Deer hunting in Ohio could become more complex after the Ohio Division of Wildlife announced its proposals to add restrictions and caveats to such participation on publicly owned grounds.
What the Wildlife Division is proposing – and presented February 7th before the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council – is a short series or law changes regarding the taking of antlerless deer on public property.
These changes encompass the widest spectrum of public lands that hunters can access. Among these properties are state wildlife areas, state forests and parks, as well as the Wayne National Forest. Also included are so-called “agreement lands,” which means such places as the Wayne National Forest, Muskingum Watershed District, AEP lands, City of Akron (Akron Watershed District), among others.
For a complete list of potntially impact lands please refer to: http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/portals/wildlife/pdfs/public%20areas/Public%20hunting%20areas.pdf
The possible rule changes mean that hunters will be permitted to take only one antlerless deer on any public land per season. That restriction thus includes making it illegal for a hunter to shoot an antlerless animal on one public wildlife area, for example, and than to shoot another antlerless animal there or on any other publicly owned property at any time during the deer-hunting season.
A second new proposed tightening of the rules would mean that after the conclusion of the general seven-day firearms deer-hunting season the taking of antlerless deer on any publicly owned or managed property would be prohibited.
This proposed restriction would include the taking of an antlerless deer during the two-day/weekend statewide firearms deer-hunting season, the muzzle-loading deer-hunting season, along with the remainder of the archery deer-hunting season.
In short, if a hunter wishes to pursue deer on any publicly owned or managed land after the seven-day gun season is over than it will have to be for an antlered deer, says Clint McCoy, the Wildlife Division’s chief deer management biologist.
It is important to remember that should these rules be approved by the Wildlife Council, they apply only to public lands. At no time do they impact deer hunting on private property, McCoy is quick to note.
McCoy says that the agency’s various deer hunter surveys strongly suggest wide support for increased antlerless deer restrictions on public lands.
“That’s been one of the hottest topics I’ve heard brought up,” McCoy said. “Fully 70 percent of survey respondents expressed support for a measure of this kind.”
Only about 10 percent of Ohio’s deer hunters shoot two or more deer annually on public lands and just about 8.5 percent of resident Ohio deer hunters engage in their interest either exclusively or mostly on public land in the state, McCoy also said.
Asked if public lands then are more popular with non-resident deer hunters, McCoy was quick to say “oh, yeah.”
Thus much of what the Wildlife Division is doing is to help relax the tension that many Ohio deer hunters have about deer bag limits – particularly for antlerless deer – when these allowances impact public lands. Such properties can, at times, during the deer-hunting season leave the impression on some participant’s minds of over-crowding along with its twin complaint: that some deer hunters take legal advantage of the state’s liberal bag limits, McCoy says.
The only only other appreciable proposed change would be the reduction of the maximum allowed deer bag limit for Jefferson County. This proposal calls for the season bag limit to be reduced to no more than two animals, down from the previous maximum limit of three animals.
McCoy said this proposal stems from the marked decline Jefferson County’s total deer kill during the just-concluded deer-hunting season when compared to the 2016-2017 deer-hunting season. This decline amounted to 897 animals. It is suspected that the entire county’s deer herd likely was seriously impacted by epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), McCoy said, thus mandating the request to lower the bag limit in order to rebuild the county’s herd.