Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lake Metroparks' archery deer hunting lottery now underway

Better known for its steelhead fishing opportunities, Lake Metroparks also annually provides the chance for some lucky deer hunters to have their own catch of the day.

However, the hook for this deer hunting possibility is for Lake County residents only. Plus, owners of businesses based in Lake County.

In other words if a person or business pays property taxes in Lake County they are good to go in terms of eligibility for participating in Lake Metroparks’ annual drawing for the agency’s controlled archery-only deer-hunting program.

A lone exception to this Lake County resident-only rule is a series of hunts embracing veterans with service-related injuries.

This overall package of hunts is intended to help manage the deer herds at several Lake Metroparks’ properties.

Last year lottery-selected hunters connected on 13 does and six bucks. These animals coming from seven parks system’s designated deer-management units.

These units are – with their respective 2014 deer kill – Big Creek Corridor (two deer), Lake Erie Bluffs (three deer), Indian Point Park/Vrooman Road Corridor (four deer), Indian Point Park/Upper Area (one deer), Blair Road Property (two deer), and River Road Maintenance Property (seven deer).

Registration for the lottery already is underway, says Tom Koritansky, Lake Metroparks’ Natural Resources Manager.

The registration process is available through an online portal via Lake Metroparks’ web site - - and which extends to 11:59 p.m., August 25th.

In-person registration is available, too. Such sign-ups will be taken through 4:30 p.m., August 25th at the parks system’s headquarters, 11211 Spear Road, Concord Township, Koritansky says.

“Once again, we’ll be selecting eligible participants through a lottery and then assigning them to locations and groups based on the order in which they were chosen in the drawing,” Koritansky said.

Koritansky said as well that the Lake Metroparks’ controlled archery-only deer hunts will run concurrently with Ohio’s archery deer-hunting season; that being September 26 through February 7.

“Since there are 19 weeks in the state’s archery deer-hunting season, we will structure our hunts into five, three-week groups and set for the first 15 weeks of the season, and a pair of two-week groups set for the last four weeks of the season,” Koritansky said.

Other eligibility stipulations for the lottery – besides the requirement of being a Lake County resident or a Lake County business owner – include being at least 18 years old.

Participants who are successful in this - the lottery's fifth installment - will have the option of naming a partner to hunt in their place whenever that successful applicant is unable to hunt, Koritansky says.

“Understand that partners must meet the same eligibility requirements as do the primary hunter,” Koritansky says. “But participants will be permitted to bring one non-hunting guest who must remain in the vicinity of the hunter at all times, so there won’t be any deer drives.”

As has been required with previous Lake Metroparks archery-only deer hunts, each participant must successfully pass a proficiency test with their archery tackle. Likewise all participants are required to attend one of the mandatory pre-hunt meetings in order to receive a permit.

Sites for this year’s hunts include River Road Park in Madison Township, Indian Point Park along Vrooman Road in Leroy Township, Lake Erie Bluffs and south of Clark Road in Perry Township, and the agency’s Blair Road property, south of the Grand River, in Leroy Township.
Participants at Blair Road hunt within one general area.  There will be up to two participants hunting at a time at the Blair Road Property.

 Koritansky says that participants hunting at the River Road Park unit will hunt from pre-determined locations with stands provided by Lake Metroparks.

“Participants do have the option of bringing their own professionally made stand or blind, and can hunt within a 100-yard radius of each of these sites,” Koritansky says. “We will have eight stands at River Road Park.”
Participants at Indian Point Park and Lake Erie Bluffs will be required to hunt within assigned areas also, says Koritansky. 

Likewise, hunters may tote their own professionally manufactured stand or blind if they so choose. 

“We'll have three areas available at both Lake Erie Bluffs and Indian Point Park,” Koritansky said.  “However, one area was removed at Indian Point this year because of the construction of the new high-level Vrooman Road bridge.”

Results for the hunt lottery are planned for posting on Lake Metroparks’ web site as well as available at the parks system’s administrative office on August 27th.

As for the special veterans-only hunts, Koritansky says that service-connected disabilities were the criteria used in the past and will rule again this year.

Veterans-only hunt applicants also must be at least 18 years old.
However, applicants for the veterans-only hunts feature the additional requirement that they be sent directly to Lake Metroparks headquarters or else completed in person at the agency’s office.

Prospective veterans-only hunt applicants that are completed in person have as their deadline 4:30 p.m., August 25th and if mailed, postmarked by August 25th, Koritansky said

“Those persons selected for the veterans hunts will be assigned hunting sessions throughout the archery deer-hunting season and will be based on the overall number of applicants, their needs and accommodations as well as the level of interest,” Koritansky says.
“We may employ a lottery system to select participants if the number of applicants exceeds the number of available hunting slots.”

Importantly too, says Koritansky, is that each participating veteran may be joined by a non-hunting guest.

Hunting for veterans with service-connected disabilities will take place at the Big Creek Corridor – Williams Road Property, Indian Point Park – Upper, and Hell Hollow Wilderness Area. 

Participants hunting at these locations will hunt from stands or blinds installed by Lake Metroparks. 

There are three locations available at the Big Creek property and two available at Indian Point – Upper.  Another two locations will be made available at Hell Hollow if the capacity at the other two properties is exceeded. 
The schedule for the veteran-only hunts will be posted by September 4th.

Interested applicants can get more information about the controlled hunt programs by visiting

 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 125 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.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

From an abuntant alien predator to possible climate change all threaten Lake Erie's yellow perch

One study does not a consensus make.

Still, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife may have the opportunity to latch onto a fisheries study written by Ohio State University professor Stuart A. Ludsin as to why Lake Erie sport anglers as well as commercial fishermen continue to encounter meager catches of yellow perch.

Ludsin’s study strongly hints that the recent poor quality of Lake Erie yellow perch fishing is the result of long-term global warming.

The professor’s report is detailed today in a Page One News-Herald story written by one of its reporters, Lindsey O’Brien.

This study and Ludsin’s comments also appear online with and other Internet-based news outlets – including a July 15 Ohio State University on-line wire story, available at

It is Ludsin’s argument - and compressed into the university’s July 15 story’s lead paragraph - that “Research has suggested yellow perch grow more rapidly during the short winters from climate change, but a new study shows (that) warmer water temperatures can lead to the production of less hardy (yellow perch) eggs and larvae that have trouble surviving these early stages of life in Lake Erie.”

Thus the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife has yet another argument – or excuse, depending on one’s point of view – that last year’s and this year’s to-date Lake Erie yellow perch fishing has skidded to the point of almost grinding to a halt.

Agency personnel have likewise said that Lake Erie yellow perch anglers are fishing in all the wrong places, hanging on to traditional perch-jerking stomping grounds instead of bouncing around, looking in different locations.

Add to that point of view is Ludsin’s assertion that Lake Erie’s abundant population of the non-native white perch is a potentially significant factor in what the fisheries biologist believes is a general and steady failing of yellow perch stocks.

In a March, 2014 Ohio Outdoor News story Ludsin is quoted as saying that between white perch, walleye, white bass - and even adult yellow perch - the latter’s offspring hardly have much of an opportunity to reach maturity.

“There are between 46 million and 106 million predators in the western basin,” Ludsin says in the Ohio Outdoor News story. “In just 24 hours they can consume between 32 million and 189 million perch larvae. That is an enormous number.”

And given that Lake Erie’s white perch constitutes 90 percent of the waterway’s aquatic predator base, the species easily is the lake’s most prolific predator; Ludsin says.

“If not enough food is available, the (yellow perch) larvae will grow slowly and be vulnerable to predator like white perch,” Ludsin adds via the Ohio State University’s most recent electronic media posting.

Similarly, says Ludsin, if white perch were absent from Lake Erie then yellow perch larvae likely would have a fighting chance.

“But having short winters leads to low-quality larvae is a big disadvantage because of the risk of getting eaten,” Ludsin says.

And now comes Ludsin’s clarion claim that climate change may be an even larger factor as to why Lake Erie sport anglers – and commercial fishermen – are struggling to find and catch fish.

“There are a lot of factors that can help explain why yellow perch numbers are low in Lake Erie,” Ludsin says. “The water winter temperatures clearly are an important one.”

Even so, Ludsin is willing to admit that fisheries biologists still do not have all the dots, let alone the line, that could link one culprit to another as to why Lake Erie’s yellow perch stocks continue to wither.

Consequently, Ludsin cautions, there is “no quick fix” as to improving Lake Erie’s yellow perch numbers.

“Yellow perch might have an inability to adjust their spawning to take advantage of those warm temperatures when they occur,” Ludsin says. “Is there something hard-wired in them, like some physiological limitation, or an effect of (water) temperature on hormones? We just don’t know.”
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn



Saturday, July 18, 2015

Lake Metroparks enlarges its most rugged and wild reservation

Lake Metroparks has made a heavenly addition to its 845-acre Hell Hollow Wilderness Area in Leroy Township.

Approved at its July 15 meeting the agency’s Board of Park Commissioners agreed to spend $175,000 in order to buy 43 acres of basically land-locked woodlands in Leroy Township.

The new acreage dovetails nicely with the parks system’s goal of acquiring property that is adjacent to existing holdings, says parks deputy director, Vince Urbanski, .

“It’s a fair price, especially considering that it’s been landlocked ever since Interstate 90 was made,” Urbanski said.

That highway delineates the property’s northern boundary while the existing Hell Hollow portion is to the east.

Easily one of Northeast Ohio’s most rugged and challenging properties Hell Hollow deserves the title of “Wilderness Area.”

“It’s pretty rugged so getting access there will be a challenge,” Urbanski said. “At some point we’ll look at providing access to this track and some other properties through a network of trails.”

Unique features of this new and long-coveted parcel include fronting about 2,000 feet of bank along Paine Creek.

However, since the property is located upstream of Paine Falls the opportunity for migrating steelhead to find their way to this stretch is nil, says Urbanski.

And even though the addition of the new parcel means Hell Hollow is now 888 acres strong this unit still stands in the acreage shadow of 942-acre Girdled Road Reservation in Concord Township.

So any future acquisition will prove a horse race as to which unit will claim itself as the parks system’s largest entity.

“Part of our acquisition goal is to acquire property adjacent to existing park holdings,” Urbanski said. “It’s this kind of linkage that we’re looking for.”

In other park board activity the three-member body approved spending $147,900 to build a 70-foot long by six-foot wide pedestrian bridge over a 20-foot deep chasm that will link two segments of the parks system’s ever-increasingly popular 600-acre Lake Erie Bluffs park in Perry Township.

On one side of this natural ravine barrier is 148 acres with remainder on the other side. By adding a pedestrian bridge consisting of an aluminum superstructure and a wooden deck visitors will be able to hike between the two parcels without needing to employ mountain-climbing gear.

“Construction will begin as soon as the contractor can mobilize its resources,” Urbanski said. “We anticipate that completion will be in October sometime, weather determining.”

By 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.


Friday, July 17, 2015

UPDATED: Derailing the rumor mill about shutting off Ohio's field trials and shooting preserves

To tweak just a smidgeon a quote made by 18th Century author Jonathan Swift : “Rumor flies and the Truth comes limping after it.”

Only Mr. Swift’s original word was “Lie” and not “Rumor.” Come to think of it a rumor can be a lie. Or a rumor could simply be some unverified piece of information.

Problem is, the longer a rumor travels and the more people that bump into it the greater the opportunity it has of being taken as gospel.

Such is the case involving Ohio’s field trials, the ones operated by dog clubs, hunting and fishing clubs, and even my own Ashtabula County-based sportsmen’s club.

Rumor had it – said my club’s field trial devotees and organizers at a recent club function – that the Ohio Division of Wildlife not only will shut down such programs it already has.

This, because of the threat posed by a possible avian flu pandemic that could race through the state and pummel Ohio’s $2.3 billion annual poultry industry.

Due to such concern the Ohio Department of Agriculture has suspended public exhibition of such fowl as chickens and turkeys along with other diverse places that include auctions and county fairs along with the Ohio State Fair.

In connecting the dots Ohio’s field trialers have made a leap from chickens and turkeys being exhibited at 4-H-associated county fairs to barn pigeons, quail, chucker partridges and pheasants being used in hunting dog training exercises as well as organized retriever, flushing and pointing dog games.

Thing is, the people who actually have the authority to dot and dash the line from Point A to Point B and beyond have not made any such determination.

“All I can tell you right now is that we are actively working with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to clarify game bird movement requirements, and we will communicate with our stakeholders as soon as we receive the final guidance document,” said Ohio Department of Natural Resources/ Division of Wildlife spokeswoman Susan Vance.

So while, yes, there’s ambiguity as to what officially will come about there is no need to panic. That is the word also from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, says agency spokeswoman, Erica M. Hawkins.

"We're working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife on guidance for game bird movement, including field trials, in the state," Hawkins said. "We hope to have final recommendations to share soon; however, further details are not available at this time.
At least not just yet, anyway, so for now the rumor that field trails are a no-no is grounded.

Sam Ballou – owner of Elkhorn Lake Shooting Preserve in Bucyrus and also president of the North American Game Bird Association – says he’s “not worried too much at this point.”

“We’re working with the Division of Wildlife and the state Agriculture Department, and what probably will be done is some testing prior to any game bird movement,” Ballou said.

Ballou said as well that a sampling of his flock of pheasant – which numbers as many as 550,000 birds – is tested every 90 days. In all, Ohio has more than 400 licensed pheasant producers, Ballou said.

“As for stopping field trials, I don’t see that happening,” Ballou also said. “I’ll probably know more in two weeks.”
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.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ohio htung/fishing license sales takes weather-associated hits; for residents, anyway

In spite of a record-breaking wet spring and half a summer, the sale of Ohio fishing licenses has not floundered like one would expect during a period of intense and prolonged heavy rain showers.

A hit, yes, but hardly a knock-out blow to the state’s Wildlife Fund. The same is true for the early sales of Ohio general hunting licenses and their various associated species-specific tags.

Indeed, sales of both non-resident fishing and general fishing licenses are actually up slightly when compared to the same 2014 to-date figures.

For June, 2015 alone and for Cleveland, a total of 8.52 inches of rain fell. That figure was enough to propel June 2014 as the third wettest June ever for Cleveland. The average rainfall for Cleveland is 3.43 inches.

It was even wetter in Youngstown which officially saw 9.02 inches while 8.31 inches fell in Akron during the month of June.

So with all of this rain that fell and causing rivers to flood, Lake Erie to rise and generally play havoc on when and where anglers could fish it is only natural to assume that fishing license sales would flush down and out.

In real dollar and cents terms such is not the case, though.

For the period through July 7th the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife sold 530,763 adult resident fishing licenses. For the same period last year the figure was 563,595.

Thus the agency experienced a drop of 5.83 percent, not nice but considering how many anglers experienced rain delays and missions scrubbed because of the steady rain drum beat, a drop of less than 6 percent should be considered salvageable.

It is important to remember, however, that by early July the bulk of annual fishing licenses of all classes have reached their peak. Last year Ohio sold a total of 662,471 adult resident fishing licenses.

Down, too, were sales of resident one-day fishing licenses (off 8.60 percent), and one-day Lake Erie charter resident fishing license (off 8.25 percent.)

However, non-resident anglers continue to fish in the rain, if fishing license sales to them are any indicator.

The do-date by July 7th sales of non-resident adult fishing license was up 4.89 percent; or 30,571 this year compared to the same 2014 period with a sale of 29,147 adult non-resident fishing licenses.

Up as well have been non-resident one-day Lake Erie charter boat licenses (up 4.34 percent).

Down, however, was the sale of one-day non-resident general fishing licenses (off 5.67 percent).

In terms of hunting licenses, the poor weather may be spooking resident hunters more than it is their non-resident counterparts.

The to-date sale of Ohio adult general hunting licenses was 57,021 with its comparable 2014 figure of 58,350, or a drop of 2.28 percent.

Of course sales of Ohio hunting licenses have hardly begun. Last year Ohio issued 272,196 general adult hunting licenses, which leaves plenty of sales daylight left to play catch up.

A figure that may alarm Ohio sportsmen who believe non-residents are getting too much of a price break in terms of deer tag sales may have new ammunition as to the correctness of their opinion.

The 2015 to-date sale of Ohio resident either-sex deer tags was 943 while the comparable 2014 figure was 982, or a drop of 3.97 percent. Granted such numbers are miniscule when compared to the 2014 total of 287,750 such tags but the fact remains the trend is downward and not up.

That “up” belongs to non-resident deer hunters. Here the 2015 to-date sale of either sex tags to non-residents was 210 and compared to the 185 for the same to-date period in 2014.

Again, such paltry numbers do need a reality check since in 2014 the state sold 46,980 either-sex tags to non-residents. Even so, it can be argued that this category requires monitoring to see if a trend is developing toward non-resident deer hunters continuing to enjoy Ohio’s low-cost deer tags.

Yet in another hunting arena the sales of a particular tag type to non-residents went up while the opposite was true for Ohio resident hunters.

The sale of 2015 spring turkey tags to Ohio resident hunters was down 2.61 percent when compared to 2014. The numbers are 41,392 for this year and 42,501 for 2014.

For non-residents, the sale of spring turkey tags to them increased by 2.43 percent; or 3,628 such tags sold compared to 3,542 such permits sold in 2014.

Other noteworthy drops include the to-day sales of one-day shooting range permits – 10,454 this year with the comparable 2014 to-date sales figure of 10,916.

Also down is the 2015 to-date sale of annual shooting range permits: 7,387 and compared to the same 2014 to-date period of 7,519 permits.


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.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Hunting-shooting equipment tax dollars go to help build new Ohio public archery range

An infusion of more than $24,000 in federal funds has helped the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife stay on target with a new state-of-the-art archery range.

The new range actually was dedicated in October though the U.S. Department of Interior has gotten around to announcing that it chipped in $24,084,830 toward the $138,000 Fallsville Wildlife Area Archery Range project.

Federal dollars are being channeled via the U.S. Department of Interior/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program as part of a reimbursement format for approved projects.

In turn this program is fueled by a federal excise tax on many pieces of shooting, hunting and fishing gear along with archery tackle.

In the Midwest alone the federal government will distribute $24 million out of a fiscal pot totaling $224 million.

Ohio’s most recent share will be the fifth most awarded to eight Midwest states, said Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Joanna Gilkeson.

The Fallsville archery range complex is found within the 1,382-acre Fallsville Wildlife Area, which itself is located about seven miles north of Hillsboro and just south of the area’s headquarters off  Careytown Road in Wildlife District Five (Southwest Ohio).

Wildlife Division spokeswoman, Susan Vance says the range’s extensive archery-related amenities include 14 shooting ranges at 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards as well as one range at 50 yards, an elevated shooting platform and a broad-head pit.

“The shooting line, the parking lot all of the walkways, target paths and restrooms are mobility accessible, built in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act’s standards as well as being paved,” Vance said.

The project is just one component of the Wildlife Division’s comprehensive range development program. It was identified by the agency’s shooting range committee “as a priority based on the surrounding population, public hunting ace, and current archery range availability,” Vance said also.

 “An area has been dedicated for archers to bring their 3-D targets as well,” Vance says. “And the hours are accommodating, too: dawn to dusk with the range open every day.”

Not lost either is that the entire compound is free, Vance said as well.

“The Wildlife Division will maintain the range but we can’t thank enough all of the volunteer hours logged and reported by our volunteer hunter education instructors and conservation club volunteers,” Vance said.


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.