Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ohio's first 11 ays of archery season tracking like those of 2013 and 2014

With another several days of deer hunting in their tree stands and ground blinds, Ohio’s archers have - as of October 6th - shot 9,473 animals.

The “as of” September 30th statewide count was 4,587 deer being killed; or a more than doubling of the kill (an additional 4,886 animals, to be exact) over the next six days.

Where the raw numbers get some meat on them is to compare this year’s October 6th (11 days of hunting) to-date numbers with the comparable 11 days of hunting during each of the 2013-2014 and the 2014-2015 seasons.

Here we see that during the 2013-2014 season’s first 11 days, archery hunters killed 9,601 deer. For the 2014-2015 season’s first 11 days, archery hunters killed 10,033 deer.

Thus for the first 11 days of Ohio’s deer-hunting season the comparable 2013 and 2015 figures very closely mirror each other; off by only a statistically insignificant 128 animals.

In checking out some of Ohio’s 88 counties, the raw numbers shows that Adams County’s deer kill has declined over the past three seasons. Based on only the first 11 days worth of numbers, of course.

For Adams County the first 11 days saw a kill of 229 deer; a figure that fell to 198 deer but a slight bump up to 203 deer for this season’s first 11 days.

Other examples include Guernsey County where the first 11 days of this on-going season saw 219 deer being killed. Its comparable 2013 figure was 227 deer killed while its 2014 comparable figure was 246 deer killed.

This year’s do-date big kids on the deer-killing block include Trumbull County (337 deer), Licking County (301 deer), Ashtabula County (300 deer).

In making an apples-to-apples to-date comparison – if using raw numbers is a proper way to harvest such data – the 2013 kill for Trumbull County was 319 while its matching 2014 deer kill number was 344 animals.

Licking County’s 2013 comparable to-date figure was 329 and its 2014 to-date figure was 373 deer.

In looking at Ashtabula County we see that in the first days of the 2013 season the deer kill was 288 while its 2014 sibling was 311 deer killed.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife is providing only this year’s to-date raw figures, noting that a host of variables can contribute to shifts in deer kills.

Be that as it may, you dance with the one that brought you and if these figures are all that’s available than they become the measuring stick.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New blog policy regarding the non-publication of readers' anonymous remarks and comments

A new policy is being implemented that will require future commenters to furnish their names in order for their remarks to be published. No longer will those persons wishing to express their opinions - but seek to do so anonymously - will see their viewpoints included. It has been pointed out to me by several people that if a person believes his or her opinion is of value than attaching one's name is equally important. After all, some folks said after being queried on the subject, the comments are often directed at me and I do include my name. Also, the use of profanity or an attempt to direct readers to a commercial, obscene, or other website are strictly prohibited. One might be surprised to learn just how frequently those sorts of replies are received, particularly for those responders employing profane language. All of this being said, if a person truly disagrees with or is otherwise upset with my positions as stated in this blog those comments will be published. I acknowledge that I am a target but I also demand respect, proper decorum and an identity as to who is attacking me. This is my blog, after all.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

(Updated throughout) Business wonk has been named acting Ohio Widlife Division chief

An administrative numbers cruncher has taken the chair of leading the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife.

On an acting basis, the Wildlife Division’s assistant chief Susan Howard is filling in as the agency’s chief.

Howard will maintain this position until the Natural Resources Department’s director, James Zehringer, names a permanent replacement for Scott Zody.

“I am pleased to share with you that Assistant Chief Sue Howard has accepted the position of Acting Chief of the Division of Wildlife while we work to name Scott Zody’s replacement,” Zehring said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to working with Sue in this capacity.”

Zody left as the Wildlife Division’s chief October 2nd  after nearly four years. This four-year stint is close to the national average of 3.8 years for fish and game agency heads, Zody said also.

Zody has returned to Fairfield County as the chief-of-staff/chief deputy for Fairfield County Auditor Jon A. Slater Jr.

Zody also at one time held Fairfield County Board of Commissioner’s clerk-manager job from August, 2007 through January, 2011 when he returned to the Natural Resources Department.

He was with the Natural Resources Department at various times during Republican administrations for more than 25 years, nearly four of which were as the Wildlife Division’s chief.

