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KnightOfTheOlde
03-12-2007, 22:26
BFA has been working behind the scenes for many months to make this happen. Thanks to everyone who wrote letters and attended the open house meetings. Kudos to the dispatch outdoor writer Dave Golonwenski for this positive CCW for hunters article!

Hunters’ concealed-carry a hot topic, Wildlife division sees benefits of being able to tote a second gun

Sunday, March 11, 2007
Dave Golowenski
FOR THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

While there is bound to be some honest disagreement on the matter, concealed-carry advocates figure the woods will be safer in coming years.
"A hunter should be able to carry a gun for self-defense," said Gerard Valentino, central Ohio chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association and a Pickerington resident.
Whereas most successful hunters would agree that carrying a gun in the field isn’t a bad idea, the Ohio Division of Wildlife came to the conclusion after a year of consideration that, given Ohio law, under all circumstances personal protection should include a concealed firearm packed by someone with a permit to do so.
As a result, the division has asked the Ohio Wildlife Council to OK changes in regulations related to deer and turkey hunting that excluded the carrying of a second weapon if shotgun or bow were already in hand.
"In the past, we’ve allowed only one firearm or hunting implement to be carried while deer or turkey hunting," said Steven A. Gray, chief of the wildlife division.
Concealed firearms have been allowed during most types of hunting since the permit system was set up by legislative mandate.
Because of the nature of the deer and turkey hunts, however, different rules remained in effect. Hunters were required to keep guns unloaded until the day’s hunting hours began and to be emptied as soon as legal quitting time arrived.
The idea, said Jim Lehman, the division’s law enforcement supervisor, was to give early-arriving and late-leaving hunters a chance to get in and out of a twilit woods with a reduced opportunity to shoot an animal or another hunter.
But a long, unarmed walk back to the SUV, where "someone might be up to no good," seemed unnecessarily risky, Valentino said.
"A person might find himself in a position to not be able to fight back," he said.
The division is making clear that, while strap-on sidearms of sufficient caliber have been legal for some years to hunt deer, concealed weapons can’t be used for killing animals.
How, when and if they’re otherwise employed is a matter of conscience and Ohio statute.
The issue first came up a year ago, Gray said, and concealed-carry advocates demonstrated "considerable patience" while they waited for the division to study whether there was any reason not to change the regulation.
During that time, Lehman said, "We asked ourselves whether this was going to raise any biological concerns or a safety concern. We decided it would not."
During open houses held last Sunday at the five wildlife district offices, advocates posted 61 comments in support of concealed carry, more by far than for any other initiative or suggestion. Also suggesting an organized effort, petitions in support have been presented to Sean D. Logan, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Hunters, anglers and trappers made their sentiments felt about a number of other issues during the open houses. Among other comments:
• Fourteen supported the early antlerless permits, and 12 opposed the proposal that will allow bowhunters to kill extra does early in the archery season.
• Three opposed allowing only archers to have a go at extra deer. Two opposed killing more does. One wanted more does killed.
• One said the rules governing the antlerless permits are too confusing. One wanted to outlaw deer drives.
• Eight suggestions were made to move up the opening of the gun season, seven to the Saturday after Thanksgiving and one to the day after Thanksgiving.
• One person suggested a 62-andolder gun season to take place the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. The person didn’t note his age.
• Twenty-four comments were made on the use of rifles, most favoring handgun cartridges or straight-walled calibers. Six thought that the muzzleloader season should last a week.
• Twenty-two said spring turkey hours ought to be extended, and most favored an all-day hunt. Six said unfilled tags from the spring turkey season should be usable during the fall hunt. One wanted to prohibit nonhunters from being in the field until 1 p.m. during the spring turkey season.
• Eight wanted the rabbit season to revert to a Jan. 31 closing, and one person apparently thought it should extend past Feb. 28.
• One suggested an open season on red-tailed hawks. Two asked for increased law enforcement at youth check-in stations. One person said open houses should be held Saturday so the Amish could attend.

outdoors@dispatch.com