Deer gun season will have new look this year

Ohioans who have always wanted to hunt deer with a rifle will get their chance this year.

Back in April, the Ohio Wildlife Council gave the go-ahead for hunters to use straight-walled cartridge rifles for deer hunting during the annual deer gun season Dec. 1-7. The annual youth deer gun season is going on today.

“We are selling quite a few of the lever-action rifles now,” said Evan English of Olde English Outfitters in Ginghamsburg. “It’s an opportunity for people to hunt deer with a classic weapon — the gun that won the West.”

In proposing the change, the Ohio Division of Wildlife pointed out handgun hunting has been legal in the state for many years. By allowing hunters to use the same calibers in rifles that they do in handguns, they are promoting accuracy.

“There are a number of advantages to hunting with a rifle,” English pointed out. “If you get off a more accurate shot, you are less likely to just wound the animal. It is better for the animal to have a clean kill.

“Rifles are also generally lighter than shotguns to carry. There may be only three or four pounds difference, but when you are walking a mile or more through fields and woods, a few pounds can make a difference. But for many, the big advantage is the lighter recoil.”

The term straight-walled is obvious when you look at the bullets. A high-powered shell is tapered or “bottle-necked.” That shape promotes more power and speed when the projectile is fired. The straight-walled cartridge has lower velocity and will not travel as far.

The range for shotguns is 100-150 yards with most accurate shots at 100 yards or less. A handgun shot might travel slightly farther, but with less accuracy. By putting a scope on a straight-walled cartridge rifle, the longer part of that 150-yard range can be hit with greater accuracy.

Ohio had been a shotgun-only hunting state for many years. The rising popularity of archery added that method and then around the late 1990s handguns were permitted. To Jamestown’s Larry Moore of the Buckeye Firearms Association the progression from handguns to rifles using the same straight-walled cartridges was natural.

The BFA met with wildlife officials a couple of years ago and began working out a program to get landowners behind the idea. Once the farm bureau backed it, there was no opposition, so the council gave its approval.

“Hunters have wanted to hunt deer with a rifle in Ohio for many years,” Moore said. “This makes that happen. It’s also a desire of the people who do Cowboy Action Shooting. They are enthusiastic about this.”

The law states only three cartridges at a time can be loaded in the rifle while hunting, same as for shotguns. The following calibers have been approved for legal hunting: .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.

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