Monday, October 31, 2011

Wildlife, Watercraft Tapped First To Assist In Exotic Animal Reporting Program

The Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Ohio Division of Watercraft are contributing employee time and expertise to assist in manning a toll-free hotline and companion website for Ohioans to report suspected instances of neglect or abuse of dangerous wild animals in Ohio.

However, Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ spokeswoman Laura Jones said the effort by the two divisions will be short term, likely for just this week.

After that other Natural Resources division personnel will take over, Jones said.

Natural Resources Director Scott Zody announced today the new hotline and website as products of Gov. John R. Kasich’s October 21 Executive Order to better use existing laws and resources while specific legal authorities are being developed to protect public health and animal welfare.

ODNR will staff the hotline between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and work with other authorities to take the appropriate follow-up actions when reports are made.

The new toll-free hotline is 855-DWA-OHIO, and the companion website is They can be accessed by Ohioans to report suspected instances of neglect or abuse of dangerous wild animals in Ohio.

Long-term, some sportsmen’s groups fear that either an administration or a legislature will tap the hunter/angler/trapper-funded Ohio Wildlife Fund to administer, enforce and maintain an exotic animal licensing and monitoring program.

However, Jones says that for this current administration at least no such raid on the Wildlife Fund is being proposed.

And it will be up to the state legislature to figure out to perform that mission, Jones said also.

Other actions underway that were initiated by the Executive Order include:

• Partnering with Local Law Enforcement: Ohio state agencies are partnering with local health departments, Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association and other law enforcement agencies across the state to identify known locations of captive dangerous wild animals and provide the support they need to enforce existing animal cruelty and public health laws.

• Partnering with Local Humane Societies: To better leverage the powerful authority that existing Ohio laws give humane societies, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) reached out to statewide member organizations of the Ohio Federated Humane Society members and all designated county humane officers to support their efforts to exercise their power to enforce animal cruelty rules and offer training in biosecurity measures and animal health guidelines.

• Identifying Potential Problems: ODNR is developing a database of locations where dangerous wild animals are known to be kept.

• Combatting Auctions: The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has issued 3,550 letters to licensed auctioneers requesting that they voluntarily suspend sales of dangerous wild animals.

• Quarantine on the Surviving Thompson Animals: ODA issued a quarantine order on Thursday, October 27 to assure that the three leopards, two macaque monkeys, and grizzly bear currently housed at the Columbus Zoo are healthy and free of any disease and parasites before being moved from that facility.

• Site Inspections: Two facilities with dangerous wild animals on the premises have been inspected. One was a joint assessment that included ODA, ODNR, and the US Department of Agriculture and the second was conducted by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. ODNR continues its review of native species permit holders across the state.

Also, the Natural Resources Department is developing a database of locations where dangerous wild animals are known to be kept.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Federal trial date set for DOW officer Allan Wright

What began back in 2006 for Allan Wright, the-then state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County, will extend into at least 2012.

Wright - who is under indictment for felony and misdemeanor violations of the federal government’s Lacey Act - won’t see a trial in federal court until Feb. 22, 2012.

Wright agree to state complaints that he allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his Ohio address to obtain a resident state hunting license.

He subsequently was given a written reprimand which was eventually expunged.

That action set in legal motion charges being brought against five current or retired Ohio Division of Wildlife officials.

The cases involving these officials remains pending before Ohio’s 12th District Court of Appeals.

However, Wright had been reinstated to his Wildlife Division post, only to be placed on unpaid administrative leave in August when he was charged in federal court for the alleged Lacy Act infractions.

Based on Ohio law, Wright remained on that status for a two-month period before being elevated to paid administrative leave, though the Ohio Department of Natural Resources continues to refuse to pay Wright his wages.

In turn the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police has filed an appeal against the Natural Resources Department, demanding that Wright be awarded his wages, including back pay.

The FOP is the bargaining agent for the Wildlife Division’s commissioned officers.

All of which remains in legal limbo at this time.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, October 28, 2011

Allan Wright back on paid administrative leave, no checks being written

Allan Wright, the former state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County, has been reinstated to paid administrative leave though the Ohio Department of Natural Resources still refuses to issue a paycheck.

This action by the Natural Resources Department has prompted the Fraternal Order of Police - the union that represents Ohio Division of Wildlife commissioned officers - to file a grievance against the Natural Resources Department.

