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Why Ohio has expanded the list of legal deer hunting guns

Straight-walled cartridges

By ART HOLDEN Outdoor Editor Published: February 25, 2017 5:00 AM
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Last week, the Ohio Division of Wildlife sent new regulations to the Ohio Wildlife Council for approval. Among the many new hunting regulations was a broad-swath inclusion of straight-walled cartridges now legal for deer hunting.

If approved by the Wildlife Council, Ohio deer hunters will be able to use any straight-walled cartridge rifle with a minimum caliber of .357 to a maximum caliber of .50.

For years, Ohio never allowed rifles to be used in deer hunting, but changed its feeling on their use with the one caveat being rifles firing straight-walled cartridges (SWC).

In layman's terms, a straight-walled cartridge is a bullet casing with straight walls down to the projectile.

Ballistics tests show that bullets fired from a SWC fly slower and a shorter distance than bullets fired from a bottleneck-style casing.

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"Straight-walled cartridges are comparable to muzzleloaders and slug guns," said Division of Wildlife District Three manager Peter Novotny. "We listened to the Buckeye Firearms Association and hunters who wanted to use these rifles. Basically, we were allowing pistols in these calibers to hunt deer, so let's allow it for rifles.

"We have seen no issues or accident increases because of the change."

There have been three seasons of hunting deer with straight-walled cartridge rifles in Ohio with no biological impacts to the herd or additional hunter incidents. Defining the allowable rifles would make the rule easily understood and easily enforced, while also being inclusive of a great number of rifle options.

A bottleneck cartridge, as opposed to a SWC, builds up pressure and expels the bullet faster and farther. Ammunition such as a .30-06 with its bottleneck cartridge is not legal in Ohio.

Novotny noted that Ohio has not, and probably never will, make high-powered rifles legal for hunting deer in the state, mainly because of its terrain and close proximity of urban areas.

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"In Ohio, we do not want to go down that road," he said. "We're comfortable with (the new regulations)."

Besides allowing Ohio hunters to hit the woods with more types of hunting implements other than a slug gun and muzzleloader, the addition of SWC rifles is a benefit for youth hunters.

"One of the great things about allowing the straight-walled cartridge rifles is that kids can shoot them," said Novotny. "There's less kick-back.

"I even bought one for my son, who at the time was small for his age. They're an effective round to ethically harvest a deer with."

Novotny says the SWC regulations have been a win-win for everyone, including gun manufacturers, who have seen an uptick in SWC sales.

NOTES -- Novotny and his District Three staff hosted 75 area conservation club officers last week.

"We heard a lot of good ideas on how to get kids outdoors," said Novotny. "We partner with the clubs. We provide the funds for programs and they provide the boots on the ground.

"It's a good way for us to re-invest back into the local counties."


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