By MIKE TONTIMONIA
This year’s crop of whitetail fawns is on the ground but they aren’t the only new things that might interest Ohio deer hunters.
The new laws regulating deer hunting are also on the ground, so to speak. Actually, the new 2014-15 regs are online and in print. Booklets are available from Division of Wildlife offices or request one. Call 800-WILDLIFE or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annual changes seem to come wholesale for deer hunters as wildlife officials try to serve the interests of hunters, land owners, farmers, biologists, the insurance industry,and of course, politicians.
This year’s rule book is a lesson in reading comprehension but to be sure, it’s no different than the rule books of nearly every state in the nation.
Here are some highlights. The 88 counties in Ohio are now under individual sets of rules. There are no longer three overall management zones, having been replaced by county by county deer herd, harvest and income goals.
Twelve counties, all with major metropolitan areas that used be called urban deer hunting zones, are listed as four-deer counties while other counties limit deer hunters to either two or three deer.
But hunters can move from two-, three- or four-deer counties until they reach a total bag limit of nine deer as long as they do not exceed the two-, three- or four-deer limit of a county.
One limit that hasn’t changed and likely won’t is the limit of one antlered deer — period.
Note that the inexpensive antlerless permits or recent years are not as cheap anymore. And too, their use has been greatly reduced.
The southeast, Ohio home of the former zone three, is mostly made up of three deer-counties, in which a hunter can kill no more than three deer. While all of the three-deer counties are in that grouping, some will allow the use of one antlerless permit and two either sex tags while others will require all three tags to be the more expensive either sex type.
Another restriction on antlerless permit use restricts their use to Nov. 30 or before, which means they cannot be used during gun season or late muzzle loader season in any county.
Newly added to the legal means for deer hunting is an extensive list of firearms, all being center-fire rifle calibers. These rifles are not the long guns one expects to see in the west and less populated states, where high power, center fire rifles are commonplace.
Instead, Ohio has opened the gate for what are called straight-walled calibers and ammunition, which for the most part are quite similar, or even the same, as the revolvers already allowed. Of the nearly 30 calibers on the list of allowable rifles, just a handful will be popular and easily available off the shelf.
Again this year, hours are one-half hour before sun rise until one-half hour after sun set. This one is a no-change rule, which made sense when changed and continues to please hunters and most other stake holders.
Smart deer hunters would be wise to get their hands on a printed booklet and study it carefully.