Whitetails leader opposed to new deer regulations

Cortland, Ohio — The head of Whitetails Unlimited in Ohio is opposed to some of the new deer regulations being proposed by the DNR Division of Wildlife.

The Ohio Wildlife Council in April will consider a proposed muzzleloader antlerless only deer season in October. The muzzleloader hunt would take the place of the extra gun weekend that’s been held in December for the past several years.

Denny Malloy, of northeast Ohio, heads up Whitetails Unlimited in the state. He’s concerned about the muzzleloader hunt taking the place of the bonus weekend. Pennsylvania, he said, should serve as a cautionary tale.

“Any time you take opportunity away from hunters it seems like we’re breaking off another piece of tradition,” he said. “I saw it firsthand in Pennsylvania. When they revamped their deer laws years ago, they had a million hunters and Pennsylvania was kind of the hot bed. They put a dagger right in the heart of that and it continues even today… They’re still fighting amongst each other and here we are eight or 10 years later.

In the past, northeast Ohio hunters flocked to Pennsylvania’s deer camps. That’s not the case any longer, Malloy said.

“Their biggest complaint is that there’s no deer up there anymore,” he said. “They’ve sold the camps off or just abandoned them… The whole northeast Ohio pipeline to Pa. is just dead as the direct result of what the Pa. Game Commission has done over there.”

The timing of the proposed muzzleloader hunt is puzzling, Malloy said.

“In October, there are a lot of other things to hunt,” he said. “Bowhunting has kicked in and more people kill deer with a bow than they ever have in Ohio… You’ll even get nonresidents from places like Illinois and Iowa who come to Ohio in October to bowhunt.”

Putting hunters in the woods with guns in October changes the whole deer hunting game plan, Malloy said.

“As soon as the first bullets go into the air, you can throw all of your preseason scouting out the window,” he said. “From that moment on, things have changed.”

The potential economic impact of losing the December gun weekend for smaller bait and tackle stores could be devastating, Malloy said.

“They’ve already killed the check stations and the mom and pops are just hanging on by a thread,” he said. “(The extra gun weekend) was business for them in December right before Christmas that they’re going to lose now.”

The DNR Division of Wildlife, in proposing the early season, said 86 percent of survey respondents said they would support an early muzzleloader season. The problem, Malloy says, is that the survey didn’t specify that the muzzleloader hunt would replace the extra gun weekend.

“I guarantee the data would have been flipped and you would have had 14 percent (approval) instead of 86 percent,” he said. “They’re using the data to the best advantage of the (proposed) program.”

The hunting society in the U.S. has changed dramatically, Malloy asserts, and not for the better.

“We’re at the point now where people shoot a deer and don’t even take a picture of it anymore,” he said. “It’s been dumbed down to the point that a deer’s life is just a piece of meat… When do we change it from deer hunting season to deer management season?”

Malloy worries that too many people who are unfamiliar with muzzleloaders will try to utilize the season, whether that means borrowing someone else’s gun or going out and buying a new one.

“A lot of people don’t own muzzleloaders,” he said. “They all have their shotguns. We encourage them to be proficient with their guns… You’re going to have less accurate shots with a muzzleloader because they’re not used to shooting them.”

Last month, Division of Wildlife Chief Scott Zody characterized the potential loss of the extra gun weekend as a “gamble” that those deer would be picked up during the early muzzleloader season.

“As a guy who deals with deer hunters and the deer hunting tradition, I don’t ever want to hear an agency use the word ‘gamble’ with my hunting regs and my future,” Malloy said. “I don’t think our state should be willing to gamble with it. Our hunting tradition is just too important.”

Malloy, a former Division of Wildlife officer, likes the proposal that would allow gun hunters to hunt a half hour past sunset.

“I didn’t like it until this past season,” he said. “Shooting time was over and I realized there’s still a heck of a lot of light left. That regulation works. In most situations, you have a lot of light left and that might be the best time of the whole day.”

An early muzzleloader season, Malloy said, is simply not needed in Ohio.

“You’re taking one of the best bowhunting states in the country and putting a hurdle in the middle of it,” he said. “It isn’t a state with a lack of hunters. We have more hunters than we’ve ever had before.”

Hunters and the Division of Wildlife alike need to work together, Malloy asserts, not at odds against one another.

“We’re at a crossroads, hanging onto our traditions by a thread,” he said. “We shouldn’t have to be fighting our own state game agency.”

New this year, hunter comments will be accepted online by logging onto www.wildohio.com. Malloy hopes many take advantage of this option and flood the Division of Wildlife with comments.

“I’m hoping (the state) will overwhelmingly see that losing a season to create another season earlier is a bad thing,” he said. “That’s not what the public wants or needs.”

Ohio is already a wonderful deer hunting destination, Malloy said, and sometimes change is not needed.

“I think that by standing pat (with deer regulations) we can still be the top game agency,” he said. “But, once we start to gamble, that’s where the public has to decide whether (his or her) hunting tradition is worth the gamble.”

Categories: Hunting News, Hunting Top Story, Social Media, Whitetail Deer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *