After months of hearing yes, no and maybe from wildlife officials, this year’s deer hunting regs, as well as those for all hunting and trapping seasons, are finally in ink.
The new 2013-14 hunting regulation booklets are available in hard copy from license dealers or can be read or printed online at the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s website at www.wildohio.com.
Indeed, Ohio’s wildlife managers who attempt to set season hunting seasons and bag limits based on data, best practice strategies and management goals, are pushed and pulled in various directions as special interest groups, lobbied politicians and those with other agendas, do a pretty good job of working within the system.
Some of us who value our hunting opportunities as one of our most treasured activities have read about and listened to a constantly changing array of possibilities, including reduced seasons, additional seasons, more deer, less deer, longer hours and varied seasonal bag limits.It’s been frustrating and somewhat tiring, with the only bright spot happening when the Wildlife Council said “no” to a proposed last minute change. This after a history of yes, yes and yes again.
Here are some highlights: All deer hunting seasons combined will go from Sept. 28 through Feb. 2. There will be a “new” state-wide two-day antlerless muzzle loader season Oct. 12-13.State-wide youth gun season will be held Nov. 23-24 and the popular gun season will run one week, Dec. 2-8, and there will not be a bonus weekend this year. Muzzleloader season will follow previous practice, running Jan. 4-7.
For most hunters who complained of seeing very few deer last fall and expected greatly reduced bag limts, this year’s regs allow for a very liberal nine-deer total bag limit, with the total coming from various counties.
Management by zone is history, with county by county regulations now in place. There are eight counties with a two-deer limit, 22 with three deer allowed, and 58 counties with a four deer limit. As always, Ohio deer hunters may kill just one buck. A change limits the use of antlerless permits to Dec. 1 or before.
There will be no visual inspection of a carcass anymore and hunters shouldn’t expect anyone from a check station to place a tag on a checked deer.
There are no longer any metal tags. Hunters often ask if they can purchase antlerless tags before they purchase a more expensive either-or tag. The answer is yes.
Another question often asked is whether a dog can be used to find a wounded deer. Yes, if it is kept on a leash. And yes, a CCW gun owner may carry his or her concealed handgun, but may not use it to shoot an animal.
A surprise change allows a longer hunting day, closing at one-half hour after sunset. Complicated. Hunters should study the new regulations carefully because the rules covering the use of either-or permits and antlerless permits are complicated at best.