Straight-walled cartridge rifles become popular


When you look at numbers from last week’s deer-gun season, one that stands out is the popularity of straight-walled cartridge (SWC) rifles.

These hunting implements have been legal in Ohio for only five years, yet they accounted for 44% of the more than 71,000 deer checked. Shotguns used to dominate the weapons used during the week. They still are the most popular as they accounted for 47% of the week’s total. It’s likely it won’t be long before they are surpassed by the straight-walled cartridge rifle.

So why has the straight-walled cartridge rifle with a minimum caliber of .357 to a maximum caliber of .50 become so popular in such a short time?

There are a few reasons.

This rifle is no where near as high powered as a rifle like a .30-06 that uses bullets from a bottleneck-style casing. The limited range of a straight-walled cartridge rifle is perfect for much of the terrain in Ohio where there are safety concerns in areas with human-population densities. Ballistics tests show that bullets fired from a SWC fly slower and a shorter distance than bullets fired from a bottleneck-style casing.

Many of these rifles are also easier to load and clean than a muzzleloader and tend to produce greater muzzle velocities than most standard muzzleloaders or shotguns. These rifles have reduced recoil compared to larger shotguns and the rifles are more accurate than the same caliber handgun.

Some experts also claim the rifle is ideal for young hunters since there is less kick-back when shooting them.

And some claim it is an ethical way to harvest a deer with such a rifle. Of course, accuracy is up to the individual shooter, but they cite less challenges for use in the field and figure there is likely a higher probability of recovering animals that are shot.

In addition to the deer harvested with straight-walled cartridge rifles and shotguns, 6% were taken with a muzzleloader, 2% by archery equipment, and 1% with a handgun.

Ohio hunters harvested 71,650 white-tailed deer during the annual gun hunting week, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW). Over the last three years, hunters checked an average of 65,566 deer during the same weeklong period.

In the Lima area, hunters had an excellent week following a lousy opening day, which featured snow and rain. Hunters checked 4,373 deer locally compared to the three-year average of 3,419 for the week.

All nine area counties numbers were up over the three-year average.

Following are the number of deer checked in the nine-county Lima area with first number being the harvest numbers for 2020. The number following in parentheses is the three-year average harvest by youth hunters in 2016, 2017 and 2018 during the same time period.

Harvest numbers were: Allen 402 (317), Auglaize 386 (314), Hancock 666 (472), Hardin 665 (486), Logan 821 (688), Mercer 364 (280), Putnam 386 (299), Shelby 402 (354) and Van Wert 281 (209).

Through Dec. 6, 156,944 deer have been harvested in the state. In addition to the 71,650 taken during the deer-gun week, 79,499 deer have been harvested by Ohio archery hunters. Ohio’s youth hunters checked 5,795 white-tailed deer during the 2020 two-day youth gun season, Nov. 21-22.

Hunters have additional opportunities to harvest a deer as the extra gun weekend is set for next weekend (Dec. 19-20) while the deer archery season continues through Feb. 7, 2021. Muzzleloader season is open Jan. 2-5, 2021.

* * *

Lima area and Ohio fall turkey hunters had a slight decrease in harvest numbers compared to harvest numbers the past three years.

Locally hunters checked in 24 turkey during the season that ended Nov. 29. The three-year harvest average in the area is 27.

Following are the number of deer checked in the nine-county Lima area with first number being the harvest numbers for 2020. The number following in parentheses is the three-year average harvest by youth hunters in 2016, 2017 and 2018 during the same time period.

Harvest numbers were: Allen 6 (7), Hancock 5 (4), Hardin 4 (4), Logan 7 (7), Putnam 2 (5).

Statewide hunters checked 1,063 wild turkeys during the season. According to the (DOW), that total represents a 1% decrease from the average harvest during the past three years, which is 1,078 wild turkeys.

The season was open in 70 counties from Oct. 10-Nov. 29.

Wild turkeys were extirpated from Ohio by 1904 and were reintroduced in the 1950s by the DOW. Ohio’s first modern day wild turkey season opened in the spring of 1966 in nine counties, and hunters checked 12 birds. The wild turkey harvest topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984. Spring turkey hunting opened statewide in 2000. Fall turkey season first opened in 19 counties in 1996.

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Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at flyfishman7@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at flyfishman7@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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