Friday, October 30, 2009

Paddlers ship out with new fees (Supports new duties)

Owners of rowboats, canoes, inflatable boats and kayaks are going to fork over an additional $5 beginning next year.

Because the Ohio Division of Watercraft has assumed ownership of the state's Scenic Rivers Program, the state legislature figured that paddle sports owners would foot the bill. This calculation is based on the assumption that such owners are the direct beneficiaries of the program.

In bureaucratic lingo, the additional $5 is being called the "Waterway Conservation Assessment Fee" and applies only to non-motorized vessels. Ohio has an estimated 83,000 non-motorized vessels, a figure that is growing.

The income - expected to be around $150,000 annually - will go toward management of the Ohio Water Trails and Ohio Scenic Rivers programs. It is expected that the agency will also use the money to develop and maintain boating access to owners of paddle sports vessels.

With the additional charge, the registration tax for non-motorized watercraft becomes $17 for a three-year period. The registrations for one-third of all such vessels is up every year.

Alternative registration decals will cost $22.

Not included in any of these charges is the $3 writing fee, collected by watercraft registration agents.

Fees charged to owners of motorized pleasure craft are NOT going up.

In other Ohio boating-related news, the state has experienced just eight deaths as a result of boating mishaps this year. That figure is about one-half the typical number and also represents the second lowest number of boating-related fatalities on record in Ohio.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New outdoors playground (Can see the forest through the trees)

Ohio's hunters retain access to a nearly 16,000-acre playground.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources - in cooperation with such groups as the Nature Conservancy, the Conservation Fund, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other groups and agencies as well as Ohio senators Sherrod Brown and George V. Voinovich - will be acquiring the property in two parcels.

Total cost will be $15.1 million with 70 percent of the funding coming from the federal government's U.S. Department of Agriculture/U.S. Forest Service along with private sources.

The ODNR also will release $3.9 million that's all ready been appropriated to complete the purchase of the 3,250-acre Vinton (County) Furnace Experimental State Forest and the adjacent 12,599-acre Raccoon Ecological Management Area.

The fear was the property would pass into private hands and then closed to public access. Final sales work is expected to be completed by next July.

The Vinton Furnace area is said to contain one of the last large remnants of Appalachian forest left in Ohio and provides habitat for the state's endangered bobcat and black bear along with a host of birds, including the highest recorded densities of cerulean warblers.

ODNR spokeswoman Christy Wilt said the property will be open to public access, including hunting, once all the paperwork is completed and the property is owned by the agency.

It has good populations of deer, wild turkeys and even ruffed grouse.

While the site has been open to public hunting for at least the past several decades the current owner has not allowed roadside camping, though previous owners have permitted this activity. The ODNR's Division of Forestry is looking at reestablishing this item.

Interestingly too, the site is the first in the state where wild turkeys were released to repopulate Ohio.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Results are in (Early muzzle-loading season that is)

Liberal hunting laws, a healthy deer herd and lots of hunters still failed to result in a higher animal kill during the recently concluded early muzzle-loading deer hunting season.

This season ran Oct. 19 through 25 at three southeast Ohio locations: Salt Fork Wildlife Area and State Park, Wildcat Hollow and Shawnee State Forest.

At Salt Fork, hunters killed 271 deer last week compared to 315 deer during the same season last year.

Wildcat Hollow saw 159 deer taken. This compares to the 162 deer shot there last year.

Finally, just 44 deer were taken at very rugged Swanee State Forest. That's more than one-half the 91 deer taken there last year.

Add them all up and the figures were 474 deer this season and 568 deer last season.

Salt Fork receives particularly heavy hunting pressure and seemingly there is a black-powder hunter behind every tree. But this is only one of two locations (Cuyahoga National Park being the other place) where deer actually die of starvation during the winter.

It is one reason why the Ohio Department of Natural Resources permits the taking of any deer by any properly licensed hunter without any special restrictions such as by permit-only or bucks-only as was once the case.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ohio big BUCK-eye (Air support needed)

Steve Esker of Reynoldsburg has quite a deer tale to tell, and it's all found on

While hunting Sept. 29 in Columbus proper, Esker used a crossbow to kill a 340-pound, 20-point monster white-tail buck that green scored at 216 6/8 points with a 26inch main beam.

