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Managing Ohio’s White-

tailed Deer

Michael J. Tonkovich, Ph.D.


Deer Biologist
Athens
740-589-9922
mike.tonkovich@dnr.state.oh.us
Topics for Discussion

 White-tailed Deer Timeline

 Overview of Ohio Deer Management


Process

– Goal Setting, Seasons, Permits, Hunters,


Harvest

 Management Challenges and Strategies


Deer program timeline
 Deer were absent 1904-19

 Deer were found in 28 eastern 1937


and southeastern counties

 1st modern season 1943


– 12 days, buck-only (“4-inch horn”)
Deer program timeline
 1st either-sex season to 1947
address crop damage in NE
Ohio
1956-64
 Statewide either-sex season to
provide “sustained hunting
recreation”
1962
 Mandatory registration
1963
 Deer Management Policy –
W17
Deer Management
Policy W17, 1963

“to provide maximum sustained hunting recreation

within the context of minimizing conflicts between

deer populations and agriculture, forestry, motorists,

and the general citizenry who prize the presence and

sight of deer”
Topics for Discussion

 White-tailed Deer Timeline

 Overview of Ohio Deer Management


Process

– Goal Setting, Seasons, Permits, Hunters,


Harvest
Deriving a Deer
Population Goal or
Target
Farmer attitude surveys
Public open houses
Miscellaneous surveys
Other

County Population Goal


or Target
Hunters, Harvest, Permits, and
Herd Demographics
OHIO MICHIGAN
HUNTERS 380,000 724,239

DEER PERMITS 0.6 MILLION 1.5 MILLION

HARVEST 232,000 477,000

DEER POPULATION 0.7 MILLION 1.8 MILLION

% ANTLERLESS 63% 44%

% YEARLING 50% 63%


BUCKS
Ohio’s Deer Seasons

Season Dates
Archery 27 Sep - 1 Feb
Gun
Regular 1 Dec - 7 Dec
Bonus 20 Dec - 21 Dec
Youth (17 and under) 22 Nov - 23 Nov
Muzzleloader 27 Dec - 30 Dec
Deer Management Zones
and Permits

Deer Zone Bag Limit Valid Permits


Zone A 1 deer $24 either-sex, $15 antlerless-only
Zone B 2 deer $24 either-sex, $15 antlerless-only
Zone C 3 deer $24 either-sex, $15 antlerless-only
Topics for Discussion

 Timeline

 Overview of Ohio Deer Management


Process

– Goal Setting, Seasons, Permits, Hunters,


Harvest

 Management Challenges and Strategies


Minimum Statewide Deer
Population, 1990-2006

700,000
Challenges…

With room to grow!


Licensed Ohio Hunters,
1925-2006
Licensed Deer Hunters,
2000-2007
Licensed Hunters who Deer
Hunt, 1978-2007
Annual Ohio Deer Hunter
Participation Rate
551,000 Hunters that Purchased at Least 1 Deer
Permit 2001-2007

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007


Annual “Churn” or
Turnover Among Deer
Hunters
 Nationally, 37% of This Year’s
Hunters will NOT Hunt Next Year!
 25% of Ohio and Michigan Hunters
will NOT Hunt Next Year!
 “A Year Out is a Way Out”
 How Can We Reduce Annual
Turnover?
– Targeted Marketing?
– Hunter Surveys?
Reducing Annual Churn with
Targeted Marketing
 The Strategic Plan for
the Ohio Division of
Wildlife, 2001-2010, lists
9 strategic issues
including:
– Recruitment &
Retention of Anglers,
Hunters & Trappers
 Retention & Recruitment
Program strategies to
increase participation in
hunting include:
– Fully utilize
information from our
Point of Sale license
system…
– Employ both proven &
newly developed
Reducing Annual Churn with
Targeted Marketing
– Identify hunters likely to lapse in the
coming season (modeling approach)

– 2004 - Test effectiveness of a full-


color promotional brochure on deer
hunting & a small incentive offer for
increasing license purchase rates
among targeted hunters

– 2005 - Test effectiveness of multi-


touch mailings (postcards) for
increasing license purchase rates
among targeted hunters

– 2006 - Test effectiveness of “Large


Incentive” for increasing license
purchase rates among targeted
hunters
Modeling License-buying
Behavior by Ohio Hunters
 Ohio Hunters Likely to Lapse
– Buy hunting license late in the year / close to deer gun
season
– Buy few, if any, additional permits or only a single deer
permit
– Have limited harvest success during deer season
– Have low social support (few other hunters in their
household or neighborhood)
 Available Resources
– Point-of-Sale license & permit purchase records
(includes purchase date) in a central data warehouse
since 1999
 Model Parameters included:
– 4-year deer permit buying records
– 4-year hunting license buying records
– Timing of deer permit purchases
2004 – Ohio Hunting Guide

 Promotional Brochure
– Emphasized deer
hunting opportunities
(all seasons) – TIME

– Included maps of public


hunting areas &
“Getting Permission to
Hunt on Private Lands”
– ACCESS

– Offered “Tips for


Success” & “Other
Hunting Opportunities”
– VALUE
2005 – Multi-touch
Mailings
 Timing & Key Messages
– Mid-October: emphasized
early deer hunting
opportunities - TIME

– Early November:
highlighted other hunting
opportunities – VALUE

– Late November: trophy


deer & last minute
reminder linked to Ohio
State-Michigan rivalry –
QUALITY
2006 – Large Incentive
SUMMARY of FINDINGS
 Electronic Licensing Sales systems can be “mined”
to model license-buying behavior & predict which
hunters are likely to lapse

 Hunting Information & Reminders showed limited


results in terms of increasing license purchases
among sporadic & occasional hunters
– Both lacked “urgency” or significant “call for action”

 Strategies that most effectively address “why


people hunt less” may be more successful (i.e.,
identify & overcome the barriers to participation)
– Why do 25% of Hunters “Churn” each Year?
NEXT STEPS?

 Develop cooperative research projects


with Human Dimensions researchers
at Ohio State University
– Use focus groups from past efforts to understand
what worked, what didn’t & how to better
communicate or “sell” our message
 Concentrate on Avid Hunter Groups
– “Up-sell” and “Cross-sell” products to good
customers
Annual “Churn” or
Turnover Among Deer
Hunters
 Nationally, 37% of This Year’s
Hunters will NOT Hunt Next Year!
 25% of Ohio and Michigan Hunters
will NOT Hunt Next Year!
 “A Year Out is a Way Out”
 How Can We Reduce Annual
Turnover?
– Targeted Marketing?
– Hunter Surveys?
2005 DEER HUNTER
SURVEY

“MORE WEEK-END DAYS TO HUNT WITH A


FIREARM – 46%
Ohio’s Deer Seasons

Season Dates
Archery 27 Sep - 1 Feb
Gun
Regular 1 Dec - 7 Dec
Bonus 20 Dec - 21 Dec
Youth (17 and under) 22 Nov - 23 Nov
Muzzleloader 27 Dec - 30 Dec
2005 DEER HUNTER
SURVEY

“LICENSE FEES TOO HIGH – 32%


Reduced ($15 vs. $24)
Price Antlerless Permit
-2007
 Strategy
– Double Antlerless Bag
Limits 1st 8 weeks of
Archery
– Permit Archers to use
Antlerless Permit
Statewide 1st 8 weeks of
Archery
 Expectations
– Increase TOTAL antlerless
harvest, not
Evaluation of the $15
Antlerless Permit
 84,000 antlerless permits to 68,000 hunters

 Total permit sales up 8%!

– A slightly higher than average (18%) number of


hunters (20%) bought more (rather than the same or
fewer) permits

– Many that bought more, bought significantly more!


Evaluation of the $15
Antlerless Permit
Proportion of Hunters Buying 1, 2, and 3 or more
Deer Permits, 2007 vs. 5-year Average
Evaluation of the $15
Antlerless Permit
Mean Number of Deer Permits
Purchased per Hunter, 2001-2007
Evaluation of the $15
Antlerless Permit
Percent of Hunters Buying More in 2007

Number of Deer Permits in 2006


Evaluation of the $15
Antlerless Permit
Percent of Hunters Buying Percent of Hunters by Permit
1, 2, 3 or more Permits in Group Buying MORE Permits in
2006 2007

Greatest Response from the Smallest Group of Hunters and


Lowest Response from The Largest Group of Hunters
Annual Deer Hunting
Participation Rate
551,000 Hunters that Purchased at Least 1 Deer
Permit 2001-2007

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007


Evaluation of the $15
Antlerless Permit
Change in Antlered and Antlerless Harvest in 2007,
1st 8 weeks only

38%!

1%
Daily Composition of Hunter Harvested
Deer, Archery Opener to Gun Season
Opener, 2007 vs. 2006
2006 2007

Antlered Antlerless
% Antlerless Deer in Harvest Starts Higher
Shift to Antlered Delayed by 1 Week
Even During the Rut, % Antlered Deer Never Reaches 2006 Levels!
Harvest shifts to back to antlerless deer 7-10 days ahead of EXPIRATION DATE!
Can We Increase Antlerless
Harvest by Limiting
Opportunities?
 Money Influenced the Purchase Decision, the
Deadline Influenced the Harvest Decision!

 Long Seasons May Lull Hunters Into Believing


There is “Lots” of Time Left to Shoot my Doe!

 Deferring Harvest Often Leads to Missed


Opportunities!

 Additional Seasons May Simply Redistribute


Hunter Harvest or Perhaps Reduce It By
Diluting “Hunter Effort”
Thank You!

Michael J. Tonkovich, Ph.D.


Deer Biologist
Athens
mike.tonkovich@dnr.state.oh.us
740-589-9922