The ODNR Division of Wildlife previewed the 2014 proposed deer regulations to the Ohio Wildlife Council. The proposals included modest tweaking of the management goals following the major overhaul in 2013. Division Wildlife Management Biologist Dave Kohler walked through the deer harvest numbers, by season, for the recently completed 2013 deer season.
Kohler described the bag limit adjustments for 2014-15 as “tweaks”, a further refinement of changes made this year. He explained, “Last year we moved away from what might be described as “zone management” to a process more closely resembling county-based management. We have reviewed harvest and permit data by county, paying particularly close attention to those counties at or very near goal. We are recommending that the antlerless permit not be valid in these counties.
We believe this to be the most effective means available.” Kohler emphasized the need to think about the antlerless permit as a tool, noting, “We introduced it in 2007-08 for the sole purpose of increasing the antlerless harvest and reducing populations to goal. In those areas where the job is done, the tool needs to go back into the box.”
Under the proposal Greene County will be a three-deer harvest county with no special antlerless deer permits. Clark and Clinton counties will also be a three-deer harvest county but hunters there will be allowed to take only one antlerless deer on the special antlerless only permit. Fayette County to the east will be a two deer harvest county with no special antlerless only deer permits. The regulations will require the deer hunter to understand the county-by-county approach and match where they hunt to the type of deer permit purchased.
Ken Fitz, Executive Administrator for Law Enforcement at the ODNR Division of Wildlife, presented the next part of the deer regulations. Fitz announced that the proposals include allowing pistol caliber rifles (PCR) for Ohio deer gun seasons in the 2014 regulations. His presentation included a lot of background information, safety considerations and justification to allow the use of specific pistol caliber rifle cartridges and firearms during the deer gun seasons. The proposal is designed to allow additional gun-hunting opportunities for hunters who want to hunt with these guns.
The proposed rifles are the same caliber and use the same straight-walled cartridges that have been used safely in handguns for deer hunting for many years. These rifles have reduced recoil compared to larger shotguns, and the proposed rifles are more accurate than the same caliber handgun.
The rifles will be limited to a total of three live cartridges through the use of a plug or inert ammunition inserted into the magazine. This is the same 3-shot rule as required for shotguns.
The Ohio deer herd is healthy and the ODNR Division of Wildlife sees no adverse effects to the deer management program by allowing the use of PCR. Cooperation between Division of Wildlife managers, sportsmen and landowners is critical for the success of wildlife management and especially managing the Ohio deer population.
The Buckeye Firearms Association, who has lead the efforts to obtain the use of PCR for deer hunting, sought the support of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF). They realized that an educational process and partnership with the OFBF is very important. A policy resolution was submitted to the OFBF at the local county level. With the adoption of the local policy it was presented to the OFBF state delegates. They adopted a state policy at their 2013 convention to encourage the Division of Wildlife to allow PCR.
Jim Irvine, Buckeye Firearms Association Chair, said, “We applaud the Ohio Division of Wildlife for making the proposal so Ohio deer hunters will have another tool available as they enjoy deer hunting starting in 2014. We thank the OFBF for their support of PCR. We hope the Ohio Wildlife Council will adopt the proposed policy.”
The ODNR Division of Wildlife will be hosting open house events around the state to give sportsmen the opportunity to learn more about the 2014 hunting proposals. The local open house will be March 1 at the Greene County Fish and Game Association from noon to 3 p.m.
The Greene County Fish and Game Association is located just south of Xenia at 1538 Union Road. For additional information call the District 5 Xenia office at 937-372-9261 or go to the ODNR Division of Wildlife website at: www.dnr.state.oh.us/Default.aspx?alias=www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife.