Some three weeks after five concurrent Deer Summits were held the Ohio Division of Wildlife has released a tabulation of attendee preferences.
Given that only 160 people total took the time January 24 to hear what the Wildlife Division had to say on the subject and then voice their opinions and concerns, the figures may or may not be a true representation of the state’s deer hunters.
Yet those interested persons who did take the time to tune into one of the five concurrently held sessions believed strongly enough about Ohio’s deer management to give up a Saturday morning.
Based on the replies collected by the Wildlife Division during the question and answer period, six subjects were of paramount importance for the attendees. These points included:
· Concerns over the new deer check-in system and possible related increased instances of poaching.
· Concerns and understanding of chronic wasting disease.
· Licensing fees for out-of-state hunters and the widely held belief these fees are too low.
· The impact of coyote predation on deer, particularly fawns.
· The overall impact on Ohio’s deer herd as it relates to the issuance of deer damage permits.
· Concern over the widely held belief that bag limits on deer as they exist now are too high/liberal.
For some specific areas and as assembled from all five summits in each of the Wildlife Division’s districts, the agency tabulated responses for and against the several questions.
For the question of whether to allow the use of legal firearms during all or part of the January statewide muzzle-loading season only 17 summit attendees expressed support while 65 attendees were opposed and eight persons had no opinion.
As for the question of ending all deer hunting – including archery deer hunting – following the conclusion of the statewide muzzle-loading deer-hunting season, more than twice the number of respondents said “no” as compared to those who said “yes.” Exact numbers were 22 attendees in support and 47 attendees opposed. Another 18 attendees had no opinion.
However, the number of people who expressed “no opinion” greatly exceeded proponents or opponents on the subject of moving the youth-only general firearms deer-hunting season to another weekend. The tabulation numbers were 19 attendees in support of such a move, 26 in opposition, but 43 attendees expressed no opinion.
Support was greatest for limiting the killing/harvesting of antlerless deer on public lands. Here, fully 45 respondents were in the affirmative. Meanwhile only 15 attendees were opposed and a significantly large number - 28 attendees - had no opinion.
As the debate intensifies over Ohio’s deer management policies and practices ride the second rail and the subject of regulatory changes rides the first rail these and other related subjects will be taking center stage in the weeks ahead.
That said, on a topic of keen interest to hundreds of thousands of Ohio sportsmen and sportswomen it would be a pity that change will come – or not come - about because of hunter apathy.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.