Ohio hunters are up nearly 10,000 kills from this time last year going into the weeklong deer gun season. (Pixabay photo)

COLUMBUS (WJER) - State wildlife officials say harvest numbers are already up as deer hunters head back into the woods for the seven day gun season. 

Spokeswoman Jamey Emmert says so far in archery season Ohio hunters have taken nearly 75,000 deer, up almost 10,000 from this time last year. Emmert says bow hunters make up about half of the total number of deer harvested each season, so she expects a lot more kills this week as well as the two-day gun weekend December 21st and 22nd.

“That’s not necessarily representative of the trends, and that’s what we look at is trends over the course of several years because then we know if the population is healthy, if it’s falling, if it’s growing,” she says.

Emmert says they’ve noticed a shift in hunting practices the past few years with more hunters choosing bows over firearms, and also a trend towards subdued methods of hunting.

“During firearm season, the group hunting isn’t quite as popular as it was decades ag,o and a lot of folks tend to lean towards a more peaceful experience and a solo experience sitting quietly in the woods and embracing an intimate opportunity to get close to a deer,” she says.

So far, Tuscarawas County ranks second in the state with 2,146 deer harvested. Coshocton currently leads with 2,773, and Licking County sits in third with 2,089. Emmert says they’re expecting about 370,000 hunters.