It seems like the past few years have been full of changes for Ohio’s hunters, particularly deer hunters, and this year will likely bring more of the same.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife is currently soliciting public input on several proposals that were presented to the Ohio Wildlife Council for consideration. The council will vote on these proposals during its April 17 meeting.
Among the proposals on the table is a statewide antlerless-only muzzleloader season on Oct. 12-13 that will replace the extra two-day gun season usually held around the middle of December.
In addition, another proposal establishes deer hunting hours for all deer seasons from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset – basically from “can see” to “can’t see” as my dad would have put it. That would put all deer hunting seasons on the same sheet of music as far as hunting hours are concerned.
The long-standing deer hunting zones may also be going away. For years Ohio has been divided into three deer hunting zones designated as zones A, B and C with pretty much half of the state and all of southeastern Ohio falling into zone C.
According to the ODNR-DOW the proposed change is reflective of Ohio’s county-based deer management approach, and gives more flexibility in applying bag limits, based on county needs, not just geographic ease.
Essentially counties will become two-, three- or four-deer counties (with Gallia and Meigs counties becoming three-deer counties – two antlerless and one antlered deer). Although this lowers the bag limit somewhat, very few hunters (less than one percent, according to the DOW) ever kill more than four deer. In any event, no matter how hunters mix and match their zones, the overall limit is reduced from 18 to nine deer only one of which can be an antlered buck.
Urban deer zones are going to be eliminated. Deer and fall wild turkey permits will go on sale June 1, instead of March 1.
My take on this is that these are all good ideas, especially the early muzzleloader season. I know some of my bow hunting friends are going to complain about it, but I am generally for whatever gets more people into the woods – plus they already have one of the longest seasons in the country, so it won’t hurt to share one weekend. Plus, the middle of October is probably the prettiest time to be in the woods.
Changes in hunting regulations are proposed by ODNR-DOW biologists and wildlife management staff. If approved by the Ohio Wildlife Council they will take effect for the 2013-2014 hunting seasons. Open houses will be held March 2 for public input, and public comments are welcome online at wildohio.com.
The Ohio River Valley Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is holding an NWTF banquet on Friday, April 5 at Kountry Resort Camp Ground (formerly Royal Oak) near Pomeroy. Doors open at 5 p.m. with dinner following 6:30 p.m.
Single tickets are $55, which includes dinner and an NWTF membership, and couples are $75 which includes dinner for two and one membership. Other membership levels are available as well.
If you’ve never attended an NWTF banquet, they are loads of fun with lots of auctions and other contests. It’s also a great way to help an organization that is very active in protecting and improving woodland habitat for wild turkeys and other wildlife as well.
For more information, contact Ken McFann at 740-416-8836, Don Barnett at 740-742-2296 or Ryan Rowe at 740-992-4133.
An Ohio Hunter Education Class will be held commencing April 1 at the Shade River Coon Hunters Club, located on the Rocksprings Fair Grounds near Pomeroy. Class sessions will be held April 1, 2 and 4, 6-9 p.m. and April 5, 9 a.m. to noon. The class is free but pre-registration is required. For more information or to register, visit www.wildohio.com. All registration is done online.
Jim Freeman is wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District and a long-time contributor to the Sunday Times-Sentinel. His column, In the Open, generally appears every other Sunday. He can be contacted weekdays at (740) 992-4282 or at firstname.lastname@example.org