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

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