No huge changes in 2016-17 deer regulation proposals

Columbus — Ohio’s deer hunters will see a mirrored reflection in the 2016-2017 deer-hunting seasons, bag limits, and other regulations, the image being the same as the just concluded all-inclusive 2015-2016 deer-hunting season.

Thing is that while the deer-hunting regulations will be the same, the probability is high – make that, very high – that Ohio’s hunters will encounter much poorer weather.

On Feb. 10, the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council was presented with the proposals for the various upcoming deer-hunting seasons. These rules and regulations were then showcased again the next day during an Ohio Division of Wildlife-hosted teleconference with the state’s outdoors writers.

Left unchanged are the counties in which hunters can shoot two, three, or four deer. Along with those county-by-county respective bag limits come where an antlerless-only tag is legal tender.

Under the proposals, in only 10 of Ohio’s 88 counties will a single antlerless-only tag be legal.

The proposed various 2016-2017 deer-hunting dates are: archery – Sept. 24 to Feb. 5; youth-only firearms season – Nov. 19 and Nov. 20; general firearms season – Nov. 28 to Dec. 4; “bonus” two-day general firearms season – Dec. 28 and Dec. 29; statewide muzzleloading season – Jan. 14 to Jan. 17.

Wildlife division officials did, however, engage in some back-peddling on when they would likely propose abandoning its long-standing county-by-county deer management protocols in favor of a deer-management unit profile that is employed by many other states, including next-door-neighbor Pennsylvania.

“We’re looking for more constituent input,” said Clint McCoy, the wildlife division’s lead deer management biologist. “If in six months we hear from more hunters that they want it then it would become more likely (sooner).”

About the only noticeable difference between the actual 2015-2016 and the proposed 2016-2017 season dates is where the two-day often-called “bonus” two-day general firearms deer-hunting season lines up. This past December, that season fell on a Monday and a Tuesday. For this year the proposal hooks on to a Wednesday and a Thursday.

Asked also about the fact that the antlered deer harvest jumped an impressive and unexpected 12 percent for the 2015-2016 all-inclusive seasons, wildlife division officials reiterated that it was their belief that a poor hard mast crop (the acorns from white and red oaks, mostly) forced many deer to go on a search for food.

Such a hunt meant that the deer sought out game feeders and corn piles maintained by hunters, thus making the animals more vulnerable to the arrow and the bullet.

Also, the wildlife division maintains that this past autumn’s and winter’s El Nino-driven much warmer weather allowed more hunters to stay afield longer than usual.

However, neither of those conditions is anticipated for this upcoming all-inclusive deer-hunting season, regardless of which dates the Wildlife Council ultimately does approve.

The reason for this upheaval is twofold. First, seldom is there a back-to-back hard mast crop failure. Typically a lean year of acorn production is followed by a strong year, and vice versa.

Then too, this past year’s El Nino-influenced weather pattern will be nothing more than a memory.

Scientist’s with the federal government’s Climate Prediction Center have issued a report noting that “since we are now past the peak of the El Nino event… the relevant questions relate to how quickly the event decays and whether we see a transition to La Nina, which frequently follows on the heels of El Nino events.”

In climatologically spoken terms, the CPC’s scientists are predicting a “return to neutral conditions” by late spring and early summer along with a 79 percent chance of “La Nina by next winter.”

Likewise, the CPC is saying that the historic run of La Nina events drives wetter than average precipitation amounts in at least some portions of North America.

Thus, for the upcoming 2016-2017 autumn and winter periods, the CPC is projecting above-average amounts of precipitation for the Pacific Northwest, as well as the Ohio Valley and the Great Lakes.

In short, Ohio’s troupe of deer hunters will almost certainly see both a colder than normal and wetter than normal 2016-2017 all-inclusive deer-hunting season.

Or much closer to what they encountered during the 2014-2015 all-inclusive deer-hunting season when deer kill numbers retreated from the previous 2013-2014 all-inclusive season tallies.

Categories: Hunting News, Whitetail Deer

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