Friday, March 18, 2016

Ohio's Wildlife Division just can't make up its mind about deer-hunting seasons

Never underestimate the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s capacity to keep its deer-hunting constituency scratching its collective head.

The latest institutional faux pas deals (alarmingly once again) with the matter of deer-hunting regulations; or more accurately, yet another series of changes to those rules.

What the agency has done is put the transmission to its rule-making car in reverse while the vehicle was still going forward. It did this by slipping and sliding with all of the grease the agency’s bureaucrats could muster as to just when the so-called two-day “bonus” general firearms deer-hunting season would be held along with the dates for the statewide muzzle-loading season.

As originally proposed the bonus gun season would run December 28th and 29th. Meanwhile, the muzzle-loading season would run January 14th to the 17th.

Hopefully a deer hunter had used a pencil instead of a pen in marking those dates on the calendar, or else has an understanding boss after first planning ahead by arranging vacation time.

Instead, the eight-member Wildlife Council approved the agency’s “amended” deer-hunting date agenda. The two-day bonus season is now set for December 17th and 18th – a weekend and less than two weeks after the conclusion of the seven-day general firearms deer-hunting season.

As for the muzzle-loading season that will run January 7th through the 10th; those dates are fully a week earlier than originally proposed.

The Wildlife Division’s official rationale goes “After receiving public input about regulations proposed to the Ohio Wildlife Council on Feb. 10, modifications were made to some of proposed season dates for the 2016-2017 hunting regulations.”

In short, the Wildlife Division vetted hunters’ opinions, but not until it actually thought out what would be peachy-keen hunting season dates. Of course, the agency’s two so-called Deer Summits weren’t enough in the Wildlife Division’s design scheme to determine which way was up.

Then again, remember that this is the same Wildlife Division that determined a few years back that a mid-December/two-day/weekend gun season was like “one long gun season” and that it decided that this hunt was resulting in “declining participation.”

Of course, mid-course oopsies appear to be the rule rather than the exception by this Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight.

It was a tad more than two years ago when at the Wildlife Division’s Deer Summit in Akron the agency all but said that the Mid-October two-day/weekend antlerless-only deer-hunting season was the best invention since sliced bread. And we all now know that season was really burnt toast, unfit for hunters’ consumption.

Then too, Ohio’s deer hunters were being prepped for a soon change to a zone or deer unit management profile instead of the system now employed. That plan has been relegated to a back burner that also appears to now be turned off.  All – as stated by the Wildlife Division – in order to provide regulatory consistency for the state’s deer hunters.

Say what? The only consistent thing about the Wildlife Division when it comes to establishing deer hunting rules is its inconsistency.

Or as a fellow outdoors writer friend of mine opined about this whole mess: “I’m glad the Division of Wildlife isn’t testing our drinking water.”

Brother, you got that right.

 By 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 is the recipient of more than 125 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.


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