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A Record Harvest in Missouri, Ohio Hot for Big Bucks, a Miracle in Michigan, and Other News from the 2023-24 Deer Season

A Record Harvest in Missouri, Ohio Hot for Big Bucks, a Miracle in Michigan, and Other News from the 2023-24 Deer Season

Posted 2024-02-27

This past season generated some incredible numbers and several wild stories. Here are a few highlights.

Image: waddell_illinois

Deer season might be over, but the news is still rolling in. Image by Bone Collector

2023-24 Banner Season in Ohio

Ohio hunters checked 213,928 whitetails during the 2023-24 season, which ended Feb. 4, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The harvest, which includes 92,051 antlered bucks and 99,584 does, was the highest in more than a decade, and the second year in a row that Ohio’s deer kill has surpassed 200,000. Ohio was also the top big-buck state in the nation this past year, with many bucks scoring 170-plus tagged by archers and gun hunters.

(See the link to Ohio big buck rack report)

Miracle in the Michigan Woods

A man hunting in the Upper Peninsula this past season made a miraculous recovery after a tree fell on him, likely because of high winds in the area.

Two officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources were dispatched to the scene and helped get the hunter out of the woods and to a local emergency room, where he was reportedly in critical condition. According to reports, doctors told the family the man might not walk again after he underwent surgery on his head and vertebrae.

But according to an update in January, the hunter regained movement in his limbs and has stood up for the first time since the accident. Doctors at the hospital described the man’s recovery as “miraculous.”

Record-Breaking Harvest in Missouri

Missouri’s 2023-2024 deer season ended Jan. 15, and the Missouri Department of Conservation reports a preliminary record-setting harvest of 326,026, including 147,705 antlered bucks and 149,261 does. This past season’s new harvest record surpasses the 2006 total of 325,457 deer.

Pennsylvania Poachers Busted

Amid all the good deer news this past season, there were a disturbing number of poaching cases across the United States, none worse than this one in southwestern Pennsylvania, where two outlaws tried to break every law on the books. According to a post on the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Facebook page, in Cambria County one December night, two poachers shot a 169-inch Boone and Crockett buck from a vehicle while using of the vehicle’s headlights. If that spot-lighting wasn’t bad enough, the pair tried to take the buck’s head to a taxidermist the next day, and — get this — with the last year’s tag on it. Nobody ever said a poacher was smart.

Some good news: The poachers were sentenced to pay more than $7,000 in fines and had any privilege to hunt revoked for multiple years.

Hound Hunting Debate Fires Up in Virginia

Dozens of Virginia residents packed into a Department of Wildlife Resources board room in Henrico County on Jan. 18 to speak passionately on hunting deer with hounds, which has been a tradition in southeastern Virginia for decades.

“We hunt, and we love it, and we ain’t going nowhere,” said one hound hunter during the fiery public comment period. “Because this is in my blood.”

On either side of the debate are landowners. One said, “It is never someone’s right to enter my property without my consent.”

At the heart of the continuing debate is whether Virginia’s right-to-retrieve law, which allows hunters to retrieve their dogs from private property without permission, needs to be changed. Before adjourning the meeting, board members punted and said they will look into possible solutions that would satisfy dog hunters and property owners.


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