Ohio Division of Wildlife proposes changes in hunting rules for white-tailed deer

By Bob Downing
Beacon Journal staff writer

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New hunting regulations proposed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will reduce the maximum number of white-tailed deer that hunters can kill in Ohio in 2013-2014 from 12 to nine.

Urban deer zones and regional limits would also be scrapped in favor of new county deer limits.

The proposed rules would add a two-day antlerless-only muzzle loader season in early October and extend hunting hours by 30 minutes past sunset for deer firearms.

The proposal would eliminate both the current bonus gun weekend in December and the early muzzle loader season at three public hunting areas. Deer permits would go on sale June 1, instead of March 1.

The changes were submitted on Wednesday to the Ohio Wildlife Council by Division of Wildlife biologists and administrators.

The state said it will take public comment on the proposals at www.wildohio.com and at regional open houses March 2.

The Wildlife Council is expected to vote on the proposal at its April 17 meeting.

Under the new plan, Ohio would move from a regional approach with limits set by zones to local bag limits for each county. The bag limits would be two, three or four deer, depending on the county.

Hunters in the Akron-Canton area would be limited to four deer: three of either sex and one antlerless deer, spokesman Mike Reynolds said.

Those limits would be in place for 57 counties, including Carroll, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas and Wayne. One either-sex permit and one antlerless permit would be limits in eight counties. Two either-sex permits and one antlerless permit will be the limit in 23 counties, including Harrison.

The proposed statewide bag limit will be nine deer from three counties with additional controlled hunt opportunities for six deer that do not count against the statewide bag limit.

That nine-deer limit is reduced from last season’s 12-deer limit, plus controlled hunts where six more deer could be harvested.

Reynolds said the reduction to nine deer is not expected to impact that many hunters. One in three Ohio hunters typically kills a deer, and 99.3 percent of Ohio hunters kill four or fewer deer per year, he said.

The state is not trying to increase the state’s deer herd, he said. It intends to rely more on county limits to keep the deer herd at desired levels, he said.

Proposed deer seasons for 2013-2014 are:

• Deer archery: Sept. 28 through Feb. 2, 2014.

• Deer antlerless muzzle loader: Oct. 12-13.

• Youth deer gun: Nov. 16-17.

• Deer gun: Dec. 2-8.

• Deer muzzle loader: Jan. 4-7, 2014.

Hunters bagged fewer deer during Ohio’s 2012-13 hunting seasons for all weapons that stretch from late September through early February, the state said.

The 2012-2013 total was 218,910 deer, down slightly from the 219,748 deer killed in the 2011-2012 season.

Ohio typically gets about 500,000 deer hunters.

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or bdowning@thebeaconjournal.com.

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