Friday, December 26, 2014

USSA "celebrates" Maine Bear hunting vote win by sponsoring bear hunt in... Quebec!?

Wait a minute; I want to get this picture right.

In order to celebrate the sportsmens' and sportswomens' victory over the Humane Society of the United States regarding the anti-bear-hunting voter initiative in Maine back in November, the Columbus, Ohio-based U.S. Sportsmens Alliance will conduct a drawing for a black bear hunt in where’s that you say... Quebec?

Yep, that’s what the Alliance’s is proudly boasting about its latest 16-page e-edition newsletter. The promotional, from-the-heart five-day, 2015 spring trophy bear hunt is being co-hosted by Horseshoe Hill Outfitters near Val-Dor. That’s in Quebec. Which is in Canada.

And which is a pretty far piece from Maine, if you want to set your GPS for proper directions.

Now I am going to assume that the brain trust at the Alliance is aware that Quebec is not a part of Maine, let alone the United States.

Which begs this question: After all that effort to successfully thump the HSUS was the Alliance unable to locate a receptive, appreciative, friendly-Down-East-Maine bear-hunting guide willing to donate a hunt?

Maybe so since the Alliance had to go to another country and to a province where English is the official second language in order to celebrate a victory over anti-hunters in the good old United States of America.

Geeze, no way could I have made this one up.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Huff and puff; story of three little Iittle (and not so little) Florida wild hogs

PALM BAY, FLORIDA - This is the story of the three little pigs.

Only one was little, though. She was the second Florida wild hog of the day I shot just before Christmas. Mottled brown and white, the pig came strolling toward the feeder while the pay--for-hire guide Matt Cates and I were wrapping things up.

Yep, right there in amongst us, not more than few paces away, oblivious to us and equally unconcerned with the jet-black medium-size Florida hog laying prostate at the edge of where the electronic feeder pitches the corn. That dead sow of a hog - and I think the smaller mottled-colored pig now here - were part of a three-pig sounder that wasted no time in leaving the confines of a thick palmetto forest for the more open field where they were assured a breakfast of corn kernels.

I had settled in the new blind; a curiously ingenious affair. Made from eight-foot sections of wooden privacy fence, the blind was a perfect square with shooting portholes made by cutting two of the fence "sticks" from the section's middle support crossbeam to the section's upper cross member.

The sections were anchored by four-by-four posts cemented into the ground. For a roof Matt had laid sections of corrugated sheet metal.

Such a blind wouldn't stand up to a Florida hurricane, of course, but then again, nothing short of a cinder-block building can bluff its way past 75-plus miles-per-hour winds

Anyway, the blind was plenty comfortable enough and with it containing not one - but two - camp folding chairs plus a small plastic chair/table I had all the fixtures I needed to spread out my hog-hunting truck.

And that's a lot, as it is for virtually all forms of hunting and fishing that I do. It all goes back to the old saying "better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it." So I usually fill up a backpack with all sorts of hunting-related paraphernalia and such materiel as I believe would be necessary.

Including 20 rounds of .45-70 Springfield ammunition, equally divided between Hornady LeverRevolution and Remington's stock Core-Lockt.

When I didn't shoot a deer during Ohio's recently concluded  firearms deer-hunting season with my newly acquired H&R Buffalo Classic rifle I figured it would prove bad medicine on Florida's amply healthy wild hog population.

Yeah, a .45-70 is overkill for a species that seldom exceeds 150 pounds in the wild. Though if you read much in today's sporting journals you'd get the impression that your best bet is to hunt hogs with a howitzer with a .500 Smith and Wesson as a backup.

That kind of talk is little more than sales pitches made by outdoors writers who've either not hunted Florida wild pigs much or else were writing after they had gone on a sponsored hog hunt somewhere.

Truth be told, wild hogs (while still more than capable of ripping a nasty gouge in your leg) can be sent to the processor by utilizing cartridges and gauges suitable for game from coyotes-woodchucks to average-size deer. Or the kind of gun stuff that likely already occupies space in your gun cabinet.

