Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Good move, Supremes (Ought to go out and buy another handgun)

The five Supremes - as in the U.S. Supreme Court - need to be thanked for doing what our forefathers intended more than 225 years ago. That being, declaring that all law-abiding Americans have a constitutional right to own firearms. Including handguns.

Why it has taken a couple of centuries to get to this point is anyone guess. Maybe it's because Second Amendment rights activists were waiting for the Court to tilt more conservative.

Or perhaps it is because the Supremes finally came to their senses. But the Court on Monday did the right thing, regardless of its long-awaited decision.

Unfortunately the decision is going to be followed by a flood of further legal challenges. Places like Chicago are going to pull out all the stops to ensure that while its citizens can technically own a handgun those looking to do so will be required to jump through a heck of a lot of hoops. Very possibly to the point where a candidate will simply throw up his- or her - hands and say it is not worth the effort.

That situation has raised its ugly head in Washington, D.C. and it very likely will spread.

Too, more than a few lower court decisions have made firearms ownership - especially handgun ownership - a trying or taxing proposition.

Now is not the time that proponents of the Second Amendment to dismantle their efforts in protecting their constitutional right to keep and bear arms. If anything the work will become more challenging and more costly. And there will be setbacks.

Gun owners can cheer this victory but the work of protecting what they've earned will continue to go on without end.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, June 25, 2010

Potentional new state record steelhead caught

It was a red-letter day for Tallmadge angler Jason Brooks who will likely capture a coveted spot in the Ohio state record fish book.

While fishing about 15 miles from Lorain's Avon Point this morning (Friday, June 25), Brooks reeled in what could be the new state record steelhead trout. The fish weighed 21 pounds, 3 ounces and measured 38 inches long.

The current recognized state record steelhead trout weighs 20.97 pounds and measures 36 1/2 inches. It was caught Oct. 2, 1996 by Mike Shane of New Middleton while fishing off Conneaut.

Brooks was fishing with his partner, Joe Boewe of Parma, aboard the former's 22-foot Grady White boat. This vessel is docked in Vermilion.

The anglers were actually targeting steelhead this morning, fishing in 68 feet of water. They were trolling Stinger spoons behind Dipsy Divers set at "1" and played 103 feet back, Brooks said.

"I'm an offshore walleye man but for about three weeks I'll target steelhead as long as they're at a reasonable distance," Brooks said.

The potential state record trout fell for a Stinger spoon in a "cat-dog" finish, Brooks said also.

Brooks said the fish jumped three times and power-dived in much the same fashion as a walleye.

When brought aboard the fish was hung on a 20-pound fisherman's scale but that tool broke as the hook bottomed out.

Concerned, Brooks called ahead to Erie Outfitters in Sheffield Lake and was advised to head to a boat launch where a member of the sporting goods store would take the angler and his catch to a business with a certified scale large enough to weigh the fish.

Its species was verified by Phil Hillman, fisheries manager for the Ohio Division of Wildlife's District Three (Northeast Ohio) Office in Akron.

Brooks intends to file the required documentation with the Outdoor Writers of Ohio which certifies state record fish in the state.

"As soon as I get the paperwork we'll start the process," said Tom Cross, chairman of the OWO State Record Fish Committee.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

History Channel's right on target (must see TV for gun nuts)

One (maybe the only one) benefit to being home and recuperating from back surgery is the opportunity to stay up an hour more until 11 p.m.

That's afforded me the chance to watch the History Channel's new reality game "Hot Shot." This program airs original 60-minute episodes at 10 p.m., Sunday with at least one repeat at 10 p.m., Tuesday.

Very clearly done the format pits two teams (Red and Blue) of highly skilled shooters against each other, complete with elimination rounds for the team that fails to win the team challenge.

What makes the story line unique is that all of the shooters must compete using a variety of weaponry including not just rifles and handguns but longbow, crossbows and other tools.

That mean a pistol expert better learn how to fire a rifle in the manner of a sniper while an expert long-range rifleman has to learn - and quickly - shoot as many arrows as possible within a 30-second time frame.

It's also often cool that when a target is busted that the remnants explodes into a plume of colorful smoke.

With elements similar to "Survivor" - the granddaddy of reality shows, "Top Shot" forms an intrigue of strategy, alliances and various other elements. In fact, the host of "Hot Shot" is three-time "Survivor" contestant, Colby Donaldson.

"Top Shot" really is an interesting watch for anyone who enjoys shooting.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, June 18, 2010

More hearings in store for indicted Wildlife Division officials

Accompanied by their attorneys and witnesses, five indicted Ohio Division of Wildlfe officials were granted a stay in a hearing regarding a legal point of law.

Brown County Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Gusweiler today (Friday, June 18) granted a defense request for the delay of a hearing related to the so-called Garrity Rule. This legal term - broadly - protects a civil servant's Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination when making comments during an investigation if that individual feels threatened with job loss for the failure to speak to investigators.

Defense attorneys claim their clients are protected by this rule. Each of the five defendants is charged with two fifth degree felonies: Wildlife Division chief David Graham, assistant Wildlife Division chief Randy Miller, Wildlife Division law enforcement administrator James Lehman, Wildlife District 5 (southwest Ohio) director Todd Haines, and the agency's human resources manager, Michelle Ward-Tackett.

The issue stems from action taken by the officials to a state wildlife officer who allegedly allowed an out-of-state friend to use his home address in order to purchase a hunting license.

The hearing extension was granted in order that the defense could obtain further documentation from the Ohio Inspector General and who conducted the investigation, said Jessica A. Little.

Little is the Brown County prosecutor and who also opposes applying the Garrity Rule to the five top-level Ohio Division of Wildlife officials.

However, said Little, the now-scheduled Aug. 4 hearing will involve addressing only the question of whether the defense's request for additional documentation has been fulfilled.

Little did say that at that time the judge will probably set another court date for the matter involving the Garrity Rule.

"There's not much that I can do and I am very disappointed. I had witnesses who had come from Columbus; blocking the whole day for us," Little said.

Among those called as a witness was Shawn Logan, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Logan was to address the court as a defense witness, Little said.

While pending the conclusion of all legal matters the five defendants remain on paid personal leave.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

SSuc a pain in the back (no, really)

You won't have me to kick around over the next several weeks. That's because I underwent some serious back surgery last Thursday over at Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Village.

To make a long story short, I spent five hours on the operating table and had all of my lumbar vertebra fused. That includes extending an existing metal bar with a longer one.

Now I am home, recuperating, confusing the two Labradors and catching up on "Doctor Who," and what happens on the Outdoor Channel during the day.

But I am also in wireless communication, doing what I can to work in a limited fashion. Among those details is following the endorsement of Gov. Ted Strickland by the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action.

I also intend to follow the up-coming legal situation of the Wildlife Six as it relates to their various charges. I believe the next court matter is June 18.

In any event, I'll be around and if you wish to contact me, send an e-mail post at jfrischk@ameritech.net. or call 440-257-2483.

Thanks, and stay in touch.

- Jeff Frischkorn

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Too good to be true (Smallmouth case won't go away)

The six out-of-state smallmouth bass poachers that paid a hefty fine and restitution had a real good excuse for their taking of 141 fish over the limit. They claim, in effect, they were innocent because they didn't understand the law.

These poachers came from Tennessee and Georgia. They were fishing out of South Bass Island just before the season closed May 1 for the spawning season. That is when officers with the Ohio Division of Wildlife - who watched the group for several days - bagged the over-baggers who made two to three fishing trips per day, catching a limit of bass each time.

The poachers claimed before the court in Port Clinton and later to media that they thought the limit was five bass per trip and not (you can't make these kinds of things up) a total daily bag limit of "just" five bass.

The judge wasn't buying it. And neither should anyone else. No where in the country does a "per trip" bag limit exist for fish or game, for that matter.

As a result of their misdeeds the six had to forfeit not only the bass fillets but the two freezers the fish were put into as well as the bass boats the boys used to catch the smallmouth bass.

The Wildlife Division is weighing options on what to do with the boats, said Geno Barna, the agency's chief Lake Erie law enforcement officer.

Barna says the three boats - which are older models but very well maintained - may be sold individually with the money going toward buying a vessel the agency can use for law enforcement duties, possibly even for undercover work.

And if this wasn't enough the six (speaking through an attorney) claimed they were being harassed and threatened with one of the individuals even saying he was afraid to come back to Ohio for the fear of reprisal.

Oh, yes, the six will doubt be entered into a data base called the Wildlife Violator's Compact that will prevent them from fishing in 33 other states besides Ohio.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Real sportsmen don't tweet (and don't chat on facebook, either)

While the nation's hunters and anglers readily use the Internet and web sites for finding everything from hot fishing spots to hiring a hunting guide they don't have much use for social networks.

Southwick Associates' HunterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com have polled sportsmen from all across America. What the well-respected outdoors polling firm found was that 64 percent of hunters and anglers are not using social networking sites to obtain outdoor information.

Only 24 percent of hunters use Facebook while just a paltry 2.4 percent favor Twitter. About CamoSpace is used by 3.2 percent of hunters.

Statistics are pretty similar for the nation's anglers. Only 22 percent of anglers use Facebook while just 2.5 percent utilize Twitter.

YouTube and and MySpace didn't do very well, either.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Storm heavily damages Ohio state forest

More than one-tenth of Ohio's Maumee State Forest in northwest Ohio experienced "significantly impacted" by Sunday's tornado.

While much of the attention has been focused on the lives lost and the towns flattened by the tornadoes, the 3,100-acre forest saw extensive damage as well. So much so the Ohio Division of Forestry has closed the trails there. This closure includes the area's popular APV trail and Tower Bridal Trail.

Winds of 111 to 135 mph were reported, uprooting trees, bringing down branches and generally causing a serious mess of things.

Efforts are underway to clean things up but this work is expected to take some doing, state officials say.

Updates on trail conditions will be posted on-line at www.ohiodnr.com/forestry.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cabela's Dundee store weathers Sunday's tornado

Even a tornado sweeping through Dundee, Michigan in the wee hours of Sunday morning couldn’t keep Cabela’s from doing business.

Just a couple hours later than normal with electricity being supplied by a powerful generator. The store was open for business as of noon, Sunday.

Some modification was required, however. That is because the storm severed the area’s power lines, including those powering Cabela’s - a 225,00-square foot retail store carrying all things outdoors from tents to bass boats to fly rods to shotgun ammunition.

Annually, Cabela’s Dundee store attracts about 6 million visitors, making it Michigan’s Number One tourism draw. It is a very popular go-to destination for Northeast Ohio hunters, anglers, boaters and campers.

“We’re currently still in the process of assessing damage to both our buildings and inventory. What we do know is there’s roof damage as well as that to the heating and cooling unit on the roof and extensive damage to a shed,” said Cabela’s spokesman, John Castillo.

“I do know, too, that we had a number of boats in the parking lot on display and which were damaged to varying extent. We’ll be assessing these boats also and prioritizing how much damage was done to each including totaling them if necessary.”

Signage was heavily damaged as well along as massive destruction to the store’s well-manicured landscaping, Castillo said also.

“Virtually everything,” he said.

In response to the devastating storm, a number of Cabela’s semi-trailers are in route to the store. The items to be available to the public for purchase include 250 generators, fuel cans and work apparel, Castillo said.

Castillio said several of Cabela’s neighbors were hit even more severely.

However, none of the Cabela's employees inside the building were harmed as they stocked the store’s shelves with inventory, Caslillo said.

“We feel very fortunate. We had good emergency procedures in place and thankfully everyone is okay,” Castillo said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cougars and poachers (Weekend this and that)

Southwest Ohio's Brown County has garnered much attention as a go-to destination for big white-tailed bucks.

So, too, it would seem that Brown County also is establishing a reputation for really big cats. Make that cougars. Late last month Brown County Sheriff Dwayne Wenninger received reports of a mountain lion - a.k.a., cougar - stalking the hill country of his jurisdiction.

While mountain lions have long-since abandoned Ohio the indications are that this is a real cougar. But likely, says the sheriff, an escapee from someone's collection and who is living in Mount Orab.

The story goes that the cat was becoming aggressive and that owner was planning on getting rid of the animal. However, the cougar escaped before it could be transferred out of dodge.

When contact by The News-Herald, Ohio Division of Wildlife personnel in southwest Ohio said the cat does not enjoy any state or federal protection. Which means the cougar is fair game, within certain guidelines.

Jack-lighting - the practice of shining a spotlight at night - is illegal, among a few other technical points.

Now as for the poachers, three Tennessee men and three Georgia men were fined and ordered to pay $16,290 in restitution for taking 141 more than the legal limit of smallmouth bass on Lake Erie. The incident happened back in April on Lake Erie.

Ohio Division of Wildlife Lake Erie agent and Lake County resident Brian Keyser was one of the agency's officers involved with the case. His job was to stay in the background and observe with the aid of binoculars the poachers.
off South Bass island, day after day. The offenders cast little jigs. Each time they would return to the dock, fillet their catch, freeze them in electric freezers they had brought and then go back and do it all over again.

"It was amazing," Keyser said.

Then the hook of the law caught up with the poachers. They were ordered to pay the fine and $50 for each bass taken over the daily limit of five bass from the last Saturday in June through April 30. The boys' ill-gotten activity was conducted between April 25 and 30.

To compound their hefty fine the group also had to forfeit two freezers, three trailers and (Gulp!) three bass boats.

Oh, yes, one other thing. Their names were entered into the Wildlife Violator's Compact and will likely lose for three years the right to fish in 33 states, including Ohio.

We are not talking about a bunch of young kids here, either. The youngest was 38 and the oldest was 67.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Best of the Best (Outdoor Life picks places for sportsmen to live)

In its third rendering of the 200 best places for hunters and anglers to live, Ashtabula makes the high ranking in two sub-categories.

But the very best place to live in there here United States is Rapid City, South Dakota. That is where the deer, wild turkeys, antelope, trout, pike and all kinds of other critters play. Along with enjoying a healthy lifestyle, low unemployment, sound growth, fresh air and bountiful elbow room.

The remaining Top 10 finishers were Pocatello, Idaho; Page, Arizona; Lewiston, Idaho; Kanab, Utah; Bond, Oregon; Mountain Home, Arkansas; Saratoga, Wyoming; Rawlins, Wyoming; and Pierre, South Dakota.

Overall, Erie, Pennsylvania was ranked 83rd out of 200; Port Clinton ranked 93rd out of 200; and Ashtabula ranked 151 out of 200. But these rankings were ahead of Hilo, Hawaii (179th); Stuttgard, Arkansas (185); and Waynesboro, Virginia (200th);.

In the sub-group of bird hunting Ashtabula finished well in the rankings. This, no doubt to the county's reputation for turkey hunting as well as goose hunting.

In the bass fishing sub-group both Port Clinton and Erie, Pennsylvania scored well.

For a complete run-down on Outdoor Life's Best listings, visit www.outdoorlife.com.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nasty bunch (You'd expect more from Wildlife's civil servants)

Whew, what a nasty bunch they are in the Ohio Division of Wildlife's District Five (Southwest Ohio).

At least that was my impression when I made a telephone call to the office this afternoon. It was in regard to what appears to be an accidental release of a mountain lion in Brown County.

I called the District Five office to get the agency's take on the subject, including if it would be legal to shoot the animal.

My first call was cut off before the receptionist could connect me.

The second call went through and accompanied by one of the shortest and most discourteous replies ever. Instead of "hello, this is (insert name), wildlife biologist" it was "yeah?" And it wasn't hardly the most friendly "yeah," either.

The rest of the conversation was less than cooperative, too, the Wildlife Division official suggesting that I call the Brown County Sheriff's Office instead.

I was then connected with the voice mail to Allan Wright, state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County. I'm waiting for his reply.

I must say the response from the Wildlife Division's District Five office was one of the most rude responses I've ever gotten from any agency official. That's not how civil servants are to respond to inquiries, that's for sure. They should be a whole lot more helpful and cooperative.

At least these personnel should be given lessons on how to properly answer a telephone.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn