Ohio archery season opening amid concerns of EHD
On Sept. 30, the archery season for white-tailed deer opens in Ohio. While many bow hunters wait to hunt until after the mosquito populations succumb to a killing frost or the temperatures drop enough to cool a carcass, the opening day of any hunting season is a special event that draws many afield.
Deer that have been left largely undisturbed by foot traffic in their home range can be successfully arrowed early in the season, while still following predictable feeding routines. Later, the rut scrambles any hope for hunters to pattern their daily travels.
Yet, avid bow hunters crave the rut period during all other 11 months of the year. From mid-October through November, sex-crazed bucks relentlessly pursue every doe that they can locate in an effort to find one that is receptive to his “romantic” advances.
The trade-off for not being able to predict deer movement during the rut is that deer are moving during these magic weeks at all hours of the day and night then — so it pays to go out to the deer stand whenever time permits.
Because of both the popularity of crossbows and the number of urban areas closed to firearm hunting, the archery deer harvest now surpasses gun hunting as the most successful method of killing deer in Ohio. The archery season lasts until Feb. 4, 2018.
Refer to the Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations booklet for details on other deer and game laws each season. Changes have been made to the seasonal bag limit of deer in specific counties, allowable firearms and other rules.
Last month, in a joint press release, the Ohio Departments of Health and Natural Resources first confirmed that Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) was found in both a wild white-tailed deer in Lorain County and a cow in Jefferson County.
EHD was first discovered and identified after being determined to be the cause of the deaths of hundreds of white-tailed deer in Michigan and New Jersey in 1955.
The virus is spread from the bite of certain midge species of the genus Culicoides. EHD can also infect mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope and cattle.
The favored habitat of these midges is sunny, disturbed mud flats along the margin of warm, nutrient-rich pond. They continue to reproduce until the first heavy frost kills off the insects and breaks the cycle for the season.
During hot and dry summers, the midges can reproduce more often and longer into the season on fewer, but wider waterhole mud flat margins. When deer are limited to fewer bodies of water to drink from, it concentrates them and makes them more susceptible to being bitten by the slow-flying insects.
Symptoms of the virus occur within several days. They include a swollen tongue, oral ulcers, low-hanging head, loss of fear of humans and excessive salivation. Internal bleeding occurs in many organs, including the heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, spleen and intestinal tract due to blood-clotting failure and cell wall degradation.
Deer are often found dead in or near water, because of them seeking relief from fever and dehydration. While numbers of dead deer can become locally high, EHD has not been known to cause widespread mortality beyond the affected areas that are providing conditions favorable to midge production.
As of Sept. 18, 11 counties in Ohio have tested positive for EHD, but multiple dead deer have been reported in 29 Ohio counties, including Sandusky County locally.
The outbreak in Ohio is not unique. Kentucky reports nearly 3,000 deer have succumbed to the disease, mostly east of I-75. EHD has also been confirmed in at least Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, according to recent published reports.
While not contagious to humans, negative publicity about outbreaks of EHD leads to worries by some hunters over the status of the health and population of deer where they plan to hunt. The thought of seeing a familiar buck that they recognize from trail camera pictures or a previous season going to waste from this disease disturbs expectant hunters.
There is also no evidence that there is any danger for people to handle or consume deer infected with EHD. Hunters or others who encounter any deer suspected to be sick are asked to contact the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) to allow them to investigate and document disease outbreaks.
The phone number for our local, DOW District Two headquarters in Findlay is 419-424-5000, open during normal business hours.
Originally Posted on Sept 24, 2017 By John Hageman at The Sandusky RegisterClick here to return to our blog