State Sen. Joe Uecker: Keeping our heritage of hunting, fishing and trapping alive, growing

Uecker hunting.

Southern Ohio has an abundant and rich history of hunting, fishing and trapping. With its rolling hills, rich forestry and stocked watering holes, recreational outdoor activities are a way of life for many in our part of the state. I have trekked through many a “brush and briar” looking for grouse in the hills of Tranquility, and some of my oldest and fondest memories are of bird hunting with my father and brothers in Adams County.

Ohio’s rich heritage of hunting and fishing transcends political parties, and I am proud to say that Senate Bill 257 recently passed with bi-partisan support through the Senate. I enjoyed working on this legislation with Sportsmen’s Caucus Co–Chair, Senator Sean O’Brien (D–Bazetta Township) to help better serve Ohio’s sportsmen and women by improving access and affordability of hunting and fishing licenses.

When talking about hunting and fishing, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is focused on the “three R’s” – recruitment, retention and reactivation. We have worked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and various sportsmen’s organizations on this bill in order to help the division achieve their mission. A key component of this is to eliminate the requirement to renew your license annually. Under S.B. 257, fishing licenses will be valid for one year from the date of purchase, and purchasing options will be expanded to include three year, five year and discounted lifetime hunting and fishing licenses. This bill also gives the Chief of the Division of Wildlife discretion regarding who is required to have fishing licenses, with the goal of better accommodating veterans and those with disabilities.

When I was a kid, hunting, fishing and trapping were much more popular forms of outdoor recreation than they are today. Over the years, we have seen the number of young people participating sharply decline, and that is my generation’s fault. S.B. 257 takes great strides to encourage youth to participate in some form of outdoor recreation, while bringing back those who have fallen away. Through passage of this legislation we are also promoting more family time together by expanding the apprenticeship hunting license and allowing the Chief of Wildlife to create specialized licensing packages, such as those for husband and wife.

The memories I have of going fishing after work at Harsha Lake still bring a smile to my face. It is my hope that this bill will enable our kids to create their own memories while taking advantage of the abundance of hunting and fishing opportunities Ohio has to offer.

As always, if I can be of any assistance to you, or your family, please contact my office by phone at 614-466-8082 or by email at Uecker@ohiosenate.gov.