Tuesday, May 27, 2014

This year's spring turkey season harvest was for the birds

This blog is running late, the result of a recent familiarization travel trip to northwest Nebraska to which I accepted on behalf of the newspaper (The News-Herald, Lake County, Ohio) associated with this electronic column.

Some turkey hunters and state wildlife officials are blaming the poor weather that dogged Ohio’s four-week-long spring wild turkey-hunting season for the precipitous decline in the birds’ harvest.

Other hunters – and maybe even an Ohio Division of Wildlife official or two if you twist their arms tight enough to say “uncle” – believe the drop is the new reality; that the days when gobblers seemingly gobbled from every roost tree and birds were seen at mid-day in every plowed field are now history.

Count me as being a waffler. Yes, I believe that the poor weather during the season played significant role in the sharp decline in the harvest. This was especially true in Northeast Ohio where during the first week in late April a few flakes of snow fluttered about.

That being said, I am even more convinced that turkey numbers have slipped across the species’ range in Ohio.

Ohio has experienced these phenomena before with other wildlife species. So have other states.

In simple terms, turkey numbers soared when the Wildlife Division began an intensive program of capturing brood stock in one part of the state and transplanting them in other locations where wild turkeys were either absent or in very short supply.

It did not take long for turkeys to adapt, filling in the habitat blanks that biologists figured the species would find accommodating. And surprising just about everyone by establishing strong leg holds in counties no one ever expected to see a viable population.

This was – and to a degree still is particularly true in Ohio’s highly urbanized counties. Today, gobblers are routinely legally harvested in places like Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Franklin County (Columbus) as well as other densely populated counties.

Over time nature rose to the occasion by adjusting the population to properly match available habitat and food sources. That, at least, is the argument that proponents of a smaller and more stable wild turkey flock promote.

Count me in that group, too though again I also believe weather played a factor in this year’s depressed turkey harvest figures.

In terms of numbers, this year’s preliminary statewide spring season wild turkey harvest was 16,556 birds. That is a marked decline from the 2013 spring season harvest of 18,391 turkeys. 

And an even greater drop from the 20,000 birds some Ohio Division of Wildlife biologists suggested would be harvested prior to the beginning of this year’s spring wild turkey-hunting season.

As for individual county success, here is a breakdown with their respective 2013 figures in parentheses:

Adams: 381 (418); Allen: 48 (43); Ashland: 223 (236); Ashtabula: 615 (766); Athens: 342 (331); Auglaize: 42 (31); Belmont: 444 (471); Brown: 340 (348); Butler: 155 (197); Carroll: 365 (373); Champaign: 91 (96); Clark: 13 (19); Clermont: 288 (339); Clinton: 62 (58); Columbiana: 395 (425); Coshocton: 484 (530); Crawford: 72 (93); Cuyahoga: 2 (5); Darke: 36 (44); Defiance: 208 (205); Delaware: 116 (104); Erie: 51 (62); Fairfield: 66 (92); Fayette: 10 (11); Franklin: 17 (24); Fulton: 99 (102); Gallia: 328 (360); Geauga: 264 (296); Greene: 17 (23); Guernsey: 466 (541); Hamilton: 86 (111); Hancock: 29 (34); Hardin: 76 (82); Harrison: 392 (479); Henry: 31 (51); Highland: 312 (332); Hocking: 267 (315); Holmes: 269 (266); Huron: 142 (186); Jackson: 277 (311); Jefferson: 347 (426); Knox: 415 (469); Lake: 74 (67); Lawrence: 163 (170); Licking: 337 (363); Logan: 146 (145); Lorain: 138 (149); Lucas: 50 (61); Madison: 5 (5); Mahoning: 247 (236); Marion: 28 (41); Medina: 122 (107); Meigs: 397 (398); Mercer: 19 (16); Miami: 16 (23); Monroe: 424 (486); Montgomery: 13 (14); Morgan: 277 (343); Morrow: 182 (208); Muskingum: 453 (530); Noble: 292 (320); Ottawa: 6 (5); Paulding: 87 (91); Perry: 255 (277); Pickaway: 23 (26); Pike: 257 (264); Portage: 247 (259); Preble: 95 (87); Putnam: 71 (61); Richland: 307 (375); Ross: 289 (328); Sandusky: 21 (25); Scioto: 199 (229); Seneca: 140 (154); Shelby: 54 (64); Stark: 261 (266); Summit: 40 (48); Trumbull: 417 (478); Tuscarawas: 493 (527); Union: 32 (36); Van Wert: 17 (17); Vinton: 242 (324); Warren: 89 (111); Washington: 394 (439); Wayne: 107 (116); Williams: 239 (253); Wood: 28 (30); Wyandot: 80 (114).
Totals: 16,556 (18,391)

Jeff Frischkorn retired as staff reporter for The News-Herald in March, 2013. He continues to maintain this outdoors blog as a service to the newspaper's readers. Frischkorn is also a columnist and feature correspondent for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week.

 - Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Never too old to write (or win awards) I guess

I guess I’ll wind up dying with my reporter’s notebook in hand.

Or at the very least I’ll go down slinging ink. And in the process maybe pick up another journalism award or two.

During the just-concluded Outdoor Writers of Ohio’s 75th Annual Conference held in Athens, Ohio, my efforts with this electronic Internet blog, my work appearing in The News-Herald prior to my retirement and even afterwards, as well as my writing with the Ohio Outdoor News was good for two first place awards, three second place awards, and one third place awards in the group’s Craft Improvement competition.

In the group’s Best Newspaper Special Section or Series came a first place award for a series of columns collectively called “Ammo Shortage? No, Just Supply and Demand.” This group of stories also appeared in modified form in this blog.

The second first place award came for my final regular News-Herald outdoors column in a farewell story last March entitled “Career Affords Many Gifts,” as an entry in the group’s Best Newspaper Article category.

Among the presented second place awards was one for my “Trails End” Ohio Outdoor News column. This column appears in each edition of that publication and which comes out on an every-other-week basis.

Also for appearing in the Ohio Outdoor News magazine-style newspaper was a good for second place companion series entitled “Pymatuning Fishing Techniques” and in OWO’s “Best Newspaper Special Section or Series” category.

The third second place award was in OWO’s “Will Harbaum Award: Best Travel Article: for the exclusively News-Herald travel story “Discover Alabama’s Gulf Coast Civil War Role.”

Finally, the third place award was for an exclusive submission from this blog in OWO’s Best Internet Article for “On the Passing of Two Lake County Giants.” This was a Sept. 11, 2013 Internet blog story on the death of long-time community and local environmental leader Hugh Pallister and area horticultural and garden plant expert Rudy J. Veselko Sr.

Just by way of reference, on April 1, 2013 I retired after 30 years as a reporter for The News-Herald, mostly covering the outdoors, earth sciences as well as the area’s three county park districts.

But since any writer’ ego is too large to get in the way of retiring completely; I continue to maintain this blog. Also, I have kept up my association with the Ohio Outdoor News, both as a columnist along with Steve Pollick, the retired outdoors editor for the Toledo Blade, and as regular freelance features writer.

Ohio Outdoor News is an every-other-week newspaper-style “magazine” that is part of a group of similar Midwest and East sibling publications. It is Ohio’s most widely read publication devoted strictly to items associated with the state’s hunters, anglers, conservationists and other outdoor enthusiasts.

The Outdoor Writers of Ohio is the nation’s oldest such state association devoted to the outdoors, conservation and related matters.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

First quarter new Ohio CCW permits nose dive while renewals soar

Another 16,205 Ohioans were legally authorized to carry a concealed weapon during the first three months of this year; a huge drop from 2013’s same three-month period.

Meanwhile, 15,832 dually licensed Ohioans renewed their permits during this year’s first three months. That figure is more than twice the number of renewals issued in the first quarter of 2013.

All statistics are gleaned from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s First Quarter report on concealed carry permit activity. The report is required by Ohio law and the latest accounting is for the months January through March.

Every one of Ohio’s 88 counties registered the issuance of new concealed carry licenses during the first three months of this year while only one -Champaign County – failed to record any renewals.

By comparison, during the first three months of 2013 the state’s 88 county sheriffs processed and approved a whopping 31,407 concealed carry permits and renewed 6,354 concealed carry permits.

For 2012 the number of new concealed carry permits issued was more in line with the number for the first three months of this year: 16,823. And another 1,300 concealed carry holders saw their permits reissued for the same period in 2012.

In terms of which county issued the greatest number of new concealed carry permits during this year’s first quarter, that honor goes to Lake County. Here Lake County Sherriff Dan Dunlap’s team approved 1,122 new concealed carry permits during the first three months of this year.

Lake County often leads in this category, with prospective candidates from this and adjacent counties often citing Dunlap’s methodical and efficient issuing process as the main reason they chose Lake.

Among other Ohio counties that issued substantial numbers of new permits during the first quarter of 2014 were Montgomery County (773), Mahoning County (551), Summit County (484), Hamilton County (780), and Franklin County (780).

At the other end of the number of new permits issued during the first three months of 2014 were such counties as Monroe County (33), Noble County (32), Defiance and Harrison counties (each 29), Perry County (24), and lastly, Perry County (14).

All that being said, Lake County did not claim title to the most renewals issued, however. Butler County is credited with this title, issuing 762 renewal concealed carry permits during the first three months of 2014.

To illustrate the growing number of permit holders seeking to renew their permits, fully 38 of Ohio’s 88 county sheriffs approved more renewals than they issued permits to first-time applicants during the first three months of this year.

And one – Ashtabula County -  recorded an identical 76 new as well as renewed concealed carry permits during the first quarter of this year.

The next required reporting quarter for Attorney General DeWine will cover the months April, May and June. Likely this report will become available around the middle of August.

During both 2012 and 2013, both more new and renewal concealed carry permits were processed during their respective second quarters than during their respective first quarters.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, May 12, 2014

Every angler/hunter needs a Fishmobile and/or a Huntmobile

It was a child’s innocence that drove the question; one that many adults almost certainly have harbored but remained mum.

“When are you going to clean your car?” asked nine-year-old Andrea.

Cute kid, a couple of church family folk have there for a granddaughter.

Andrea had just ridden in Little Red, my 2006 Hyundai Tucson V6 with an odometer-jarring 169,000 miles.

Placed in a child’s seat that necessitated raising the vehicle’s always-down left rear seat, Andrea had no other choice but to stare at all the flotsam and jetsam that has either washed from underneath the front seat or else has cascaded over the lip of the down split-back seat.
This detritus has built up over the years, the way magma begins to accumulate inside a still-active volcano.

Certainly nothing will explode, though from time to time I do manage to recover a lost shot shell last season and needed during the previous goose-hunting season.

No matter since Little Red happens to my personal Huntmobile, one that transforms itself into a Fishmobile during the respective angling and hunting seasons.

My Huntmobile has all of the necessary tools to get the job done right, too. It has plenty of pockets and cubbyholes to store valuable stuff. That much of this so-called stuff is never really used its sole purpose is intended to ease my mind that if I ever needed such-and-such tool or this-and-that widget and gadget it can be found in Little Red, my huntmobile.

Or mostly, anyway, as my efforts to supply and resupply the vehicle goes on and on. Every now and then I do forget exactly where I left things, including the extra tent stakes, a just-in-case requirement given that I do not own a tent but figure the metal posts may have another critical use not yet foreseen.

And before you ask, of course I have a collection of bungee cords. Along with cable ties, rope of two sizes, heavy-duty line and a couple of rolls of duct tape, including one finished in blaze orange, thank you.

Those necessities ride right along with the appropriate and seasonal goose-hunting, turkey-hunting, bird-hunting, and steelhead-fishing vests. Rain gear as well in addition to a pair of knee-high rubber boots are signature must- haves Huntmobile-Fishmobile items along with a well-stocked first aid kit for me and one for my two Labrador retrievers.

Oh, and wedged between the front and back seats is a spare walking cane should my adjustable hiking staff be tucked too far down in the truck so that it cannot be pried out anytime soon.

Okay, maybe on the floor are some petrified McDonald French fries and a wandering cough drop or two that somehow had escaped imprisonment in Little Red’s glove box. I seriously doubt the accumulated weight of this refuse would exceed five or so pounds, however.

Things have gotten so out of hand that whenever my oldest brother Terry is compelled to ride in Little Red he supplies his own towel to sit on. I’m magnanimous to accept an otherwise failed attempt at poor humor.

Some folks may wonder why not flush out Little Red after each use. The simple and short answer is a a rhetorical  one: “Say what; are you crazy?”

Look, Little Red may find itself pressed into service for a morning goose hunt only to see that gear bartered for archery deer-hunting tackle a few hours later

 I’m also happy if I can tamp down the odor of wet dog before I stuff my crossbow, arrows and appropriate clothing into the vehicle.

The same thing goes on the spring where the exchange rate is calculated in turkey-hunting equipment verses steelhead fly-fishing gear.

If you’re going to suggest that the best solution is to own a separate Huntmobile and a separate Fishmobile I’ve been down that road with Bev on several occasion. It simply is not going to happen.

So Little Red remains my idea of an ideal Huntmobile/Fishmobile. So much so that I have taped to the dashboard in front of the front passenger seat a “Hagar the Horrible” cartoon. The single frame shows an obvious distraught Mrs. Hagar and her balloon comment being “Hagar, you’re a dirty, disgusting pig.”

To which an equally obviously perplexed Hagar’s balloon responding “And your point is…?”
Anyway, I promised Andrea that if she ever again wanted to go for a ride in Little Red I’d clean its innards just for her.

I’d like to prove it, too, by taking a couple of photographs to show Andrea before her arrival . The problem is, however, the camera is somewhere within Little Red’s bowels and I just can’t seem to find it.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Midway throuh Ohio's spring turkey season and stats looking grim

Midway through Ohio’s four-week long spring wild turkey-hunting season and the numbers are nothing to crow about.
Overall, the first two-week period of the 2014 spring wild turkey-hunting season is down 12.07 percent.
Of those counties that saw triple-digit harvests during the 2013 spring wild turkey-hunting season, fully 40 of them saw decreases during the first two weeks of this year’s spring season.

Only two such counties saw increases during the first two weeks of this year’s spring wild turkey-hunting season: Defiance County, up 4.76% from 126 bearded wild turkeys for the first two weeks in 2013 to the 132 birds killed during the first two weeks of this year’s spring season.

The other county is Meigs County, up 9.85% from the 264 birds registered in 2013 and the 290 gobblers recorded during the comparable first two weeks of this year’s season.

Among the typically “hot” spring turkey harvest counties declines were significant. Among the drops (with percentage followed by 2014’s first two weeks, and then 2013’s first two weeks) were Ashtabula County - (down 21.97%, 373, 478); Adams County - (down 11.46%, 255, 288); Clermont County - (down 18.60%, 197, 242); Coshocton County - (down 13.36%, 314, 362); Geauga County - (down 17.91%, 165, 201); Guernsey County - (down 16.17%, 337, 402); Harrison County - (down 18.45%, 274, 336); Hocking County - (down 19.91%, 185, 231); Morgan County - (down 25.71%, 182, 245); Richland County - (down 20.55%, 201, 253); Trumbull County - (down 12.62%, 270, 309); Vinton County - (down 25.88% and largest drop, 169, 228); Williams County - (down 8.72%, 157, 172).

The above shows that the steep declines were seen statewide and not just regionalized into one section of Ohio.

Overall, the rest of the numbers are equally grim. Of Ohio’s 88 counties, just 16 of them saw gains with four of these by just a single bird: Lake County - (47 gobblers for this season’s first two weeks and 46 gobblers for the first two weeks during the 2013 spring season) and Hancock County - (21 gobblers for the first weeks this spring season and 20 gobblers for the 2013 season’s first two weeks); Miami County - (14 gobblers for this season’s first two weeks and 13 gobblers for the first two weeks during the 2013 spring season).

A pair of other counties saw identical first two-week harvests for the 2013 and 2014 spring wild turkey-hunting seasons. They were Putnam County - (no change at 35 birds), and Sandusky County - (no change at 17 gobblers).

How things shake out for this – the season’s third week – and next week’s final leg, much will depend on the weather, how many hunters are willing to brave the ever-earlier sunrise starts along with folks who simply will say they have had enough and reach for their fishing poles instead of their turkey-hunting shotguns.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn