Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ohio's youth gun deer hunt tanks; hunters wonder if same will happen next week

Ohio’s firearms deer hunters no doubt are hoping they’ll fare better starting Monday than their youthful counter parts did this past weekend.

The state’s two-day youth-only firearms deer-hunting season shot 6,645 animals Nov. 23 and 24. That figure is way off the 2012 season tally of 9,178 deer.

Of Ohio’s 88 counties, gains were posted for only six counties with just two counties reporting back-to-back identical harvests by youths.

Officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and its offspring - the Ohio Division of Wildlife – are crediting (or blaming being the better word) last weekend’s blustery weather as the main culprit for the serious drop.

Still, others are saying that the success of the two-day antlerless-only, muzzle-loading-only season in October put a serious hurt on does and fawns which often are the target of young hunters during their gun season.

Regardless, on Monday an estimated 420,000 men, women and kids will venture into the woods in search of their own deer. Legal game for the general firearms deer-hunting season will be antlered as well as antlerless deer.

Projections by Wildlife Division biologists and other agency officials suggest a harvest during the seven-day gun season of 80,000 to 90,000 deer.

New for this season will be the allowance of hunting deer until one-half hour after sunset, a radical change from previous gun seasons when hunters had to quit at legal sunset.

A list of all white-tailed deer checked by youth hunters using a shotgun, muzzle-loader or handgun during the 2013 youth deer-gun hunting season is shown. The first number following the county’s name shows the harvest numbers for 2013, and the 2012 numbers are in parentheses:

Adams: 148 (178); Allen: 35 (40); Ashland: 122 (152); Ashtabula: 112 (166); Athens: 127 (161); Auglaize: 40 (56); Belmont: 165 (234); Brown: 91 (133); Butler: 28 (59); Carroll: 161 (188); Champaign: 49 (69); Clark: 18 (30); Clermont: 66 (93); Clinton: 37 (61); Columbiana: 120 (147); Coshocton: 248 (295); Crawford: 37 (55); Cuyahoga: 1 (1); Darke: 23 (65); Defiance: 76 (102); Delaware: 49 (42); Erie: 19 (24); Fairfield: 69 (114); Fayette: 20 (20); Franklin: 7 (18); Fulton: 34 (54); Gallia: 113 (142); Geauga: 38 (65); Greene: 9 (28); Guernsey: 183 (232); Hamilton: 23 (20); Hancock: 46 (71); Hardin: 44 (43); Harrison: 165 (225); Henry: 32 (38); Highland: 114 (168); Hocking: 128 (157); Holmes: 196 (235); Huron: 85 (136); Jackson: 98 (168); Jefferson: 156 (176); Knox: 189 (247); Lake: 8 (19); Lawrence: 95 (148); Licking: 189 (262); Logan: 79 (121); Lorain: 49 (63); Lucas: 11 (14); Madison: 25 (21); Mahoning: 62 (76); Marion: 23 (30); Medina: 42 (74); Meigs: 110 (156); Mercer: 31 (53); Miami: 23 (35); Monroe: 90 (153); Montgomery: 13 (14); Morgan: 118 (165); Morrow: 56 (66); Muskingum: 212 (280); Noble: 105 (161); Ottawa: 10 (21); Paulding: 43 (69); Perry: 101 (143); Pickaway: 28 (47); Pike: 83 (89); Portage: 31 (122); Preble: 36 (46); Putnam: 38 (78); Richland: 110 (141); Ross: 136 (171); Sandusky: 28 (27); Scioto: 116 (103); Seneca: 57 (99); Shelby: 57 (88); Stark: 81 (100); Summit: 11 (19); Trumbull: 72 (109); Tuscarawas: 220 (317); Union: 29 (37); Van Wert: 29 (36); Vinton: 98 (126); Warren: 26 (52); Washington: 140 (196); Wayne: 57 (121); Williams: 66 (83); Wood: 30 (39); Wyandot: 50 (80). Total: 6,645 (9,178).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Northeast Ohio communities score well with NatureWorks grant funding

Communities and entities in Lake, Geauga and Cuyahoga counties have taken advantage of a state voter-approved grant program designed to enhance recreational activities.

Called “NatureWorks,” the program is weighted application process in which local governments can solicit the state for partial financial aid in constructing trails and amenities.

NatureWorks was first approved by Ohio voters more than a decade ago who then voted again to continue with the program.

In all, 92 grants were awarded by the state with the program administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Besides the NatureWorks’ money additional funding was supplied by the federal government’s Land and Water Conservation Fund grant program.

Recipients are required to apply at least a 25-percent match in order to qualify for the state-administered funding.

In Lake County, $8,070 was awarded to Painesville City for a new picnic shelter and fencing at its Huntington Park. The total cost for this project is $15,400, with Painesville responsible for the remainder of the expense.

Also, Cleveland Metroparks was awarded $30,940 for a $41,440 project for trail improvements at the agency’s North Chagrin Reservation which is partially located in Lake County’s Willoughby Hills.

Geauga County’s Hambden Township was awarded $25,320 for a $33,760 trails project at the community’s Hambden Township Park.

A quartet of Cuyahoga County cities also were the recipients of grant money:  Parma Heights ($56,625), Shaker Heights ($60,000), Bedford Heights ($18,000), and Fairview Park ($55,534).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lake County and Cuyahoga County agencies fare well in safe boating grant awards

Lake County and Cuyahoga County agencies did very well in convincing state watercraft officials that they have programs worthy of funding.

In announcing the Ohio Division of Watercraft's annual Boating Safety Education grants the state agreed to give $14,248.77 to Lake Metroparks and $18,110 to the city of Mentor.

Lake Metroparks' grant application calls for using the money to buy recreational watercraft and related equipment as well as help pay for personnel training who then will use their knowledge in various public programs.

Mentor likewise will buy some recreational watercraft and associated gear as well as personnel training. In addition, the city's recreation department will use some of the funds to assist in advertising Mentor's watercraft programs.

In Cuyahoga County, five entities received grants. Among them were Cleveland Metroparks ($28,529) and the Greater Cleveland Safety Council ($15.871.51).

Cleveland Metroparks will use its share to buy stand-up paddle boards, life jackets and other gear for the agency's recreational educational programing.

The Safety Council has earmarked its grant to advertise and promote the annual North Coast Boating and Fishing Festival, held each summer in downtown Cleveland.

In all, the Division of Watercraft allocated more than $308,000 to 22 community-based safe boating programs.

All money came from the recreational boating registration and titling fees, some funding from the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as that portion of the state motor fuel tax devoted to recreational boating.

No Ohio General Revenue monies are ever used to support such activities.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Geauga Park District Executive Director gets vote of no confidence

Tom Curtin has found himself without the job of heading the Geauga Park District.

In a split vote during a specially called park board meeting today (Thursday, Nov. 21) Curtin's contract was not renewed as the agency's executive director.

Voting not to renew Curtin's contract were park board commissioners Nick Fischbach and Michael Petruzello while Jim Patterson dissented.

Fischbach and Petruzello are appointees of Geauga County Probate-Juvenile Judge Tom Grendell while Patterson is a hold-over appointment from the late judge Chip Henry.

In a short and terse release on what can only be called a vote of no confidence of Curtin, the parks system's three commissioners agreed to allow him to remain on paid administrative leave for the remainder of this year.

Curtin had been the director for the agency for 14 years and following a lengthy stint as a Lake Metroparks' recreational supervisor.

However, Curtin did not have the backing of a number of Geauga County's most conservative residents.

Likewise during Curtin's tenure the agency had periodically been in the gun sights of some Geauga County's more conservative activists who believed the parks system had been buying too much property and is also insensitive to residents' and tax-payers' interests.

For several years Curtin had been a thorn in the side of the arch-conservative Geauga County Constitutional Committee and vice-verse.

Here is a post on the Council's web site, directed at the park district in general as well as Curtin specifically:

"I don't know about you, but I have a real problem with 'Tulip' Tom Curtin and others from the Geauga Park District making the kind of money they do for protecting petunias and searching for woolybears.
They provide us with no critical services but the Sheriff Dept. does, and the difference in salaries between these people in the Park District and the Sheriff is so lopsided it is disgusting.
Robert Urban, chief ranger for the Park District, makes over $75,000.00....more than our Sheriff.... and has a cake job....and probably doesn't have anywhere near the training the Sheriff has!
The Geauga Park District sucks.”

Appointed as the parks system's interim executive director is John Oros, currently the parks system's operations director.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, November 18, 2013

Government's funding cuts dries up hundreds of stream monitoring sites

The federal government's fiscal hard times have led to cuts in the nationwide monitoring of stream flow, water quality and rainfall.

Dropped were several hundred stream monitoring sites, victims of political wrangling.

Ohio actually fared pretty well, all things being considered.

A number of other states were not so favored, however. Among them was Ohio's immediate neighbor to the east, Pennsylvania.

In all, 375 stream monitoring stations – out of about 8,000 units - chiefly maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey are or were furloughed under what's called “sequestration.”

This process kicked in when Congressional Democrats and Republicans were unable to come to grips as to whether to increase taxes – and by how much – or if slashes in spending – and also by how much – would become the law of the land.

After no agreement was achieved then the automatic and across-the-board massively deep cuts were instituted. To no one's liking, either.

When the dust settled (or better said, when the creek stopped rising) two monitoring stations in Ohio were placed in mothballs.

These two units included a water-quality monitoring station on the Portage River at Woodville in northwest Ohio and the other also being a water-quality monitoring station. This one is at Huff Run at Mineral City in east-central Ohio.

Over in Pennsylvania no fewer than 49 stations were shuttered, including one that had operated continuously for 48 years.

By far the hardest-hit state was Florida. Here some 78 monitoring stations were shut down by sequestration.

Among some of the other heavily impacted states are Texas (14), South Carolina and Wisconsin (13 each), and North Carolina (20).

Stream monitoring stations often serve a multipurpose role. They include helping water planners determine how and when to manage stream flow for flood control, navigation, water supply and the like.

Anglers use some of the information on a real-time basis to gauge whether stream flow is too much, too little, or just right for fishing. In Northeast Ohio anglers closely watch stream flows to decide if the time is right to wade the Chagrin or Grand rivers or Conneaut Creek for steelhead trout.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dog-gone it, pair of beagles disrupt anticipated archery deer hunt

Take a right smart beautiful late afternoon and add to the mix the height of the rut and the combination should meld into a fine hunt.

One that was being pointed to with great anticipation.

That being said, a good idea well executed can find itself turned head over heals by an unforeseen variable. In this case, two unforeseen variables in the form of a pair of wayward (and presumably lost )beagles.

At about 3:30 p.m. the two hound bayed their way through the woodlot; not exactly the place you'd expect to find cottontail rabbits. Deer, yes, bunnies, no.

Sighing deeply and shrugging the soul's proverbial shoulders I realized that any hope of actually encountering a rut-crazed buck or an apple-munching doe was being bayed out of existence by a pair of likely lost but happily active beagles.

And things slid even further away from expectations. The beagles must have picked up my trail; the one I made when I left the ATV at the edge of the woodlot and walked to the blind-gravity feeder using the rotted old logging trail.

You need to look closely to see the trail. If you're not familiar with it then missing the 90-degree bend and continuing on into the woodlot wouldn't be too difficult.

Of course if you happen to be outfitted with the olfactory senses of a doggy Sherlock Holmes then tracing the invisible scent I had left behind nearly two hours earlier would not be all that challenging.

Thus I was hardly stunned when first one and then the other beagle came a-calling. They sniffed the corn and apples spread prepared for deer and not dogs. They inspected the metal trail camera post and decided that all the nearby trees needed a good dosing of canine pee, each of the beagles being of the male persuasion.

It didn't take much doing before one of the beagles decided to inspect the fabric blind and it didn't take much of a canine genus to deduce that the shelter was occupied. Nor did it take much for my much-less astute human olfactory sense to declare that the hound dogs' hound-dog odor was pretty ripe; ripe enough to easily bypass the blind's fabric and smack my nose with its raw distinctiveness.

Clearly the rest of the afternoon was shot. At least in terms of any likelihood that one or more deer had not been chased out of the woodlot or a passing buck had such a sinus infection it could not tell that the hunting site had been laid waste by the odor left behind by the beagles.

So when evening's darkness crumbled the last few minutes of legal light I pack up and headed back down the logging trail to fetch the ATV.

Sure it was a bit of a disappointment and had I been in greater need to add venison to the freezer my anger meter wold have gone into the red line.

Alas, however, I love dogs. Beagles included. Even those that mess up a long-anticipated archery hunt for deer.

Just don't make a steady diet out of it, I mumbled at the two dogs as they traded their way through the woodlot on their way to who knows where, so long as it wasn't hanging around my ground blind.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife is maintaining a running weekly log on the number of deer being shot by hunters. This list breaks the statistics down in a county-by-county format, numbers of antlered and antlerless deer killed as well as an apples-to-apples to-date 2012 and 2013 comparison.

That being said, the match-up of the to-date 46-day archery kills shows that in 2012 archers had shot to-date 24,764 antlered deer while this year's to-date figure is 22,638 for an 8.59 percent decline.

And the archery antlerless deer kill is off as well. Last year to-date for this category was 35,198 while this year's to-date harvest was 31,544.

Now comes a big “however.” Factor in the harvest gleaned during the two-day, antlerless-only, muzzle-loading-only season in October and the to-date deer kill is down only 0.59 percent. That stat might be pointing to the value of this new season in reducing the all-important antlerless portion of the state's deer herd.

A random look at several of the county-by-county harvests point to a few interesting (to me, anyway) details.

Way down in southwest Ohio the stats for Adams County indicate an overall harvest increase of 9.62 percent with much of that gain being a factor of the October antlerless-only season.

Yet virtually one-half of Ohio's 88 counties are noting a decline in their do-date deer harvests. The largest shortfall being noted is Darke County whose to-date deer harvest is off 28.23 percent.

So okay, Darke County is hardly Ohio's Deer-Hunting Central.

Still the harvest of juggernauts Guernsey County, Harrison County and Jefferson County have slid in the scales, too; 10.83-percent, 10.19-percent, and 12.39-percent, respectively.

Flip the coin over and we see that the to-date deer kill is up 10.47-percent in Ashtabula County, 10.17-percent in Athens County and a whopping 16.44-percent in Trumbull County.

Of course there is still a lot of deer season left with the seven-day firearms hunt, the statewide muzzle-loading season, the youth-only gun hunt and more than three months of the archery season to look forward to in terms of bagging that deer.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, November 15, 2013

More Ohio CCW permits issued by 2013's Third Quarter than for all of last year

Ohio's concealed carry license program continues to set records with an ever-swelling number of qualifying people being issued the necessary documents.

Mike DeWine – the state's attorney general who administers the program and tracks the number of people receiving the permit – says that for the calendar year's Third Quarter, 18,705 new licenses were issued along with 13,913 renewals.

For comparison, during 2012's Third Quarter, Ohio's 88 county sheriffs issued 13,949 new licenses and 3,447 renewals, DeWine says.

“In the first nine months of this year, 82,186 new licenses were issued,” DeWine said. “That's more than in any single calendar year since concealed carry permits began being issued in 2004.”

Likewise, says DeWine, this year's first nine months of permit issuance has all ready eclipsed the 2012 total number of permits granted by the state's county sheriffs.

Last year the state saw 64,650 new licenses issued, itself a record at the time, DeWine said.

As to which counties led the pack, Franklin County's sheriff Zach Scott's department came out on top with 1,382 new permits being issued in this year's Third Quarter along with another 759 renewals.

Montgomery County fared well too. Here the county sheriff Phil Plummer's office issued 1,237 new permits and 985 renewals during this year's Third Quarter.

Lake County Sheriff Dan Dunlap's crew issued 920 new permits and 361 renewals for third place.

Every one of Ohio's 88 county sheriffs issued new permits during the Third Quarter. Among the counties with the fewest issuance of new permits during the Third Quarter were Noble (25), Paulding (26), Monroe (31), Adams (37), and Morgan (42).

Ohio's Attorney General's Office compiles an annual report as required by law regarding the number of concealed carry licenses issued each year.

Each county sheriff must report CCW handgun license statistics quarterly to the Ohio Peace Office Training Commission within the state's AG office.

Once compiled and verified all statistics are published on the Ohio Attorney General's website:

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cold-weather boating poses special risks; caution advised

It didn't take long for the U.S. Coast Guard's warning related to cold-weather boating to find a perfect illustrated example.

Today (Sunday, Nov. 3) the Coast Guard's Station Cleveland responded to a distress call initially received by the agency's Buffalo Sector headquarters. This call spoke of two women whose kayaks both capsized at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland.

It just so happened that some Coasties were training in the area and they quickly responded to the call, ultimately rescuing both women.

At least the boaters had the foresight to each wear life jackets, the Coast Guard said which added the women were transported to nearby Whiskey Island for land transfer.

A passing boater towed the two kayaks to the island as well.

It was only October 23 when the Coast Guard issued its annual cold-weather boating advisory, primarily intended for late-season anglers and waterfowl hunters.

The advisory reminds boaters to always wear their life jackets, be mindful of the season's often changing weather conditions, have some means of calling a person including a marine radio or cell phone, not to overload a boat, avoid making exaggerated movements while aboard a small boat, to not use drugs or drink alcoholic beverages while boating, and stay with the vessel should it sink or capsize.

Oh, and ensure that any pet be properly suited up in a life jacket, too.

Just how serious some government agencies are about boating this time of year that over in Pennsylvania all persons aboard any vessel less than 16 feet in length while underway or at anchor must wear a life jacket.

So too must everyone in a canoe or kayak of any length.

This rule is applicable from Nov. 1 through April 30 and is enforced by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Commission spokesman Keith Edwards says this law was enacted by the agency in 2011 and took effect the following year.

And, yes, the rule applies to all boaters operating a vessel on Pymatuning Reservoir, which is jointly managed by Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Signage noting the proviso are in place at the various Ohio boat-launching sites, Edwards said also.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Saturday, November 2, 2013

When you come to a pig in the road, take it

ith Ohio's legislators struggling to agree on just about anything it is comforting to know these elected officials are rear unanimous hog-wild agreement over something anyway.

Call it allowing motorists to bring home the bacon, as it were.

Members of Ohio's House of Representatives have agreed to allow motorists who run over a feral – or wild – pig to keep the animal's carcass. Just as they can when their Buick has a too-close encounter with a buck deer.

Supporting House Bill 199 were 99 of the state's House representatives.

The lone hold-out who huffed and puffed his opposition to the sensible measure was state Rep. Matthew Lundy, D-Elyria.

Under the bill's provisions a motorist whose vehicle make roadkill of the piggish critter can claim first-dibs on the animal.

Oh, and the same applies should a motorist's automobile or truck crunches the living daylights out of a wild turkey.

The only stipulation requires the motorist to report the incident and seizure to an Ohio Division of Wildlife officer within 24 hours of the incident.

Also, the proposed measure give the Wildlife Division the authority to establish a season and bag limits on wild/feral hogs, giving the species game animal status.

Presently the state has no such stipulations though the Wildlife Division does encourage hunters and others to dispatch such animals on sight and as a highly destructive invasive species.

Though Ohio has long permitted motorists to claim what's left of any deer that gets creamed by their vehicle, any number of states dictate that any such wild animal or bird still belongs to the commonwealth.

As such it is illegal for a motorist to toss whatever might remain of a crushed critter into an automobile's trunk or the bed of a pick-up trunk.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn