3 Ohio deer hunters killed during gun season

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Three Ohio deer hunters were killed during the weeklong gun season — the first killed since 2009, state officials said.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, two hunters were killed the first day, Dec. 2, one in Coshocton County, east of Columbus, and the other in Gallia County in southern Ohio. The third fatality was the next day in Fulton County, west of Toledo.

All were believed to be accidental shootings, The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1bTuNXk ) reported Tuesday.

The first reported death was 63-year-old Gary Pace, who was found dead in a tree stand. Sheriff's deputies said he apparently shot himself. Details of the other deaths weren't available.

Officials said Ohio hunters checked 75,408 white-tailed deer during the gun season last week — down about 13 percent from last year. Hunters harvested 86,893 deer last gun season.

Coshocton County led the way for the highest number of deer taken, with 2,658. Other top counties were Muskingum (2,604), Tuscarawas (2,604), Guernsey (2,401) and Ashtabula (2,334).

Gun season is over, but hunters can hunt for deer this winter with bows and muzzleloaders. Archery season is open through Feb. 2. The muzzleloader season will run Jan. 4-7.

Hunters have taken a total of 162,720 deer so far this year, compared with 171,667 at the same time in 2012. That's a 5 percent drop.