Got to hand it to the Ohio Division of Wildlife. When this agency's leaders mess up they do it in style while during the whole time they behave with that deer-in-the-headlights look.
Not since the long-ago time when Ohio decided to start the waterfowl hunting season at noon on a weekday has the Wildlife Division so thoroughly tripped in its management waders and fell face-first into the mud of uncommon sense as it has with this year's waterfowl hunting seasons.
Back in August when the agency's honchos were mulling how they could mess up a 60-day duck-hunting season framework and a 78-day goose-hunting framework, someone certainly had to capture the First Place prize in making nonsense out of a commonsense bracket of possible seasons.
And there's plenty of blame to go around, too. Take your pick: Wildlife Division's waterfowl management administrators, agency executives and even the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council, which is suppose to go about its work to prevent dumb things from happening, all suffered from a lack of logic.
How else can one explain the cutoff of all but four days in November for duck hunting in just about the entire state north of Interstate 70, which the exception of a sliver of Lake Erie marshland in northwest Ohio?
Yet unspeakably that is precisely what the Wildlife Division mucked up when it will close the first portion of the state's North Duck-hunting Zone on Nov. 3 after beginning just 15 days earlier.
Even more baffling was the decision to restart the North Zone's duck-hunting engine on Nov. 30 (yep, two days BEFORE the beginning of Ohio's firearms deer-hunting season) and keep it sputtering clear through to Jan. 12.
I don't know about you but after living in Lake County for nearly 64 years I can say without reservations that late December and early January gets a tad chilly. Enough so that Northeast Ohio marches, beaver ponds and farm ponds are typically locked in ice.
Even Al Gore would have to admit that early winter in Northeast Ohio is not the same as early winter in Cancun.
If none of this ducking management mishmash makes any sense than neither does the Wildlife Division's madness in establishing the state's Lake Erie Goose-hunting Zone's season.
Here the Wildlife Division's decision makers quickly lost their grip on the judicious use of their facilities.
In the Lake Erie Canada Goose-hunting Zone, the starting gun went off a full week before that of its generally respective duck-hunting zone opener. And which, by the way, also coincided with Ohio's first-ever antlerless-only/muzzle-loader deer hunt.
“Excuse me? Did I read you correctly, sir, that the duck and goose openers were a full week apart?”
Oh, yes, you most certainly did, son.
So instead of waterfowlers partaking of a customary concurrent duck-goose season opener they were left with a disjointed, far-from-traditional, one opener here and another opener there format.
The ends are not tied any better, either.
For instance – and we'll stick with the northern part of the state for argument sake – waterfowlers can shoot ducks through Nov. 3 for the first part of the season but not Canada geese in the state's Lake Erie Goose-hunting Zone.
Yet these same eager waterfowlers will see their Canada goose season reboot on Nov. 9 although all ducks will be off limits. That is until (gulp) Nov. 30.
The reasonable and most user-friendly format would have both the goose and duck seasons begin on the same Saturday, run concurrently through to the day before the statewide firearms deer-hunting season. And then begin the day following the gun season's end until all of the allocated days for each season reaches its trail head.
Instead, what the Wildlife Division's waterfowl biologists, their Columbus bosses - and ultimately the agency's Wildlife Council's eight handlers - have done is so badly gerrymandered the state's duck- and goose-hunting seasons that confusion and disappointment has ultimately tainted whatever respect the state's waterfowlers had in the agency's ability to keep things simple and practical.
Oh, for the uncomplicated days of noon waterfowl openers, duck point systems and 30-day seasons. And managers who knew what the heck they were doing, too.