Last time I was down here my father-in-law knocked off two hogs with nothing more than a venerable .25-20 Winchester. I've even killed hogs a smart distance with a semi-automatic pistil chambered for the .9mm Luger, though I think under the circumstances it would have been smarter had I employed something with a little more "umpf." Which is why I pack a version of a Model 1911 pistol in a shoulder holster and fed with the same load I use for home protection.

Truth Be Told Number II is my humble opinion that after hunting Florida wild hogs for gosh-I-can't-remember-how-long-now my belief is that the best hog killer is a rifled-barreled shotgun fitted with a low-powered scope (or ever open sights) and armed with the same stuff used to tank Ohio deer in early December.

Okay, we've gotten sort off track, I realize and for which I apologize. Just wanted you to understand the set-up and get the picture as painted by someone not beholding to a firearms or ammo company.

Anyway, the game feeder went off as expected a few minutes before 7 a.m. I guess maybe three or four minutes later the three-pig sounder came running out of the brush, their squiggly tails about as high as they could climb into the warm Florida morning.

I knew one of the pigs would be roasted by the .45-70, though I wasn't sure which one. You see the trio mostly wadded into a bunch so compact I couldn't tell heads from tails.

Only when the three hogs separated could I better gauge their size. That was when I discerned the medium-sized pig would be the first to go. The Remington Corelockt bullet neatly broke the pig's spine and the animal fell flat on its side and dead as a dead pig that just got whomped by an oversize hunk of lead can be.

The remaining two pigs returned to the sanctuary of the palmetto forest.

Since the whole affair took only a few minutes and I still had two hours before Matt was scheduled to pick me up, I sat and enjoyed the company of the morning. Hoping, of course, that another pig - at least equal in size and equal in hunger as the now-deceased sow 15 yards in front of me laid - would show up.

I heard the almost prehistoric calls of sandhill cranes, the "woosh" of a breeze that happily curled around the blind's slits-for-windows and the steady rap-tap of rain drops dropping from a quickly passing rain shower. None of which, by the way, disturb me to the point where a 45-minute morning nap would become unhinged.

For guests I saw a whole laundry list of song birds, several species of which were winter-time visitors to the Floridian savanna, having passed by one of my Ohio deer-hunting blinds only a few weeks earlier.

Anyway, the two hours were up and Matt came to fetch me and the black-colored sow wild hog.

That's when the little one trotted out, totally unconcerned about our presence and caring even less that a dead relation lay a few feet away.

I armed the .45-70 and shot this second hog, to make a long story story. But the act still grates on me.

If I had to do it all over again, I would not have taken that little piggy. Nope, I'd have walked in, shooed it away and let it sequel in disgust at how it had been denied a meal.

Yeah, I know it was a female and in a few months it would have been old enough to breed, producing more offspring that would go on to damage the farm's cattle-grazing pasture and all. I also know that of the three Florida wild hogs I shot those couple days before Christmas 2014 this smallest one would "eat the best," as Matt had said.

Likewise I know that what Matt and I witnessed was something we'll almost certainly never encounter again. That being, a wild hog of any size totally unafraid and absolutely determined to make the best of a free meal of corn just steps away from its executioner.

So I took a dumb one out of the gene pool, I get that, I really do. Still...

Oh, that's right, I almost forgot to let you in on the third harvested Florida wild hog. Not much really to say about this animal other than (again) to add that a whole bunch of what you see and read about hunting wild hogs is only so much hooey.

Matt and I reversed course, backing out on the sandy farming track screwed out of the palmettos. Up ahead yonder in some row of sedges fed a big black-bristly-haired brute of a wild hog. This animal's stern was to our bow so I had to wait as best I could for as best a shot I could make with the H&R. The rather heavy and long-barreled rifle was steadied on a tall and adjustable bipod as I waited for the right opportunity.

When the opportunity half-came I fired, the bullet cleaving a slice of hog ham with the animal humanely finished off at arm's length by what spews out of a Model 1911's considerable mouth.

This hog was much bigger than the other two, even combined. Matt estimated it weight at 160 to 170 pounds. Certainly not rare for a boar wild hog but still rather unusual for a sow. Which no doubt, had birthed more than a few litters of little piggies. 
Maybe even the small one that I shot but maybe shouldn't have.

Anyway, that's the end of the story of the three little pigs, only one of which was actually little.Next time I visit Florida to hunt hogs - perhaps as early as sometime this spring if I can coax some hunting buddies to join me and share the trip's expenses - I'm going to use my crossbow. Or maybe take one with a muzzle-loading rifle since I haven't done that before either.

But what I also will say is this: I think if push comes to shove and I have a little guy or gal piggy come out of some palmetto thicket I'll take a pass on the critter. In this case I really don't care how destructive wild hogs of any size can be nor how many (potential) other wild swine the sow will produce or the boar sires. Either way, the critter will get to live another day.

For information about hunting wild hogs (or alligators or turkeys or deer or exotic species) with Matt Cates and his Triple M Outfitters, contact him at 321-863-2985. I've always said that a Florida wild hog hunt is the country's least expensive big-game hunt. Presently, Matt charges $200 for the first hog and $100 for every subsequent hog; and you better plan on shooting at least two hogs.

Processing rates are also inexpensive when compared to what it takes to process a deer in Northeast Ohio.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Kentucky moves to limit the import of hunter-killed Ohio deer

Kentucky is shutting the door part way on allowing hunters to bring back deer they have shot in Ohio.

The moves comes after Ohio discovered a captive deer herd in Holmes County contained a buck infected with chronic wasting disease. The World Class Whitetails of Ohio facility is a high-fence/big dollars hunting preserve that specializes in providing trophy bucks for paying clients.

World Class Whitetails of Ohio's infected buck came from Pennsylvania in an area where CWD previously was detected. It and several other captive-raised deer were imported into Ohio but the buck was the only animal that tested positive for CWD. 

A number of other businesses that opted out of killing their imported deer will have to have their facility monitored for several years in order to assure their deer and their property is free of CWD,

In the meantime, Ohio is going to great lengths to ramp up its efforts to monitor to see if the highly contagious disease has crossed over from the the hunting preserve to Holmes County's wild herd. The state has set up operations at various locations in Homes County where successful deer hunters have the opportunity to donate the heads of their animals for the purpose of CWD testing.

At present the use of brain matter and related parts is the only way scientists have of testing for CWD, a slow-acting disease largely believed caused by misshapen proteins called "prions" that somehow have the capacity to successfully engage other proteins even though they are not living organisms. Over time these prions create gaping holes in brain matter, hence the use of the term "spongiform" for CWD.

Though humans are capable of becoming a victim of the spongiform Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, there is no scientific evidence for and little support of that CWD will make the leap from such so-callec cervids as deer, elk and deer to humans. But scientists are among the world's more conservative and thus cautious experts.

Consequently they are not taking any chances whenever a CWD-infected animal is found anywhere and regardless of whether that individual has come from a captive breeder or hunting preserve or whether it was recovered from the wild.

Thus while CWD presents a known health risk to deer, Kentucky has adopted the not-without precedent step of insisting that hunters undertake precaution if they are bringing back deer they have shot in Ohio.

"Yes, Kentucky has been conservative with respect to CWD and live animal/carcass importation," said Scott Zody, chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

"Since they have both deer and elk (which they invested a lot of resources to reintroduce) I can understand their concerns.  We are continuing to gather samples in Holmes County via hunter-harvested deer and road kill, and will be out in force to contact hunters during the muzzle-loader season."

 It is important to note that Kentucky's new regulatory efforts on the importation of deer and deer parts from Ohio are almost word-for-word identical to those taken by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Game Resources' official announcement - said to have been sent or given to all Kentucky deer processors and taxidermists - reads:

"Hunters will no longer be able to bring the whole carcass of a deer killed in Ohio into Kentucky.

 "Researchers recently confirmed that a deer held in a northeastern Ohio captive hunting reserve tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD).

"CWD is a contagious and fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk and other cervids native to North America. Currently, there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans. 

"Chronic wasting disease has been previously detected in other neighboring states including Missouri, Illinois, West Virginia and Virginia. Ohio joins 19 other states and two Canadian provinces where this disease has been found.

"Kentucky, which does not have the disease in its animals, prohibits the importation of whole carcasses or high-risk cervid parts such as the brain, spinal cord, eyes, lymphoid tissue from deer or elk killed in CWD–infected states and provinces.

"Hunters may bring back deboned meat, hindquarters, antlers attached to a clean skull plate, a clean skull, clean teeth, hides and finished taxidermy products. To help prevent the entry of CWD into the state, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources discourages hunters from bringing back high-risk parts of deer or elk taken in any state, regardless of CWD status.

"Several proactive steps have been taken by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and captive cervid owners to prevent the introduction of the disease into the state. 

"Kentucky Fish and Wildlife monitors wild deer and elk herds while the Kentucky Department of Agriculture monitors the captive herds. Since 2002, Kentucky has tested more than 23,000 deer and elk for the presence of the disease. All results have been negative.

"Regulations enacted to reduce the likelihood of CWD in Kentucky have included a ban on importation of live cervids from CWD-positive states, mandatory CWD monitoring of captive herds and prohibiting the importation of high-risk carcass parts from CWD-positive states into Kentucky.

"This disease can persist in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil or vegetation or through contact with infected cervid parts. The movement of live animals, either through the captive deer trade or natural migration, is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas." 

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lake Metroparks' adapted boating program sailing awards seas

Score one for Lake Metroparks which deservedly is up for top honors for a recreational boating program built around people with special needs.

The Ohio Parks and Recreation Association’s awards program’s official entry has a rather unwieldy moniker dubbed “Special Populations Lake Metroparks Adapted Boating.”

Even so, the program is one of three submissions in the running for the Association’s Governor’s Award, presented as the best thing any parks system is doing.

Lake Metroparks’ “Adapted Boating” program has already earned the Association’s best adaptive program award.

What the body of the parks system’s submission details is how the four-week-long project assisted people with special needs in discovering how to safely sail, paddle and also operate a wide variety of pleasure craft.

Each session, says the application document, “… included education in a different type of boat” from kayaks to sailboats to power boats.

Training was done by parks’ staff that ensured they and their students were properly fitted with boating-safety gear such as life jackets. Instructors also carried handheld marine-type communication devices.

Park volunteers and parents of the students assisted as well.

Activities were conducted this past summer at the parks system’s Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park.

The program ‘s intent – among other things – was to increase education and safety awareness in safe boating skills along with an emphasis on paddling techniques, sportsmanship and “improved motor development.”

Equal to those goals was simply to allow the participants to have fun, said the project’s leader and Lake Metroparks’ staff official Jim Meadows.

Also, official assistance came from Fairport Harbor Village, the Spirit of America Foundation, Grand River Marina and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said Tom Adair, Lake Metroparks’ Park Services Director.

“This is what our people do every day, rain or shine, and as often as not, on their own time, too,” said also Paul Palagyi, Lake Metroparks’ executive director.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

 Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

Monday, December 8, 2014

No good spin: Ohio's 2014 deer gun season kill crashes and burns

Any attempt by the Ohio Division of Wildlife to put a good spin on the just concluded statewide firearms deer-hunting season will likely be seen by at least some participants as nothing more than an agency trying to gain traction with bald tires.

A total seven-day count nearly 10,000 animals smaller than for last year’s deer gun season is not sitting well with some hunters who fruitlessly sought venison for the freezer and a trophy for the wall.

The final, preliminary total kill figure for Ohio’s 2014 seven-day firearms deer-hunting season is 65,485 animals. For the 2013 firearms deer-hunting season the figure was 75,408 animals.

Down as well is the to-date deer kill. For the 2014 header the figure stands at 148,830 animals while to comparable 2013 to-date statistic was 162,720 animals.

A quick look at the county-by-county breakdown shows that nearly 60 of Ohio’s 88 counties posted declines. And the really heavy-hitting counties such as Guernsey, Ashtabula, Morgan, Harrison, Coshocton, Gallia and Washington are all in the deficit column when their 2014 deer gun season stats are placed alongside their comparable 2013 deer gun season figures.

In announcing the 2014 firearms deer-hunting season the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was quick to note that the slashes in the county-by-county harvest rates is something to crow about.

“Until recently, the population in nearly all of Ohio’s counties were above their target numbers,” the Natural Resources Department’s press release says.

Continuing the agency’s explanation reads: “In the last few years, through increased harvests, dramatic strides have been made in many counties to bring those populations closer to their goal, and the effectiveness of these herd management efforts are reflected in the number of deer checked this season.

“Once a county’s deer population is near (its) goal, harvest regulations are adjusted to maintain the population.”

Yet not every Ohio deer hunter is buying into that line of white-tail management strategy. Among these dissenters is Dennis J. Malloy Jr., a former Wildlife Division wildlife officer who now toils away as an official with Whitetails Unlimited.

In an email sent to Mike Tonkovich – the Wildlife Division’s point-man on deer management in the state – Malloy wrote that the state “has to stop the bleeding.”

“I have never seen so many hunters apathetic and discouraged about our deer herd and deer hunting tradition,” Malloy wrote.

Continuing and adding that two of his uncles have thrown “in the towel,” Malloy writes he saw but three deer in Trumbull County on opening day and zilch in Harrison County on Sunday.

Further, Malloy writes in his email to Tonkovich, at the several rural gas stations he stopped at the bucks he observed were all small; their owners shooting them “because they were the only deer they saw.”

“They couldn’t be too picky after not seeing deer all week,” Malloy writes.
Malloy chides the Wildlife Division for taking a wrong approach to deer management, in the process alienating the constituency base that could abandon the field all-together in no small way.

“… the natives are restless..,” Malloy writes in conclusion. “…Please stop the bleeding before opening another wound.”

Here is the county-by-county kill for the 2014 statewide firearms deer-hunting season and as posted by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. The corresponding 2013 figures are in parentheses:

Adams: 1,134 (1,343); Allen: 348 (380); Ashland: 1,160 (1,162); Ashtabula: 1,730 (2,334); Athens: 1,360 (1,745); Auglaize: 278 (299); Belmont: 1,428 (1,851); Brown: 940 (932); Butler: 308 (312); Carroll: 1,477 (2,019); Champaign: 434 (414); Clark: 195 (198); Clermont: 685 (667); Clinton: 285 (250); Columbiana: 1,245 (1,726); Coshocton: 2,308 (2,658); Crawford: 515 (528); Cuyahoga: 24 (31); Darke: 241 (170); Defiance: 871 (744); Delaware: 422 (393); Erie: 219 (176); Fairfield: 708 (827); Fayette: 142 (103); Franklin: 124 (113); Fulton: 336 (341); Gallia: 1,220 (1,420); Geauga: 470 (509); Greene: 213 (224); Guernsey: 1,788 (2,401); Hamilton: 165 (202); Hancock: 443 (338); Hardin: 487 (544); Harrison: 1,491 (2,133); Henry: 334 (326); Highland: 1,004 (1,041); Hocking: 1,195 (1,456); Holmes: 1,349 (1,494); Huron: 921 (1,029); Jackson: 968 (1,156); Jefferson: 1,120 (1,494); Knox: 1,727 (1,966); Lake: 138 (126); Lawrence: 779 (1,002); Licking: 1,655 (1,887); Logan: 672 (653); Lorain: 646 (678); Lucas: 105 (131); Madison: 154 (127); Mahoning: 555 (750); Marion: 340 (348); Medina: 567 (555); Meigs: 1,270 (1,482); Mercer: 206 (219); Miami: 250 (211); Monroe: 1,056 (1,337); Montgomery: 130 (109); Morgan: 1,207 (1,445); Morrow: 671 (640); Muskingum: 2,084 (2,604); Noble: 1,031 (1,454); Ottawa: 121 (88); Paulding: 509 (499); Perry: 1,160 (1,362); Pickaway: 330 (343); Pike: 701 (818); Portage: 451 (568); Preble: 272 (274); Putnam: 315 (255); Richland: 1,159 (1,182); Ross: 1,106 (1,167); Sandusky: 261 (208); Scioto: 761 (1,099); Seneca: 710 (747); Shelby: 397 (371); Stark: 759 (883); Summit: 122 (140); Trumbull: 983 (1,298); Tuscarawas: 2,074 (2,604); Union: 313 (301); Van Wert: 283 (214); Vinton: 1,032 (1,424); Warren: 321 (285); Washington: 1,409 (1,606); Wayne: 639 (724); Williams: 831 (838); Wood: 389 (213); Wyandot: 749 (690). Total: 65,485 (75,408).

-         - Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.