Deer hunters with CHL still denied right to carry concealed

By Larry S. Moore

The Ohio deer gun season has finally arrived. It is a time that several hundred thousand Ohio deer hunters look forward to each year. I am certainly among that group as I faithfully schedule some of my vacation each year for deer season. Many hunters are filled with anticipation of a big buck, while others simply hope to fill a tag and have some meat for the freezer. As a concealed handgun license holder (CHL), I have been anticipating the Ohio Division of Wildlife allowing me to carry my handgun concealed while deer hunting. It has been a long wait. I am still waiting.

I’ve talked to various individuals with the Division, including both Assistant Chiefs and the Chief. Yet nothing seems to move forward. I have written the Division. Assistant Chief Randy Miller answered that letter. Well, to be completely honest, he side-stepped the letter. Asst. Chief Miller correctly pointed out that the Chief of the Division, along with the approval of the Ohio Wildlife Council, sets the wildlife laws. He noted that these laws are applied consistently across Ohio that hunting is very safe, and part of the mission of the Division is to promote the shooting sports. All these things are true and have absolutely no bearing on the allowing the concealed handgun license holder to carry concealed while hunting.

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There are many instances where a CHL holder may encounter a Wildlife Officer or other Division personnel while carrying. These include while fishing, boating, hiking, bird watching, helping with the delivery of venison to the local food bank, at conservation club meetings, or even while participating in some types of hunting – other than deer hunting. It is not an officer safety issue. The statistics for Ohio are abundantly clear; the CHL holder is not a threat to any law enforcement officer.

So does the Division think that the CHL holder who is allowed to carry a concealed handgun while hunting suddenly going to become a deer poacher? This sounds very much like the anti-gunners thought pattern that blood will run in the streets.

Earlier this year there was an escaped convict accused of shooting a police officer on the lame in Ross County. The Ohio Highway Patrol issued a statement advising hunters to be on the lookout for this criminal. Swell! Ross County is where I do much of my deer hunting. The thought of an encounter with my bow versus this armed criminal was not good. Being forced to leave my carry sidearm in the vehicle, parked near the edge of the woods, seemed like a good way to have my gun stolen, possibly by this criminal. Fortunately, the wanted person was captured without incident.

I really don’t want to carry both my hunting handgun and my carry gun. But I want the freedom of choice to decide. The Division of Wildlife should honor my background check, training, and state issued CHL. I really only want the ability to carry my hunting handgun concealed, especially during inclement weather.

How much longer will we have to wait before the Division of Wildlife will recognize my CHL? I carry it in my wallet, right next to my hunting license. Apparently the two are quite some distance apart.

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Association and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award.

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