Esker had seen the buck last year before and spent his time hunting the brute but didn't draw a bead on the animal. He continued to observe the animal with the aid of trail cameras throughout this summer, the deer growing in stature.

When Sept. 29 came, Esker saw the deer a piece off but headed his way. He shot the buck while it was about 20 yards away.

The buck ran off and Esker said he backed away, returning the next day to look for the deer. When he still couldn't find the downed deer Esker hired a helicopter to take him in the air. He spotted the buck within moments of taking off and in a place probably only about 10 yards from where he had walked.

The deer's two lungs were hit and the heart clipped.

Esker, his story and 20 photos are available for viewing on Field and Stream's web page and is well worth a look-see.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall foliage (Color me gone)

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources look at the changing fall colors says that most state park locations around Ohio are reporting near peak or at peak conditions. Among the latter is Punderson State Park in Geauga County.

Colors appear particularly vibrant this year, especially with maples.

However, the winds today and Saturday are expected to be very strong which should denude many of the trees and put most locations at past peak.

Most locations will likely be past peak by Sunday.

Bottom line: If you want to enjoy the fall foliage, get out this weekend before its all gone until next autumn.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Safe boater course now required (Oh, no, Canada!)

Moving to reduce to absolute zero the number of boating mishaps and fatalities, Canada now requires anyone (well, almost everyone) to take a safe boating education course.

That includes old salts and non-Canadian boaters and anglers. Call it the Nanny State, but Canada still has pressed onward.

What the country says now is that visitors to Canada must show proof of having successfully completing a safe boating course from either it or from a state.

Exceptions include persons bringing in their own boats for up to 45 days. Another exception of a kind is that persons visiting a lodge or resort can still use a rental boat and motor if also given something called a boat rental safety checklist.

Officially, this checklist is a document ".. of important safety information relevant to the boat you are renting and the area that you are going to be boating. It is a form that the rental agency would provide and go through with you. It needs to be signed by both the renter and an agent of the rental agency and is valid proof of competence for the duration of your rental," the Canadian authorities say.

Prospective visitors to any Canadian lodge or resort should ask the owner about this subject before signing on the dotted line for a week's stay.

For further information about this important subject, visit Transport Canada Office of Boating Safety's web site at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, October 16, 2009

Parks chief retires (West goes south)

Handed a barrel with a whole lot of problems, Dan West is retiring as chief of the Ohio Division of Parks and Recreation.

West, 53 years old, has had to shepherd an agency for 13 years that continued to see its budget slashed and reputation degraded by administrations that didn't care and legislatures that ignored the agency's plight.

He served under three administrations as chief and several others as the agency's assistant chief.

Now West will officially retire though he'll stay within the industry. He's taken an assistant director job with the Broward County, Florida, County Parks System. He will start Nov. 2, after leaving Ohio at the end of this month.

Broward's parks system includes a new shooting range, horse stables, campgrounds, nature preserves, ocean-side beach parks and a large water park.

Simply put, West most likely just plain became burned out and over-taxed. Pity since West became one of the best chiefs that Parks and Recreation ever had.

West has been with Parks and Recreation for 32 years.

"It's been quite a ride and has been fun, though I do want to keep working for another 10 or 15 years," West said.

"I think it's just the right time to move on. I loved my job and not everyone in my profession can say that. We've accomplished a lot and still have more to do like getting Wingfoot Lake on line and working with Middle Bass Islands as ell as taking over the Ohio Canal Lands program from the Division of Water."

As chief, West oversaw about 430 full-time employees, or about one-half of what it was in 1991. The agency has 74 state parks encompassing 177,000 acres and an operating budget of $31 million, slashed several times over the years.

Other activities include grants to local park districts as well as the Office of Trails, which programs to motorized and non-motorized trail building throughout the state.

"We still have a dedicated staff, even with the budget cuts," West said.

"I just want to give it a shot and I'm looking forward to the new challenges that I'll face."

An announcement on a replacement will be named later though the Ohio Department of Natural Resources director will likely first appoint an interim division chief.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Fall turkey harvest (For many, a wild goose chase)

One week deep into Ohio's seven-week-long fall wild turkey hunting season and the report card shows a "D."

For the first week, hunters killed 438 wild turkeys, a significant drop from the 547 birds shot during last fall season's opening week. The season continues through Nov. 29 and hunters may kill one turkey only of either sex.

Locally, Ashtabula County suffered one of the state's more noteworthy declines. For this year's first week Ashtabula County turkey hunters shot 23 wild turkeys: A sharp decline from the 39 birds recorded for last year's first week of turkey hunting.

Lake County saw slight increase from 4 birds last year to 7 birds this year. Geauga County saw a minuscule drop of just one bird. The magical number last year was 11 turkeys and 10 this year.

No birds were killed during the first week in Cuyahoga County either last year or this year.

Trumbull County is a popular place for area turkey hunters and its numbers were 17 last year for the first week and 15 for this year's first week.

The Top Five counties for Week One were: Coschocton (24), Ashtabula (23), Guernsey (18), Brown and Tuscarawas (17 each).

In other news, the Holden Arboretum will host its first fall/winter science lecture series from 7 to 9 p.m., Oct. 21.

The guest speaker will be Kurt Smemo (Holden's soil biogeochemist) and his topic will be "How do we define a healthy forest?" The health and function of forest ecosystems is intrinsically linked to the well-being and prosperity of human communities in Northeast Ohio, the arboretum says.

Subsequent lectures will explore a number of environmental stresses on forest ecosystem health, function and diversity.

Cost for the lecture is free for Holden members or $6 for non-members. Call 440-602-3833 for further details and to register.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pretty in Pink? (Not so fast)

The recent craze of painting, finishing, coloring all things outdoors in the color pink may not be such a red-hot deal.

Southwick Associates has conducted a survey of both anglers and hunters - male and female - about their thoughts on pink-colored outdoors gear which includes firearms and fishing tackle.

Pink is being used to attract females with often a bent toward breast cancer research and awareness.

The most popular color for purchasing hunting supplies is camouflage, Southwick found, favored by 62 percent of men and 60 percent of women. Only 15.4 percent of women hunters preferred pink.

Much the same is true for fishing tackle with the most popular color for both sexes being black. Only 16 percent of women chose pink fishing gear with lesser percentages selecting other bright colors.

Interestingly, however, both male sportsmen and female sportswomen believe that if pink is chosen to promote cancer awareness instead of just offering an attractive color then the sexes agree it isn't a bad idea. But by large minorities both men and women believe that offering pink just a color alternative was "condescending" to women.

Only when pink is attached to breast cancer awareness does it seem that the color is acceptable, notes also Tammy Sapp of the Womens' Outdoor Wire.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No more dog raffles? (Good-bye DU fund raising)

In what could prohibit the raffling or auctioing of any Labrador retriever or other bird dog at a sportsmen's fund-raising event, an animal rights agenda-backed campaign is inching closer to the ballot box.

Ohio officials have Ok'd a path for dog auction/raffle opponents to put a measure on some future ballot.

Given Ohio's somewhat complex formula for such matters, the antis must submit 120,700valid signatures for their Dog Auctions Act. This would then put the issue before the state legislature for its review and vote.

Should the legislature do nothing within 90 days the proposal's supporters could solicit more signatures to put it on the 2010 ballot.

This proposal would not only end dog auctions in Ohio, it also would prohibit the sale or trading of a dog that was acquired through an auction elsewhere.

Bad for organizations like Ducks Unlimited, Whitetails Unlimited and other sportsmens organization the proposal also would ban raffles of dogs. Anyone who has ever attended a DU event knows that at least one Labrador retriever is typically auctioned or raffled off.

In fact, the first Labrador I ever owned - Rebel - was acquired through a DU auction.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

And the winner is (Lake Erie's walleye reputation, of course)

Matt Davis of Marion, Ohio and Dan Gies of Huron didn't care much for the walleye fishing prospects in the Detroit River where the championship was headquartered.

Consequently, they traveled more than 45 miles one way to fish the waters of Lake Erie off Huron. In the process the two-man team recently won the Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit Championship.

Their three-day catch totaled 85.36 pounds and was good for $25,000 in cash plus a few more bucks for using contest-sponsored items..

I had almost forgotten about the Masters Walleye Circuit, the nation's oldest walleye fishing tournament trail. That was until local walleye fishing nut Larry Fielder mentioned that Cabela's has taken it over and that the winners fished off Huron.

For updates on the program, visit the Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, October 12, 2009

Management decision (and perch-walleye-crappie are affected)

The eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council made its corporate decision to (again) follow lock-stop in action what the agency has determined as being best for the resource.

At least in this case the yes-men were right on in adopting the Wildlife Division's recommendations as to the length limits and bag limits on crappie for 38 reservoirs.

And they were equally correct in agreeing to when to set new bag limits for Lake Erie-caught walleye and yellow perch.

The council has added Mosquito Creek Reservoir and West Branch Reservoir to the list of lakes where anglers can keep no more than 30 crappies, each of which must measure a minimum of 9 inches. This action is designed to protect a valuable resource that is being well utilized by a large contingent of anglers.

As for the Lake Erie rule, what happens now is that new bag limits on Lake Erie-caught walleye and yellow perch will become effective May 1 instead of March 1. Changing this effective date will allow for the walleye and perch quotas set by the Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission to be considered prior to the setting of bag limits.

Translation: Instead of relying on a guess as to what the quotas MIGHT be the committee will set the bag limits on what are the actual quotas.

One change the angling community will note by this change is that the 2010 fishing regulations will not have Lake Erie walleye and perch bag limits. Those rules will come in a supplemental document in much the same fashion that waterfowlers have grown accustomed to with duck and goose hunting regulations.

It is a proper and necessary step in the right fisheries management direction. And for once the Ohio Wildlife Council got something right and not just agreeing as a rubber-stamp of the agency.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, October 9, 2009

Steelheaders bare souls (and open their wallets)

Ohio spent a considerable bit of time from last October through May, interviewing 3,838 steelhead anglers.

What the Ohio Division of Wildlife found as its creel census crews did their work was went on in the hearts and minds of the state's troupe of steelhead anglers.

Among the findings:

* The average length of fish measured was 25 inches.

* Nearly 90 percent of the legal steelhead caught were released.

* Anglers came from 59 of Ohio's 88 counties; the most from Cuyahoga, Lake and Ashtabula counties.

* Anglers from 19 other states and the province of Ontario fished for Ohio steelhead.

* Over 60 percent of the steelheaders surveyed used spinning gear while 34 percent used fly fishing tackle.

* Most anglers fished for one day, a small number fished for 2 to 3 days, and the longest steelhead trip was for 9 days.

* The typical steelhead trip lasted 5 hours though one angler fished for 11 hours.

* Most anglers spent $10 to $20 per trip while anglers spent an average of $300 annually. Annual expenditures ranged from a low of about $5 to as much as $18,000. Yikes, even my wife would cringe at that last figure.

What the survey does is provide another tool for the box in helping the Wildlife Division tailor its activities to best provide steelhead fishing opportunities, said Kevin Kayle, ODW fisheries biologist in charge of the state's steelhead program.

"Questions concerning how many fish the anglers have caught helps us determine if stocking rates are appropriate for a species that doesn't successfully reproduce to any appreciable level in Ohio," Kayle said.

The data further aids the division in determining whether current length or daily bag limits are appropriate, Kayle said also.

"Other questions on the survey can help determine the benefits of a fisheries has on the local economy and helps us also define angler demographics," kayle said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Savoring the sights (More to bow hunting than the kill)

Steve Myers of Ashtabula County's Rome Township came to appreciate this morning that not every successful archery deer hunt ends in a kill.

All ready having bagged two deer during the first weeks of the season, Myers was out on his stand this morning, looking to make it number three.

Instead he watched as a family of seven river otters climbed out of a small feeder stream to the Grand River and flopped down on a small wooden ATV bridge. There the animals played, the otters less than 15 yards from Myers' tree ladder.

He watched the otters for perhaps 15 minutes, noting how they swarmed on each other and how large they actually are.

Even though Myers saw no deer this morning he has a memory that will far outlast any temporary disappointment at not launching an arrow at another deer.

Along the same lines, I've spent a number of hours in my own deer ground blind, overlooking a bait pile of shelled corn. There have been the usual suspects of cardinals, bluejays, nuthatches and the like that have pestered the corn. But I've also been treated by the appearance of at least one handsome Eastern towhee, formerly called the rufous-sided towhee.

And to add to the mix have been at least one wood thrush plus any number of various sparrows.

Such visits help to pass the time along with providing limitless entertainment.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Six-gun reminder (Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' good time)

Area folk are reminded that the Buckeye rangers will host an " 'Ol Time Shoot'N Gallery'" from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday at gander Mountain's Mentor Store.

