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Strong numbers for big deer this hunting season

Nov. 24, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Last year's mild winter has resulted in a lot of happy hunters and business owners this gun season.

Local wildlife check-in stations are reporting strong numbers this year and a lot of full-bodied deer harvested.

"The good mast last year, with a lot of acorns last year, produced a lot of trophy whitetail this year," said Bradley Merritt, manager of Real Deal Gun 7 Pawn in Salt Rock. "There have been more big deer this year than the past three years."

Rich Blakeman, owner of Classic Jewelry & Loan on U.S. 60, said his business is up probably 50 percent from 2011.

"We've been having a really good year," he said. "The weather has been really good (this week) and ... it was a mild winter last year, and with that a lot of the deer lived and had good food. They reproduced more, and it goes hand in hand. The acorn crop makes or breaks deer."

His business checked 70 deer on the first day alone, Blakeman said.

"I've never seen deer as big as what we've seen this year. They have some really nice racks on them," he said. "Last year was a bad year. It was rainy the first day and foggy. It was really nasty last year, and this year it was beautiful. The first day is the most important. Everyone goes out, and the more people in the woods cause the deer to move more."

Gun season ends Sunday, Nov. 25, in Kentucky, and it ends Saturday, Dec. 1, in West Virginia. It begins Monday, Nov. 26, in Ohio. It lasts just one week in Ohio.