New numbers from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources show hunters almost doubled the number of deer harvested on the first day of Ohio's annual deer gun hunting week compared to last year.
On a snowy and rainy gun opener, hunters checked 10,905 deer, while 21,754 were checked this past Monday.
At Duma Deer Processing in Mogadore, a steady stream of pickup trucks circled the shop.
“We were here on Tuesday and the cars were out in the street,” hunter Jeff Cook said.
For this family-run business, this year feels like a different animal with the staff pulling in family and friends to help slice, trim, and work the storefront.
This is Phil Everett’s sixth season with Duma Deer Processing, who says a typical day during this week begins at around 8 a.m. and extends to about 11 p.m.
“It has been unlike any season I've been here,” Everett said. “The amount of deer we’re processing this season is way more than I've ever seen.”
According to ODNR, there were the top counties for deer harvest on opening day of Ohio’s gun season:
- Coshocton County (850)
- Tuscarawas County (729)
- Ashtabula County (725)
- Knox County (679)
- Muskingum County (677)
- Holmes County (650)
- Guernsey County (642)
- Carroll County (607)
- Licking County (572)
- Ashland County (504)
In 2020, ODNR officials said Coshocton County also led the state on opening day with 356 deer taken.
Numbers from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources show this time last year, 107,671 deer were checked during the 2020 to 2021 season.
As of November 30th this season, that number is up to 122,262 deer checked.
While the owners tell News 5 it’s too soon to figure out how much more business they’re seeing in 2021, the owner of Art’s Deer Processing in Ravenna told News 5 he’s expecting to quadruple the business this year compared to pre-pandemic as a result of more hunters, and fewer processors than in years past.
“People are out in the woods and fewer people are processing them,” Everett added. “Other processing plants that focus on beer and pork, they’re doing that and they said ‘we don’t want to do deer. We don’t want to process deer.’”
While much of the meat at Duma Deer Processing will end on hunters’ kitchen tables, some of it will be donated to the outreach ministry “Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry,” as well as the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank.
According to ODNR, venison donated to food banks does not cost hunters anything, however deer must be processed by a local or state-inspected and insured meat processor who is participating with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry. To learn more about the program, click here.
All hunters have the chance to hunt the 2021 gun season from Monday, Nov. 29 to Sunday, Dec. 5, and again on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 18-19.
Hunters may take only one antlered deer. Legal hunting equipment during gun seasons includes specific shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns, straight-walled cartridge rifles and archery equipment.
ODNR asks Ohioans to help protect Ohio’s wildlife resources. Report any violations to the division’s Turn-In-a-Poacher (TIP) hotline by calling 1-800-POACHER (1-800-762-2437). All reports remain anonymous, and tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.