Shortly after writing the last outdoors blog I began to wonder if I was being too harsh regarding the Ohio Division of Wildlife's last-minute proposal to tack on two days of firearms use immediately prior to the statewide muzzle-loading-only deer-hunting season.
Letting my criticism marinate overnight and part of today the conclusion I came up with was this; not a chance.
If anything, I believe I was being too kind in my blog posted late Thursday afternoon. This, following a teleconference with the state's outdoors writers in which the agency's chief announced a radical change to an already radicalized series of revisions to the state's deer-hunting regulations.
The chief, Scott Zody, informed the writers how the agency will submit to an authorizing bipartisan body of legislators a rule change request. This request will seek to set up a two-day, any-weapons deer-hunting season for Jan. 3 and 4; a Friday and a Saturday.
Butting up to this two-day hunt will come the annual statewide muzzle-loading deer-hunting season, only starting on a Sunday and ending on a Tuesday.
Zody is calling the combination a “blended” hunt that fuses the use of shotguns and legal handguns along with muzzle-loading weaponry with the latter group the only legal hunting implements during the next three days.
Coming on the heals of some heavy-duty political pressure by a small cadre of influential state legislators and then likely to be rubber-stamped by a fawning and toothless eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council, the measure is all but certain to become the law of Ohio's deer-hunting landscape.
Yet while the melding of gun hunting immediately prior to the muzzle-loading-only season was – IS – bad enough, something much worse has arrived.
Zody, the Wildlife Division and indeed the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have committed the grievous sin if you will of betrayal.
They have, collectively, sold their administrative souls for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver being dangled by a bullying group of legislators.
Such a betrayal is directed at the state's sportsmen and sportswomen.
Annually the Wildlife Division hosts a series of public open houses in which proposed hunting regulations (and in their season, proposed fishing regulations) are aired.
The stated purposes of such meetings is both to explain the proposals as well as to solicit comments from the agency's constituents.
In trying to have it both ways, Zody told the outdoors journalists how the agency values the input from sportsmen and sportswomen provided via these public gatherings
But then with a nod and a wink Zody moved to dismiss these constituents' views by noting that only about 1,300 people bothered to express themselves during this past winter's open houses.
However, it is no wonder that low turn-outs happen when the expectations of those attending – and those not attending – are low from the get-go.
The reason being is that over the years many Ohio's anglers and hunters have come to view these public open houses as really nothing more than dog and pony shows.
“It doesn't matter. They're going to do what they want to anyway,” passes the lips of more than a few jaded and jilted hunters and anglers.
Thus what Zody, the Wildlife Division, the ODNR have done by not properly vetting this significant rule change is to reenforce the cynical distrust carried within the bosom of some Ohio sportsmen and sportswomen.
Indeed, there are even now people who go so far as to refer to the Wildlife Division as being a rouge agency.
And the Wildlife Division can ill-afford any additional doubts on the part of its constituents.
Not when the public views with distaste the legal accusations and admittance of either alleged or confessed illegal or improper conduct on the part of some agency employees.
Hoping to unshackle the Wildlife Division from such charges, Zody has now only served to harden the temper of the manacle’s steel.
No doubt I will attend next winter's proposed game law hearings, both to cover them for this blog as well as to make my opinions known.
Yet just as assuredly while I know I'll get a story I also will believe - with similar conviction – that my concerns will not amount to a hill of beans anyway.
Clearly, the Ohio Division of Wildlife has betrayed whatever trust it had rebuilt in the hearts and minds of more than a few of the state's sportsmen and sportswomen.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn