Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall turkey hunting a hit or miss proposition

Ohio’s fall wild turkey hunters should find more than enough elbow room when the season starts Oct. 8.

Ohio has an estimate of 180,000 and 200,000 wild turkeys, which represent a slight decline from previous years. There are about 15,000 fall turkey hunters compared to around 75,000 spring turkey hunters.

“I suspect that there isn’t much of an interest in hunting turkeys in the fall; we’ve just not seen a tradition build up like you see in Pennsylvania and Virginia,” said Mike Reynolds, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s biologist in charge of the state’s wild turkey management program.

It seems that our hunters would rather be in a tree stand, looking for a deer.”

Thus, the sale of fall turkey tags have continued to decline over the past several years. Last year, only 6,802 fall turkey permits were sold; a 11-percent drop from the previous year, Reynolds says.

“Fall turkey hunting really has to be something you enjoy,” Reynolds said. “Though, that being said we do have seven weeks of hunting opportunity.”

Discouraging was poor reproduction; tied for the lowest on record or 1.9 poults per hen, Reynolds said.

“However, in Northeast Ohio it was little better with 2.3 poults per hen,” Reynolds said.

And while the Wildlife Division observed a lot of poor nesting early on it does appear there was good renesting success, Reynolds said also.

Tthose birds will have a decent chance of surviving. That’s a good thing,” he said.

The bottom line, says Reynolds, is that hunters will have to spend some time “doing their homework and finding flocks of birds.”

Likewise, food sources will prove important for a prospective fall turkey hunter as well. While the state’s survey of the acorn crop has not been completed it is believed that the white oak production was poor though it appears to be good for red oak and black oak, Reynolds says.

“If you can’t find a grove with good acorn production then you’ll have to look for agricultural fields where the birds will feed. That actually may aid in locating turkeys,” Reynolds.

Reynolds reminds hunters that only one turkey per fall season can be killed but that the birds can be of either sex. During the spring season only bearded turkeys - almost always males - can be shot.

Similarly, hunters cannot kill birds over bait and they are required to buy a $24 fall wild turkey hunting permit in addition to a general hunting license. Spring permits are not valid during the fall season.

Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until sunset and birds must be checked by 11:30 p.m., day of harvest. Dogs are legal to use during the fall season only.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Big or small, Bev's deer is a trophy/w Video

It wasn’t a big deer but it was Bev’s deer and that is all that mattered.

A button buck, the deer came trotting out of the wood line to the left of the hunting blind; a well-built assembly of wood that more than comfortably seats two people.

Only I wasn’t hunting. Not initially, anyway.

Bev had first dibs if for no other reason than because she has fewer opportunities. A late Saturday afternoon for sure and maybe a weekday evening. Even that ceases once the clocks are inched back from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time.

And the fact that she was in some competition from the landowner’s family members only heightened her anxity. Especially since she knew that in three weeks we’d be hosting her father on an archery deer hunt and then another three weeks after that our son-in-law and Bev felt the push against the wall.

Besides, she didn’t shoot a deer last season, either by crossbow or by shotgun, though heaven knows she worked hard enough at it.

This time, Tuesday, yesterday, Bev was more than up for the task.

We settled in to the blind, Bev and me, she to jockey the Horton crossbow into a comfortable shooting position with the aid of a stabilizing mono-pod device.

As for me, I laid out my gear, spreading on a wooden sill a pair of binoculars, hard candy to keep the coughing at bay, a package of whole-wheat cheese crackers, a butane-fired bug repellent, a small bottle of water and a book about 50 species of fish an angler needs to catch before he dies. It’s an engaging book and I figured it would help me pass the time.

But I only had a little time to pluck a couple of entries; Eldorado from South America, Arctic grayling and some weird fish from Europe, if I recall properly. Can’t really be sure because the button buck didn’t give us much time.

Well, before the end of legal shooting time the deer trotted to the Moultree electronic game feeder from which I had poured a small pile of corn kernels just in case an animal came before the timer went off.

Good thing, too, as the button buck beat the timer by some 10 minutes.
Bev was careful, focusing her thoughts on the angle the arrow would take and ensuring that deer was standing perfectly broadside. With mechanical broadheads you have to wait for such a shot so that you don’t nick a bone and only wound the animal.

Bev had remembered her lessons well and her mind wheeled forward previous hunts, both good and bad.

When the deer was in position just so, Bev launched the arrow, the Horton crossbow sending the tool which entered and exited the deer in an eye blink.

The button buck didn’t travel very far, not even making it to the wood line.

Instead, the button buck died less than 75 yards from the blind, its blood pressure fatally dropping before it could vanish in the bush. That would have required a retrieval that might have demanded a hunt of its own.

All Bev had to do was tag it and drag it back to the blind. Oh, yes, she was required to perform this chore. That’s because it was my turn to see if I could arrow an animal of my own.

Exchanging locations in the press box from visitor to active duty, I eased my own Horton crossbow into the ready position, hoping for a mature doe to step up to the dinner plate.

Once more we did not have long to wait. Before we could say “venison chili,” first, one and then two and then, three deer showed up. Two were button bucks and the third was a sister of one of the boys, we assumed.

Since I was in no hurry with an entire archery season still in my future I didn’t shoot.

Neither did I when a three-point buck - with one antler shy of a fork - sashayed to the feeder.

No point in denying it, I was tempted to shoot the three-pointer. I didn’t, though, largely because my long-stated intention was to save as many deer as possible for my father-in-law and son-in-law to see and possible harvest themselves.

Problem was, however, that night was falling fast and the deer would not move any more than they paid the least whiff of attention to the now-dead button buck laying
less than 20 yards away and behind the wooden structure.

So Bev and I were stuck for the better part of 90 minutes and the deer would eat a few kernels of corn, amble away and then return for another bite or two. When the deer weren’t doing that they were investigating each other. Especially the fawn doe who took a particular interest in the three-point buck.

He was all macho. That is, until the big bruiser showed up just at the cusp of legal shooting time. Now that deer, maybe I would be a bit greedy on.

But the big bruiser - which had been seen several times on a trail camera positioned to blink on the blind when it detected motion - didn’t offer a shot.

Besides, evening had long since been swallowed up by nightfall. Which required that Bev and me had to wait until the deer had vaporized back into the woods before we could gather up our gear and move the button buck to a less busy intersection so it could be field dressed.

She looked down at her deer, commenting that, yes, it was a bit small.

You know what, though? I told her never you mind. She did an excellent job throughout and given how troubled she’s been about not connecting last year and the fear she would have few opportunities this season, why, you couldn’t ask for a finer trophy.

And a better platform from which to make tender venison roasts and steaks one could ask for.

I, for one, am as proud and pleased as all get out.

A video of the hunt - minus the actual kill shot - is available for viewing on The News-Herald's web site.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

License sales up at start of archery deer-hunting season

After only two days of reporting data and Ohio’s archery deer hunting season numbers are looking good; maybe not great, but certainly, good.

The statewide weekend harvest for Sept. 24 and 25 stands at 3,821 animals.

While that kill is down some from the first two days of the 2010 archery season (4,157 deer) the weather has not been the most cooperative. Heat, humidity, thunderstorms and small stream flooding have not helped any.

With that being said, more general hunting licenses and deer tags have been sold to date than for the same period in 2010.

The current to-date number of general hunting licenses sold is 187,593 documents. Along with these licenses is the sale of 189,261 deer tags, a higher number since hunters can buy multiple deer tags.

In 2010 for the same period the Ohio Division of Wildlife sold 172,368 general hunting licenses and just 168,206 deer permits, reports the agency.

Ohio’s archery deer-hunting season is one of the longest and most liberal in the nation. The season began Sept. 24 and runs through Feb. 5.

Properly licensed hunters can kill multiple numbers of deer, based upon location (general deer hunting zones) in the state, urban deer hunting zones and other criteria.

However, hunters can shoot only one antlered animal regardless of method employed.

Last year the state’s archery hunters - numbering about 345,000 participants - killed 40,889 deer with longbows and 44,123 deer with crossbows.

State wildlife officials believe that hunters this year will kill between 85,000 and 90,000 animals out of a herd estimated at 700,000 to 720,000 animals.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lake Metroparks controlled archery hunt off to slow start

On the Lake Metroparks first-ever controlled archery deer hunt front, the weekend saw only one deer - a doe - get shot.

Park officials were on hand at the agency’s River Road Reservation in Madison Township to check on the hunters and their progress. These officials were somewhat surprised to see that one of the first 10 hunters selected for the lottery hunt was a no-show.

They were even more stunned when on Saturday the majority of the field left the woods with 60 to 90 minutes of legal shooting time still left.

Likewise the officials were chagrined to see that on Sunday evening fewer than four or five of the selected hunter stuck around after a thunderstorm passed to finish out the second day of hunting.

And a couple of hunters said they passed on animals, not wanting to launch an arrow the first thing out of the gate.

However, the purpose of the hunt is not just to provide recreational opportunities but to assist in reducing the deer herd at the 492-acre reserve.

By not showing, by leaving the field early, and by passing on deer the program won’t achieve its goal of helping to relieve the area in and around the River Road Reservation site of too many deer.

Such inactivity could put into question the future of the program.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Area Friends of NRA make donation to local Boy Scout pack

The Western Reserve Friends of NRA was able to help Boy Scout Troop 75, St. Mary's of the Assumption in Mentor.

This Scouting group was able to purchase a left hand Anschutz target rifle to be used in their youth shooter program.

The WRFNRA is one of 1100 local committees across the United States Counties. Every year in May, they sponsor a fund raiser.

Fifty percent of the proceeds go back into the community for projects and programs that promote firearms and hunting safety, marksmanship skills, and educate the general public about firearms in their historic, technological, and artistic context; or contribute to the general well-being of the public at large.

The other fifty-percent goes into national programs for youths and others.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fog, seasonal temperatures - one goof - for today's archery deer opener

Yikes, even before I could slip into my ground blind I found that I had made my first mistake of Ohio's archery deer-hunting season.

The four-month-long season began this morning 30 minutes before sunrise. And when I pulled into the parking area at the end of the tractor lane I discovered my error; having rushed out of the house with Bev's deer-hunting backpack instead of mine.

I had spent the past several days sorting through my archery tackle, knives, compasses, field cleaning gear, flashlights, face masks, gloves, hats, and all of the other truck that a hunter assembles, believing they are essentials. Or not, but one can never be certain so it's always better to play it safe.

Now I was stuck with Bev's backpack. At least it contained a camo face mask, mesh camo gloves and a hunting cap, tough that item, is well, sort of a girly-girl hat. At least it was the proper color for wearing inside a fabric ground blind (black) and it did fit my larger, bald, head.

Likewise I was relieved to know that I had not yet slipped my deer tags and landowner permission slip into my backpack. That meant I could stuff them all into a plastic lunch bag and then tuck the whole affair down into one of my hunting pant's side pockets.

Arranging the gear once inside the blind I fiddled with the pockets of the unfamiliar backpack, extracting what I thought I needed if and when a deer were to arrive at the feeder.

All was ready only a few minutes before legal hunting time arrived. All,  however, except for enough light to see. The woods were not just drippy with dew and anchored rain residue they were darkened by still very much alive foliage.

It was at least 15 minutes into the morning before I felt confident enough that should a deer come calling there would be enough light to target the animal.

None showed, though. At least no deer. Instead, a couple of cardinals, a nuthatch, one red squirrel and a seemingly entire herd of chipmunks were enjoying the free meal of shelled corn.

The blind was comfortable enough. Maybe even too comfortable. My head kept bobbing and increased the tempo as the morning lingered on.

When the game feeder's digital timer awoke the machinery that spat out the corn kernels a chipmunk that was feeding underneath almost died of fright. I swear the poor little guy rocketed so high he very nearly hit his head on the feeder's electronic motor.

My hope was that the feeder going off would become the breakfast bell for any deer within earshot. That happens often with such devices. But not this morning.

There were no visitations from any deer, at least from none while I had manned the hunting station.

After almost three hours I reassembled the gear, hoping that I had properly placed everything back where Bev had originally stored them. We'll find out this evening when I take her hunting at different location.

On the return walk it was clear to see that the field's grass was still thickly wet with dew and I simply retraced my original footprints back to my car. In several more weeks this trail will be etched in snow; a sobering thought on how quickly a hunting season progresses.

I've had better morning hunts at this location and I might yet at some point. But you won't find me complaining one bit.

I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to enjoy a morning wake-up call in the woods, listening to the wet woods drip its symphony, hear the chatter of irate red squirrels and chipmunks and watch in anticipation of a deer materializing out of the thick brush and fog.

It was enough for me this morning just to have been so blessed.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, September 23, 2011

All the work comes into play with tomorrow's archery season opener

It is now D-Day-Minus One as tomorrow marks the start of Ohio’s long archery deer-hunting season.

For nearly two months I’ve been preparing for this season. Maybe a bit too much.
Certainly more than I have in the past, and that has me pretty tired all ready.

There are even a couple of unresolved details to iron out. Included is the need to stuff my go-to backpack with all of the essentials for a couple-hour stint to be spent in one of my three grounds blinds.

Yep, you read that correctly, three blinds, each located in a separate county and each accompanied by a Moultree electronic game feeder. And they are each filled with 200 pounds of shelled corn.

The first blind/feeder unit was made operational in August, the second on Labor Day and the third, just yesterday.

I even posted a trail camera at the first site, the camera not exactly an expensive model. It is good enough, however, to have captured reoccurring images of several deer. Among them have been a four-point, a six-point, and an eight-point buck.

Along with a few does and their respective tribe of fawns, some of which have yet to fully lose their spots.

Not to worry, neither Bev (my wife) nor I intend to shoot a spotted fawn.

Oh, yes, I did mention Bev, didn’t I? If I haven’t she is one of the reasons for the placement of three deer-hunting ground blinds. There exists a need to diverse the opportunities.

Then too, not only will I be assisting Bev I’ve also pledged time to my 83-year-old father-in-law who has booked a flight next month from his Florida home. He wants very much to shoot a deer with one of my Horton crossbows, having failed to connect during last year’s acorn-rich archery season.

And my son-in-law is arriving from his home base in Tennessee to hunt with me as well. That week-long effort will commence during the second week of November, right at the tag end of the rut.

Gabe fashions using his new Matthews compound bow instead of one of my Horton crossbows. That’s fine by me.

Even so, I’ve had to get ready some more deer-hunting stations to accommodate the added task of enabling both my father-in-law and son-in-law to hunt. So I’ve placed both morning stands and evening stands, complete with their own game feeders, fabric ground blind,s folding camp chairs and other amenities.

As one friend opined; I’m not just a hunting guide, I’ve become an outfitter. Fair enough, I think.
ure it’s been a lot of work to get ready for Saturday’s four-month-long archery deer-hunting season. I’ve had to not only buy and assemble two of the Moultree feeders I’ve also had to purchase another ground blind and haul 50-pounds bags of corn to the feeders.
Likewise, each week or so I’ve exchanged the camera’s digital card in order to see what kind of activity is around the one feeder.

In examining the images I’ve seen not only deer but also wild turkeys, squirrels, crows and Canada geese elbowing their way to the feeders. On two occasions I’ve also recorded the appearance of a coyote which has sniffed at the mineral block that I placed on the outskirts of the game feeder.

Not lost either is how I’ve played around with two of my Horton crossbows, tweaking their optics so the instrument can shoot dead-on at a deer. That even meant me buying a new style of aluminum arrow along with Rage mechanical broadheads, recommended by fellow News-Herald reporter and deer hunter, John Kampf.

Anyway, just about all of the work is finished with the backpack to be filled this evening with the items that I’ve pulled out for the occasion.

The season’s been a long time in coming and my plan is to hit the woods before daylight. That is, if I’m not too exhausted from all of the preparatory work, in which case I’ll simply roll over in bed tomorrow morning when the alarm goes off.

Hey, I’ve got until February 5.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bass Pro Shops Responds To Federal Discrimination Charges

Accused of racial discrimination, Bass Pro Shops responds, firing its own salvo against the federal government.

Here is the text of the response from Bass Pro Shops, a leading national outdoors chain and mail order firm that specializes in hunting, fishing, camping, boating and outdoors equipment as well as firearms and fishing tackle.

SPRINGFIELD, MO (September 21, 2011) – Bass Pro Shops denied allegations by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that the company discriminated against African American and Hispanic applicants in its employment practices and that it retaliated against any employees.

“The EEOC’s allegations are contrary to our profound respect for and commitment to our team of experienced and knowledgeable associates, and we are determined to prove them wrong,” said Mike Rowland, Vice President-Human Resources. Respect for our associates and our customers is central to the mission of our company, and it has been a key contributor to our success.

Issues regarding discrimination and retaliation are taken very seriously by the company. Bass Pro has long been committed to full compliance with laws against employment discrimination and retaliation, and has policies and procedures to assure compliance with those laws. When violations are discovered, as is inevitable in any large organization with thousands of employees, they are promptly and firmly addressed.

Bass Pro said it is extremely disappointed by the EEOC’s decision to take action. “The company has cooperated with the EEOC throughout its investigation, providing extensive documentation and numerous witnesses,” said Mr. Rowland. Bass Pro vigorously denies the EEOC’s allegations that the Company engaged in unlawful document destruction. It is our policy to retain all documents required by law. “We provided more than 250,000 pages of documents to the EEOC,” Mr. Rowland said.

“Despite our cooperation, the EEOC made unrealistic demands during conciliation. The EEOC cannot or will not tell us the basis for the analysis they claim to have conducted,” he said. “Fundamental fairness and good faith should require that the EEOC reveal the evidence on which its claims are based before filing a lawsuit that will be long, expensive and disruptive.”

“This investigation and the EEOC’s conduct demonstrate a troubling tendency by the EEOC to stereotype those who love outdoor sports and support conservation as people who unlawfully discriminate or oppose equal opportunity for all,” Mr. Rowland said.

For example, EEOC staff investigators have suggested on several occasions that because Bass Pro sponsors a NASCAR race team the company is more likely to discriminate against minorities.

In addition, the EEOC staff raised questions about Bass Pro’s policy against hiring convicted felons, claiming it discriminates against certain minority groups, even though federal regulations prohibit convicted felons from handling firearms, and Bass Pro sells firearms, ammunition and explosives.

“Bass Pro has long been a significant supporter of numerous youth development and conservation programs that give outdoor opportunities to inner-city diverse youth. As we challenge these unfair and unfounded charges, we want to assure the millions of people from all walks of life who visit our stores annually that Bass Pro will continue to provide the one-of-a-kind experience they have come to expect,’’ Mr. Rowland said. “And we will do so while fully complying with the law.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

From the Associated Press: Bass Pro sued for racial discrimination in hiring

Bass Pro sued for racial discrimination in hiring

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 12:39 pm | (31) Comments

HOUSTON, Texas - The federal government has sued national outdoor retail chain Bass Pro Outdoor World alleging racial discrimination in its hiring practices dating back to 2005.

The Equal Opportunity Commission, a federal agency charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws in employment, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Houston on Wednesday.

The lawsuit alleges that qualified African-Americans and Hispanics were routinely denied positions at Bass Pro stores and managers of stores in Houston, Louisiana and other locations made derogatory racial comments acknowledging the practice.

The commission also alleges that Bass Pro destroyed documents related to applications and internal discrimination complaints and retaliated against those who spoke up.

A spokesman for Springfield, Mo.-based Bass Pro Shops said the company had not yet reviewed the lawsuit.

Read more:

Wildlife Division increases online deer check-in system options

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has tweaked its new online deer check-in system with the intention of assisting computer nerds who also hunt.

Along with the computer updates the Wildlife Division also is suggesting a method using pencil and paper to keep track of the permanent numbers assigned to each harvested deer.

Ohio’s four-month long archery deer hunting season begins Saturday with the various firearms hunts still on the horizon.

Each successful deer hunter must obtain an assigned permanent number that is to be written on the general deer tag form. One copy stays with the meat and the other copy stays with the head and hide. The temporary tag can be discarded or kept for personal recording purposes.

The system was recently updated with a number of improvements that will simplify game-check transaction processing, give hunters access to more self-serve options, and provide customer service personnel with additional tools. These improvements are:

n Text Message Confirmation: Hunters who report their harvest via telephone (IVR process) will be given the option of receiving a text message confirmation. The text message includes the permanent tag number. However, the Wildlife Division does not have the ability to resend the text message confirmation.

n Email Confirmation: If the individual’s email address is on file, an email confirmation will be sent after a hunter successfully completes a game-check transaction. The email is not sent in real time. It could take as long as 8 hours to arrive. Keep in mind that SPAM/security settings can prevent the customer from receiving the email. Again, the Wildlife Division does not have the ability to resend an email confirmation.

n One Permit, One Permanent Tag Number: The WOCRMS system will prevent hunters from using the same permit to check multiple deer/turkey.

Lost/Misplaced Permanent Tag Number: If a hunter loses or misplaces his/her permanent tag number, or is unsure about the status of his game-check transaction, he/she has a number of options:

n Call 1-877-TAGITOH (1-877-824-4864) and enter the permit number. The IVR system will inform the hunter that the permit has already been used and repeat the permanent tag number associated with that permit. (This service is available at all hours of the day, every day.)

n Log on to Click “Wild Ohio Customer Center”, click on “Manage Your Account”. Hunters can access their “Customer Account”, view their game-check history and reprint harvest receipts (permanent tag numbers). This service is available at all hours of the day, evey day.

n Call 1-800-WILDLIFE. Select Wildlife Division employees will have access to the system profiles. WebAdmin users can perform a customer search, click on the “Harvest Tab”, and see all game-check activity for that particular customer. In addition, WebAdmin users can now reprint harvest receipts and/or email the harvest receipt (PDF) to the customer.

n License Agents can not reproduce harvest receipts once the game-check transaction is finished. In other words, as soon as the hunter walks away from the counter, he/she must follow the steps described previously in order to obtain the permanent tag number.

And if a hunter loses his/her permanent tag, then they should still have the temporary tag if they didn’t dispose of it after permanently checking their game, says Jamey Graham, public information specialist for the Wildlife Division’s Northeast Ohio office in Akron.

“A ‘journal’ of tag numbers can be especially helpful too for hunters who take multiple deer and wish to keep track that way as a backup,” Graham said.

Hunters likewise are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure that their hunting licenses and tags are properly protected from the elements. This is particularly true for either the temporary or permanent deer tag after it’s been affixed to the animal.

On a suggestion from a Wildlife Division staffer I purchased a 10-pack of clear employee identification holders. These holders easily can contain a tag and protect it from the elements.

What’s more the holder has two holes which can be used to tie or bind the product and its deer tag to the animal. I like using plastic cable bundle ties.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Waterfowl band reporting program undergoes digital change

Part of the paper trail for banded duck and geese is coming to an end.

No longer will waterfowlers who shoot a duck or a goose that is outfitted with an aluminum leg band receive a postal card that details when, where the bird was shot or found.

This follows in the foot steps of the federal government discontinuing years ago the need to mail in the band number. Now the band is inscribed with a toll-free number which the successful hunter calls and provides some basic harvest information.

Of course, aluminum leg bands are highly prized trophies for waterfowl hunters who often add them to their duck/goose call lanyards.

In an effort to save even more dollars the U.S. Geological Survey’s Bird Banding Lab has discontinued replying with a printed, mailed-back postal card.

Now the successful hunter will provide his or her email address which will then become the portal whereby the Bird Banding Lab will furnish the same information.

This information will come in a form that can be downloaded and kept as a memento - similar in some regards to the certificate that Fish Ohio applicants can run off on their home computers.

Annually, upwards of 200,000 ducks and 150,000 geese are fitted with aluminum I.D. leg bands, says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
or further information or to report a band, visit

Band numbers likewise can be called in via a toll-free number typically inscribed on the band: 800-327-BAND.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cheating danger exists for new deer check-in system

Some state wildlife officials are quietly expressing concern that the new deer registration process will allow for easier cheating of recording animals that are killed.

Along with the computerized online system now being employed to issue fishing and hunting licenses, the system likewise establishes the checking of a killed white-tail by phoning in the information or by using a home computer.

Successful hunters also can stop at a license-issuing agent who will perform the chore in the same fashion.

Under the program deer hunters are issued a paper document which must be protected against the elements. The first section is the “temporary” tag that must be affixed to the deer’s carcass before moving.

At some point - even from the field - the successful hunter can call in or log on and provide some basic information.

After that process is completed the hunter is issued a permanent deer tag number. This number is then inscribed on two detachable forms, one of which must always accompanying the hide and head and the other required to accompanying the meat.

However, of concern is that an unscrupulous hunter could photo-copy the entire deer tag prior to being used and then simply re-record the same permanent deer tag number on any and all subsequent bogus documents.

And unless a county wildlife officer or a game processor checks each multi-digit permanent deer permit number to verify authenticity, the poacher could get away with committing a crime.

“It’s entirely feasible and it is very likely that the person would get away with it unless an officer checks the tag at some point,” said one Ohio Division of Wildlife official who asked not to be identified. “That same guy is probably cheating the system now, though.”

Yet it is something that the Wildlife Division intends to keep an eye on, also says Mike Tonkovich, the agency’s chief white-tail deer management biologist.

Tonkovich says he and his crew will be following the deer kill figures closely to see if any anomalies crop up that would indicate any widespread cheating under the new deer check-in system at:

“We’ll have to compare harvest figures with other indices, like deer killed on highways and bow hunter observations,” Tonkovich said.

Still, the new system benefits hunters by making it much easier to check in a deer - and that’s a good thing, said Steve Madewell, executive director of Lake Metroparks and himself a dedicated deer hunter.

“Finally, good hunters are being accommodated without the fear that someone may be cheating,” Madewell said.

“I think it’s great and I’m happy to see that the Division of Wildlife has moved into the 21st Century. We need to be doing more to make it easier for people to go afield and hunt and fish.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lake Metroparks archery deer hunt orientation today goes well

Nearly 80 lucky hunters gathered in Madison Township this afternoon to hear how Lake Metroparks’ first-ever controlled archery-only hunt is going to work for them.

The hunters were selected for the hunt last Friday in a random drawing. The names of another group of applicants were also drawn and these selectees will become alternates should one or more of the first 80 not qualify to hunt, fail to attend a required orientation meeting, fail to pass an archery proficiency test or decides not to hunt.

Among those attending this afternoon’s first orientation session was Christine Passerallo of Mentor.

Almost without question Passerallo will be eligible for one of the hunt’s 10, two-week slots. These hunts are set for Lake Metroparks’ 492-acre River Road Reservation in Madison Township.

“My husband is crying that I got picked and he didn’t,” Passerallo said. “I think I’ll let him be my guest so he can drag out my deer.”

Passerallo showed off her paper target used for the mandatory proficiency test.
Consisting of a piece of paper with a 7-inch diameter ring, the target must be hit by either four of five arrows or eight of 10 arrows at a distance of 12 yards.

The target that Passerallo clutched had four of five holes touching each other in the bull’s-eye while the last arrow hole was less than two inches to the southwest of the target’s ground zero.
She used a Horton Legend 175 crossbow to obtain her near perfect score.

“I’ve hunted before but I’ve never killed a deer so I’m very excited,” Passerallo said also.

Excited too was Tom Fleming of Perry who entered the drawing because he no longer could archery hunt on a piece of property that he had permission to do so for many years.

“It’s a good program and I’m surprised I was selected,” Fleming said.

Each orientation selectee was instructed that the wearing of a blaze orange-colored hat or vest was required. So to did the agency personnel encouraged hunters to carry a cell phone, a signal whistle, and a flashlight.

Likewise both the hunter and his - or, her - guest are mandated to wear a safety harness. Similarly, the participants were reminded that they must pass the proficiency test, which many of the attendees had done.

Which was good for at least nine of them since they were drawn for the first two-week session that begins Saturday.

However, one of those who entered the lottery and was selected and then also picked to be in the first group never showed up this afternoon. That meant he would be replaced by the 11th person in line and would move down the pecking order until her does complete the qualification requirement.

Many of the orientation attendees asked questions of the Lake Metroparks staff with Tom Adair - the agency’s natural resources manager, and Mike Burko, the agency’s chief ranger, doing most of the talking and nearly all of the answering.

Adair noted that all hunters must sign in and sign out prior to the start of the day’s hunt while Burko explained that the parks system expects to allow hunters to enter the woods at 5 a.m., daily.

Following the orientation the participants were encouraged to take a map and walk the grounds to the various supplied two-person “buddy” tree ladder stands that also come with filled electronic game feeders.

A video of the orientation meeting is available for viewing on The News-Herald’s web site,

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lake Metroparks picks participants in controlled archery hunt lottery

The successful applicants for Lake Metroparks’ first-ever controlled archery-only deer hunts have been selected.

Keyed by an assigned number instead of by name, the list of these 80 applicants is now available on line at

In all, 414 applications were received for the controlled hunts at Lake Metroparks' River Road Reservation in Madison Township.

From this group a lottery was held with 80 applicants picked, each of whom will hunt during two-week slots throughout Ohio's archery deer-hunting season. The make-up will be 10 hunters per session.

The parks system has supplied both two-person ladder stands along with electronic game feeders primed with shelled corn.

Another 60 applicants were selected as alternates. Should for any reason one of the 80 originally selected hunters fail to qualify at a required archery proficiency test, decide not to hunt for any reason or quit early, the next available alternate will be selected.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

ODNR Puts On Best Face After Losing State Supreme Court Case

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is trying to wear the best face after being placed on the losing end of a state Supreme Court decision.

On Wednesday the state’s seven Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled that private property owners hold deed and title to where their dry land meets Lake Erie.

Ohio and a cadre of environmental groups had fought all the way up to the State Supreme Court that the state owned land up to the high-water mark.

Such a position meant that private property owners could not restrict access to their beaches and were compelled to lease submerged land in order to construct things like erosion control devices, piers and boat slips.

Now, at least, these private property owners can post “No Trespassing” signs and keep people from wandering up and down the beach, sometime partying and sometimes littering.

“We welcome the court’s clarification and ruling in the case,” said Natural Resources Department spokeswoman Laura Jones. “We look forward to renewing our efforts to improve and streamline the permitting process as it relates to submerged lands.”

Jones said the agency does acknowledge private property rights and also desires to work cooperatively with the business community.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Early goose season came and went too quickly

And just like - poof! - it was over; the first hunting season of the new hunting year vanished into the memory box.

Of course the early Canada goose-only hunting season is not a long one at only 15 days. Still, you’d expect the time to slip by with a little less greasy speed.

It didn’t. And the longer I hunt the shorter the seasons seem to get.

There were some similarities between this year’s start of the early goose season and the final day. Then too, the days showed some distinctions as well.

Both saw rain falling; a lot of it on September 1 though not quite as much on September 15; enough, however, that I could not drive around the farm pond to the blind. The ground was soft following the previous evening showers and I didn’t want to tear up the landowner’s turf.

So my two Labrador retrievers - Berry and Millie - and I hoofed the couple hundred yards around the pond, over its dam and to a makeshift blind built of burlap, plywood and PVC pipe.

It may not be much to look at (and it’s not) but the blind has covered me enough to have fooled more than a few Canada geese over its several years of life.

Add one more bird to the pot. Hardly had the three of us settled in when a single goose shot straight across the pond’s cove and made a beeline to my family setting of five goose decoys. Some music played on two acrylic goose calls was all the invitation the loner needed to pitch in.

It was a race to see which retriever would make it first to the dead goose now laying in the water. Berry might be older but she’s also wiser and knew what to expect. She beat Millie to the prize by less than a second.

For her part Millie backed up Berry, helping the elder to push the goose to the shore.

The gunfire also had awakened the interest of the landowner’s own two Labradors which were now racing around the pond and making their way to the blind.

Now I had four Labradors to keep me company. I don’t mind. The landowner’s dogs have proven worthy companions in the past and have also been my dogs’ playmates when the birds aren’t flying and there’s not much else for them to do.

On this, the season’s last day, playtime was a big deal. Birds were flying, but stirred by whatever motivation that their instincts dictated.

Twice single geese came ever-so-close to passing over the blind. They didn’t, though both Berry and Millie paid rapt attention to their passing.

The landowner’s dogs, not so much. They were perfectly happy to curl up on the blind’s wooden floor and tuck up against my legs rather than keep watch for a marauding goose.

Every now and then a flock of geese would pass out in the distance. None of them showed the slightest interest in the pond and its decoys. Once again, they had their bird brain-sized heads made up and it didn’t involve being shot at by me.

The rain would come and go, more go than come, as it turned out. The oily coats of all the dogs collected small droplets of rainwater. Millie and Berry were too busy either watching or playing to notice while the landowner’s two dogs were too occupied with resting to care.

I continued to keep watch, of course. I didn’t want a goose come silently sneaking in on me, which has happened more than once.

Even so, I was caught off guard but not by any goose. Instead a five-pack of blue-wing teal darted across the farm pond’s far side, gunned their way out of sight, reversed direction and roared (if I can be forgiven for using this term) across the top of my decoys at maybe 25 yards distant.

Before I could react the teal were here, there and gone. Not that it mattered since my over-under shotgun contained two rounds of BB-shot goose loads; way too much muscle for duck-dom’s smallest member.

In the past the flights of birds throttled back around 9:30 or 10 a.m. At least they do during the early season before the migrants come pouring south and the
weather turns delightfully sour.

By 10 a.m. the geese stopped flying completely. With a heavy mist dripping from the sky I packed up the gear I had assembled for the past 15 days. Double checking to ensure that nothing was being left behind and that the blind was in fine shape when the general waterfowl season starts up in another month, I then ushered the four retrievers and piloted them around the pond and to my awaiting SUV.

The landowner’s dogs I would drop off at the house, giving each a pig ear treat as always is my custom.

It had been a so-so early goose season if you count only the number of birds that I took (four, to be exact).

And it was sad in a way that the season raced by all too quickly. But the end held the promise of more days to come, days that have turned cooler with just the right hint of autumn color beginning to touch the trees.

I’m not trying to wish my life away but I’m all ready eager for October 15 to arrive when once again it will be me, my dogs, a farm pond and goose or two interested in a small flock of decoys and some reasonably okay calling. Yes, sir, those are going to be fine days, you can bet on it.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Save to computer" rewards anglers and hunters looking to replace licenses

Jason Keller, the state wildlife officer assigned to Lake County, has a better way to replace a lost or damaged fishing/hunting license.

And it will legally save someone $4, too, Keller says.

However, to do so means that a license holder will have to go on-line first to purchase his or her permit instead of visiting a license-issuing outlet.

Keller says it’s not cheating, either, but is simply a new way of doing things based on emerging technology with hunters and anglers finally catching up to all of the electronic equipment gizmo changes.

The bottom line is that if you purchase a license, save the data to the hard drive of your computer under an Adobe PDf file, Keller said and who was second by another Ohio Division of Wildlife official.

“We were very well aware of this going in, but we don’t know how many people are actually doing it,” said Kory Brown, the Wildlife Division official in charge of implementing the agency’s new on-line license-issuing system.

To date the Wildlife Division has sold about 1.25 million licenses, permits and stamps of all kinds. Of this about 145,000 have been general hunting licenses, Brown said.

“The Friday and Saturday before the start of the archery season we’ll sells thousands of deer permits, like what we see the weekend before the start of the firearms deer-hunting season,” Brown said. “There will be a huge push of hunting license sales; there always is.”

Brown did say also that the Wildlife Division is giving thought for next year of allowing hunters and anglers to obtain duplicate licenses at no cost.

“It’s something that we are looking at,” Brown said.

As for the licenses and permits being bought this year, hunters especially “really need to understand that they’ll have to protect their deer tags before, during and after the hunt,” Brown says.

That is because the paper being used by issuing agents is no more waterproof than the standard ream paper used for home computer printing machines.

“I personally use a Zip-lock-type little plastic I.D. holder that actually has a hole in it that can be used with a string,” Brown said. “You can get these at most office supply stores.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, September 12, 2011

Scott Zody: All the work as ODNR interim director but only half the glory

Scott Zody’s executive bicycle has its training wheels in place as he assumes the duties of interim director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Zody took over from David Mustine a short while back. That change of command came when Mustine switched gears to focus his energies on implementing exploration of oil and gas development in the state as a means of job creation.

Yet even as the Natural Resources Department’s interim director Zody says he can affect change, noting that the Department has a “lot of issues.”

“That includes getting staff in place for the permitting and inspection of oil and gas drilling as a result of the passage of Senate Bill 165,” Zody said.

The bill Zody is referring to up-dates several key areas of the state’s oil and gas drilling regulations. Among the rules being looked at are the ones that apply to the siting and placement of oil/natural gas wells and related production pipelines, Zody says.

“We’re also going to be aggressive with what’s happening at Grand Lakes St. Marys and Lake Erie’s Western Basin as it relates to nitrogen loading that has caused large algae blooms,” Zody said.

Of concern also is the need to have a staff large enough and capable enough to get the job done. That might prove somewhat tricky as both the state legislature and the public are using electronic microscopes whenever an agency hires someone.

In fact, state Rep. Ron Young, R-Leroy Township, is in the process of introducing legislation that will implement a temporary hiring freeze until the state government workforce is reduced by 10 percent.

“We are adding folks to the oil and gas side because we are expecting additional work there but in most cases we’re doing some hiring but we’re not expanding,” Zody said.

Zody said as well that the Natural Resources Department has a task force in place with the state-mandated goal of examining efficiencies related to the state’s county soil and water conservation districts.

“That was created by the legislature as part of the budget bill,” he said.

When it comes to the Wildlife Division, Zody says one major goal is a continuing look at the now operational electronic hunting/fishing license issuing system. The effort, says Zody, is to ensure the smooth issuance of licenses and permits and the working out of “bugs.”

And Ohio Division of Wildlife chief David Lane is in the process of getting his new assistant chiefs in place, Zody said as well.

“He also is tasked with internal issues; refocusing the agency’s mission and looking at the way things have been done and then come up with new ways of doing things; different things,” Zody said.

For the Division of Parks and Recreation, the Natural Resources Department wants to see if there are any partnerships out there that can be tapped in order to aid the cash-strapped parks division, Zody said.

“We’re open to anything that people are willing to explore; whether that means a county park district taking over a park either temporarily or even permanently,” Zody said. “In looking at the condition that the state budget and the ODNR both are in we must be opened to new and different ideas.”

Thus, says Zody, the Natural Resources Department must become “pro-active” by working with such local groups as Lake Metroparks and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.

As for his own future, Zody said whether he keeps the director’s chair warm for only a short while or settles in for the long haul is largely out of his hands.

“I am here to serve but I think anyone would be honored to be the director of the ODNR, and I appreciate the governor asking me to do it, even on an interim basis,” Zody said. “It certainly would be something I’d be interested in but we’ll see what develops from there

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn”

2011 Northcoast National Gunslingers Championship winners

2011 Northcoast National Gunslingers Championship

Results;     Title;                         Mens Div.                                                     Womens Div.
1. Fireball Phil Classic;         1st-   Harry Ballengee – Greenville, Oh.          Laura Campbell    - Quincy, Oh.
                                                2nd-  Ron Zimmerman – Wellington, Oh.       Melinda DeCosta - Lancaster, Pa.
                                                3rd-  Ron Paul Duning -  Willowick, Oh.          Sue Zimmerman -  Wellington, Oh.

2. Shooters Choice Open;         Howard Shingler -   Holtwood, Pa.          Melinda DeCosta  -Lancaster, Pa.
                                                       Ron Zimmerman  -   Wellington, Oh.      Suzie Searls   -         Norwalk, Oh.
                                                       Harry Ballengee  -    Greenville, Oh.        Laura Campbell  -   Quincy, Oh. 
3. Gunny’s Hall Open;               Harry Ballengee  -     Greenville, Oh.         Melinda DeCosta -  Lancaster, Pa.
                                                      Ron Zimmerman  -    Wellington, Oh        Carol Semuniak  -   Cleveland, Oh
                                                      Paul Elliott     -            Rome, Oh.                Sue Zimmerman  - Wellington,Oh.

4. Fastest Guns On Earth;        Traditional;   Howard Shingler (.292 sec.)   Melinda DeCosta (.352 sec.)
                                                                            Ron Zimmerman (.302 sec.)   Laura Campbell    (.381 sec.)
                                                                            Terry Campbell    (.323 sec.)   Sue Zimmerman  (.473 sec.)
                                                      Open;          Ron Paul Duning  (.271 sec.)   Melinda DeCosta (.322 sec.)
                                                                           Howard Shingler  (.285 sec.)   Laura Campbell    (.381 sec.)
                                                                           Ron Zimmerman  (.303 sec.)   Michelle Buser     (.435 sec.)

                                                      Unlimited;  Howard Shingler   (.276 sec)   Melinda DeCosta  (.329 sec.)
                                                                           Ron Paul Duning   (.284 sec.)  Laura Campbell     (.392 sec.)
                                                                           Ron Zimmerman   (.304 sec.)  Michelle Buser      (.443 sec.)

5. Worldwide Double Gun;             1st         Howard Shingler –   Holtwood, Pa.
                                                             2nd        Bill Sajovic  -             Mentor, Oh. 
                                                             3rd         Melinda DeCosta -  Lancaster, Pa.

6. Showdown;                                  1st          James Burdette -      Mentor, Oh.
                                                            2nd        Garrett Harmon -      Wellington, Oh.
                                                            3rd         Tom Crawford -        Martin, Oh.

7. Rolling Thunder 3 gun;               1st          Howard Shingler -    (7.20 sec.)
                                                            2nd         Ron Paul Duning -  (10.66 sec.)
                                                            3rd         Ron Zimmerman -  (12.84 sec.)  

                                                             Mens Division;   Harry Ballengee -  Greenville, Oh.
                                                             Womens Division;  Melinda Decosta – Lancaster, Pa 

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Eastlake's Roger Marin leads all-Lake County winning PerchFest field

Eastlake's Roger Merin led an all-Lake County field to take the top three positions in the annual weekend-long PerchFest fishing derby.
The contest concluded today with Marin's five fish averaging 12.71 inches each and a squeaker of enough length to win first place over Mentor's Don Wank. Wank's five yellow perch averaged 12.68 inches each.
Third place was claimed by Matt Reid of Perry and whose five fish were right behind at 12.5 inches each.
Tournament organizers said they were "thrilled" that the winning catches were all captured in Lake Erie waters off Lake County.
For the past several contests the top winners largely caught their fish off Ashtabula County.
"We may change the rules for next year to say that fishing has to be done between (FirstEnergy's)Eastlake plant and the Perry Nuclear Power Plant," said Bob Ulas, executive director of the hosting Lake County Visitors Bureau. "I'm still very happy that the fish were caught here; that shows we have quality perch, too."
Marin said he focused his fishing off the Chagrin River, though trying to pin-point a consistant water depth was challenging.
"We bounced around like a ping-pong ball; we were everywhere," Marin said. "We started in 49 feet of water, went to 62 feet but didn't do any good so we came back and fished in 35 feet of water."
Joining Marin on his perch-fishing venture were fellow Chagrin River Salmon Association members Barry Butera, Ray Koeth, and Mike Flynn, whose 14 7/8-inch yellow perch earned the fishing derby's Big Fish award.
"Mike was our point man," Marin said.
Both Marin and Flynn said the reason the fishing proved so "tough" was due in large measure to the previous week's extensive heavy seas and high winds.
"That scattered the fish," Marin said.
Second place winner Wank said he did his fishing a few miles east of Marin and off the Mentor Lagoons in 45 feet of water.
"The fishing today was better than it was Saturday," Wank said. "I did, though, have a 13 1/2 inch perch that I caught Saturday but didn't check it in until today. It shrank one-half inch. I'd have won had I measured it on Saturday instead."
Though charter captain Mike Langer finished out of the money at forth place he was in the running up until very near the end of the judging, done by the Salmon Association at the Fairport Harbor Port Authority's boat ramp.
Langer didn't enter any fish on Saturday but rather caught his near miss today. All of his fish were caught on the fabled "hump," located northwest of the Grand River.
"It's still nice to see that all of the winning catches came from Lake County instead of Conneaut," Langer said.
Besides the adult division the PerchFest contest included a youth division. Here, first place was won by Madison Becker of Solon, second place by Cheryl Lallmand of Streetsboro, and third place by McKenzie Pilny of Mentor.
Madison also caught her division's longest perch, a 11.69 inch fish.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Saturday, September 10, 2011

PerchFest Day One - a soggy day of perch jerking

This morning's kick-off for the annual Lake County PerchFest was just as wet above Lake Erie as it was where the fishes reside.

A strong storm system moved east and flooded the skies with heavy amounts of rain. Enough so that many likely PerchFest fishing derby participants stayed home.
And the two boats hired to take PerchFest sponsors out for a morning's worth of perch fishing were almost alone in heading out of the Grand River and to the fabled "Hump" area off Mentor Beach Park.

While the 15-minute ride was brief it was very wet, and even rain slickers could not keep a person entirely dry.

At least the thoughts of such soakings quickly evaporated once the vessels chugged to a stop, the fishing gear broken out and the hooks rigged with emerald shiners.

Within seconds the first of many yellow perch were being brought aboard charter captain Mike Langer's "Rampageous" vessel.

Langer had stopped his craft in water about 51 feet deep and just off the south side of the hump. This spot looked promising based on the activity below being recorded on the electronic fish-finder.

Good was the word, too, since Langer never had to move the boat at all.

All five of the guests soon were into fish, including Bob Ulas, executive director of the Lake County Visitors Bureau, which produces the PerchFest. And Langer joined in, taking hold of a fishing outfit from the boat's inventory of such equipment.

Problem was, however, the strong currents below the lake's surface. The week's worth of high winds had generated the water movement, which is common on Lake Erie anyway as the fluid sloshes back and forth until it settles out following a long blow.

"We have to use two-, sometimes, three-ounce sinkers to stay on the bottom," Langer said. "If you don't all of the lines will start to get tangled up."

Even with the hefty fishing line anchors there were still some untangling to do over the course of the trip. Nothing so serious that it needed a pair of scissors and a re-tie but enough so that it would temporarily put a hold on an angler's fishing.

Along with the targeted yellow perch were white bass; often double-headers. This was the largest number of white bass I had seen taken on a single fishing trip in years.

Still, the main goal was to catch yellow perch. That was done by lowering spreaders and in-line rigs with up to three baited hooks, letting them settle on the lake's bottom and then twitching or gently lifting them a foot or so up off the lake's bottom.

Usually the offerings were accepted by the perch after only a few minutes rest. And sometimes the fish would gulp down a minnow even sooner.

While some of the yellow perch being caught were of serious fishing-tournament quality, most ranged from 8 to 10 inches. That's a size that yields good fillets for a fish fry but no where near what is needed to dig into the PerchFest's contest treasury.

And along with the excellent fishing came a brief pause in the rain showers, tapering off to a drizzle and then stopping altogether.

In not quite three hours after leaving the dock it was time to go back in. Not because we had run out the clock or used up all of the emerald shiners. Nope, the fishing was so good that had an 180-fish maximum boat limit stored on ice.

Back in port we divided the catch with mine going to Don Schonauer's fish-cleaning service in Painesville. These fish were quickly unzipped of their fillets with the flesh to be frozen for several healthy fish dinners later this winter.

And to think that I almost backed out because of the rain. Whew, I'm glad I talked myself into getting drenched by rain. Silly old me.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, September 9, 2011

Of a book, a bird dog and a last hunt

I was not disappointed that it was a quiet night with no air traffic from either inbound or outbound Canada geese.

And for once I was content that my only hunting partners were my two Labrador retrievers, Blackberry (Berry for short) and Millie, whom I now call “Mildred” when she does something she ought not to do.

Tonight, though, neither dog seriously misbehaved. When I opened the door to the hunting blind they were free to wrestle on the wet, weedy grass.

Oblivious to my intentions, Berry and Millie were happy to frolic though every now and then they broke free and looked out at the five goose decoys bobbing on the pond’s surface. Just in case they missed a live goose that might have snuck in when they were thus otherwise occupied.

And so with the two dogs busy with the important work of play, and the call lanyard with its three calls placed properly in case of need, I settled back with my 30-year-old edition of “The Best of Cory Ford.”

Largely known now only to those sports old enough to remember when he was “Field and Stream” magazine’s premier essayist, Ford penned the ever-popular “Lower 40” column for the printed edition of the publication.

Reading helps me occupy my mind when I wait for ducks or geese to filter by the blind just as I use the method while awaiting a deer to show up while on stand.

But on this hunting trip the reason for the Ford reading was different. Instead of starting from the book’s middle or the front I turned to its last short story posting: “The Road To Tinkhamtown.”

It is often referred to as the finest example of outdoor literature ever written. I am not one to disagree.

A quick summation is that the story concerns an aged hunter who is on his deathbed. There, his mind wanders back to when he and his long-since-dead English setter, Shad, found the grown-over remains of a ghost town called Tinkhamtown.

Amongst the forgotten community's rotting fields and moldering building foundations the hunter and his dog encountered a steady diet of ruffed grouse to hunt.

It was a special place for the old gent, and now as he lay dying his mind drifted back to Tinkhamtown.

Only not just in his mind. In some quasi-spiritual sense he was returning to the place and time he favored most of all in his life. Sort of like that “Twilight Zone” episode called “Last Stop, Willoughby.”

I have yet to read this story - and I’ve read it much over the past three decades - without tearing up.

The book was opened to page 257 again because that is where I always crack it when I’m about to follow a particular ritual. Each time one of my gun dogs passes away I follow a set path, groved in the firmament of personal history.

I make my way to my own special place that the dog and I shared. In this case it was a familiar farm pond where Jenny Lynn and I spent many mornings, afternoons and evenings together, generally hunting geese but also trying to shoot an occasional duck or a mourning dove.

Last season was Jenny’s final round of visits to the pond. We also had to wait when the weather was fair enough so that it would not trip into play the old girl’s aches and pains. And they were many of those in her final days.

Jenny Lynn always enjoyed the adventures. Even those times when I had to help her down out of the SUV or lift her back up again into the vehicle.

She would position herself in front of the blind, sitting between it and the farm pond. Her eyes had mellowed severely and were no longer sharp.

But Jenny was still eager for the retrieve. Whenever luck prevailed and I felled a goose she would be ready to ease into the water and make a fetch. She was always bested by a long country mile since Berry was faster and more assure of paw.

I’d have to chuckle that when Berry made landfall she would be met by Jenny Lynn who would help carry the goose the rest of the way.

Our last dove hunt also was at the pond, or close enough to it that I depended on steel shot to kill the birds. Berry found nearly all of the downed doves. Nearly all but not all.

Jenny Lynn found some that had tumbled into the waist-high ragweed. Not many birds but enough to satisfy her. My heart ached as much as it busted with pride.

I knew those were her last birds. And they were.

Jenny Lynn died in January. On her 13th birthday to be exact.

She was cremated and I paid to have her remains returned to me. Just as I had for Rebel and for Miss Daisy. And I’ll do someday for Berry and eventually for the half-as-old Millie.

Jenny Lynn’s ashes reside in a metal can, all decorated proper-like with printed doggy paw marks.
ome of those ashes were removed from the container. They went into a pair of shotshells where the pellets were supposed to go. Loaded each with primers, Red Dot gunpowder and Double-A wads, the red-colored Winchester shotshells would help fulfill a mission reserved for all of my bird dogs.

And so I read “Road To Tinkhamptown,” finishing with eyes moistened by salty tears.
Loading the Browning over-under with the two shotshells I fired each barrel out over the pond. It was bringing Jenny Lynn home.

Next, I blew a dog whistle, two sharp notes shouted out so that the pond, the woods and everything living there would know that here went a good dog; the best dog an old man/boy could ever hope to own.

I’m growing creaky as I age, some joints fused or not as nimble as they were 13 years ago when Jenny Lynn and I began our journey together. I treasure those thoughts, and on cold nights they return to stroke my memory of the truly fine days we had together.

And now I’m at the pond again, with another long-time hunting chum and a brand-new hunting buddy. We’ll build some favored memories of our own, too. Of this I am certain.

Yet just as assuredly some day I will again open Ford’s book to page 257, read the script, fire two special shotshells and blow the dog whistle.

Yes, Jenny, I see you. You’ll forever own a piece of my heart

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn