MARIETTA - Washington County's whitetail deer harvest totals for the first week of deer-gun season declined by less than 3 percent, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources statistics.
That's a lower rate than the state overall, part of a trend Division of Wildlife officials say is not unexpected.
"We think our regulations are finally doing what they're designed to do," said Chris Smith, assistant wildlife management supervisor for ODNR Division of Wildlife District 4.
The division has worked toward decreasing the size of the herd to minimize damage deer do to crops, among other factors, Smith said. One of the regulations aimed at that goal was the 2007 introduction of a $15 antlerless deer permit which bow hunters could use before the start of gun season.
"People are going to buy it because it's cheaper, and they have incentive to use it because of the deadline," Smith said.
There were 2,163 deer harvested in Washington County from Nov. 26 to Dec. 2, the seventh-highest county total in the state, and a decrease of about 2.8 percent from the same period in 2011. Statewide, the number was 86,964, down approximately 3.7 percent.
By The Numbers
Deer harvest totals by county for the first week of gun season
* Coshocton - 3,119
* Muskingum - 2,927
* Tuscarawas - 2,860
* Guernsey - 2,620
* Harrison - 2,370
* Licking - 2,271
* Washington - 2,163
* Knox - 2,159
* Belmont - 2,127
* Carroll - 2,062X
"Obviously there's still a lot of deer out there because there's decent harvest numbers," Smith said.
In 2009, hunters harvested 3,589 deer in Washington County and 114,633 statewide.
Devola resident Rock Lada, 69, went hunting six of the seven days during the week-long season and came back empty-handed.
"In fact, I only saw one deer the whole week," he said.
Lada spent the first five days at a property near 4-H Camp Hervida that he's hunted for "many, many, many years." It wasn't until the sixth day, when he headed to a different spot near Macksburg, that he saw a deer.
When the deer-gun season resumes the weekend of Dec. 15-16, Lada plans to head back to the Macksburg site.
"The new place has got a lot of potential. It's over 100 acres. And it's thick woods," he said.
Even if Lada doesn't take a deer during that period, it's not going to worry him.
"I enjoy just getting out there. If I get one, fine, and if I don't, fine," he said. "I got muzzleloading season coming up. So there's always a chance I can get another one."
Ohio's muzzleloading season is slated for Jan. 5-8.