While Ohio’s wildlife officials don’t seem terribly concerned with the dropoff of a whisker over 12 percent in the number of whitetail deer killed from 2012-13 to the season completed at the beginning of this month, they have proposed some significant changes for next season.
The proposals are:
-- A new county-by-county system of bag limits, based on how close a county is to reaching its deer population goal. (The map can be found at wildohio.com.)
-- A significant change in the type of guns allowed during the youth and gun seasons. For the first time, rifles will be allowed, but no high-powered rifles. All will be “pistol cartridge” rifles. There is a list of acceptable models and calibers on the Ohio Division of Wildlife website. The proposed rifles are the same caliber and use the same straight-walled cartridges that are currently legal for use with handguns.
The use of rifles would allow hunters to be more accurate than with a pistol or a shotgun. Like a shotgun, only three cartridges will be allowed in a rifle at a time.
-- The only change in season dates would be during the statewide muzzleloader season. It would start on a Friday (Jan. 2) instead of a Saturday. All other seasons remain the same as 2013-14, including the controversial two-day antlerless-only muzzleloader season (Oct. 11-12).
The lower number of deer killed by hunters in Ohio (191, 459 in 2013-14 compared to 218,910 in 2012-13) was expected, according to wildlife chief Scott Zody.
“This year’s deer harvest indicates we have been reaching our goals in many Ohio counties to maintain a quality deer herd,” Zody said.
He said the lower deer kill more reflects the number of deer available, rather than the number of hunters. He said the estimated number of deer hunters was 400,000, about the same as in previous years. The success rate was 35-37 percent taking at least one deer.
If you look at the map of deer bag limit proposals, southwest Ohio has counties with four different sets of bag limits. In Montgomery, Cleremont, Warren, Hamilton and Brown counties four deer can be taken; in Clark, Champaign, Logan, Shelby, Butler, Preble, Clinton, Highland and Adams counties three deer can be taken (including one with an antlerless permit); in Miami, Greene and Mercer counties three can be taken (but none with antlerless permits); and in Darke and Auglaize counties only two can be taken.
“What we are saying, to simplify it a bit, is that we are at or below our target level in Darke County and close, but not quite, to our goal in Miami (which is next door),” said Dave Kohler, wildlife administrator for the Division of Wildlife.
The division will answer all questions concerning the new whitetail regs at seven planned open houses across the state on March 1. In southwest Ohio, the open house will be held at the Greene County Fish & Game Club from noon-3 p.m. Following that, there will be a statewide hearing in Columbus on March 6, followed by the Wildlife Council meeting on April 9 where the proposals will be approved or rejected.
Those who cannot attend an open house can comment at wildohio.com through March 2.
Southwest Ohio results
Following are the 2013-14 deer harvest totals in southwest Ohio (with 2012-13 numbers in parenthesis):
Adams 3,849 (4,111), Allen 1,057 (1,110), Auglaize 789 (986), Brown 2,526 (2,933), Butler 1,503 (1,498), Champaign 1,243 (1,453), Clark 779 (862), Clermont 2,830 (3,141), Clinton 883 (1,007), Darke 589 (1,004), Greene 956 (1,105), Hamilton 2,069 (2,175), Highland 2,714 (3,250), Logan 1,917 (2,094), Mercer 625 (804), Miami 881 (961), Montgomery 687 (804), Preble 1,070 (1,205), Shelby 1,103 (1,294), Warren 1,344 (1,605).