Thursday, February 6, 2014

UPDATED & REWRITTEN: Significant changes in the offering for Ohio's 2014 deer-hunting laws

Under a proposal the Ohio Division of Wildlife  unveiled to the state's outdoors writers this afternoon, deer hunters in Lake, Trumbull and Cuyahoga counties will have the opportunity to both buy and use just one antlerless-only deer tag during the upcoming season.

The same will apply to hunters in Ashtabula County.

However, not so for deer hunters in Geauga County where the long-time use of such tags is buried deep in the area's deer-hunting tradition.

Likewise, the Wildlife Division is proposing allowing the use of certain straight-walled cartridges in rifles during the statewide general firearms deer-hunting season.
Lake, Cuyahoga and Trumbull County deer hunters will legally be eligible to kill up to four animals while hunters in Ashtabula County will become eligible to shot only up to three animals.

Meanwhile, properly licensed Geauga County deer hunters will be lawfully empowered to shoot up to three animals but all will require the use of an either-sex tag only.

This is a significant step toward the Wildlife Division embracing a county-by-county deer management strategy.

The newly drawn proposed map showing in which counties hunters can buy and use antlerless-only tags as well as season allowances has the most checkerboard look in history.

Only in five counties can hunters shoot just two deer and all animals must be tagged with an either-sex permit. These counties are Darke, Hancock, Auglaize, Fayette, and Madison.

Entirely new and perhaps the biggest surprise is that a number of traditionally go-to deer-hunting counties now fall into a category whereby the use of antlerless-only tags are forbidden. That is, if the proposal eventually passes muster with the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council, which has the final say in such matters.

Among the counties where antlerless-only tags are being proposed as being ineligible for use are Guernsey, Noble, Muskingum, Coshocton, Harrison, Washington, Meigs, Jefferson, and – as mentioned earlier – Geauga.

And though deer hunters operating in any of these counties can still shoot up to three animals each and everyone of them will require tagging with a $24 either-sex permit instead of a $15 antlerless-only permit.

Also, the proposed dates for the various 2014-2015 deer-hunting seasons are Archery, including crossbow - Sept. 25-Feb. 1 (2015); Antlerless-only via muzzle-loader-only – Oct. 11 and 12; Youth-only general firearms – Nov. 22-23; General firearms – Dec. 1-7; Statewide either-sex muzzle-loader-only – Jan. 2-5.

This story will be updated following the teleconference by the Wildlife Division to the state's outdoors writers.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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