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Are Cell Phones in the Deer Woods Legal?

December 6, 2011
By Larry Claypool - OVO Editor , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Are cell phones permitted in the deer woods? This is the question I posed - along with others on the topic - to OVO's Pro Staffers and writers/contributors of Ohio Valley Outdoor Times and Ohio Valley Outdoors magazine. The answers I received about the legality of using communication devices while hunting deer in Ohio were the same - "YES, I have my cell phone with me, but do not use it while pursuing deer."

That's the correct answer, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' hunting regulations. They say: "A Deer Hunter Can Do the Following -- 6. Possess a communication device as long as you do not use the device to aid a person in pursuing or taking of deer."

That's pretty simple, and easy to follow. Of all the responses I received each one said they carry a cell phone. For many people having a phone in the hunting woods was mostly used for safety reasons. "Definitely," said contributing OVO writer Laura Bell. "I'm a 22 year-old girl who's increasingly been hunting by myself more and more, so I do feel somewhat more secure knowing that I have it 'just in case'."

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The safety aspect of using a cell phone in the hunting woods makes sense. And not nessessarily for just yourself, but others who may be in the area. It's great to have in case of emergencies. And it's not a bad idea when the topic of poaching comes up. We live in a 'real time' society and DNR officials get many tips about poachers that aid in catching persons while committing illegal activities.

"It's a means of immediately reporting illegalities in the moment, such as poaching," said outdoor writer Jack Kiser.

State wildlife agencies have taken a serious stand on poachers with the help of law-abiding citizens. Most hunters are also adament about catching cheaters. It hurts the sport and hunters who do the right thing. Poaching also makes it tough for private landowners to trust 'honest' hunters on their properties.

Fact Box

From Ohio Hunting Regulations -- "A Deer Hunter Can Do the Following -- 6. Possess a communication device as long as you do not use the device to aid a person in pursuing or taking of deer."

Other questions I asked contributors included: Is texting the same as phoning? and Do you take photos with your cell phone?

Most of those responding said they do consider texting the same as using the phone, and most do text from the woods. "It's a quiet way to be in contact with family if needed," said writer Robert Loewendick.

Taking photos with cell phones brought a mixed bag of answers, mostly because some owned phones with better quality cameras. Although not the same as a regular 35mm or good point and shoot camera many new phones possess higher resolution and can take quality photos. The options may be limited though to cover a range of situations from a tree stand or blind that a cell phone may not cover - for example: low light, longer distances or fast movement. That might include video.

I guess that might depend on what you want to do with the photos. If you're just wanting to show your hunting buddies, then you should be covered. But, if you'd like to submit your photos for publication - in a magazine or newspaper (YES, we encourage this) - a regular camera would be preferred.

I do recognize our culture is changing though. How many times have you met fellow hunters and shared cell phone photos a big deer? Yes, it happens all the time. A pocket scrapbook, if you will.

Loewendick also offered a great idea, and tips, for using cell phone photos from the outdoors. He uses photos for a his scrapbook and photo field notes that include scrape locations or sites for future stands or blinds.

In neighboring Pennsylvania, the regulations are similar to Ohio. But one point of emphasis is added, "The use of electronic communication devices to alert hunters to live game is not only a violation of the Game & Wildlife Code, but violates the concept of Fair Chase." says PA digest of hunting regulations.



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Article Poll

  1. No
  2. Yes, always
  3. Yes, vibrate only
  4. Yes, for safety reasons
  5. Yes, to turn in poachers
  6. Text only
  7. Take photos w/ my phone
  8. When I get bored