In her 29 years with the Natural Resources Department, Howard has held various administrative positions, being noted for her ability to carefully track and manage any number of policy, fiscal and other, similar, chores.

Among her responsibilities during those 29 years Howard had worked in the agency’s licensing section as well as posts within the Wildlife Division’s business operations group, said Zehringer.

While fulfilling the duties of chief, Howard will oversee the Wildlife Division’s entire operation; from business administration to biology to public and communications to law enforcement.

Zody said that Howard being named his replacement – at least one on interim basis – was a smart move on the part of Zehringer.

With nearly three decades worth of hands-on work with the Wildlife Division Howard’s “been there and done that,” Zody said.

“Sue is a great choice for the interim chief’s job; she’s a hard worker and she’s competent,” Zody said. “

As for who will be named the Wildlife Division’s permanent chief has now become the vortex of speculation that seems to always swirl around the agency.

It is said that at least some of the position holders within the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council – a governor-appointed body that oversees the Wildlife Division – have sent a letter to the Kasich Administration asking that someone outside of the tidal pull of politics be appointed.

Zody has long been active in Republican politics.

And some law enforcement agents within the Wildlife Division have similarly chafed at not seeing someone with an officer’s commission holding the chief’s title during several of the most recent incarnations of that appointed position.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 125 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Spiritual lessons for a hunter-angler whose seasons are on hold

There are times – let’s be brutally honest for a moment – when even the strongest of the faithfully strong tries to cast the most loathsome and fearfully dark thoughts into the furthest recesses of the soul.

But for those of us who are not the strongest of the spiritually strong but the weakest of the weak, yeah, the anchor doesn’t even begin to hold. We crash against the rocks of despair and become buffeted about by winds we have no chance of taming.

Long past then is there even hope of seeing, much less, believing, in the mariner’s blessing for “fair winds and following seas.”

I count myself amongst the weakest of the weak.

Oh, I had promised myself how brave I’d be and how l’d brush aside even the faintest glint of worry regarding yet one more spinal fusion; the fifth overall and the forth for the lower back in the past 10 years.

Yeah, that should be more than sufficient to dismiss any fears I could possibly have. After all, I was a multi-times veteran of such work – and such work helped pilot me to an early retirement and bunch more days afield, on the stream, hunkered over the shooting bench at the gun club and in the company of my two retrievers, Berry and Millie.

But I was only whistling past the graveyard, so to speak. I mistook my false boldness for the truth, failing to remember that my feet are made of clay. Or in the common vernacular, I lied.

So when I actually got to Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Village it was cut bait time for the emergence of every dark thought to allow that old serpent, Satan – and Satan does do his best to whisper he’s not real – just the right moment to drag them all out into the open.

I won’t tell you what my blood pressure was when I was prepped during the pre-op steps. Let’s just say one of the numbers was only a bit south of 200 while the other number was a shade north of 100. I did some deep breathing, whacked some cold slaps to my ego and said a round of prayer with my wife, Bev and Christian sister Kristine. To tame things a bit.

The work would be in the hands of the Cleveland Clinic’s top neurosurgeon and whether she know from whence came her talentss, that is not in my purview.

Somewhere midway through the surgery the windstorm that chopped at Northeast Ohio cut down the hospital’s electrical power. For a quick flicker the hospital was pitched into night until the institution’s back-up generator kicked in. That power up allowed the neurosurgeon to finish up with the couple hours’ worth of work left on me, the surgeon’s eyes looking for a pair of nerve roots maybe a couple millimeters in diameter.

Thing is, the  hospital’s protocols say that on-going surgeries are to continue but any other operations scheduled after that and while the institution’s back-up generator is still burning diesel fuel; well, no. The generator does provide electricity but at a reduced level. Besides, there is no backup to the backup.

Think about that for a moment. Had I not been assigned to the station in the surgical schedule I was placed - in other words, had I been the neurosurgeon’s next patient - my surgery would have been delayed for who knows how long. That would have meant more days and weeks of pain and, well, additional gear accumulating in my already overflowing worry box..

Just as nasty - as many of you will note with either a chuckle, shake of the head, or both – I’d have been forced to postpone the back surgery well into the goose- and deer-hunting seasons. Or just as bad if not much worse, at the start of the late winter steelhead-fishing season.

Oh, there’s more to this Lord’s blessing, if you please..

The neurosurgeon had figured she’d have to cut through the scar tissue that had come about via the three previous lower back fusions. Which she did, too, but which (strangely enough or not strangely enough, depending upon your faith’s point of view) turned out to be a very fine thing indeed.

You see, scar tissue has no nerves to speak of. Nor blood. And today’s scalpels are pretty sharp so the surgeon didn’t have that significant of an issue on that score either.

If truth be told and we will tell it here, the surgeon accomplished not only one or maybe two of the things she was hoping for; she did ‘em all, every single one; lock, stock, barrel, and trout-fishing fly.

Not quite finished with this little story, if you don’t mind me saying so.

All of that long-dead scar tissue – the stuff with neither nerves nor blood vessels – meant that once the surgeon zippered me back up the end result was – IS – virtually no pain. The reason is there’s nothing there left alive to tell the brain that they hurt.

I have not needed to take so much as a single non-prescription Tylenol.

I’m not going to fool myself into believing that I’ll ever be among the strongest of the faithfully strong.

What I will say, though, is that one of my darkest of dark and loneliest of lonely  recesses has been illuminated by a Lord who really was with me all along, even when I believed I could do it all by my lonesome

Sometimes a body needs to roll a mustard seed around in the palm of the hand to show just how small he really is.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Very early returns show continued Ohio deer season kill decline

Hot, buggy and muggy weather stalked the first four days of Ohio’s more than four-month-long archery deer-hunting season.

And such meteorological-related affairs may help explain why that quartet of archery-hunting opportunity resulted in a decline of the associated deer kill numbers.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division noted on its web site that 4,587 deer were killed during this archery season’s first four days.

And although the agency is no longer including with its electronically provided weekly deer kill updates comparing year-to-year data – saying such information lacks relevancy for game management purposes – the information still exists in the Natural Resources Department’s historical record.

Thus, for the first for days of the 2014-2015 Ohio archery deer-hunting season the total deer kill was 4,801 animals; for an arguably minuscule deer kill decline of 214 white-tails.

However, the drop does dovetail into what may be an indicator of a trend. For the first four days of the 2013-2014 Ohio archery deer-hunting season, the apples-to-apples/to-date comparison showed that 5,779 animals were killed.

Consequently, the difference contained in the historical record shows that a drop of nearly 17 percent occurred between the first days of the 2013-2014 archery deer-hunting season and the first days of the 2014-2015 archery deer-hunting season.

Among some of the counties showing four-day starting gate declines from this year and 2014 were (with 2014 deer kill figures in parentheses):  Coshochton  - 94 (125); Ashtabula – 160 (168); Trumbull – 162 (187); Muskingum – 79 (120); and Richland – 79 (99).

Among the to-date early rising deer kill counties were: Adams – 123 (98); Knox – 110 (86); Hocking – 86 (42); Harrison – 70 (67); Hamilton – 154 (144); and Washington – 61 (34).

With all of this being said and based on the historical record, the deer kill statistics for Ohio’s 2014-2015 archery deer-hunting season picked up speed when slightly more than one month later the gap between it and the 2013-2014 comparable number had narrowed to less than five percent, though still showing a decline.

The historical record does show, however, that as the various deer-hunting season forms concluded and their respective figures merged that the 2014-2015 weekly tally occasionally overtook their respective 2013-2015 numbers.

Even so, when the smoke from muzzle-loading rifles cleared, the blasts from shotguns, handguns and rifles no longer echoed, and the final arrow was launched, Ohio’s total deer kill had declined by slightly more than eight percent.

Total deer kill figures as assembled in the Natural Resources Department’s 36-page “2014-2015 Annual Ohio Deer Summary” included a total figure of 175,801 animals as having been taken during the 2014-2015 combined-all-seasons’ tally with its relevant and comparable 2013-2014 count of 191,503 animals being killed.

As for expectations for the just-begun 2015-2016 Ohio deer-hunting process, the deer summary document notes the expectation of state biologists is for an all-seasons’ deer kill of between 163,000 and 168,000 animals.

