Unprecedented Meeting: Ohio Division of Wildlife Meets With Members of the Legislature to Explain Proposed Deer Hunting Regulations.
Wednesday February 19th, 2014
Senate Finance Room, Ohio Statehouse
Included amongst the nine Initiatives adopted by the membership of the Ohio Conservation Federation at its inaugural meeting on February 15th, was one directing the OCF to work to support the time tested, successful Wildlife Council system in Ohio and protect the Council from undue political influence. Work on this Initiative began right away.
OCF’s Vice President Matt Misicka and Policy Director Steve Gray participated in a meeting at the Statehouse facilitated by Senator Joe Uecker (R – Dist 14), chair of the Ohio Legislature’s Sportsmen’s Caucus. The topic of the hour-long meeting focused on the 2014-2015 hunting season’s deer regulations. Division of Wildlife’s Chief Scott Zody, Assistant Chief Tom Rowan, and Wildlife Management & Research Administrator Dave Kohler gave presentations that included (1) a report on the history and current status of the deer herd in Ohio, (2) the proposed 2014-2015 changes to the county deer bag limits, and (3) the background on the proposed inclusion of rifles chambered for straight-walled pistol cartridges.
State Senator Chris Widener (R – Dist 10) and Allen Armstrong a South Charleston, Ohio farmer and board member of the Ohio Soybean Association engaged the DOW’s representatives with several questions concerning the accuracy of DOW’s assessment of the size of the deer herd and suggested both a return to more liberal bag limits and reinstating the Bonus Weekend. As has often been the case, where farmers see too many deer and want seasons opened, hunters see too few and want the herd size increased. Based upon the data presented, collected from 2013 harvest statistics and the number of ODOT reported deer/auto collisions, the deer population appears to being steadily decreasing as planned towards the targeted levels established many years back. Subsequently, like landing an airplane on a fast approaching runway, the biologists at DOW are trying to make small adjustments to the bag limits to bring the herd and the public’s expectations into a sustainable balance while at the same time generating continued interest by giving deer hunters the opportunity to use rifles chambered for a select set of pistol cartridges for the very first time.
Alongside the OCF, five other groups were represented: Larry Moore (Buckeye Firearms Assoc), John Hobbs (Ohio Bowhunters Assoc), Larry Mitchell (League of Ohio Sportsmen), Evan Heusinkveld and Adam Wright (US Sportsmen’s’ Alliance), and Mike Rex (Buckeye Big Buck Club).