Deer season proposals change once again

Columbus — To appease Ohio’s sportsmen, the Ohio Division of Wildlife has once again rearranged its deer-hunting proposals for the 2015-2016 seasons.

Gone is any mid-October gun season, either for youths or for those sportsmen and women devoted to muzzleloading guns if the Ohio Wildlife Council approves of such changes.

Shifted as well is the statewide black-powder deer hunting season, moved to after the also date-adjusted statewide so-called “holiday” two-day general firearms deer-hunting season.

All because the agency said it really did pay attention when the state’s deer hunters spoke loud and clearly regarding their dissatisfaction with the wildlife division’s first two sets of proposals.

These new proposals were presented to the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council on Wednesday, March 18. The council will ultimately decide whether to accept, reject, or modify once more the agency’s to-do requested list of deer-hunting proposals.

Yet such regulatory changes are a “normal part of the rule proposal process” as to what first appears and then ultimately what is created in the time for the wildlife council’s meeting, said Scott Zody, the wildlife division’s chief.

“First, I along with members of the staff, had several conversations with individual members of the wildlife council between the time the proposed rules were introduced in February and last night’s (March 18) meeting,” Zody said.

“Some council members had questions on one or more of the proposals, or were letting me or the staff know about questions or comments they were receiving from members of the sportsmen’s community.”
 

Zody said too that none of the new and actual proposals were forced on the agency by any individual wildlife council member, Gov. John Kasich, any member of the Ohio General Assembly, or any other elected official.

“But it is possible that someone in an elected capacity may have submitted a written or online comment,” Zody says. “I certainly don’t know every elected official in the state.”

As to specifics, Zody says the new slate of proposals is inscribed with moving the start of the statewide muzzleloading deer-hunting season to Jan. 9. The previous set of proposals had the start date of Jan. 2.

The so-called “holiday” two-day general firearms deer-hunting season is proposed to run Dec. 28 and 29 (a Monday and Tuesday) instead of Dec. 26 and 27 (a Saturday and Sunday.)

Such a change, says Zody, moves this proposed new gun season away from starting the day after Christmas, a real bone of contention with many hunters.

“And by moving the muzzleloading season back one week, we go from having a five-day break between the ‘holiday’ gun season and the muzzle-loading season to an 11-day break,” Zody said.

Left in its current slot of mid-November is the two-day, youth-only firearms deer hunting season. Which means, of course, youths won’t be afield in October chasing deer with shotguns and specific caliber rifles.

Complicating the issue is that hunter opinions on when to conduct the youth deer hunt as expressed during five concurrently held deer summits and elsewhere were “all over the map,” Zody said.

“We received comments supporting the move and those opposing the move, and many different suggestions on when else to move the season,” Zody said. “We even received some comments advocating the elimination of the season altogether.”

And because the proposals left vacant the mid-October period, the wildlife division is also asking that the start of the state’s fall wild turkey-hunting season begin Saturday, Oct. 10 instead of the originally proposed start date of Monday, Oct. 12.

Obviously, Zody also said, with such diverse opinions noted by deer hunters, the wildlife division intends to continue to engage “our deer-hunting stakeholders.”

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