The last comparable deer kill total occurred during the 2001-2002 accumulated deer-hunting seasons. That is when 165,124 animals were killed.
By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

  Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 125 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ohio's Wildlife Division decides what deer hunters will know and when they'll know it

Oh, this is all so deliciously arrogant of a state government bureaucracy bent on manipulating what information it believes the public is capable of understanding.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife administration has begun prepping the media and the state’s sportsmen on the new way the agency will be providing data for the up-coming deer and turkey kill statistics.
In short, the watered-down material will pretty much be delivered on a need-to-know basis, largely curtailing the use of year-to-year comparisons.
By declaring that it will “… no longer include harvest comparisons in news releases or in the weekly harvest reports” the Wildlife Division’s leadership has determined that it – and it alone – knows what data, statistics and information Ohio’s deer and turkey hunters are best capable of understanding.
“Traditionally, harvest numbers have been released in comparison to the past year’s harvest, or by ranking county harvests. Neither of these comparisons has relevance or biological significance when considering wildlife management goals. While on the surface this may seem harmless, it has resulted in significant confusion and a lack of understanding among hunters and other interested parties,” said the Wildlife Division’s acting communication’s chief John  Windau.
Windau made the statement in an electronic press release sent September 28 to members of the media.
The stuff that exists between the lines of the Wildlife Division’s new deer/turkey kill information distribution policy points with ever-so-sharp precision how Ohio’s sportsmen are ill-prepared and somehow incapable of understanding  statistics and data without the information first being filtered by the Wildlife Division.
To claim that by comparing one year’s or one week’s county-by-county deer or turkey kill numbers against another year’s  or week’s “…raw data without incorporating and factoring this other information leads to false conclusions, assumptions, and confusion” is a deliberately armed torpedo aimed squarely at the very core of openness in government.
Thus and consequently, the Wildlife Division’s leadership patronizingly believes that Ohio’s deer and turkey hunters need to be spoon fed pre-digested numbers in order for the information to be relevant, the agency condescendingly huffs and puffs.
What we are seeing here, of course, is a division, a department, and an administration that genuinely - and perhaps purposefully - confuses opaqueness for transparency.
No less suspect is how the Wildlife Division’s big guns are attempting to deflect criticism by basically noting that those who oppose the agency’s efforts at manipulating deer and turkey kill data are, shall we say, unpatriotic.
In a separate email exchange with a number of the state’s outdoor writers, Windau said “What is important is how populations are managed, the importance of hunting for conservation, and the health and quality of Ohio's deer herd.
“The fact is that Ohio has an exceptional deer herd because of the management practices, and that is a story that seems to get forgotten by the media.”
If laying a guilt trip on the media is what the Wildlife Division’s leadership is seeking it is doubtful that many of Ohio’s outdoor media members will bum a ride.
The Wildlife Division does say in its electronic missive that, yes, if a person really, really does want to compare one subset of deer or turkey kill numbers against another subset, a way exists to uproot such information.
“For those who still wish to make these comparisons, the data is still available from past news releases, the annual deer harvest summaries (publication 304) (actually publication 5304), and from the past year’s harvest updates, all available at,” the agency’s electronic notice says.
However, this will require a sportsman or a member of the media to hunt and peck his or her way through the labyrinth and sometimes Byzantine Wildlife Division electronic file cabinet; but without the assistance of the librarian, of course.
Ultimately what we are encountering here is an increasingly belligerent Wildlife Division leadership crowing that it knows what’s best not only for Ohio’s deer herd and turkey flock but also Ohio’s deer and turkey hunters.
Simultaneously the Wildlife Division’s brass has launched an offensive diversionary tactic directed at its critics by attempting to make these cynics believe they are in some fashion culpable in fostering an uncharitable attitude regarding the agency.
In the end we are witnessing a once-respected state agency moving from a policy of politely asking “How may I help you?” to one that now sneeringly responds “Go away; I’m busy. Look it up yourself.”
It’s all so very sad, really.
By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 125 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ohio, Feds make deer trafficking case stick, results in $1.6 million judgement

In what proved to be the largest-ever fine ever assessed for breaking the federal government's Lacey Act, a Georgia businessman has been ordered to pay $1.6 million for trafficking in live deer in an attempt to illegally move them from Ohio to Florida.

And the circumstances of being caught demonstrates that the criminal didn't do a very good job of transporting the animals, either.

Here is the release from the U/S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which pretty much says it all and mirrors that of the one issued by the U.S. Attorney General's office. The agency's press release reads:

"Benjamin N. Chason, 61, of Climax, Georgia pleaded guilty and was sentenced in U.S. District Court for three charges related to violating the Lacey Act. Chason was ordered to pay $1.6 million in fines and restitution, the largest sum of money ordered of an individual to pay for a wildlife crime in the United States.
"Of the $1.6 million, $600,000 is to be paid into the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Habitat Fund $200,000 to the Federal Endangered Species and Wildlife Diversity Fund, $400,000 to Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks and $100,000 to the Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife Turn in a Poacher (TIP) program.
"Carter Stewart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Gregory Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, Chief Scott Zody, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced the sentence, which was unsealed yesterday.
"According to court documents, Chason and co-conspirator Donald W. Wainwright, Sr., trafficked in live white-tailed deer. Wainwright, Sr. owned hunting preserves in Logan County, Ohio, and Live Oak, Florida; both preserves were named Valley View Whitetails. Donald Wainwright, Jr. was part-time resident and part-time operator of the site in Ohio. Chason was part-owner of Valley View Whitetails in Ohio and also owned an extensive high-fenced property containing white-tailed deer in Climax, Georgia.
"Wainwright, Sr. illegally shipped deer to Florida from Ohio and attempted to ship deer to Georgia from Ohio. The deer herds involved with these shipments were not certified to be free from chronic wasting disease, tuberculosis and brucellosis. Federal law requires interstate shipments of deer to be certified to be disease-free; because the deer in the present case were not certified as disease-free, deer herds (both captive and wild) in Florida were potentially exposed to these diseases. Tuberculosis and brucellosis can also be transmitted from deer to cows and humans.
"The attempted shipment to Georgia was intercepted on I-71 South, about 50 miles from the Ohio River, when Ohio Division of Wildlife officers noticed deer noses and antlers inside a cargo trailer and pulled over a truck driven by Wainwright, Sr.’s employees.
"Wainwright Sr. and Chason placed federal identification tags from a certified deer that had previously died into the ear of an uncertified deer they were selling. They then sold breeding services and semen from the deer to breeders around the United States.
"The defendants also sold illegal white-tailed deer hunts at Valley View Whitetails of Ohio. They induced clients from around the country to hunt at Valley View Whitetails of Ohio – charging customers from $1,000 to $50,000 to kill deer inside his high fence preserve when Wainwright did not have a hunting preserve license. The customers then took the bucks back to their home states, including: Florida, Michigan, Alabama and Virginia.
“Illegal sale and transport of white-tailed deer are serious crimes and I appreciate the teamwork and cooperation between all of the agencies involved to help obtain these convictions,” ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief Scott Zody said.
"We are pleased to see the positive results in this investigation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement considers the potential spread of disease caused by the illegal commercialization of fish and wildlife resources a high priority, and we will continue to work closely with our State partners to assist them in these important investigations," said Edward Grace, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Assistant Director for Law Enforcement.
"Chason pleaded guilty on May 1, 2014. Besides being ordered to pay restitution, Chason was sentenced to three years of probation and four months of home confinement. Chason also agreed to publish a statement in North American Whitetail Magazine and perform 150 hours community service in an Ohio or Georgia State Park.
"Wainwright, Sr. pleaded guilty on February 27, 2015, to 12 charges related to violating the Lacey Act, one count of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison, a $125,000 fine 200 hours of community service to be served in a parks system and ordered to publish an article in The Deer Breeders Gazette.
"Wainwright, Jr. pleaded guilty on February 17, 2015, to eight charges related to offering illegal hunts in violation the Lacey Act and was sentenced to four months of house arrest and three years of probation.
"Under the Lacey Act, it is unlawful to import, export, transport, sell or purchase wildlife, fish or plants that were taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of a state, federal or foreign law. When it was passed in 1900, the Lacey Act became the first federal law protecting wildlife.
"U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the cooperative investigation by law enforcement, as well as Special Assistant United States Attorney Heather Robinson with the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office and Assistant United States Attorneys J. Michael Marous and Peter Glenn-Applegate, who represented the United States in this case."
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

  Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 125 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state