COLUMBUS -- Hunters took 20,659 deer during Ohio's four-day muzzleloader season, Dec. 27-30, with Tuscarawas County again leading the state with 934 deer checked. Last year, a preliminary total of 21,473 deer was taken during muzzleloader season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

Counties reporting the highest number of deer checked during the muzzleloader season included: Tuscarawas, 934; Washington, 774; Harrison, 764; Licking, 688; Meigs, 613; Coshocton, 598; Guernsey, 565; Belmont, 539; Monroe, 533; and Holmes, 528.

A total of 239,549 deer have been harvested so far this season when combining the adult and youth gun seasons, early and statewide muzzleloader seasons, and the first nine weeks of the archery season. Hunters took a total of 232,854 deer during all of last year's hunting seasons.

Hunters can continue to enjoy deer hunting through Feb. 1, 2009, as the archery season continues.

Hunters have been encouraged to kill more does this season and donate any extra venison to organizations assisting Ohioans in need. The Division is collaborating with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry to help pay for the processing of donated venison. Hunters who give their deer to a food bank are not required to pay the processing cost as long as the deer are taken to a participating processor and funding for the effort lasts. Counties being served by this program can be found online at http://fhfh.org/.

Hunters who wish to share their success can submit a photo of themselves and the deer they killed this year at wildohio.com.