COLUMBUS — The Ohio Wildlife Council approved new white-tailed deer hunting regulations at its meeting on Wednesday, April 9, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Among new regulations are decreased deer bag limits in many counties, and hunters may use straight-walled cartridge rifles during the 2014 deer-gun week. The council also voted to remove bobcats from Ohio’s list of threatened species.
The Ohio Wildlife Council voted to approve deer hunting proposals prepared by ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists. The 2014-2015 deer hunting season dates will remain largely consistent with previous years. One change in season dates included adjusting deer-muzzleloader season to begin on Friday, Jan. 2, 2015, and end on Monday, Jan. 5, compared to last year when the season began on a Saturday and concluded on a Tuesday. The October antlerless deer-muzzleloader weekend will be held for the second year.
Deer hunting seasons for 2014-2015:
• Deer archery: Sept. 27, 2014 through Feb. 1, 2015
• Antlerless deer muzzleloader: Oct. 11-12, 2014
• Youth deer gun: Nov. 22-23, 2014
• Deer gun: Dec. 1-7, 2014
• Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 2-5, 2015
The Ohio Wildlife Council also approved changes to Ohio’s list of endangered and threatened species. The bobcat, previously threatened, was removed from the list. Bobcats are still considered a protected species in Ohio with no hunting or trapping season. The snowshoe hare was changed to a species of concern, Bewick’s wren was changed to extirpated and smooth greensnakes were changed to endangered.
Small-game hunting and furbearer trapping season dates were also passed on Wednesday. Season dates and bag limits for migratory birds, including mourning dove, Canada goose, rail, moorhen, snipe, woodcock and waterfowl will be set in August in compliance with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s framework. The Ohio 2014-2015 hunting and trapping season dates can be found at bit.ly/1415Ohiohuntingseason.
Deer bag limits reflect the reduction in the deer population in many counties as numbers continue to move closer to target levels. Bag limits were reduced in 44 counties, increased in five counties and 39 counties stayed the same as last season. Antlerless tags are eliminated in some counties as deer populations approach target levels. Antlerless tags were introduced as a way to reduce Ohio’s deer herd, and have been successful, thereby eliminating their need in certain counties.
County deer bag limits:
Two (no more than one antlerless permit) — Auglaize, Darke, Fayette, Hancock, Madison and Mercer counties.
Three (antlerless permits are not valid) — Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Defiance, Fairfield, Fulton, Gallia, Geauga, Greene, Guernsey, Hardin, Harrison, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Lawrence, Meigs, Miami, Monroe, Morrow, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Richland, Van Wert, Washington and Williams counties.
Three (no more than one antlerless permit) — Adams, Allen, Ashland, Ashtabula, Athens, Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clinton, Columbiana, Crawford, Erie, Henry, Highland, Huron, Licking, Logan, Lorain, Marion, Medina, Morgan, Ottawa, Paulding, Pickaway, Pike, Preble, Putnam, Ross, Sandusky, Scioto, Seneca, Shelby, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Union, Vinton, Wayne, Wood and Wyandot counties.
Four (no more than one antlerless permit) — Brown, Clermont, Cuyahoga, Delaware, Franklin, Hamilton, Lake, Lucas, Mahoning, Montgomery, Portage, Stark, Summit and Warren counties.
The council also approved straight-walled cartridge rifles for deer hunting. The rifles are the same caliber and use the same straight-walled cartridges that are currently legal for use in handguns. The new regulation is designed to allow additional opportunities for hunters that own these guns or want to hunt with these guns. These rifles have reduced recoil compared to larger shotguns, and the rifles are more accurate than the same caliber handgun.
Legal deer hunting rifles are chambered for the following calibers: .357 Magnum, .357 Maximum, .38 Special, .375 Super Magnum, .375 Winchester, .38-55, .41 Long Colt, .41 Magnum, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, .444 Marlin, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .45 Long Colt, .45 Winchester Magnum, .45 Smith & Wesson, .454 Casull, .460 Smith & Wesson, .45-70, .45-90, .45-110, .475 Linebaugh, .50-70, .50-90, .50-100, .50-110 and .500 Smith & Wesson.
A new regulation states shotguns and straight-walled cartridge rifles used for deer hunting be loaded with no more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined. The current hunting regulation states a shotgun must be plugged if it is capable of holding more than three shells.
New next year, youth hunters can harvest up to two wild turkeys during the 2015 two-day youth season (one per day). Checking two wild turkeys would fill the youth hunter’s bag limit for the remaining 2015 spring wild turkey season. This change does not take effect until 2015. The bag limit remains one wild turkey for the two-day 2014 youth wild turkey hunting season.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.