Activities will include lessons on firearms safety as well as learning how to shoot Western-sty;e firearms that include lever-action rifles, six-gun, and hammer shotguns.

An exhibition on target shooting, fast draw, split the bullet, and clay targets also will be presented by the locally based Buckeye Rangers.

For details, call Ron Paul Duning at 216-956-4874.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Arm in arm (Farmers and hunters tie the knot)

The effort to link farmers in four southeast Ohio counties with willing deer hunters is right on track.

While the number of farmers who've signed up for the Internet-based matching service remains modest at just 58 so far, the number of eager hunters is around 5,000. And more than few of these prospective hunters are not only from out of state but also out of the country.

Still, the effort is a tool advocated by the Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Ohio Farm Bureau. It is an attempt to get hunters unto private farms while reducing problem deer on those holdings.

"One of the things that I tell people is that hunters from all over the world can apply but only farmers from four of the state's 88 counties," said Chris Henney, the OFB's director of legislative relations.

Henney said this is the first year for the project, one that both sides wanted to dip into cautiously. Part of the reason for that caution was because farmers have misconceptions about the consequences of allowing hunting as well as an-often past history of trespassing issues, Henney said.

Then too, Henney says, both the Farm Bureau and the Wildlife Division wanted to see how the system works before expanding it further.

"I'm pleased with where we are at," said Henney who added that this year's targeted objective is to sign up 100 landowners.

Henney said also that farms now enrolled in the computer-based survey project range in size from a few acres up to 1,000 acres.

"This is a marathon and not a 100-yard dash," Henney said.

To participate in the survey visit the Wildlife Division's web site at

Monday, October 5, 2009

Great walleye fishing (Surprise, surprise!)

Painesville charter captain Ron Johnson is saying the walleye fishing from Vermilion to Huron is nothing short of phenomenal.

Which comes as something of a shock, given the string of super windy days and generally rough seas of late. Which Johnson loves, matter of fact.

"It's the way we like it. That keeps the little boats away and let's us work," Johnson said.

Johnson said he and his fellow charter skippers are not only catching lots of fish they are catching lots of big fish. They are doing this by trolling spoons in about 42 feet of water - pretty shallow by Lake Erie walleye fishing standards.

"And a lot of the are up high. They've moved up into the top 15 to 20 feet," Johnson said.

An interesting point is that the walleye in this zone are close to shore while the yellow perch anglers are having to go out 10 to 12 miles for their fish.

Johnson says the walleye fishing is only going to get better, too. Pretty soon, he says, the walleye will start hitting body baits.

As for Cleveland- east area, few are the fishermen and fewer still are the fish. That is true whether the target is walleye or yellow perch.

For information about autumn walleye fishing with Johnson, contact him at 440-487-0002.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, October 2, 2009

Standing up for freedom (Attorney General Cordray a gun rights hero)

As the Supreme Court moves to hear a case of Second Amendment rights that will resonate throughout local and state legislative bodies, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray comes down solidly on the side of firearms ownership.

Cordray will join with a number of other states attorney generals in filing a friend of the court brief that backs the idea that the Second Amendment applies not only to the federal government but also to state and local governments.

The Supremes are expected to hear arguments on the case early next year and it is hoped that they'll support Second Amendment rights again following their decision a year or so ago that said Washington D.C. could not outright ban handguns.

Bravo, Mr. Cordray.

In other outdoor happenings, the B & N Coal Company has withdrawn a portion of its holdings in Noble County as open to public hunting. Previously the land open to hunting amounted to 6,194 acres in Noble County. That has been whittled down to about one-half.

This property had been open since the late 1960s or early 1970s. Much of the land still available is ideal habitat for small-game with minimal forested tracks.

An update map of B&N Coal lands is available for viewing at

Wow, Remington Arms is announcing that it will soon produce the 10th MILLIONTH Model 870 pump-action shotgun. That is a whale of a lot of shotguns and I bet that a lot of gun closets out there has at least one Model 870.

To recognize this achievement, Remington is sponsoring a sweepstakes with participants eligible to win a special commemorative Model 870. To enter and view the rules, log on to www.remington.come/10milu. Entries will be received up through Dec. 31, 2009.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn