Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hearing still on for indicted Wildlife Division officials

Brown County Prosecutor Jessica A. Little said the Sept. 2 hearing before the Brown County Common Pleas Court and involving five indicted Ohio Division of Wildlife officials is still on.

The five officials - including the agency’s chief, an assistant chief, a district supervisor, the agency’s law enforcement administrator, and its human resources manager - are each charged with two fifth degree felony counts. The five defendants are required to attend the proceedings, Little said.

The case as it now stands will be reviewed at 11 a.m., Thursday before Brown County Common Please Court Judge Scott Gusweiler.

“I do suspect that the hearing will last most of the day,” Little said.
Likely not to be discussed is any suppression hearing, Little said also.

“I don’t think there are any suppression issues. That’s my opinion, but I don’t know what the defense plans are, though.”

Little said also that Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Sean Logan is on the defense counsel’s list of potential witnesses.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 30, 2010

No burnt wheat strips for Mosquito's dove fields

Opening day hunters at Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area's managed dove fields won't have their noses tickled by the smell of burnt wheat chaff.

That's because the Ohio Division of Wildlife's District Three (Northeast Ohio) failed to timely secure the necessary burn permit from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The Ohio EPA - says a Wildlife Division District Three biologist - requires a 10-day waiting period from the time the burn application is received and when the burn can be performed.

Burning is done to remove the knee-high stalks of wheat, leaving the grain to lay on the blackened earth. The doves are attracted to the burnt fields where they become vulnerable to waiting gunners.

Burning also helps hunters in recovering birds, rather than the sportsmen searching through still-standing crops.

However, the Wildlife Division says it really won't matter because doves are still visiting Mosquito's managed dove fields anyway. Which begs the question, why bother even considering burning if such action doesn't help hunters?

We'll see Wednesday whether the dove hunting is just as good with or without burning the fields.

See tomorrow's News-Herald Outdoors for a story about dove hunting at Mosquito Creek.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, August 27, 2010

Strickland seeks to drive away with gun owner votes

Honk if you want to re-elect Ted Strickland as Ohio's governor.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is pulling out all of the stops to solicit the votes of the state's hunters, anglers, trappers and gun owners.

The Buckeye Firearms Association reports that Strickland has redecorated a large motor home that is embellished in a camouflage screen that includes a photographic image of himself and his brother, Roger.

The "Sportsmen for Strickland" motor home also features the Buckeye Firearms Association's endorsement position of Strickland as well as that of the National Rifle Association, which has awarded the governor an "A" rating.

On the motor home's tail end is found: "Vote Freedom first: Vote Strickland."

All of this is coupled with two Re-Elect Strickland for Governor campaign press releases that highlight Strickland's pro-gun, pro-hunting stance. At the same time the literature also notes his Republican challenger's generally unfavorable firearms stance while serving in Congress.

Former Rep. John Kasich is contrasted by illustrating 12 anti-gun positions taken by the-then congressman and as defined by the Strickland campaign.

Among them, says the Strickland campaign, is Kasich's support for the 1994 Clinton Gun Ban as well as his support to keep the ban in place two years later.

For sportsmen at least, this is going to prove an interesting election. Typically those voters who place high on the list Second Amendment rights have swung to Republican office seekers, not Democrats. All of which may turn on its ear November 2.

A copy of this blog post also is recorded on The News-Herald local politics blog.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Controlled deer, waterfowl hunt drawing results

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has released the names of the lucky people who were successfully drawn for the state's very popular but controlled deer and waterfowl hunts.

Rats, since I wasn't picked for anything that I had applied for. Neither did my older brother, Rich, nor my wife, Bev.

Which doesn't keep me from trying. Or Rich or Bev, for that mater. We'll keep filling out the required Internet application and transferring funds each July during the application period. One of these days one of us will be picked for Plum Brook or the muzzle-loading hunt at Mosquito Creek.

To see if you've been successful with the draw, visit the Wildlife Division's web site at www.wildohio.com.

While on the subject of drawings and the Wildlife Division, the agency will conduct a public drawing for waterfowl blind hunts at LaDue Reservoir in Geauga County. The drawings is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., Sept. 16 at the Geauga County Fairgrounds in Burton Township.

Each applicant must bring a current or past year's Ohio hunting license or Ohio wetlands stamp.

There are 10 blind sites available, and a calendar and map will be available that will show where the blinds are located and when they are available.

A maximum of three persons may hunt each day, though the actual permit holder must be in attendance.

Permits also will be issued for one-week periods and may be used only for the blind location chosen by the drawer.

Hunting occurs only on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays until noon each day.

Only temporary blinds are boats equipped with electric motors are permitted.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ohio fishing license sales dip more than for hunting license sales

The periodic release of spread sheets by the Ohio Division of Wildlife points to only a faint decline in to-date resident hunting license sales.

The dip has been more pronounced for the sale of to-date resident fishing licenses, however.

Both represent near real-time sales snapshots for the Wildlife Division.

Boiled down, the Wildlife Division has experienced a decrease in income generated by the sale of resident fishing licenses.

From February 15 to July 31 of this year the Wildlife Division sold 595,397 resident fishing licenses. For the same period last year that figure was 644,764 licenses. This change represents a 7.66 percent fall, a loss of $938,353.

Combine all fishing licenses and tags the Wildlife Division sold 775,232 permits: Compared to 836,778 permits sold last year for the same period.

As a result, the Wildlife Division has seen a drop of $1,018,236 in income generated by all fishing license sales.

The view is more attractive for sales of hunting licenses and various related permits.

From February 15 through July 31 of this year the Wildlife Division sold 62,649 resident hunting licenses. For the same period in 2009 the number was 65,425 resident hunting licenses sold.

Translation: The Wildlife saw a drop in income derived from the sale of resident hunting licenses of only $52,744.

Taken in all of the state’s hunting licenses, permits and stamp sales and the gross income the current to-date tally was $3,488,898. Last year for the same period the state collected $3,515,795. This drop is less than 1 percent, total.

It must also be noted that most hunting license sales and deer permit sales are conducted during just a few days around the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wildlife Division Lake Erie research boat side-lined

Crippled by an aging research vessel, work on studying the fisheries of Lake Erie's Central Basin remains on hold.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife's research boat "The Grandon" has been side-lined since the end of July. That means one month has passed since agency biologists last have done test-netting surveys and other on-water work in the lake's Central Basin.

Instead, these biologists have filled their time with laboratory and paper work, though the scientists are chomping at the bit to get back on the water.

What needs to be done, however, is replacing the boat's existing, well-worn diesel engine with a rebuilt one. This will cost the Wildlife Division about $17,000, says Kevin Kayle, the station's manager.

Kayle said there really is no reason to complain since the boat and its hard-used engine are both 22 years old. Repairs and replacements are to be expected for a vessel of this age, Kayle says.

Even so, the staff is looking forward to conducting tests and seeing how successful the lake's walleye and yellow perch hatch was this year, Kayle says as well.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Getting close

With only one week until the eve of Ohio's new hunting year I have to say that I'm starting to get a little excited.

Yesterday I visited the dove fields at the Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area in Trumbull County. The fields were not very impressive, due to the horrible wetness experienced during the spring. That greatly delayed planting which has resulted in under-achieving corn, no sunflowers and the wheat strips not yet burnt.

The Horvath field especially looked bad with few doves. The area management field looked only marginally better.

Bev and I will get the goose blind ready this week, trimming the brush around it and adding the camouflaged drapes along with tossing out the floating goose decoys.

Looking forward to helping reduce the farm pond's goose population, much to the delight of the pond's owner.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trophy vs. venison: On-going controversary

It's a question ripe with thorns and shouting but Outdoor Life Magazine's posted and current on-line story regarding the subject is a must read for all deer hunters.

It tells the tale in 40 short bites, each segment accompanied by a photograph.

The slide show is provocative but should be required viewing and reading.

For all the talk and television hunting shows I must say that I come down (and hard) on the side of venison vs. antlers. While I've shot three or four really nice bucks (including one that was only a tiny fraction away from making Ohio Big Bucks) most of my deer didn't - and even, couldn't - wear headgear.

My focus has always been on stocking the freezer first, the wall, second.

In fact, the owners of my first go-to archery deer-hunting spot in Lake County insist on me shooting antlerless deer. If I do shoot an antlered buck it must also have at least six points. In the five or six years that I've hunted the property I've killed (and shot at) only one allowable buck.

Doesn't bother me a bite, either.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

West Branch algae bloom may threaten bass tournament

Area tournament fishing pro Richie Glavic may have reason to worry about an up-coming bass angling contest at West Branch Reservoir in Portage County, located just south of Geauga County.

Glavic said Tuesday during a visit to Gander Mountain's Mentor store where he works that organizers of a local bass-fishing tournament are considering moving the up-coming contest to another location due to potential water quality issues at the lake.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has issued a "Bloom Advisory" for the 2,616-acre impoundment. Under such an advisory the Natural Resources Department says "An Algae bloom has made this area potentially unsafe for water contact. Avoid direct contact with visible surface scum."

The "Bloom Advisory" is the least "serious" of the three advisories issued by the state. Presently, there are eight lakes under this advisory, including West Branch Reservoir.

The most severe cautionary note is the state's "No Contact Advisory" where people are urged to avoid "any & all contact with or ingestion of the lake water." Grand Lake St. Marys and Cutler Lake in Blue Rock State Park are the only two Ohio waterways under this advisory.

Natural Resources Department spokeswoman Heidi Hetzel-Evans also says that water samples were taken at West Branch. These tests are designed to identify the species of algae and also whether or not they are releasing any toxins.

Hetzel-Evens said results for at least some testing elements may be known as early as later today, Tuesday.

Updates will be provided as they become available.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

On the perch-fishing hunt for Emerald shiners

‘Tis begins the seasonal search by Lake Erie yellow perch anglers for an ample supply of emerald shiners.

In many cases all along the lake shore, bait stores are experiencing a difficult time securing the perch fishing-preferred bait fish. And when a store is blessed with a shipment the shiners sell out quickly.

Thus, as often as not, Lake Erie yellow perch anglers have to resort to buying either fathead minnows or golden shiners. It’s that or turn to a cache of frozen and preserved emerald shiners that were collected when stocks were abundant.

“What we often see this time of year is that the bigger adult emerald shiners move offshore and sit just above the thermocline. There, they become food for walleye, steelhead and even yellow perch,” said Kevin Kayle, manager of the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Fairport Harbor Fisheries Research Station.

Meanwhile, the near-shore population largely consists of juvenile emerald shiners, Kayle says also.

“But they’re not much bigger than two eyes and a wiggle,” Kayle says.
Matters are complicated even further by the monthly waning and waxing of the moon.

As the moon inches toward its maximum brightness, capturing emerald shiners of any size becomes considerably more difficult.

That is because the emerald shiners are attracted by beams of light utilized by licensed minnow collectors. Add the flooding light of a full moon and the shiners scatter and are more difficult to net.

“There is some truth to that; at least that is the word from those who trap shiners,” Kayle said.

The desperate search for fishable sized emerald shiners will throttle back beginning in mid- to late-September and into October, Kayle says.

“That is when we see the lake water turn over and become cooler closer to shore. It’s when we see the seasonable movement of emeralds back toward shore,” Kayle says.

Kayle did say, though, that Lake Erie’s emerald shiner population is stable and healthy, with good hatches being recorded every couple of years.

The Wildlife Division even conducts some annual research as to emerald shiner density in Lake Erie, Kayle says.

“And we’re seeing good densities here in the Central Basin this year,” he said.

As a Lake Erie yellow perch angler himself, Kayle says he works to ensure that he has an ample supply of emerald shiners always on hand. To do that Kayle keeps a stock of frozen shiners always on the ready, he said.

“I just use a salt-water solution and I’ve found that it doesn’t matter whether it’s iodized table salt or non-iodized salt. But I don’t keep them in the freezer for very long. They can turn to mush if they’ve been in a freezer for too long; they get freezer burn,” Kayle said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cerino nudged out as History Channel's "Top Shot."

When all the smoke cleared and the echo from the gunfire disappeared, Chris Cerino of Wadsworth was just a single .30-caliber shot away from becoming the History Channel’s first-ever “Top Shot.”

However, competitor Iain Harrison, 42, was literally just a hair-trigger faster in aiming his M-14 service rifle at the exploding target set up 200 yards down range. Thus, Harrison - a transplanted English native now living in Sherwood, Oregon - won the title and its $100,000 first-place prize.

Yet Sunday’s finale 4-minute shoot-off went down to the wire as Harrison and Cerino competed while using seven of the weapons they had previously shot or tossed. Among them were throwing knives, a longbow, handguns and rifles.

"It was as close as you can get and still lose. I think I lost because I lacked focus. I really wasn't expecting to win; I was just doing my thing," Cerino said today (Monday).

Each station had various types of targets the two finalists were required to hit. In-between the stations the men had to run and then settle both their nerves and their heart rates in order to successfully tackle the shooting hurdle.

"I dreaded the throwing knives but I was looking forward to shooting the hanging rope with the Winchester 1873 (Lever-action) rifle," the 42-year-old Cerino said.

Incredibly, the shooters arrived at the last station and the M-14 rifles at nearly the same instant, each man easily scoring on the 100-yard target. But the bullet fired from Harrison’s rifle was the first to strike the 200-yard target.

Following the shoot-off the two men shook hands and hugged each other.

"If I was shooting against a jerk maybe I would have done things differently but Iain is a great guy. I was proud to shoot against all of the four finalists," Cerino said.

It had been a 32-day experience for Cerino and Harrison as they out-shot 14 other competitors and beat out 6,000 applicants for the opportunity to participate in the History Channel’s reality television program that focuses on shooting.

The program has become something of a cult favorite amongst shooters and was even watched by people who’ve never picked up a firearm, let alone a longbow, crossbow or much less a throwing knife.

"Maybe there were a few things that I could have done to shave a few seconds off but I really am proud of what I did, my family is proud, too, and so are my friends," Cerino said also.

Cerino also said that Sunday night nearly 300 people gathered at the Wadsworth Cleats sports restaurant to watch the season finale. Among them was fellow Top Shot competitor 22-year-old Kelly Banchard.

"Kelly was up at Camp Perry shooting in the National Matches and decided to surprise us all by coming. He did. The girls went nuts," Cerino said with a chuckle.

Now comes the hard part for the History Channel: Sorting through the thousands of applications it has received for auditions to the next season of “Top Shot,” which host Colby Donaldson says will feature even more grueling challenges.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More state park lakes closed because of toxic aglae

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has issued advisories for two more state park lakes due to heavy infiltration of blue-green algae.

Joining 12,626-acre Grand Lakes St. Marys in Mercer County are 632-acre Burr Oak Lake in Morgan County and 16-acre Cutler Lake within Blue Rock State Park in Muskingum County.

The growth of the noxious and potentially health-threatening blue-green algae - cyanobacteria - has become a particularly odious problem this summer in some inland Ohio lakes. High temperatures and lights rains have contributed to large blooms of the algae which are often fed by high farm-related nutrient runoff into a watershed.

It is recommended not to swim, fish or boat at Grand Lake St. Marys and Cutler Lake while people are cautioned to avoid contact with any surface "scum" found in the lake.

Some improvement is being seen at Burr Oak Lake and it is possible that the advisories here may be lifted by the end of this week, ODNR officials say.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown has introduced legislation that would authorize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide grants to the various states to use the latest science to sample and test water quality and to alert the public to harmful algal blooms.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ohio shooter still in running for History Channel's "Top Shot."

Wadsworth area resident Chris Cerino remains in the running for the History Channel's $100,000 first place prize and title of "Top Shot."

Cerino - husband, father of two sons, scoutmaster, hunter education instructor and law enforcement/military firearms instructor - has withstood the test against some of the nation’s top firearms competitors.

The final contest will pit Cerino and three other contestants and as seen during a two-hour History Channel finale, airing Sunday, Aug. 15.

During the preceding several televised elimination rounds the competitors have had to shoot vintage firearms such as flintlocks, old military weapons like the Springfield, Colt .45-caliber revolvers and funky Russian bolt-action weapons as well as new models of weaponry like Remington sniper rifles, HK semi-autos, Beretta pistols, AR 15s along with archery tackle and even slingshots and throwing knives.

This past Sunday's episode was particularly intriguing. The-then remaining six contestants had to shoot four different weapons at targets posted at increasingly longer distances. Between shooting stations the competitors had to race uphill. After this grueling match two of the remaining six shooters were eliminated.

The Cerino Family will gather Sunday at Cleats (469 College St.) in Wadsworth for the two-hour season finale, said Reno "Jay" Reda, retired area Wildlife Division officer and who's been tracking Cerino's performance on Facebook.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wheels of justice turning slowly in the case of the five indicted Wildlife Division officials

A hearing requested by attorneys representing five indicted Ohio Division of Wildlife officials was vacated Tuesday because the defendants choose not to compel the Ohio Inspector General’s office to provide additional documents for preparing their defense.

The matter was vacated because the defense accepted the Inspector General’s office's view that such documentation simply did not exist, said Brown County Prosecutor Jessica A. Little.

However, the motion to suppress/dismiss all charges will be reviewed at 11 a.m., Sept. 2 before Brown County Common Please Court Judge Scott Gusweiler who may or may not render an immediate decision on the petition, Little also said.

Little said as well that she fully anticipates the issue will go to trial.

“At least I am preparing for it that way,” Little said.

As for when ultimately the case may proceed to trial, Little said she “really doesn’t know.”

“But my hope is that this will go to trial before end of the year. And it would be nice if it were done before Thanksgiving. I have a major capital case that I’m working on,” Little said.

The April 2 indictment against the Wildlife Division officials stems from an alleged incident in which the state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County - Allan Wright - was said to have allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his Ohio address in order to obtain an Ohio hunting license on Nov. 5, 2006.

It is alleged that the five high-ranking Wildlife Division officials should have handled the Wright incident differently as a criminal matter and not as an administrative matter that resulted in a verbal reprimand for Wright.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Bass fishing world up-ended

This summer is providing red hot news for the bass fishing world.

First came word that a professional bass angler from California was caught cheating in an important Western-based bass-fishing tournament. He was found to have placed lead weights into the bellies of several bass. The angler was subsequently banned for life from that circuit and may face criminal charges.

The latest word is that ESPN has sold off the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society to none other than Jerry McInnis and two partners.

McKinnis once ruled the roost of outdoor television fishing show hosts and has proven to be a real crowd pleaser with his laid-back delivery. He also was a main host when ESPN would cover BASS-related tournaments such as the BASS Masters Classic.

It is great that BASS has been plucked by one of the sport's true gentlemen and someone who loves and cares about its future.

And finally, let it be noted that long-time bass boat-building competitors Ranger Boats and Triton Boats have merged into one company.

That's a whole lot bass fishing-related news to eat in one gulp. For more, visit BassFan.com.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ripped from the front pages (Odds and ends)

One of the best outdoors-related web sites is the Outdoor Pressroom. It collects a wide range of topics, gathered from various news sources.

Updated frequently, the Outdoor Pressroom features note only the important items but also the most interesting.

A recent sampling includes a story out of California where professional bass angler Mike Hart was caught cheating during a recent tournament on Lake Mead. It seems he had stuffed lead weights into several bass, giving him 10 ounces that he didn't deserve.

Hart was caught after a Nevada Division of Wildlife official found the weights following cleaning one of the angler's dead fish. The official was filleting the catch in order to donate the meat to a local homeless shelter.

The angler - who is estimated to have won $200,000 in fishing tournament winnings - was disqualified and banned for life from a Western-based bass fishing tournament circuit.

Criminal charges are also pending.

News from North Carolina's Citizen-Times newspaper says that of the 499 reported snake bites in that state last year, 228 came from copperheads. However, fully 30 percent of all snake bites were reported as being "dry," or when no venom was injected.

July and August see the greatest numbers of snake bites.

And out of Georgia comes news that Lake Lanier bass angler Russ McTindal had a nasty run-in with one very large and angry beaver.

While fishing from the bank, McTindal was severely bitten by a beaver estimated to weigh up to 40 pounds. The angler tried to use his fishing rode to beat off the critter but the animal put on the chomp anyway.

McTindal had to undergo rabies shots.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn