Friday, January 29, 2010

Feeding the hungry (Bambi burgers and other delights)

The Lake County-based deer donation program designed to supply food pantries with venison is still in progress.

And doing well. So far the program has processed 22 deer.

Time is still available for archery hunters to donate their kill but the clock is ticking. Ohio's archery deer-hunting season ends Feb. 7.

A joint venture with the United Way of Lake County, Lake Metroparks, the U.S. Coast Guard and retired Ohio Division of Wildlife officer Reno "Jay" Reda, the project sees to it that any donated deer is processed and distributed to area food banks.

Providing the butchering service is Joe O'Donnell of Leroy Township in Lake County.

O'Donnell skins the donated deer and then butchers the carcasses, putting the resulting ground meat into 2-pound packages. The Coast Guard then delivers the venison to the food banks.

Requirements are simple. The deer must be legally taken and properly tagged as required by Ohio law.

Hunters need to call ahead to O'Donnell at 440-667-6907 before delivering the field-dressed-only animal.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sportsman fund-raiser (Oh, deer!)

While on the subject of deer (okay, we weren't exactly, first speaking about manatees but it's the thought that counts).

In any event, the Western Reserve Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited will again hold its annual fund-raiser. This year it begins at 6 p.m., Feb. 5 at the Croatian Lodge Party Center, 34900 Lakeshore Blvd., Eastlake.

Included will be dinner, open bar, live auctions, raffles and Chinese raffles; the typical fund-raising package that has served this popular sportsman's event so well all of these years. It's not unusual to see attendees come from all over Northeast Ohio and even northern Ohio to this event.

Though it is too late to sign up for the early bird tickets, general admission is available. The cost is $80 per person. For details and to register, call Eugene Schleicher at 440-749-0458 or Dave Takacs Jr. at 440-335-0183.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Manatees perish (Holy frozen sea cow! )

The freezing of the Southeast has taken a heavy toll on Florida's manatee population.

Also know as sea cows, manatees are the gentle giants of Florida's salt-water estuaries and ocean. They are a considerable tourist attraction as well.

Yet manatees are also listed as being endangered both by the U.S. government and Florida. That is why the loss of even a few animals is alarming to wildlife managers.

But this time the cold weather that struck Florida has taken heavy toll on the marine mammal's population. Since January 1 the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has found more than 100 dead manatees including 77 of them linked directly to the cold weather for which manatees are very vulnerable.

The 100 figure also far surpasses the previous single year cold-stress death record. That record was set only last year with 56 recorded manatee deaths.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, January 25, 2010

Gun show season (Pry my cold, dead fingers)

My elder brother, Rich, and me took it upon ourselves to start out the new year right by attending a gun show last Saturday. The one held from time to time at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea.

For folk inclined to savor the aroma of gun oil, military surplus canvas and blued steel, gun shows are the perfect elixir.

The show - produced by Dick Walters who does a host of these events annually - was crammed not only with vendors but with attendees who were doing their best to avoid yard work or else attend the Home & Garden Show with their wives.

On view were a host of new and used firearms of all kinds, from military jobs to the latest products from American firearms makers.

A number of noteworthy elements (for Rich and me, anyway) began with the general lack of several firearms for sale that previously were well represented. Only a few 03-A3 Springfields and Enfields were visable as were a smaller than usual number of Garands and almost no M1 carbines.

We also missed seeing any number of other military rifles and pistols. Such things happen a lot in the gun show trade depending upon how large the flow of surplus firearms enter the market.

And we were stunned to see that the SKS semi-autos were fetching prices two and three times what they went for only a few years ago when these former-Soviet block military rifles first appeared in the U.S. of A.

I was surprised most of all by the huge quantity and variety of .380 Colt semi-autos, especially those designed for concealed carry use. My goodness they were just about all there, from the all-steel Bersa to the high-tech Ruger and Sig-Suar.

Of course the problem is still a lack of ammunition for the .380. But that is a problem caused by the military having first dibs. The reasoning goes that the 9mm and .380 ammo run on the same production line but with the heavy demand by the U.S. government for war orders of 9mm ammunition the supply of .380 ammunition continues to be very, very tight.

In any event, I saw a couple of firearms I'd like to buy with my Christmas money which is starting to burn a hole in my wallet. Maybe I'll make up my mind this week and find what I'm looking for at the Akron-area gun show this Saturday.

While I may have all of the firearms I need I don't have all of the firearms I want.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, January 22, 2010

No CWD here (But knocking on the door)

West Virginia reports that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has shown up in 16 deer shot by hunters in Hampshire County this past hunting season. The county is located along the Maryland border and just south of Pennsylvania.

The disease was found in several older deer which were at least 1 1/2 years old. Most of the deerv were found in an area that was all ready declared a CWD containment zone though three animals came from outside of this designated zone.

In all, 62 deer recovered from Hampshire County have tested positive for CWD, but this year the numbers increased 2 1/2 times that of previous years, West Virginia official say.

Among the containment rules are efforts to increase the harvest of does and also installing efforts to reduce deer-to-deer contact. That would include prohibiting baiting within the containment area.

That last item is different from what the Ohio Division of Wildlife expects to do if (when?) CWD shows up in Ohio. Biologists here have opined that should CWD crop up anywhere in the state that the Wildlife Division will ban the baiting and artificial feeding of all deer, anywhere.

Baiting is not only popular with Ohio archery hunters it is also popular with backyard bird-feeding animal watchers and those people who frequent public parks where deer abound.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fly fishing gamble (Castalia application time)

Folks who'd like to get a handle on the fly fishing basics and enjoy Ohio's premier cold-water trout stream have an opportunity to do both.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife again is hosting its annual lottery for beginning fly-fishing clinics at its Castalia cold-water hatchery near Sandusky. In all, 135 slots are available in the free drawing, a partner to the agency's popular Castalia trout-fishing drawing, which runs to Jan. 31 and has a $3 on-line entry fee.

Wildlife Division personnel and volunteer instructors will offer two 4-hour informational sessions on April 30, May 7, May 14, May 21, and June 4. After the class each participant will have the chance to fish well-stocked Cold Creek.

And the selected applicant can bring along a friend, too.

To apply, applicants must submit a postcard listing their name, address, and telephone number. The guest's name also must be on the postcard. No duplicate postcards are acceptable.

Successful applicants will receive an assigned session date and time, and permits are not transferable.

Send applications to ODNR Division of Wildlife, District Two, 952 Lima Ave., Findlay, Ohio 45840, Attention: Linda Ringer.

The deadline for applying is April 2.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Buurrr (Florida fish fry freeze)

You don't find any ice fishing in Florida but this winter you just might.

The super cold that has penetrated much of the Southeast has gone as far south as the Florida Keys and the Everglades. This has resulted in a massive die-off - and not just with baitfish, either.

Conservationists and state fish and game people are finding literally millions of fish. Among the dead are such important game fish as snook, bonefish as well as tarpon.

Some ecologists are saying the loss could rival that of 1977 and 1978 - the deadly winters that had also infiltrated Ohio and caused extensive wildlife damage.

Scientists said a second wave of fish deaths are expected, too. That is because many fish have been weakened by the deep and extended cold and are thus vulnerable.

As a result, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has ordered a temporary closure on snook, bonefish and tarpon fishing, or at least the keeping of such fish. The snook prohibition continues through until September and for bonefish and tarpon until April.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Anchors Aweigh (Boat sales dry-docked)

A visit Monday afternoon to the on-going Cleveland Boat Show at the I-X Center was an eye-opener.

And not only because of what was there but also because of what WASN'T there, especially the lack of 14- to 18-foot aluminum fishing boats. In fact the show had a general lack of aluminum boats of any kind but especially those designed for angling.

Worse, the show takes in what seems only about one-half the I-X Center's 1 million square feet. Time once was the entire exhibit area would be awash in boats of all kinds and sizes.

Not this year. If you want a nice-smelling big fiberglass boat in excess of 20 feet you'll likely find what you're in the hunt for. But who can afford $50,000 or $100,000 or $150,000 for an entry-level boat?

To illustrate just how bad off is the economy my wife, Bev, and I saw a couple of brand new 2008 models till available for purchase. Just think of how long that poor dealer has had to inventory and pay for that boat.

Similarly we saw a fair amount of pre-owned (called "pre-enjoyed") boats for sale or else advertised.

No one can blame the Boat Show's producers, of course. Fact is the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association has done a great job of highlighting what the dealers have brought in. LEMTA further has made excellent use of its floor space for Anglers Alley - probably the best this section has looked in years.

Bev and I were particularly impressed by the Ohio Sea Grant display with its' walk-through format and various exhibits. The Snake Lady exhibit (you know, the scientist working on the Lake Erie water snake project and featured on "Dirty Jobs" was really and especially terrific.

And the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission exhibit on the sea lamprey was good, too.

But Bev and I toured the entire show in about 90 minutes, far less time than what it took us to walk the show floor in past years.

Figuring that an adult ticket costs $12 plus paying the $8 I-X Center parking fee and it would be entirely possible that visitors will believe they aren't getting their money's worth.

Fact is, however, the recreational boating industry is undergoing hard times with fewer dealers being out there so fewer dealers are available to exhibit at the Boat Show. That, plus the fact that dealers who do show must watch their cash flow and thus bring in what they best can afford to show and unload.

I suspect also that the larger boats have a higher sales value with greater potential for profit than a 14-foot or a 16-foot aluminum fishing boat. That could be a factor as well.

Yet the Boat Show is attracting customers and visitors. LEMTA said its one-day fishing college on Saturday drew a standing-room-only crowd. And Bev and I did see "sold" signs on several display vessels. That's good.

Here's hoping that we see a turn-around in the economy this year and that what boat dealers remain can stay into business and show up in force next Boat Show. It's too good an event to sink into Davey Jones Locker.

The Boat Show continues through Sunday with special programing all week, including seminars, entertainment and activities for youngsters. Visit the show's web site at Admission is $12 for those age 13 and older, free for those age 12 and younger. Remember, the I-X Center charges a separate $8 parking fee, long a sore point with many visitors to various I-X housed productions.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, January 15, 2010

Muzzle-loading deer season harvest ("Flabbergasting")

You certainly could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather when the Ohio Division of Wildlife announced Wednesday the results of the recently concluded four-day muzzle-loading deer hunting season. A harvest of 18,000; maybe 20,000 deer, was what I was expecting.

But when the agency said hunters killed a near record 24,078 deer - up 17 percent from the 2008 season - I was stunned. And wiping egg off my face.

Then again, that was true for Mike Tonkovich. He's the Wildlife Division's chief deer management game biologist.

Tonkovich said he "flabbergasted" with the huge kill. Especially since a fair portion in extreme Northeast Ohio was covered in snow that was measured in feet and not just inches. Meanwhile the entire state saw bitterly cold temperatures at least for the first two days of the season.

"It's hard to hunt when the temperature is 2 degrees," Tonkovich said.

How true but Tonkovich eagerly wants to see the harvest data for the Monday and Tuesday portion of the hunt. His desire is to determine whether those two days saw a healthy harvest, which would indicate that muzzle-loading hunters were utilizing the weekdays and not just the weekend to be afield.

"In spite of what we've seen before where the bonus two-day firearms weekend set the world on fire we still took a bunch of deer during the muzzle-loading season so there's something to say about moving it from late December to January," Tonkovich said also.

No question Ohio's hunter will kill more animals this 2009-2010 deer hunting season than they did during the 2008-2009 season when 252,017 animals were arrowed or else shot. So far this year Ohio's deer hunters have harvested 251,826 animals.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Are Reps. LaTourette, Sutton anti-hunting legislators? (Humane Society's rankings)

Based on criteria used by the rabidly anti-hunting, anti-fishing and anti-trapping Humane Society of the United States, U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette (Republican) and Rep. Betty Sutton (Democrat) scored well on the organization's legislative scorecard.

LaTourette represents much of Northeast Ohio while Sutton's district includes the Lorain area.

Based on 13 legislative criteria/votes, LaTourette scored a 62 - the highest score awarded to any Republican representative of Ohio's congressional delegation.

LaTourette also received a positive check mark from the Humane Society for "leadership" - a designation presented to representatives who are "a prime sponsor of pro-animal legislation (including items not scored on this chart)," says the Humane Society, an organization that strongly supports legislative and judicial action against hunting, trapping and fishing.

One of LaTourette's negatives - based on the Humane Society's desires anyway - was his vote to allow concealed carry permit holders to pack a weapon while in a national park.

Sutton received the Humane Society's rating of 100 percent. This is the same rating awarded to Democrat Rep. Dennis Kucinich who represents many of Cleveland's West Side communities as well as Democrat Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy whose district includes Columbus and Upper Arlington.

The lowest score awarded to an Ohio congressional member went to Republican Rep. John Boehner whose down-state district includes Middletown and Piqua and also to Republican Rep. Bob Latta whose district includes Bowling Green, Fremont and Norwalk. Each of these two representatives received an 8.

As for the U.S. Senate, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown collected an 83 rating from the Humane Society while Republican Sen. George V. Voinovich collected a 0 from the organization. Brown also was heralded as a "leader" by the group.

But even the Humane Society acknowledges the "limitations of judging legislators based on a few votes, cosponsorships, and joint letters."

Such rankings are often subjective in nature.

That being said, such listings are important to various constituent sub-groups and help to distinguish potential votes on subjects of interest and concern to people like gun owners, hunters, anglers and trappers.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lake Metroparks rehabilitates pond (yes to better fishing)

Lake Metroparks is rehabilitating one of its popular fishing holes.

The nearly 2-acre pond located at Lake Metroparks’ Girdled Road Reservation-Radcliffe entrance in Concord Township is being outfitted with agency-made fish-attracting structures.

These structures have been placed on the ice, awaiting a snow melt that will cause the artificial items to sink to the bottom. The lake has a maximum depth of 8 to 10 feet.

All of this is on top of the agency draining the pond last year in order to repair its overflow structure, which had deteriorated, being in place for more than a quarter-century, said John Grantham, Lake Metroparks’ chief of park operations.

The fish netted as a result of the draining were moved to a 3-acre wetland pond, also accessed from the Radcliffe Road entrance, Grantham said.

“When we drained the first pond there were some pretty decent bass along with crappie and catfish. Some people put fish in there on their own, which they shouldn’t be doing,” Grantham said.

The drained pond did quickly refill and Lake Metroparks intends to restock it with bass, bluegills and channel catfish, Grantham said.

Not to be stocked are white amurs. The amurs that were originally placed there ate all of the aquatic vegetation. This action resulted in a lack of fish cover and also caused the pond’s water to be muddy most of the time, Grantham said as well.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, January 8, 2010

Largemouth world record tied (My, that's a big one)

The International Game Fish Association announced today (Friday, Jan. 7) that it has accepted an application from a Japanese angler for catching a largemouth bass that ties a 77-year-old world record.

Thirty-two-year-old Manabu Kurita of Aichi, Japan, caught a largemouth bass that weighed 22 pounds, 4 ounces while fishing Japan's Lake Biwa on July 2, 2009. This is one ounce larger than the bass taken by George Perry of Georgia 77 years ago.

IGFA rules stipulate that any freshwater fish weighing under 25 pounds must weigh at least two ounces more in order for it to become a new solo all-tackle record.

Even so, Kurita caught the world's most sought-after angling prize, said to be worth up to $1 million in endorsements.

Kurita's bass also measured 27.2 inches long and had a girth that measured 26.7 inches.

He used a live bluegill for bait and encountered a fight that lasted only three minutes before landing his prize.

The reason it took six months to certify Kurita's catch was because rumors that the fish was somehow illegally taken surfaced almost immediately. But repeated questioning, an intense investigation and even a successfully passed polygraph test only confirmed that Kurita had properly and legally caught the behemoth bass.

By comparison, Ohio's state record largemouth bass weighed 13.13 pounds and measured 25 1/16 inch. It was taken from a farm pond on May 26, 1976 by Roy Landsberger of Kensington.

A posting and video of the IGFA press conference is available by viewing the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society's web page.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Oh, deer! ( Ohio still CWD free)

Once again Ohio's white-tail deer herd has dodged the disease bullet.

The testing of 571 samples from deer shot by Ohio hunters revealed none were tainted by either chronic wasting disease (CWD) nor bovine tuberculosis. This is the eighth consecutive year that the Ohio Division of Wildlife has tested for CWD and no evidence of it has yet to be detected.

However, CWD has been documented in 15 other states, thus the need to annually test for the degenerative brain disorder here in Ohio.

The Wildlife Division is also testing for CWD in a number of road-killed deer though the results are not yet known.

All testing was and is being done by the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

Should CWD ever be detected in Ohio it would be likely that the state would ban baiting for deer. That is because CWD is transmitted from saliva from one deer to another and the feeding of deer poses the increased likelihood of contamination, scientists say.

In other Wildlife Division news, the agency has put forth its 2010-2011 hunting regulations, minus those for migratory birds as well as deer.

Except for the annual shifting of dates there are only the most minor of changes. The proposals for the deer hunting will come in a few weeks following the conclusion of this year's archery deer hunting season.

March 6 is the date for the agency's various district game law hearings with the statewide hearing set for March 4 in Columbus.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Muzzle-loading update (Cold weather may freeze kill)

Ohio's wildlife officials were expecting that the change in the four-day muzzle-loading season dates would bring about a renewed interest in the activity.

In turn that interest was expected to result in an increased harvest of deer. A figure of around 25,000 animals was being suggested. This four-day season begins Saturday.

All of that has been turned upside down, however, due to this week's arctic blast and the forecast for even more wicked weather for the weekend. Temperatures may dip into single digits both Friday and Saturday night and climb only into the upper teens or low 20s as daytime highs.

Now the Ohio Division of Wildlife's deer management supervisor believes that a range of 18,000 to 20,000 deer taken is more in line with reality of uncomfortable weather and the prospects that some hunters could confront up to four feet of snow.

"If the temperature was in the (upper) 20s or 30s that would be fine but the cold weather could put a ding in the harvest, that's for sure. It's going to impact the harvest," said Wildlife Division game biologist Mike Tonkovich.

Part of the reason for this is because the state's hunter population is aging. Us older types are less tolerant of cold weather, Tonkovich says.

I know that I am. My plan was to buy a third either-sex tag and head for a friend's large homestead/woodlot, prairie in Knox County. However, the outlook is calling for some bitterly cold weather with single digit temperatures and likely gusty winds.

I've got myself convinced that I don't need a fifth deer that badly, not when I'd be shaking like a quivering bowl of Jell-O on a deer stand.

Maybe the weather will improve for Monday and Tuesday. If so, perhaps I'll travel south and hunt the last two days of the season instead of the first two days. We'll see.

In other, totally unrelated news, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission reports that several of that state's reservoirs have tested negative for either zebra or Quagga mussels, though the invasives have shown up in neighboring states' reservoirs.

Also, the agency and other concerned citizens, groups and the legislature are putting together a package that will tighten Wyoming's laws against the illegal introduction of fish into the state's waterways.

Wyoming has seen this happen before as some anglers think they know better than biologists on what fish species a reservoir should have - always a dangerous and self-centered idea.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, January 4, 2010

Winter walk-a-about (Don't leave home without shotgun, though)

News Years' Eve seemed like the perfect time for a look-see to try and find any left-over birds at the Club.

Not that the odds were all that great, what with the last field trial having been held a few weeks ago. That left plenty of time for any escapee rooster pheasants and chukar partridge to be shot by some of The Club's members who used the property as the perfect venue for hunting.

So did my wife Bev and me. Along with Jenny Lynn and Berry, our two Labrador retrievers.

We (meaning Bev and me, not the dogs) knew that the weather was in for a radical change beginning News Years Day. So we concluded that we'd take a walk around The Club.

Bev slightly misunderstood the intentions, however, believing the venture would be more of a walk and less of a hunt. It wasn't as my plan was to carry a .410 doubled-barrel shotgun in the hopes of finding a bird or even, two.

Accordingly, I was better dressed for a hike through field and forest, dressed in canvas hunting pants and wearing a blaze-orange game vest. Meanwhile, Bev was outfitted head to toe in rain wear to ward off the dampened grasses and weeds. That meant she'd be perspiring heavily.

"I wished you had told me sooner that we'd be doing more hunting than walking," Bev said, grumbling.

It wasn't all my bad, though. Bev should have understood this when she piled into our SUV and headed southeast toward The Club.

In any event, we started out, our feet slipping a bit on the greasy snow-covered grass. We knew that in a matter of a day or so the few inches of snow on the ground would be greatly added to. And as things worked out, today there's more than two feet of snow on the ground there.

The dogs led the chase. Or I should say, Berry was out in front. Sometimes too much so and she had to be corralled into hunting closer.

Not so Jenny Lynn. She paddled along near at hand, sniffing this piece of weed patch or that hunk of blackberry thicket. She took her time and was in no hurry and every now and then needed a little coaxing to hurry along. Obviously the old gal was thoroughly enjoying herself, this being her actual first opportunity of the year to bird hunt.

We took a route that penetrated a corn field, making a couple of passes. We even came upon a dead fawn doe that was laying partially hidden by the snow. Just what killed the small doe and why it died in the middle of a corn field will remain a mystery, though the raccoons and coyotes and foxes will no doubt enjoy the free meal.

Bev, the dogs and me then headed north toward a swale and eventually west into the woods. Our only contact with fresh tracks came with a set of those made by an adult deer and those made by a flock of turkeys.

Berry and Jenny both inhaled the scent from the turkey tracks but they weren't allowed to follow them.

The rest of the walk passed equally uneventful. By the time we had returned to the parking lot and our awaiting vehicle, Jenny Lynn had had enough. She was spent; understandably so since she's pushing 12 years old.

Then again, my back was saying it was finished as well. A couple of slips and falls hadn't helped any either.

So our walk/hunt was over. And might be for a number of weeks. It seems that the weather that came during the weekend poured too much snow to allow for any more deep excursions into The Club's interior. If we go there we'll have to be happy with the nearly one-mile hike from The Club's gate to the shooting range and back.

Still, it was an enjoyable jaunt. And as long as there is an outside chance of finding, flushing and fetching a bird for the pot, so much the better. And it will have to suffice until better days come, which is bound to happen.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn