Ohio is practicing sound deer management techniques by opening the season again to gun hunters for this weekend. This weekend only. So, there was one deer gun hunting week, two weeks ago and then, this current weekend where you are allowed to use a shotgun, pistol or muzzleloader to hunt. After taking my trophy doe a week ago, i was horn hunting this weekend and the weather was tough. It rained most of Friday and was warm, after it had snowed early on Friday morning. Saturday, I awoke at 5 to a dusting of snow and very cold temperatures. The woods was like walking on cornflakes. I did not see a deer.
Later in the day, I drove to another spot and quite close to my car a flock of over 60 turkeys, all females (I had my binos), was working a soybean field. i watched them for about 15 minutes and then they walked away when I began to get out of the car. They are not on an open season now.
I hunted til dark and finally saw either two deer or two coyotes. i could not tell at the strange angle i had on the animals and the crepuscular light. In order for me to shoot though, i would have had to make an exact identicifcation, as it is buck or coyote, no does now. Here is why: it cost $24 for the either sex tag. It cost $15 for an either sex tag up until December 1. So if i shoot another doe, outside of the urban deer zone, which i was in, it will cost me the price of any buck i see from my treestand from now until February 3rd, the end of the archery season.
So, the ODNR has made it interesting. If you are shooting does with a bow, prior to the gun season, you make out well, but if you are a two season hunter, you have to pay more to hunt bucks. This is an effort to take more does and encourage the taking of does to lower the herd. There are several minor problems with this though. One, if you take a doe as I have done, then, you have to buy another either sex special permit for $24. you can use your urban tag to take another doe during the remainder of the archery season, but you cannot take a buck using the either sex, $15 tag now. So, if i were going to hunt the muzzleloader, i would use up my buck tag if I were hunting deer outside of the urban deer zone. If i were hungry to hunt tomorrow and i would take a buck, i could still take a doe in the archery season, as long as i was hunting in the urban deer zone. I cannot take a buck. So, it cost me, $20 for the license, $24 for my autmn turkey tag, $24 for my doe, and i went out to get another tag, so i could buck or doe hunt, that is another $24 and i have a $15 doe tag in my pocket for the urban deer zone. This is a real money management thing. Not for me. I am not griping, but for someone on a short budget and that wanted meat in the freezer, it might also encourage poaching. It might also encourage the state of Ohio to devote all their resources to the money making deer hunting and nothing to the other hunting that could be available in the Buckeye state if properly managed. Whatever happened to the pheasants? Whatever happened to the bunnies?
In all my tramping around today searcing for bucks, it was not lost on me that i did not see a grouse, a woodcock, a pheasant or a rabbit. I cannot believe that habitat is lost for rabbits. They are off and running in Shaker Hts. and Beachwood, but nary a rabbit to be found in Farmington, Champion, Mantua, and Hiram. I am hunting farms and private woodlots. My farm in Champion was select and clear cut several years ago and it created what i thought was ideal grouse cover. I have never seen a grouse there. I spotted one pheasant on the property two years ago, a female and i have never seen another. She exploded from cover twice on me as only pheasants can do, and of course i watched as she flew off. I have seen plenty of cats hunting my farm. I have seen some raccoons and some coyotes and I have heard plenty of owls. If they charged $24 for a specail tag, would it encourage you to shoot a cat, or a dog in the wild, or a raccoon, or a coyote? Have you ever seen one?
My rationale for these thoughts is i received a phone call today from a friend who asked me how i was doing? I was having breakfast in a restaurant at the time, about 10:30 AM. I told him how tough it was walking around. He was saddled with a nursery job, taking care of his young nephew all day. But he told me he was going to enjoy it. He said, "i am not that worked up about the gun season anyway, I would rather be bowhunting." I agree with him 100%, so I am not going out tomorrow as the weather prediction of for more of the same. Dry, overcast, cold, and nothing but snow predicted for late in the day. And my heart is in bowhunting. My heart also is in developing my bird hunting and occasionally putting a rabbit in the pot. These two latter endeavors are now reserved for travel and maybe finding a rabbit spot like I had in Ashtabula a few years back.
Will Ohio forget about pheasants and grouse and other species, while the deer hunting experiences bigger and expanded seasons? Will habitat ever recover from overdevelopment in Ohio? Will the suitable habitat be developed and nurtured to support pheasants again, or should i just concentrate on paying for deer tags?