Wright was placed on unpaid administrative leave upon his federal indictment for alleged violations of federal fish and game laws.

He is at the heart of an issue that began several years ago when Wright allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his Ohio address to obtain a resident Ohio hunting license, among other matters.

That activity subsequently set off a chain reaction of legal issues that have since enveloped others within the Ohio Division of Wildlife who either have retired or else remain aboard the agency.

As positioned by the Natural Resources Department, the laws governing unpaid and paid administrative leave are spelled out in the Ohio Revised Code. Relating to Wright these points are, and as noted by a spokeswoman for the agency:

Per the ORC, a period of unpaid administrative leave may not exceed 2 months:
124.388 [First of two versions] Administrative leave.

(A) An appointing authority may, in its discretion, place an employee on administrative leave with pay. Administrative leave with pay is to be used only in circumstances where the health or safety of an employee or of any person or property entrusted to the employee’s care could be adversely affected. Compensation for administrative leave with pay shall be equal to the employee’s base rate of pay. The length of administrative leave with pay is solely at the discretion of the appointing authority, but shall not exceed the length of the situation for which the leave was granted. An appointing authority may also grant administrative leave with pay of two days or less for employees who are moved in accordance with section 124.33 of the Revised Code.

(B) An appointing authority may, in its discretion, place an employee on administrative leave without pay for a period not to exceed two months, if the employee has been charged with a violation of law that is punishable as a felony. If the employee subsequently does not plead guilty to or is not found guilty of a felony with which the employee is charged or any other felony, the appointing authority shall pay the employee at the employee’s base rate of pay, plus interest, for the period the employee was on the unpaid administrative leave.

The Natural Resources spokeswoman further said in an email:

“(The) ODNR did not move administratively because it needed to wait to see how the federal criminal case was going to play out. Mr. Wright had his pre-disciplinary hearing on October 25. Once a report on that hearing is written, it will include a recommendation for action.

“Mr. Wright filed a grievance during this process and because of that we are bound by his Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) contract to put him back on paid administrative leave.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fears Are That Ohio's Sportsmen Will Pay For Regulating Exotic Animals

With Ohio moving to regulate the ownership and sale of exotic wild animals a leading pro-sportsmen’s group worries that the state’s hunters, anglers and trappers will be left paying the bill.

The Columbus-based U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance says it’s not responsible for draft enabling legislation that would establishing a permitting program. That effort is being undertaken by a small cadre of officials.

Under this still largely hush-hush proposal the state would empower and command the Ohio Division of Wildlife to enforce new rules regarding the ownership and sale of such exotic, non-indigenous, dangerous animals as African lions, great apes, tigers and even chimpanzees.

Published reports by the Columbus Dispatch say that material is now being worked on by a group of stake holders that would mandate that the Wildlife Division’s chief “...shall do all things necessary...” to regulate the ownership, sale, bartering and such like of exotic wild animals.

While the USSA has been a participant in the discussions regarding the status of the exotic animal trade and ownership issue in Ohio, it has not been part of the drafting of legislation that would establishes an exotic animal ownership permitting program, says Rob Sexton, the Alliance’s vice president of government affairs.

A bundle of significant problems exists, Sexton says.

Among them are no one knows how many exotic wild animals are out there, how many people own them nor what any administrative fee might be.

And that last thorn could prick sportsmen’s dollars. The reason being is that the Wildlife Division is funded solely by the sale of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses and permits along with a portion of a federal tax on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and fishing tackle.

“What we’re worried about is that all of this will be tossed into the laps of sportsmen,” Sexton says. “It does appear that Ohio’s hunters, anglers and trappers could be stuck paying for the permits for people who own tigers, lions and grizzly bears - this is a major, major concern.”

That is because such a permitting process may not be affordable for individual exotic animal owners and sellers. Consequently, such a potential fee could so steep that no one could afford it and, thus, not be adopted, Sexton said.

Such a scenario could see an administration or a state legislature eying the Wildlife Division’s budget and funding sources as a means to compensate for the difference, Sexton says.

Since this is a state safety issue and not one of actual management of non-captive wild animals, any additional costs beyond a permit fee must come from the state’s General Revenue funding stream and not from sportsmen’s dollars, Sexton says.

“Given the track record of the legislature and the current situation with the state budget and the economy, nothing can be taken for granted,” said a very concerned Sexton

“But what we don’t want is for the sportsmen and sportswomen of Ohio to think for one minute that the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is involved with a (deleted) plan that would tap sportsmen’s dollars.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is electronic federal duck stamp in waterfowlers' future?

With almost every state having accepted electronic license, permit and stamp sales the federal government still has its feet firmly planted in the last century.

Now Ducks Unlimited is backing a proposal to allow for the elctronic sale of the required $15 federal waterfowl hunting stamp.

And a representative of the organization will testify on Tuesday about H.R. 3117, the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2011.

This proposal will grant the U.S. Secretary of the Interior permanent authority to authorize states to issue electronic duck stamps.

Buying a federal duck stamp is mandatory for waterfowl hunting.

However, in the past, waterfowl hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts could only buy their duck stamp at a physical location, such as a post office. But these stamps are not available at all postal locations, sometimes making it difficult for hunters and others to purchase the stamps.

In order to expand access to the public, legislation was passed to create a pilot program that allows the public to purchase federal duck stamps online. Upon purchase, the customer was given a special receipt to use while hunting until the stamp is delivered by mail.

The pilot program has successfully made it easier for the general public to buy federal duck stamps while simultaneously preserving the integrity of the traditional duck stamp.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

One dead, one missing for Lake Erie boating mishap

The U.S. Coast Guard search for a man who was reported missing after his boat was found capsized Sunday afternoon near Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio, has ended Monday morning.

Missing is Charles Kaplan, 58, of Solon, Ohio.

The Coast Guard officially suspended the search for Kaplan at 12:59 a.m. Monday after boat and aircrews searched Lake Erie for roughly 12 hours, covering more than 120 square miles.

The Coast Guard suspends a search and rescue case with extremely great care and deliberation. After a probable search area is saturated several times with a maximum number of assets, resources and crew effort, and persons in distress are still not located, a decision is made to suspend a case.
he Coast Guard may consider resuming a search if credible information is received that a person reported missing might have survived.

Coast Guardsmen began searching for Kaplan and Pam Holstein, the woman who was aboard the vessel with him, after someone at Cedar Point saw Kaplan's 36-foot Rinker capsized on the east side of Cedar Point Breakwall and notified authorities at 12:13 p.m. Sunday.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources personnel found Holstein’s body inside the vessel after it was brought ashore Sunday.

Involved in the search were two 33-foot Special Purpose Craft – Law Enforcement boats from Station Marblehead, Ohio, a total of three MH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Air Stations Detroit and Traverse City, and a Coast Guard Auxiliary airplane.

Also assisting were the Sandusky Police and Fire Departments, the Sandusky Sheriff's Office, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Customs and Border Protection, and local marine salvage companies.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hunters, anglers spending the same for their outdoors toys

Southwick and Associates out of Florida has completed a survey of hunters and anglers that indicate unchanged buying habits.

In its latest polling of hunters and anglers, Southwick looked at the buying habits of sportsmen in 2011 compared to the previous year. The study reveals that purchases of hunting and fishing equipment have remained steady in the current year, and in fact, even slightly improved.

In the most recent survey at, participants were asked if they were buying more, less or the same amount of hunting equipment so far this year compared to 2010.

Those persons responding they were buying more accounted for 24.7 percent of the responses, a 4.9 percent increase over the previous year.

Meanwhile those hunters purchasing the same amount dropped one point to 39 percent as those reporting they were buying less dropped 3.1 percent.

Asked the same question except as it relates to the purchase of fishing equipment, respondents saying they were buying more jumped a statistically insignificant 1.5 percent from 16.2 to 17.7 percent.

Those anglers buying the same increased 4.4 percent, while those anglers indicating they had bought less dropped 3.6 percent.

To help improve, protect and advance the shooting sports and outdoor recreation, all sportsmen and sportswomen are encouraged to participate in the surveys at, and

Each month, participants who complete the survey are entered into a drawing for one of five $100 gift certificates to the sporting goods retailer of their choice.

- Jeffrey L. FRischkorn

Friday, October 14, 2011

UPDATED: Ohio Inspector General completes investigation on two other state wildlife officers

Two Ohio Division of Wildlife officers have been investigated by the Ohio Inspector General for infractions involving assisting Indiana conservation officers in obtaining Ohio resident fishing licenses.

Somewhat similar to the matter involving Allan Wright, the former state wildlife officer assigned Brown County, state wildlife officers Arron Ireland and Josh Zientek assisted the Indiana wildlife officers in obtaining resident Ohio fishing licenses.

