Friday, April 29, 2011

Letter to a granddaughter

Dear Granddaughter,

Grace, I had all the confidence in the world that you’d ace your Tennessee Hunter Education course.

Grandfatherly pride told me so, even if Grandma was trying to be supportive by cautioning that it’d be no big deal if you didn’t pass your 100-question test on your first try. Grandmas tend to worry about things like that.

I wasn’t concerned, at least not enough to show, anyway. You’ve always illustrated a keen aptitude toward book learning and have always inhaled information to the point where you both amaze and amuse me.

But to score a 92 was a feat well worthy of high praise.

Grandpa especially got a chuckle when after each night’s instructional installment you’d call and tell me what you learned.

Knowing the parts of a firearm and the kinds of fireams’ actions out there is pretty neat. But what set apart those conversations were your quotations of the 10 Commandments of Firearms Safety.

No one is ever too old to be reminded of those rules, either. Not even us grumpy grandfathers, and I appreciated the way you sounded off on some of them.

I could tell that you were pretty nervous, though, about taking the final exam.

That’s to be expected. Grandpa and Grandma had similar butterflies when we took our hunter education course many years ago - as did your mother.

Remember, too, Grace, that your mom had to take the course twice in order to pass the exam - and she was way older than your nine years.

The rules, ethics and information you were given by your instructors will serve you well, too, even if you don’t ever hunt. (Which I hope that you will).

Such guidance demonstrates an understanding that a firearm is not a toy.

That is why I had no qualms about visiting the local Gander Mountain store the day after you passed your exam and buying your first-ever firearm; a Rossi combination .22-caliber rifle and .410-guage shotgun. The take-down firearm features a barrel for each.

It’s nothing fancy but it will get the job done whether you’re just plinking away at empty soda cans, clay targets or a squirrel.

And when your sisters and brothers take and pass their hunter education courses, then Grandma and I will buy each of them their own firearm, too.

Grace, using a firearm is tasked with a heavy responsibility. It carries with it the full measure of taking into account everything that surrounds you when you’re about to shoot.

I’m sure your instructors mentioned that once you squeeze the trigger you can’t call back the bullet or load of shotgun pellets. Once those projectiles are released they will charge forward, for good or for ill.

That’s why I expect that you’ll pay close attention to what your father says when you’re on the range and ready to shoot your new firearm.

It’s also why your dad will keep the firearm under lock and key until you go to the range.

And once you are there don’t forget to wear your safety shooting glasses and hearing protection, which Grandma and I bought for you as well. Both are important tools for protecting your health and likewise demonstrate your admittance to the family of firearms ownership.

Grace, you’re old enough and mature enough, Grandpa believes, to handle this level of trust. The fact that you did so well on your test and memorized the rules just reinforces my confidence in you.

Just how you’ll use your new-found instruction and new firearm is for you to decide.

But you’ve taken yet another step on the road to adulthood and I hope that I can join you at some juncture on your journey. Maybe we can even take Berry hunting together.

That’s what all grandpas always wish for anyway.
I’m so proud of you, Grace, and so lucky that you are my granddaughter.

Your Loving Grandfather

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, April 28, 2011

UPDATED Weather hurting angling, gutting fishing license sales

While the rains are seriously dampening Ohio’s spring wild turkey hunting they're literally drowning the fishing.

And while Northeast Ohio steelheaders have felt the thunder of passing rain showers, so too have their inland counterparts.

Not surprisingly either is that all of the precipitation has water-logged fish spawning conditions throughout the state’s system of flood-control and water-supply reservoirs, says Scott Hill, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s inland waters fish management administrators.

Then again, April’s all-time record rainfall totals - coupled with the year’s prior poor and wet weather - has likewise put a serious hurt on the sale of fishing licenses.

“The bad weather does play havoc on anglers’ abilities to catch fish. We’re even seeing an issue of being unable to get to boat ramps,” Hill said. “The wind hasn’t helped any, either.”

The U.S. Army Corps has to direct its focus first and foremost on pool levels as they relate to water management for human needs, Hill says.

“They have to look at the bigger picture in terms of preventing flooding downstream,” Hill said.

Similarly, Hill says, in many reservoirs such desirable species as muskies and saugeyes are being flushed out of the lakes and into the rivers below their respective dams.

While this situation can produce on a temporary basis good tailwater fishing, in the long run it doesn’t help a reservoir’s angling status. Or the Wildlife Division’s bottom line in paying for raising and stocking of fish, Hill says.

As for spawning activity, the timing of the high water is a clock-stopper for that activity, says Hill also.

“The issue here is both the turbidity of the water and well as water level fluctuations since we depend on consistent pool levels for good spawning,” Hill said.

“So these conditions not only impact species that naturally reproduce but also the ones we stock. I always look at around Mother’s Day as the peak time for largemouth spawning so we’re right there.”

The continual poor weather also appears to have spooked potential anglers from buying licenses.

From Feb. 15 to April 27 the Wildlife Division sold 189,870 resident annual fishing licenses. For the same period last year that figure was 277,955 documents. The net loss in income amounted to $1.6 million: down from the $5.3 million in 2010 to $3.6 million this year.

Sliding as well are sales of non-resident licenses of all kinds along with sales of 1-day permits and sales of resident senior fishing licenses.

The do-date fishing-license-sale total difference between Feb. 15 to April 27 of this year and the same administrative counting period last year is a decline of 106,977 documents sold.

The bottom line: The Wildlife Division has seen a drop in total to-date income of $1.8 million, or a fall of 29.65 percent.

"We're just hoping for some nice weekends so we can rebound with our sales; the weather has to turn at some point," said Vicki Ervin, Wildlife Division spokeswoman.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Confusing license-game check system

I wanted to test the new computer-based license issuing/game check system that the Ohio Division repeatedly has trumpeted as the way of the future.

A recent press release didn't help any. If anything, it made it more confusing.While the agency said that if a successful turkey hunter, for example, used a computer to record the information a printer is needed to eventually cough up a printed version of the permanent "tag."

However, no where does this release note that such a document is required either by visiting a license-issuing agent nor if a telephone is used.

Much more confusing is the "Managing Your Account" reference. Here, a person is allowed to view such things as licenses bought, game recorded, any hunting/fishing drawing lotteries enteerd and won.

It asks for either one's Customer I.D. number or else the last four digits of one's Social Security number as well as last name. All fine so far.

But in every case a person must also supply his or her birthday. Not pointed out, though, is HOW that information is to be relayed. is it - as in my case - 2-18-1950; 02-18-1950; 02/18/1950; or something else.

The instructions are silent. That means a person has to call the Wildlife Division anyway to find out. Already cued in is a staff member says to also use a "0" for month and date is 9 or less.

It would be nice if the instructions included that information ahead of time so that a person can better access and respond to the Wildlife Division's requirements.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Is a turkey worth losing a good night's sleep?

I’m becoming too old for this sort of thing, the “this” getting up a little past 4 a.m. in order to hunt wild turkeys.

That early rise is only part of the “this,” too. After rubbing the sleep from the eyes - only partially successful I hasten to add - comes a 45-minute drive to the farm and then another 15-minute walk into the woods where the hunting blind is located.

The “this” isn’t finished just yet, either. There’s the matter of withdrawing three turkey decoys from the blind. Among them is a lifelike gobbler in full strut with its fan flamed out. In front of the tom is placed a hen decoy minus a stake - making it look like she’s ready to be, well, bred.

A third decoy - also a hen - is staked several feet away, its beak pointed down like she’s feeding.

Following this decoy placement ritual is a return to the blind, pouring out no fewer than four turkey calls that represent the broad spectrum of common tools.

There’s a wood box call, an aluminum slate pot and wooden striker, a diaphragm mouth call and my favorite: A push-pin call.

Oh, yes, I also withdraw from the turkey-hunting vest an owl hooter call. That call is used to try and get a roosting gobbler all fired up and located before legal shooting time.

All of the calls are splayed out on a folding side table that’s attached to a fabric captain’s chair. No point being uncomfortable if I’m expected to sit for three or four hours.

Problem’s been so far this season that neither the locator call nor the various turkey calls have done much good. In four partial mornings of hunting I’ve heard just one gobbler and seen only one hen. That’s pretty bad.

Some may even say that I should get off my behind, get out of the blind and go find a bird. There’s a problem associated with that technique, however.

The woodlot’s not much bigger than 50 acres, which pretty much eliminates a long trek in the forest in search of a talking tom.

My theory is to let the gobblers come to the mountain, particularly since my pained back restricts some of the mobility needed to hunt in the more conventional way of walk, call, walk some more and then call again until you’ve completed a lengthy, several-hour circuit.

It’s not that I’m entirely wedded to the blind though. I suspect that some morning I’ll head to another patch of woods I have permission to hunt and there listen for a bird. We’ll see.

Without question the present season has proven both fruitless and frustrating. Most of my turkey hunting friends have either scored on a gobbler or else have heard their fair share of yodeling birds.

I’m jealous of their success. Big time.

But I’m willing to keep trying though I am aware of one nasty thing about spring wild turkey hunting that I cannot escape. That being, the deeper into the month-long season I venture the earlier and earlier the sun rises. That compels me to keep resetting the alarm clock, spinning the minute hand backward ever so much more each morning.

Like I said, I’m getting too old for “this” sort of hunting. What I need is for a lonely and love struck long-beard or jake to answer my sweet talk and come running to the decoys.

I can only wish.

This blog entry includes a video that can be seen on The News-Herald’s web site.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ohio’s 70,000 spring wild turkey hunters are being stalked by near-continuous poor weather.

Consequently, for the season’s first week - which ran April 18 to 24 - the harvest was 7,744 birds. That’s down from the 10,711 turkeys killed during the 2010 spring season’s first week.

The bottom line is that for the season’s initial round the turkey kill was off a staggering 27 percent.

“I am surprised; that’s actually better than I thought it would be,” said Mike Reynolds, the Ohio Division of Wildlife biologist in charge of Ohio’s wild turkey management program.

Reynolds says the significant drop is owed almost entirely to the poor weather that plagued the first week and is continuing through this, the season’s second week.

In almost every county the turkey harvest was down, with the exceptions being counties such as Cuyahoga where fewer than a handful of birds are typically shot anyway.

Some of the better turkey-hunting counties saw huge drops, too. In Ashtabula County - which usually leads the state in the number of turkeys killed - the first week harvest was off 43 percent, Reynolds says.

Meanwhile Gallia County’s first week harvest declined 52 percent, Adams County dropped by 42 percent, Meigs County by 39 percent, and Guernsey County by 18 percent.

Of concern to Reynolds and other biologists is the impact that the on-going wet, poor weather will have on turkey nesting success.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with the first nesting and if there will be a second nesting attempt,” Reynolds says.

Part of the problem is that during humid, wet conditions a turkey’s scent will linger on a nest. This makes the eggs increasingly vulnerable to predation by skunks, raccoons, opossums and foxes, Reynolds says.

“We’re only about one week away from when the hens are sitting on their nest, and it will be just as interesting to see if the gobblers will remain active or if hunters will be in competition with hens still needing to be bred,” Reynolds says.

Ohio’s 2011 spring wild turkey hunting season extends through May 15. Beginning May 2 hunters will have the opportunity to hunt from one-half hour before sunrise until sunset. Until then the daily hunt must conclude at noon.

Reynolds did say that he would not be at all surprised that if the weather continues to drip with rain and a goodly number of hunters have unfilled tags, that many of these sports will engage in late afternoon hunts.

Here are the official 2011 spring wild turkey season first week harvests for select county with their respective 2010 first-week kills in parentheses are: Ashtabula - 241 (430), Cuyahoga - 1 (4); Coshocton - 210 (258); Geauga - 119 (182); Guernsey - 247 (303); Huron - 72 (85); Lake - 27 (51); Lorain - 74 (88); Medina - 52 (67); Meigs - 169 (279); Muskingum - 207 (285); Sandusky - (12 (11); Trumbull - 150 (246); Tuscarawas - 259 (290); Vinton - 101 (165); Washington - 174 (216).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Pond Management Clinic held by Geauga Park District


Geauga Park District’s Swine Creek Reservation will come alive with pond management education during an upcoming program by the Geauga and Portage Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

What: Backyard Ponds: Maintaining Healthy Habitats
When: Thursday, May 12 – 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Swine Creek Reservation, Lodge, 16004 Hayes Road, Middlefield Township

Now is your chance to learn more about aquatic plant identification and management, potential impacts of harmful algal blooms, fish stocking and managing farm and backyard ponds. Bring lots of questions for pond experts William Lynch, an aquatic ecosystems specialist with the Ohio State University Extension Office, and Steve Fender of Fender’s Fish Hatchery.

Also consider bringing a plant from your pond to identify – and kids, bring your fishing poles!

This program is free, but registration is required due to limited seating. Please register by May 6 by calling your local Soil and Water Conservation District, Geauga County’s at 440-834-1122 or Portage County’s at 330-297-7633.
Geauga Park District is also online at and on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, April 22, 2011

Skunked twice in one day of spring turkey hunting

After five days of Ohio’s spring wild turkey-hunting season I’ve been skunked but in more ways than one.

It’s been that sort of a season so far.

“Oh, Berry, noooo,” I said as the shrill words rumbled through the house’s interior.

That interior had been corrupted by what had just transpired outside of the house. Yet even closed windows could not completely shut out the molecules of skunk oil that wafted off Berry, my Labrador retriever.

Taking care of a skunk spray-hit dog is not a thing one wants to do at 4:30 a.m. Especially if in 30 minutes the intent was to saddle up and head east for another go at bagging a wild turkey.

However, that’s what both Bev, my wife, and I undertook, grabbing shards of ripped cleaning rags and soaking them in skunk odor-removal juice. This fluid was then liberally applied to Berry’s face, muzzle, neck, legs, body - anywhere and everywhere.

From experience Bev and I have learned to keep a bottle of some type of skunk odor-removal product in the hall closest.

Every dog we’ve ever owned has found a backyard visiting skunk too much of a temptation. The little black-and-white critters looked so cute, each of the dogs seemed to say after exposure.

Poor Berry hasn’t learned her lesson. This was her second encounter.
So we did our doctoring, knowing full well we’d never get it all and will have to let time runs its course.

Speaking of time, I glanced at my watch and noticed that we would need to hustle if we were to be in the woods a spell before the legal start of the day’s hunting.

So we left the house and with it the aerosol effect of skunk oil that had begun to cling to every piece of fabric and dog hair it could find.

After Bev and I had reached our destination, anchored three turkey decoys and settled into the hunting blind, we were now at legal shooting time plus 5 minutes.

Not that being late mattered. The two gobblers that only two nights earlier had roosted in the trees just 150 yards away were nowhere to be heard much less seen.

At least we were reasonably comfortable, nestled in the blind, though I could detect a whiff or two of skunk odor that had found its way onto our hunting garments.

“It’s good cover scent,” Bev said.

But turkeys don’t care about scent, I reminded her.

What turkeys do express interest in are things like realistic decoys and sweet soundings notes played from a call of some kind. I had both and I used the weapons as best as I thought possible. Even so, once again I shot blanks.

The woodlot was silent of turkey talk, save for what I made with the several calls I had laid out.

What we did hear was an abundance of woodpeckers as they used their bills to jackhammer holes into trees.

As for sightings, we caught the temporary interest of a passing red fox. The animal stopped on a downed log, looked at the decoys and then continued on a trot to wherever it is that red foxes go in the early a.m.

The wind freshened as we sat and waited and clocked watched. The minutes only sauntered by, the slowness owing to the lack of turkey activity.

In three partial mornings of the opening week I had heard only one gobbler. And now I can add seeing just one hen.

Poking Bev and hissing low, I nodded toward the distance, pretty much along the same trace the red fox had taken an hour earlier.

Bev caught sight of the hen turkey, the bird slinking as much as a hen turkey can slink while paying absolutely no attention to either the decoys or my calling.

“I bet she’s done eating or breeding and is on her way to a nest,” I said, trying to impress Bev with my woodsmanship skills.

That was the last of the activity in so far as anything interesting happening.

After three hours of blind sitting (which beats stump sitting by a long country mile) we stowed the decoys in the blind, policed the area and made our way back along the tractor trail to our vehicle.

“I still had a good time,” Bev said, aware of how rare it is for her to be able to turkey hunt on a weekday.

Perhaps, but I’ll tell you this: I sure do hate being skunked twice in the same day.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nation's Top 200 places for sportsmen to live

In this year's annual look by Outdoor Life magazine of the Top 200 places for sportsmen to live, Ohio produced two towns.

However, neither ranked anywhere close to the Top 10. The best that Ohio could do was 105th place with Port Clinton (cited as the lake's walleye fishing and nearness to Camp Perry).

Ohio's only other entry was Ashtabula, of all places, which ranked 149th, behind Erie, Pennsylvania at 115.

At the top of this year's listing is Bend, Oregon. The remaining Top 10 finishers, in order are: Pinedale, Wyoming; Rapid City, South Dakota; Kodiak, Alaska; Saratoga, Wyoming; Cooper Landing, Alaska; Lewiston, Idaho; Pendleton, Oregon; Sheridan, Wyoming; and Bismark, North Dakota.

Criteria included the obvious of state of economy, schools, livability and other such socio-economic indicators.

The heart of the rankings, however, is determined by these sportsmen-related factors: gun friendliness, fishable species, huntable species, proximity to public land and waters, and trophy potential.

Visit for this year's complete Top 200 listing and see if your vacation/retirement dream community is listed and ranked.

Mine made Number Three - Rapid City, South Dakota. I've also been to Bismark and there's no way I'd list in in the Top 10. Or maybe even the Top 200.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bad weather slams opening day spring turkey season kill

On Monday - the opener of Ohio’s 2011 spring wild turkey hunting season - hunters missed the bull’s-eye by a wide margin.

In all, Monday’s 70,000-strong turkey-hunting clan shot 2,646 birds. And that figure is a decline of 20 percent from the 2010 opening day spring turkey kill,

“I think there are some pretty clear indicators when you look at the various counties,” Reynolds says.

For instance, in Ashtabula County, the opening day kill was off 52 percent while Trumbull County was down 45 percent, Reynolds says.

“Geauga County wasn’t too bad, though; down just 19 percent while Lake County was down 31 percent,” Reynolds says. “In general, Northeast Ohio didn’t have a very good season opener due to the poor weather.”

That was not true for all counties, though. Athens County saw a similar opening day kill of 69 turkeys. And counties in north-central to northwest Ohio also posted reasonably good numbers, Reynolds said.

Credit the largely pleasant weather these areas experienced Monday for at least some of this success, Reynolds says.

“It’s only one day, though, and we’ll get a more clear picture later on,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds did say that some glitches in the new check-in system were encountered. Among them being an occasional double log-in of a harvest.

“All in all, though, things seem to be working pretty well,” he says.

As for the impact the on-going rainy, cold weather may have on poult production that is probably minimal - at least for now, Reynolds says.

“There are hens laying right now but it’s too soon to say. It’s quite common for hen turkeys to renest,” he said.

Ohio’s turkey flock is estimated at around 200,000 birds of which about 75,000 are males.

“In wildlife populations dominated by a harem-style mating system where a male may mate with multiple females, in general, the sex ratio tends toward a higher percentage of females,” Reynolds said.

Ohio’s spring wild turkey hunting season continues through May 15. Properly licensed hunters can shoot up to two bearded turkeys, almost always males which are called gobblers or toms. Only one turkey can be taken daily, however.

Hunter success rate is about 25 percent with an expected total spring harvest this year of 18,000 to 22,000 birds.

Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to noon from now through May 1, and from one-half hour before sunrise until sunset from May 2 through May 15.

As far as raw numbers go, the local opening day harvest was (with 2010 opening day kill figures in parentheses) Lake - 11 (16); Geauga - 42 (52); Ashtabula - 70 (146); Trumbull - 47 (86); Lorain - 15 (24); Erie - 8 (7); Medina - 11 (14); Sandusky - 3 (4).

Monday’s Top 10 opening day harvest counties were: Guernsey – 94; Adams – 88; Tuscarawas – 85; Muskingum – 81; Coshocton and Knox – 79; Belmont – 73; Washington – 72; Brown – 71; and Ashtabula – 70.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Cold, wet, windy weather hurts NEO turkey hunting

Northeast Ohio’s on-going poor weather likely won’t do much for the spring turkey season’s first week.

The season began Monday and continues through May 15.

And while southern Ohio basked in general sunshine with relatively mild temperatures, Northeast Ohio saw a raw temperatures and wintry mix that included cold rain, ice, sleet and wet snow flakes.

All of which probably didn’t enhance hunters’ chances here, though actual first-day figures won’t be available until later today.

The rest of the week isn’t looking very favorable, either.

“Absolutely, the weather will impact the hunting even though the turkeys are still out there,” said Mike Reynolds, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s turkey management administrator. “The birds are likely to stay on the roost longer and won’t call as much but hunters don’t want to be out in this either.”

Thus, this year’s first week is shaping to mirror that seen in 2009, Reynolds says.

“But we made up for the slow season later on,” Reynolds said. “Turkey hunters are a pretty dedicated bunch. They don’t always do it to harvest a bird but to hear birds gobbling and see them strutting and coming in,”

As for the impact the rainy, cold weather may have on poult production that is probably minimal - at least for now, Reynolds says.

“There are hens laying right now but it’s too soon to say “It’s quite common for hen turkeys to renest,” he said.

This story will be augmented later this afternoon by an opening day harvest wrap-u.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

The environmental impact of discarded cigarette butts

Not much need to add anything here, but this is a worthy Earth Day-related news release that has crossed my desk:

New research released today further demonstrates the negative impact that cigarette filters and discarded cigarette butts have on the environment. Cigarette butts contain heavy metals that can leach into waterways, posing a threat to aquatic life.

The new data is part of a special supplement – funded by the national public health foundation Legacy® – in the journal Tobacco Control. In observance of Earth Day, Legacy urges smokers to quit smoking, and if they can't, to properly dispose of cigarette butts and filters.

Tobacco is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, and cigarette filters/butts are the No. 1 littered item found on beaches and in urban environments.

According to environmental cleanup reports, nearly 2 million cigarettes or cigarette filters/butts were picked up internationally from beaches and inland waterways as part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup in 2010.

This number includes more than one million from the United States alone, underscoring the fact that cigarette butts play a major role in polluting the already taxed environment.

According to the new research, cigarette butts have potentially toxic effects on ecosystems, for example, in one laboratory test, one cigarette butt soaked in a liter of water was lethal to half of the fish exposed. Some other new research findings include:

• Poison centers report hundreds of cases of cigarette butt consumption among children under 6 years old, with some cases of moderate toxicity due to nicotine poisoning.

• Tobacco products are the single largest type of litter collected along US roadways and on beaches.

• Tobacco industry research reveals that there might be misconceptions that cigarette filters are readily biodegradable or inconsequential as litter. However, in reality, even under ideal conditions, cigarette butts can take years to degrade, merely breaking up into small particles of plastic, toxic waste.

• Cigarette litter clean-up costs can be substantial to local authorities.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, April 18, 2011

State creates new 1-day Lake Erie-only fishing license

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has established a new 1-day fishing license, good anytime though just once.

And the license is intended strictly for persons who want to fish Lake Erie aboard a charter and must be bought before stepping aboard a boat.

What this new 1-Day Lake Erie Charter license does is allow a person to write in the date he or she wishes to fish on a charter.

That way if a charter encounters a weather-day that prevents a fishing trip from starting, a license holder is not stuck with a tag that becomes invalid even though it was never used, Wildlife Division officials say.

Thus such a tag is different from the agency’s other 1-day fishing permit which a holder must first designate when it is to be used at the time of the document’s sale.

“In working with the charter boat industry we found that a lot of clients couldn’t buy a license the day-of the charter,” said Vicki Ervin, a Wildlife Division spokeswoman. “With a Lake Erie Charter One-Day license a person can buy the permit which then becomes valid on the date the consumer writes on the slip. This way, if a charter is cancelled or postponed the license can be used later.”

As for being eligible for use on inland waters or the Ohio River that’s not going to happen, Ervin says as well.

“That’s not the intent of the license,” she said. “It’s to be used only on Lake Erie.”

The reason being, says Ervin, is that the issuance of a date-stamped license is an issue on Lake Erie that rarely - if ever - is encountered on inland waters or the Ohio River.

The cost for this new license is $11 - the same as for a “traditional” 1-day license and which must be bought in advance.

Also, anglers can call 1-866-703-1928 between 5:00 a.m. and midnight to buy a traditional 1-day or 3-day license. However, an additional convenience fee of $5.50 will be assessed at the time of sale, Ervin said.

A confirmation number will be issued to the angler, allowing him or her to fish without a printed license. The traditional 1-Day and 3-Day fishing licenses are also available on the Internet or at any retail license sales outlet.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Listening for turkeys is good excuse to be in cold, damp woods

The woodland deer trail was slick with mud and I had to step to the side at times to prevent taking another spill.

A stumble going in made me determined not to repeat it going out. As is often the case being a suffer of “drop-foot,” I found my left boot being caught by a snag that proved to be a pike pole on the deer thoroughfare.

This morning, a very light rain fell, too, along with a chilled wind that spoke of a winter that just would not let go.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with “10” being perfect, I rated this morning as no better than a “4” in listening for a roosting turkey.

Even so, one gobbler a long ways off responded to one short yelp note from a latex call that hung in the roof of my mouth.

Initially I had tried using an owl locator call. However, when the “who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all” notes failed to accomplish anything I rummaged around in my turkey-hunting vest and extracted a diaphragm mouth call. That did the trick, though after just the second set of yelps I stopped calling. No point in getting the tom all excited over nothing, I figured.

That enticement will come Monday with the start of Ohio’s month-long spring wild turkey-hunting season.

In listening for turkeys it’s best just to wander into a woodland patch and hope a bird will begin talking on its own. Next would be using a locator call, like one that imitates a barred owl.

Only when either of these two situations fail do I pull out an actual turkey call.
It’s an instrument of last locator resort for me.

But this is a new section of hunting real estate. And this morning was likely the last opportunity I’d have to do a listening walk for turkeys.

Having a general idea of the general location of where turkeys like to roost will be of great assistance during the season. But the calling would by necessity and prudence be sparse.

Once a bird was located, I’d shut up. No point in arousing the gobbler’s love interest too much, I figured.

Even so, a listening walk for turkeys is fun, though expensive, given the high price of gasoline these days. Still, what is affordable is in the eye of the hunter. After all, getting up at 5 a.m., leaving the house 30 minutes later and arriving at the destination 45 minutes after that is part of the adventure.

Years from now I’ll have forgotten the sticker shock at the gas pump but I will remember hearing the chorus of spring peepers and looking down on the deer path and then picking a very handsome 5-point shed rack.

It will be all business on the next visit, me being armed with the appropriate shotgun and ammunition. That’s when the calling will be done in earnest with an eye to better pin-pointing the whereabouts of a turkey.

And I’ll also likely return the shed antler, too, letting the forest’s moles, voles and mice chew away on the calcium-rich tines.

Yep, even at a “4” today’s experience was a “10.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Paine Creek's Friday trout stocking is still a "go"

A forecast for potentially stormy weather on Friday is not likely to postpone Lake Metroparks' plans to stock trout into Paine Creek.

Lake Metroparks' Tom Adair confirmed this afternoon that the agency expects to proceed with the stocking 800 pounds of trout into the stream. The fish will each average 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds.

Stocking again is scheduled for that section of Paine Creek owned and controlled by Lake Metroparks. This lengthy section stretches along the agency's Indian Point Park in Leroy Township.

Adair says that Paine Creek is beginning to tame, noting a reduction in its current flow and clearing of its muddy condition, both due to recent and frequent rain storm events.

The actual stocking is set for about 11:30 a.m., Friday.

However, should conditions change the agency will reschedule the annual stocking for a later date, Adair says.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, April 11, 2011

Newest Wildlife Council member speaks out

A self-described Blue Dog Democrat, Paul P. Mechling II has the ear of Red Right Republican Gov. John Kasich.

That is with the help and prodding of fellow sportsmen. Among them being now-retired Ohio Division of Wildlife chief Mike Budzik who worked behind the scenes to help get Mechling appointed to the Wildlife Council.

As a result, Mechling - a veterinarian, maple syrup maker and a tree farmer from Ashtabula County’s Pierpont Township - is one of two new members appointed to the bipartisan Ohio Wildlife Council.

He and Karen Stewart-Linkhart of Xenia were sworn in just two hours before they began their volunteer duties April 6. Each is a registered Democrat and each replaced a fellow Democrat in order to preserve the Council’s state-mandated parity in respective political leanings. They will serve four-year terms and could be reappointed.

But don’t expect Mechling to discuss politics while serving. He much rather address issues of concern to all sportsmen regardless of their political labels, Mechling said in a telephone interview on Sunday.

“Politics is way beyond me,” Mechling said. “I try to stay out of politics, and I see this job as being non-political.”

Yet politics does run in the family. His father once served as a state representative from the southern Ohio environs of Perry, Hocking and Muskingum counties.

While politics may not be on Mechling’s back burner, sound wildlife management and protecting sportsmen’s rights are front and center.

Mechling is a past state president and chairman of the Ohio chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. He was awarded the group’s “Outstanding Sportsman” award in 1994 and has also earned accolades for his land stewardship activities.

Further, Mechling serves in a volunteer capacity with the Ashtabula Soil and Water Conservation District, the Ohio Tree Farm Committee, and the Ashtabula Scenic River Advisory Council.

He is a member of the more liberal Ohio Farmers Union rather than the more conservative Ohio Farm Bureau.

Besides maintaining two veterinary businesses, Mechling and his wife, Joanne, operate a 236-acre tree farm less than one mile from Pennsylvania where they have planted more than 100,000 trees. Including 4,200 seedling just this past weekend, Mechling said.

Mechling and the rest of his family also operate a 325-acre family farm in southern Ohio’s Thornville area.

As for what he’d like to do as a Wildlife Council member, Mechling says he wouldn’t mind drawing more attention to the uniqueness of Northeast Ohio.

Part of the problem with the Wildlife Division, Mechling says, is that the closer one gets to the center of the agency’s universe in Columbus the further away the agency’s attention is on Northeast Ohio.

That is true, too, as the Wildlife Division establishes rules regulating such subjects as spring turkey hunting, Mechling says.

In this regard, Mechling believes that the season should be extended in the north to better mesh with the reality that turkey activity here is heavily influenced by different climatic conditions.

“We get more snow than anywhere else in Ohio, including Chardon,” Mechling said. “We’ve gotten 191 inches of snow this year. I still have snow on the ground in piles.”

While Mechling does not foresee the agency moving the spring turkey season clock forward he would like to see some additional time added to the back end for Northeast Ohio.

Even so, Mechling says he’s largely comfortable with the Wildlife Division’s professionalism as it stands at the present.

“I believe that Wildlife has good communication skills, it’s well respected by sportsmen and it does good science,” Mechling said.

Though not an especially devoted angler, Mechling does like to reach for a fishing pole every now and then and fish some of his farm ponds. He is often joined by his grandchildren.

He’ll also do an occasional Lake Erie charter out of Ashtabula County.
When it comes to outdoor pursuits, however, Mechling likes to hunt turkeys, waterfowl, grouse, woodcock and deer.

But don’t expect Mechling to buy into the theory that hunters are killing the living daylights out of Ashtabula County’s deer herd.

“We have way too many deer,” Mechling said. “We can’t keep up with them and they love to eat my red oak tree (seedlings). There may be an isolated spot or two where the deer herd has been hit but not the county as a whole.”

And as a tree farmer Mechling doesn’t have a whole lot of love for either rabbits or squirrels; a species that favors the plastic tubing that is used to transport maple tree sap from a tap to a collection point.

Maple syrup production is important to the Mechling family. For the just concluded syrup-making season the family produced 920 gallons of the sweet-tasting elixir.

“I try to get my squirrel hunters in the woods as much as possible,” Mechling said.
Mechling said also that he does not intend to interfere with the process of selecting a new chief of the Wildlife Division. This effort includes on-going interviewing efforts.

Which is not to say that he doesn’t check off high marks for the agency’s current acting chief, Vicki Mountz.

“She’s been very helpful and she’s a good gal,” Mechling said.

Similarly, Mechling says he has no intention of becoming embroiled in the so-called “Brown County Five” issue where five current and retired Wildlife Division officials remain under a cloud of legal wrangling.

“That hasn’t even been discussed,” Mechling said.

Mostly, Mechling says, he wants to serve the needs of wildlife, sportsmen and the agency as best as he can.

“We must use good science to protect the resource for future generations,” Mechling said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Massive slipped concrete slab inpacting Chagrin River steelheading

Steelhead angler Barry Butera of Euclid sees more than just an eyesore when he views a large slab of concrete resting squarely in the lower Chagrin River.

This slab appears to have slipped from the Norfolk Southern Railroad trestle embankment that spans the Chagrin River just downstream from the Rt. 20 bridge in downtown Willoughby.

The slab is massive and has changed the whole dynamics of the stream, says Butera, who is also the president of the Eastlake-based Chagrin River Salmon Association.

However, Willoughby officials are concerned more with the potential the slab may have in under-cutting the trestle or the stream bank.

“It’s kind of screwed up the fishing now with the current going on the east side and now it’s shifted the current over to the west side,” Butera said. “I’ll have to look at it when the water goes down, if it ever does.”

Willoughby mayor David E. Anderson said the city is aware of the problem and informed the railroad about three weeks ago when the city first found out about the slippage.

“The railroad said it is checking on the trestle and concrete slab about twice a week,” Anderson said.

Angelo Tomaselli, Willoughby’s Public Services Director, is keeping a watchful eye of his own on the water-diverting piece of concrete.

“It’s a huge slab,” Tomaselli said. “(Norfolk Southern) will have to do something about it because it could cause erosion.”

According to Butera who fished the location several days ago erosion has already begun.

“The hole that was there isn’t anymore,” Butera said.

Norfolk Southern has been contacted for a reply but has yet to respond.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Great video and comments on migrating wildfowl andother birds

Here's a really cool video with great shots of neotropical birds (those that migrate from North America to Central and South America and then back again).

Some truly great photographs with interesting commentary. It was sent to me by Vicki Ervin of the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

In celebration of ten years of Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act funding the National Audubon Society produced a video about the program.!/video/video.php?v=1864807068512&oid=171325426211785&comments.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, April 4, 2011

Natural Resources Department seeks input on exotic/dangerous animals

In a teleconference Monday afternoon with news reporters the Ohio Department of Natural Resources keyed in on the issue related to the sale and ownership of dangerous and exotic animals in the state.

Ohio has long held a reputation for loose laws dealing with the sale of such critters as lions, tigers, poisonous snakes, and other exotic and dangerous animals.

This has led to sharp remarks from animal rights groups that have threatened to place on the ballot an iniative that would ban such businesses and ownership.

Under the Strickland Administration an effort was made through an executive order to get a handle on the issue but the new Kasich Administration believes this order doesn't have the legal muscle to get the job done.

Further, the new ODNR team believes, a different route needs to be taken, including creating a task force to study the issue and which would make recommendations. This group would include various so-called "stake holders." Among them would be dealers in exotic and dangerous animals, animal rights groups, representatives from the natural resources and agricultural communities and others.

Here is the text of the Department's take on the subject and what the state wants to do:

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced today that it will seek input from key stakeholders across the state to help develop policies and procedures regarding the ownership and sale of dangerous wild animals in the state of Ohio.

ODNR is starting its stakeholder outreach at the request of Governor John R. Kasich who supports the regulation of dangerous wild animals to ensure the public’s safety and animals’ humane treatment. He also believes any new regulations should be developed in a transparent way with input from the public and those who have interests at stake.
The Kasich administration is initiating this process because the previous administration’s Executive Order 2010-17S and Emergency Administrative rule 1501:31-19-5, banning the "possession, sale, and transfer" of dangerous wild animals, expires on April 6. Concerns were raised with the rule’s short-term and long-term funding, legal authority, safety, and the overall feasibility of being able to efficiently and effectively enforce such a ban.

ODNR will begin accepting public comments immediately at as well as meeting with key stakeholders.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Mexico's drug dealers going south for dangerous arms, not north

Maybe Mexico is being too quick to blame the United States for the infiltration of that county of high-powered weaponry being employed by the former's drug dealers.

At least that is how the National Rifle Association sees it and following a reading of a Latin American newspaper investigation. Here is the NRA's take on the subject:

Blaming America for Mexico’s problems has been something of a national pastime for Mexican politicians for many years. True to tradition, Mexican president Felipe Calderon has been blaming Mexico’s astronomically high murder rate on Americans who buy drugs and who sell guns, rather than on the Mexican drug cartels who commit a vastly disproportionate share of those murders, and the historic corruption in Mexico, from which the wicked cartels have spawned.

However, an article published by the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada suggests that (Caldewron) might better serve the good people of his country by looking to his southern border, instead of (the United States).

As explained in English by the Latin American Herald Tribune, “The most fearsome weapons wielded by Mexico’s drug cartels enter the country from Central America, not the United States, according to U.S. diplomatic cables disseminated by WikiLeaks and published on Tuesday by La Jornada newspaper. Items such as grenades and rocket-launchers are stolen from Central American armies and smuggled into Mexico via neighboring Guatemala, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City reported to Washington.”

Friday, April 1, 2011

If this happened with parks, can new hunting/fishing license system be trusted?

A data security incident with an online vendor that manages the Ohio State Parks reservation system may have exposed consumer credit card information. However, a forensic investigation indicated that the information necessary for identity theft was not part of the data security incident, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

The Ohio State Parks online reservation system is owned and operated by InfoSpherix, a Maryland-based company. The company experienced a malware attack, which exposed database information used in transactions from March 21 to December 22, 2010.

“ODNR takes consumer protection seriously and is confident that Ohio State Parks reservation users are protected from identity theft,” said Chief David Payne, Ohio State Parks.
“All impacted credit card companies have been notified and they have confirmed that they are carefully and continuously monitoring every credit card number for potential fraud. To date, we have received no reports of fraudulent activity."