersburg had little trouble bagging a doe Monday morning north of Millersburg, spending less than 45 minutes before coming upon his prey.
Schlabach said he hardly worked up a sweat on the hunt. The hardest part for him was bringing the deer in for inspection.
“It’s a bit of an inconvenience, but we want to cooperate. It’s all going to be worth it in the end,” he said. “If we work together, we can try and get this problem taken care of.”
Leroy Schlabach of Millersburg said it was a bit of an inconvenience for him to ride his bike into town with the heads of the doe he harvested to be tested, and he probably would not have bothered if it had been later in the day.
“I called in to check in the numbers, and that information is all in,” he said. “I understand why they do this and I’m happy to help.”
Abe Troyer of Millersburg was happy to comply with state officials. He’s only a few miles down the road, so it wasn’t too hard to bring the deer in for testing.
“This took more time than the hunt,” Troyer said. “I wasn’t out more than a half hour. I gave him a neck shot and dropped him right on the spot. It didn’t take long at all.”
Millersburg brothers Willie and Rod Taylor were happy to bring the does they harvested near the airport west of town in for inspection.
“The last couple years, we spent a lot of time out there and didn’t hardly see anything,” Rod Taylor said. “It went pretty quick today. We saw some deer moving.”
Willie said the nice, cool weather in the morning helped with the hunt, providing ideal conditions.
Delbert Schlabach of Millersburg said it’s a bit of an inconvenience to bring the deer in for testing, but he understands why it has to be done.
“Whatever it takes, I’m fine,” he said. “Usually we go straight to the locker to get them cooled and skinned, but I’m fine. I understand this is the last year we’ll have to do this unless they find anything.”
Jeff Westerfield, assistant ODW director, said that weather is a big factor in the success of the hunt, along with some other variables.
“Sometimes, depending how much crop is off can help dictate that as well,” Westerfield said. “If a lot of corn is still standing, that can decrease the kill a little bit because deer can hide in the corn. But a lot of crops are off early or on time this year, so that should help increase the numbers a little bit.
“The temperature, how cold it is, depends on how guys want to go in and warm up, and that can change from hour to hour,” he continued. “Weather is probably the biggest factor.”
Statewide, he sees an increase in herd size, but doesn’t have an exact count.
Jamey Emmert, a spokesperson for ODW, said the testing process can take up to a few months, as the Department of Agriculture can only take 160 samples at a time.
Generally, we can get the testing done in about three weeks’ time, but we have to do it in increments of 160,” Emmert said. “By the time it’s all said and done and processed, it will be about two months. We should have results back by January, February. It is a process that takes time.”
She said the goal is to make sure there is no CWD to deal with.Click here to return to our blog