Ireland is the state wildlife officer assigned to Butler County and Josh Zientek, now assigned as the state wildlife officer to Huron County.

The Inspector General was informed by former Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Sean Logan about possible infractions.

Investigators began their work and the Ohio Inspector General’s office issued its report Thursday, Oct. 13.

For each case involving the specific wildlife officer, the Ohio Inspector General noted: “Accordingly, we find reasonable cause to believe a wrongful act or omission occurred in this instance.”

In an Oct. 13 press release, Ohio Deputy Inspector General Carl Enslen said: “Acting on allegations brought to the inspector general in 2010, the investigation found two Ohio Division of Wildlife officers helped Indiana conservation officials avoid paying for a more costly non-resident fishing license by falsifying Ohio residential addresses on their license applications.

“The investigation further revealed administrators at the Ohio Division of Wildlife failed to properly investigate and report suspected criminal activity involving employees as required under department policy and a governor directive.”

Both Ireland and Zientek were given a verbal reprimand in 2008 by Wildlife District Five (southwest Ohio) Manager, Todd Haines.

Haines is one of five current or former Wildlife Division top officials who remain under indictment for alleged state felony violations in regard to how they managed the matter involving officer Wright.

The case involving Haines’ and the other current and former Wildlife Division officials is pending before the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals in southwest Ohio.

Wright has subsequently been charged in federal court for alleged violation os the federal Lacey Act.

In his letter to the two other disciplined officers, Haines wrote: “You are hereby issued a verbal reprimand for failure of good behavior.

“Specifically, you assisted an out-of-state wildlife officer in obtaining a resident fishing license (NOTE: the word ‘hunting’ was crossed out and the word ‘fishing’ was handwritten in) in 2007. Although you had supervisor guidance to do so, this was against Division of Wildlife directive and should not be repeated again in the future.

“This memo will serve as a verbal reprimand and will be placed in your personal file for a period of twelve (1) months and then removed if there are no subsequent disciplined imposed during that period.

“It will also serve as a warning in the case of future violations, more severe discipline may be administered.”

Haines signed the Ireland and Zientek documents on Oct. 7, 2008 and the Wright verbal reprimand on Oct. 8, 2008.

However, the Ohio Inspector General’s report noted that “In the reprimand, Haines did not mention the officers ‘supervisor guidance’ was from a retired employee with no authority to grant permission (Exhibit 4).”

Natural Resources Department spokeswoman Laura Jones said the agency was aware of the investigation and “fully cooperated with the Ohio Inspector General’s Office.”

“We are currently reviewing the report and then we’ll see how we will be moving forward,” she said.

Both Ireland and Zientek declined to comment.

A posting of the Ohio Inspector Generals’ evidence documents is available online at

A posting of the Ohio Inspector generals’ report is available online at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wildlife to enforce no-trespassing rules on some AEP property

With Ohio's hunting seasons warming up, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is working with the American Electric Power (AEP) to thwart unauthorized trespassing on land not open to the public.

While approximately 90,000 acres of land are currently open to sportsmen and women, not all AEP properties are available, says to the Division of Wildlife.

“The name AEP has become synonymous with public land in southeastern Ohio, but not all the land they own is open for public hunting,” stated District Four law enforcement supervisor Tom Donnelly.

“Hunters need to confirm that the AEP property they plan to hunt is open. Hunting without permission on AEP’s private properties has rarely been enforced, but that will change this year.”

Many hunters have been using the private AEP properties for years with no repercussions, but that will no longer be the case, Donnelly said.

As a result of increased illegal activity on these private properties, AEP’s land management section has asked the Division of Wildlife to begin enforcing hunting without permission rules.

Many of these private properties are in lease agreements with private hunting clubs, or with farmers for agricultural practices.

“AEP requires their lease holders to purchase liability insurance and enter into a written contract,” stated Brian Cox, a forester with AEP’s land management section.

“This is a relatively new process, and local sportsmen who have accessed these properties in the past should consider them equivalent to any other piece of privately-owned property.”

None of the public AEP properties are affected by this increase in enforcement, and sportsmen and women who have been legally hunting these areas will not see any change.

All persons interested in recreational activities on any public AEP properties must still obtain a free lifetime permit which can be found at various locations including the ODNR Division of Wildlife District 4 Office in Athens, or at

The AEP permit is valid at the following areas: The ReCreation Lands, Poston Plant lands, Avondale Wildlife Area, Gavin Wildlife Area, and Conesville Coal Lands.

These properties total approximately 90,000 acres and spread through Athens, Coshocton, Gallia, Meigs, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, and Perry Counties.

ATV’s are not allowed on the areas, and many of the same rules apply as when hunting on ODNR owned lands.

In Ohio, hunting without permission is a misdemeanor of the third degree on the first offense, with a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

Any subsequent hunting without permission offenses would be charged as misdemeanors of the second degree with a maximum penalty of a $750 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Anyone observing or suspecting that wildlife violations are occurring may report illegal activity by calling the Turn-In-A-Poacher (TIP) hotline toll free at 1-800-POACHER.

For more information, contact: ODNR Division of Wildlife, District Four

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall turkey hunting can be vexing but still fun

By the looks of things the hunt for a fall wild turkey pretty much were going to parallel that for a bird in the spring.

Except that now the leaves are growing old and falling off the branches instead of ripening green, full of life. The weather is only going to become cooler, not warmer, too.

And I guess the turkeys themselves can give pause to a few differences. In the spring you can only shoot bearded birds, almost always males that are also called “toms” or “gobblers.”

In the fall you can shoot any turkey; gobbler, hen or one of this year’s offspring which possibly might even still be a not-yet-full-grown poult.

Oh, and the hunting is generally different as well. In the spring you make like a hen turkey as an enticement to call in a lovesick gobbler.

In the fall you do a lot of spot and stalk, walking through the woods, down trails and using optics to scout out soybean fields.

A hunter can also employ a bird dog to root out a fall turkey but that game is illegal in the spring.

Likewise, you have to purchase a separate fall turkey-hunting license as the one you bought in the spring is no longer valid.

Okay, I guess the differences far outweigh the similarities.

Maybe the only thing the two have in common (for me anyway) is that I didn’t kill a bird last spring and I’ve yet to find a fall turkey that’s made out its last will and testament.

It was not for a lack of trying Monday morning, however.

Up at 5 a.m. and out of the house 30 minutes later with a 45-minute drive to a woodlot in central Ashtabula County.

Hardly had I set foot on the tractor path going back to the woods when my left boot snugged on some natural tripwire that caused me to tumble in the oozing mud.

So much for grace, style and panache.

In any event, I sided up another - very much overgrown - logging trail and then settled in. Though it was now legal daylight I didn’t want to barge ahead in the half-gleam of predawn.

No point in spooking a family flock of turkeys from their roost So I say down, relaxed to allow the sweat to evaporate and made some sweet talk with my mouth call.

Though fall turkeys don’t respond to calling with the same gusto they typically do in the spring, you can sometimes get a gobbler to squawk or a hen to yelp. That gives you a clue as to where birds may have stopped for the night.

The sound of silence was deafening, however. I heard a bark from a squirrel, the animal no doubt unhappy at being disturbed before it even had a chance to bite into a beechnut.

I gave the rest about 30 minutes before resuming my trek through the forest, its canopy opened enough to allow shafts of newly born sunshine to hit the wood’s natural flooring.

The old trace through the forest is becoming less and less well defined. When I first began hunting these woods more than 25 years ago the property’s boundary was very much established by a wide tractor/logging path.

Not so much anymore. Were it not for the fact that I had so many years of experience walking these woods I might have missed the north-south turn where it meets the northern section’s east-west trail portion.

At least this second track is still etched fine enough to be followed without stumbling off onto the neighbor’s property. That helped as I inched forward, keeping my eyes combing both ahead and also to my boot tips.

I could see that the trail was being heavily used by deer, the animals’ hoof prints frequenting the soft soil and I knew also that turkeys travel this route. I’ve taken several birds from the path, both in the spring and in the fall.

But not today, with the only excitement coming from a deer that I had disturbed.
The animal gave a hearty cough, which sounds as much like a bark as anything else.

By the time I reached the property’s southern side and the trail turned again west to east I had covered a fair amount of real estate.

Now came the difficult part. This trail - more so than the other three legs - is badly overgrown with greenbriars and saplings along with being the repository for many fallen ash and other varieties of trees.

I was forced to make a number of detours around the blow downs and stickups. Once again I thanked my stars that I was experienced with this woodlot, otherwise I easily could have gone way off track.

As it was the trail was rough going and once more the sweat severely beaded up on my face and soaked my shirt and turkey-hunting vest.

Nearly two hours after hunting I broke out to the soybean field that edges the western side of the woodlot.

I had hoped that maybe a flock of turkeys would be there, taking its tithe in the form of seed pods. It was not to be and I finished the last hundred yards or so without spying any birds.

You might guess that I’m disappointed. Yeah, but only a smidgen. Up until a few days ago I wasn’t even intending on buying a fall turkey tag.

A late change of mind came when I thought about a few days I might opt to hunt turkeys; sandwiched between Ohio’s mixed-up waterfowl season split and before potential evening archery deer hunts.

I’ll be back in these woods in search of a turkey, though. Maybe when the leaves have finished pattering from above and the cold of approaching winter has both the turkeys and me more on edge.

Hunting is always a game of playing the odds. But at least I understand that the house does not always win.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, October 6, 2011

UPDATED: New time element for checking in harvested deer

Ohio’s deer hunters have some new check-in rules which includes one that demands recording the kill by 11:30 p.m. on the of the animal’s expiration.

In the past the Ohio Division of Wildlife allowed hunters to check in their animals the following day.

Such a change could impact archery hunters who sit in their stands or ground blinds and then proceed to shoot a deer late in the day; sometimes too late to be recovered that same evening.

Yet these archery deer hunters may not be able to locate, tag and drag their deer until the following morning. This allows a fatally wounded animal an opportunity to lie down and die.

Otherwise a hunter that is feeling pressured may forge ahead, spooking the deer so that it runs off into the darkness, never to be retrieved.

However, the Ohio Division of Wildlife has taken this matter under consideration.

Hunters who are forced to wait until the following morning can tag the animal at that time, noting on the document that the deer was killed on the subsequent following morning and not the evening before, state wildlife officials say.

“No one knows when that deer actually died,” said Vicki Ervin, the Wildlife Division’s communications manager.

Ervin said also the agency took this possibility into account as it rewrote the rules in order to make them more applicable to the state’s new turkey- and deer-check-in system.

“Hunters that recover a deer the following day should report the harvest on the day they temporary tag the animal, and then complete automated game check-process and permanent tagging process by 11:30 p.m. that day,” Ervin said.

And hunters who are unable to recover a deer on the last day of a season, should inform their county wildlife officer or wildlife district office.
Which is good advice for any Ohio deer hunter with any question, says Tom Rowan, the Wildlife Division’s assistant chief.

“When in doubt you can call your county wildlife officer,” he said.

Also, a plus under the new check-in system is the ability to record a killed deer on a holiday such as Christmas or News Year’s Day when most check-in stations are closed.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Harbor Bait and Tackle begins new steelhead fishing derby

The newly opened Harbor Bait and Tackle Shop (formerly D&W Bait and Tackle) in Painesville Township is primed and ready for its first-ever steelhead fishing derby.

And it is kicking off at what could be an excellent weekend of angling. The recent heavy rains and cool temperatures are almost certain to have brought in a slug of fish into the area's Lake Erie tributaries.

And though the Grand River may still be too high and muddy to fish well on Saturday and Sunday the other streams of Northeast Ohio will almost certainly see fishing.

That prospect includes the Chagrin River with potential all the way upstream to Cleveland Metroparks' South Chagrin Reservation, due almost exclusively to the failure this past spring of the low-head dam at Gates Mills Village.

Here are the rules for Harbor's Steelhead Fishing Derby:

1. May only enter fish caught upon hook and line and retrieved by rod and reel in a legal manner, as designated under the laws set by The State of Ohio within the waters and tributaries of Lake Erie. Entrants must possess a valid Ohio fishing license.

2. Entry fee is $15.00

3. Must be officially registered at least one day prior to fishing.

4. Fish must be weighed in fresh; fish that have been frozen will not be accepted.
5. Agrees to abide by official rules and regulations and agrees that failure to comply will result in automatic disqualification and forfeiture of all prizes and recognition as winner.

6. Is entitled to only one prize although contestant may enter one or more fish, if the succeeding fish is larger, the smaller will be withdrawn.

7. Agrees that in the event of a tie involving any of the winning positions, the prize money for those positions will be combined and distributed equally between the two entrants.

8. Agrees to hold the contest officials, sponsors, their agents, servants or employees harmless for any liability of any nature and kind for injuries and or damages suffered by the entrant during the contest period.

9. Weigh station (Harbor Bait and Tackle) Fish must be checked in during regular business hours. No fish shall be checked in after hours. Contest starts October 1st at 6 a.m. Contest ends March 31, 2012 at 5 p.m. Prize money will be awarded Sunday April 8, 2012 at 1 p.m.

10. 100-percent pay-back will be awarded to the top twenty places.

11. Steelhead entered over reasonable size (28 inches) may be entered. Weight and length combined will determine the winner on a point system (16 points per inch and
16 points per pound).

All entrants are subject to a polygraph test. All Judges’ decisions are final.

For further information, contact Donald H. Moore, 786 Richmond St., Painesville Township, phone - 440-354-8473, email -

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Will any ducks still be around for Ohio's season opener?

The farm pond on Tuesday was strangely quiet, and just as weirdly, absent of the sight of any waterfowl of any kind.

That includes the ubiquitous Canada geese, which are always present on the pond.

With the start of Ohio's waterfowl hunting season on October 15, the lack of ducks and geese is somewhat disquieting.

And there appears to be good reason for the nagging doubts, too.

John Pogacnik, biologist with Lake Metroparks and himself an avid birder, has his own personal observations on the subject. As Pogacnik puts it, this past Saturday from his Lake Erie lakefront home he saw huge flocks of waterfowl of all kinds.

But on Sunday, nothing, he said.

Pogacnik said also that a birder friend of his visited Pennsylvania's Presque Isle State Park over the weekend to take in some birding opportunities.

On Saturday this birder made a personal best sighting of 745 pintail ducks along with an abundance of teal and other waterfowl species.

By Sunday?

"There wasn't a dappler duck to be seen," Pogacnik said.

It would appear that the weekend's cold front pushed many ducks through, the waterfowl stopping for some rest on Saturday before moving on sometime Monday.

That also could help explain why I heard several flocks of tundra swans passing overhead before dawn on Tuesday. Typically this species doesn't appear in our area until November; or late October at the earliest.

And a friend who owns a beaver swamp in Ashtabula County remarked Tuesday that though his marsh had a sizable flock of woodducks it was absent of any mallards or Canada geese. And that is not typical of this particular unit, either.

Yet waterfowlers know that their sport is almost universally based upon the weather, not just locally but up north and out west where most ducks and geese bred.
This weather-related dependance is true more so than for any other form of hunting except for perhaps that involving doves and woodcock.

How all of this will translate into hunting opportunities a week from Saturday is a anyone's guess and likely will keep area waterfowlers restless for the next 10 days.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Portman comes out politically swinging for gun owners' rights

This, from the Buckeye Firearms Association regarding U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and his stance on Second Amendment issues.

Portman has kept a pretty much low profile compared Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) but continues to promote his conservative profile, especially when it comes to gun owners' rights.

This is the text of the Buckeye Firearms Association's take on Portman:

Sen. Rob Portman co-sponsors bill to prohibit Obama's ATF from tracking and cataloguing guns

According to a letter from Ohio's U.S. Senator Rob Portman, is co-sponsoring S.570, which would deny the ATF the funding it needs to enforce a new gun control policy.

"Thank you for taking the time to contact my office regarding gun tracking and cataloguing of guns by the Obama Administration. It is good to hear from you.

"As you know, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has enacted a regulation which requires 8,500 firearm dealers in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas to file reports with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) on all sales of two or more semi-automatic rifles that are purchased within five consecutive business days by a single individual if the rifles are larger than .22 caliber and use detachable magazines. This regulation would include the most popular rifles, owned by millions of Americans for self-defense and hunting.

"I believe this new regulation involving rifle and shotgun sales along the Southwest Border limits Second Amendment rights and is yet another example of the Obama Administration's regulatory overreach. S.570, of which I am a cosponsor, would prohibit the government from using federal funds to enforce this regulation. In addition, this legislation would prohibit any tracking or cataloguing system by the DOJ.

"As you may know, I am a gun owner who believes in the right to bear arms in defense of self, family and property. During my 12 years serving in Congress, I received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association for defending our Constitutional Rights. I opposed the so-called “assault weapons ban” and opposed the Brady Bill. I supported repealing both the Federal Assault Weapons Ban and the Washington, D.C. gun ban. I voted to protect the private information of gun owners; to protect state gun laws; and to protect firearm and ammunition manufacturers, dealers or importers from lawsuits and damages related to criminal misuse by a third party.

"Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. For more information, I encourage you to visit my website at Please keep in touch."

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, October 3, 2011

best view of Autumn's arrival is from deer blind

Morning was breaking cold with a sooty-black sky unfolding when the wind and the woods took up their conversation.

The former cautioned the latter to get its affairs in order. Autumn is coming, the wind spoke with some authority.

And the woods began to take note. Already some of the forest trees were shedding flakes of gold, crimson, and burnished copper. The fields, too, were converting their green tapestry for a more colorful bedspread that will dull to a muted brown within the next few weeks.

This is a changling time for the forests and fields. Between now and the end of the month they both will undergo a radical transformation. They will roll over from green to a riotous palette of color and then they will don their mourning cloaks until next spring.

I saw all of this, felt all of this as dawn’s fingers clawed their way through the woodlot. It is there where I’ve set up a fabric ground blind and an electronic feeder topped off with a tankard of shelled corn kernels.

The intent was simple: Kill a deer with my Horton crossbow. Nothing complex about the task, though in truth that is something of a lie.

There was the placement of the blind, the assembly of the feeder and the setting of its timer, twice a day with one seven-second deposit in the morning and another at around 6:30 p.m.

Then again, the site had to be picked in advance of their postings. That was done a couple of weeks ago when Steve - the property’s owner - and I had cruised the hardwood stand of trees in an effort to draw our attention to a likely deer-attracting station.

We believed we found what we were looking for, too. The blind was tucked into a shallow arc where four trees very nearly come together. Out ahead about 14 yards was positioned the game feeder.

Steve had said no one had hunted the woodlot in a few years. Just about everyone simply walked through it to get to “better” shooting grounds.

Yet the deer do come by this place. You can tell by their signature hoof prints that were left behind in the forest litter and mud.

Besides, just on the fringe of the woodlot is a logged-off section that deer seem to like to use as a bedding area.

So I was ready, me and my crossbow and assorted truck I had carried in an over-sized backpack originally designed for hike-in anglers.

And I waited, not being assured that a deer would even show up. All the corn laying on the ground underneath the feeder was a strong indicator that while deer may be occasionally visiting the hunting spot they weren’t doing it either with gusto or great frequency.

I doubted that the cool temperatures, brisk wind and steady rain mattered much for possible success, however. Deer, after all, have to live, eat, sleep and die in such conditions everyday.

Besides, Steve said that just the other day he saw four does worrying the corn pile that had accumulated underneath the feeder. That was the day he had shot a five-point buck. That fact alone indicated that his property is a busy way station for white-tails.

I tried to keep from becoming too bored. I leafed through the latest copy of “Bowhunter” magazine in-between glances out of the unzippered front window and the one that I had cracked a notch to my left.

No deer. And not much else, either. Oh, there was the fox squirrel that scoured the ground for the hickory nuts that had fallen. The squirrel took no note of either me or the blind as it combed the forest floor maybe 10 or 15 feet away.

A few crows cawed halfheartedly in the rain and the wind. And an odd flock or two of Canada geese honked their thoughts about the weather.

Maybe the critter with the most sense was a meadow vole, a something or another rodent that is often mistaken for a deer mouse.

The vole was perfectly content to stay within the shelter and relative safety of the blind. It hustled over some of the gear I had placed on the ground, but typical
for the species it would hollow out tunnels in the leaf material.

Every now and then the vole would stick its head out of the blind. There it would be struck by the cold, wet reality of the day. Just as quickly the vole would tuck itself back inside the blind and continue on with its interior construction project.

But again, no deer. And those were what I wanted.

Nearly all of the morning had slipped by when I decided to call it. Stiff from sitting still and my neck aching from cocking itself for the better part of several hours, I got up, stretched and unzipped the blind’s fly.

That got the vole’s attention, which panicked and vanished out of sight; no doubt to some chamber it had built for just such a purpose.

By all accounts the morning had been a failure. That is, if you post success based on a tally sheet consisting of the number of deer seen and whether one will be taken home for the freezer and the wall.

Maybe that’s how all of those sponsored television hunting shows judge success. Not me, at least not on this day.

I had listened in on the conversation between the wind and the woods and I had kept company with an entertaining little guest.

Yep, it was a fine and proper early autumn outing and I felt privileged to have been both an observer and a participant.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn