CLEVELAND — According to newly released data from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, more than 7,600 deer were harvested by youth hunters this past weekend.
It's all a part of the two-day youth deer hunting weekend for kids 17 and younger.
Tuscarawas and Holmes counties were two of the top three counties for hunting in the state, and the overall total showed a 30% increase compared to 2020.
On Saturday, News 5 watched as dozens took a hunting safety class in North Olmsted.
“We’ve got [attendees] different ages from eight years old to 65,” instructor Donald Garrison said.
Shane Burgess brought along his nine-year-old son to the class.
“I don't want them getting hurt,” he said. “If he's not hunting with me, I want to be sure in my head that he's doing all right. He knows his rules and regulations, so he stays out of trouble and doesn't hurt himself or somebody else.”
Deer hunting is a business based on bucks that brings in big bucks.
According to the Ohio Travel Association, hunters spend about $850 million a year in the state.
“When each one of these kids go on a camping, fishing, or hunting trip, they'll probably spend $500 in lodging, gas and food,” Garrison added.
And in 2020, that added up at a time when the tradition of deer hunting was on the decline.
ODNR statistics show during the middle of the pandemic, it saw a 10% rise in harvested deer compared to the previous three-year-average, with 92,310 harvested in 2020 vs. 83,935 during the three year average.
It's a rise wildlife leaders hope they can continue, especially with the younger generation.
“I would say it died off in recent years with electronics, cell phones, stuff like that,” said Zach Hillman, Cuyahoga County Wildlife Officer. “Kids don't want to go outside to have fun, but I think it's starting to come back because of COVID-19.
For all hunters, deer gun season starts on Nov. 29.