Wednesday, October 28, 2015

With the approach of the rut, Ohio's deer-hunting archers continue to do well

With the presumptive peak of the rut only two weeks away, Ohio archery hunters are beginning to make the most of their tree time.

Ohio’s reported to-date deer kill as of October 27 stands at 26,103 animals. That figure is 5,351 more deer than the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s stated October 21st kill of 20,103 animals.

Delving into the Wildlife Division’s records the close-to-same deer kill figure for October 29, 2014 was 31,907 animals. Meanwhile the comparable 2013 to-date deer kill was 34,077.

However, an important difference between the 2013 and 2014 to-date deer kills and when laid alongside the to-date 2015 numbers is that the former two summaries included deer that were taken during their respective early two-day, muzzle-loading-only/antlerless only deer hunting seasons.

No such early season was held this year.

As for Ohio’s rut pinnacle, the date for that deer-hunting key is almost always a couple of days on either side of Veteran’s Day, or November 11th, says Mike Tonkovich, the Wildlife Division’s deer management administrator.

During the rut the bucks are often known to throw caution to the wind in search of a receptive – if ever so temporary – soul mate. These males also are prone to be active during the day instead of sulking around only when the sun fades in the west.

As for the counties with the most to-date reported deer kills (along with their respective October 20th 2015 figures - as well as their comparable 2013 and 2014 to-date kills – all in parentheses) they are, in alphabetical order: Adams – 541 (441) (735) (607); Ashtabula – 770 (583) (1,003) (978); Coshocton – 631 (524) (831) (900); Hamilton – 599 (527) (677) (549); Holmes – 579 (439) (630) (741); Knox – 627 (496) (688) (786); Licking – 851 (655) (1,116) (1,025); Lorain – 552 (435) (585) (623); Trumbull – 793 (613) (918) (920); Tuscarawas – 568 (456) (697 (794).

Also, there are still six of Ohio’s 88 counties that have yet to see their respective deer kills cross over the triple-digit benchmark. That figure is down from last week’s 13 counties. The six remaining double-digit-only counties are: Fayette – 39; Henry 75; Madison – 77; Ottawa – 83; Pickaway – 87; Van Wart – 50.

Locally for Northeast Ohio (admittedly my backyard) the current to-date figures (with their respective 2014 numbers in parentheses) are: Lake – 228 (269); Geauga – 404 (451); Cuyahoga – 229 (216).

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


Monday, October 26, 2015

Coast Guard investigating possible substance discharge from sunken barge off Kelleys Island

Here is the complete text of a U.S. Coast Guard media release concerning a slick caused by an unknown substance that appears to have originated from a sunken barge.

The Coast Guard is asking that if anyone has any information regarding this matter to please call the agency. And the Coast Guard has established a rather large "no boating" zone around the epicenter of the sunken barge.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Here, then, is the Coast Guard's media statement in its entirety:

CLEVELAND — The Coast Guard is responding to a report of a discharge of an unknown substance from the site of a sunken barge near Kelley's Island Shoal in Lake Erie, Sunday.
Due to the report, the Coast Guard has established a safety zone 3 nautical miles east of Kelley's Island Shoal extending 1,000 feet around position 41-38'21"N, 082-29'35"W.
Friday evening crews at Marine Safety Unit Toledo, Ohio, received a report from the Cleveland Underwater Explorers, of a leak of an unknown substance emanating from the barge and an odor of solvent, but they did not observe the leak underwater. CLUE divers were investigating the wreck to determine if it was the barge Argo which sank during a storm in 1937.

MSU Toledo deployed pollution responders with boat crews from Coast Guard Station Marblehead, Ohio, FridaySaturday and Sunday. Crews reported smelling a strong odor of a solvent on Friday and Saturday.

An initial overflight was conducted by a Coast Guard Air Station Detroit aircrew on Saturday, with MSU Toledo pollution responders aboard, who reported observing a 400 yard discoloration on the water near the site. A second overflight on Sunday morning was unable to locate any discoloration.
A Unified Command of federal and state authorities is being established. NOAA scientific support and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency are working with the Coast Guard as part of the Unified Command to take all necessary actions to ensure the safety of the public and the environment.

"What has been reported from responders is consistent with a lighter-end petroleum-based solvent that would quickly dissipate when it reaches the air," said Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Migliorini, commanding officer of Marine Safety Unit Toledo. "Although we're still working to identify the product, the primary concern is for an inhalation hazard for the responders on-scene."
T and T Salvage has been contracted to identify and secure the leak and will be on-scene as early as Tuesday. Additionally, Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team personnel are expected to begin air monitoring on Monday to ensure safety of the responders in the safety zone and to provide response assistance.
The safety zone will remain closed to all traffic until canceled. No vessel may enter, transit through or anchor within the regulated area without permission from the Coast Guard patrol commander, Station Marblehead, which may be contacted via VHF-FM ch. 16.
Date: Oct 25, 2015
Ninth Coast Guard District
Office: (216) 902-6020
Mobile: (216) 310-2608

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Research shows time of day when Ohio deer hunters connect; questions remain

Hunting deer either in the morning or evening ought to be decided by more than a flip of a coin or playing a game of rock-paper-scissors.

Some science must enter the equation. That is exactly the route the Ohio Division of Wildlife recently undertook, too. The agency utilized data collected from the required deer check-in responses; an astonishing figure of 175,000 and which represents successful deer hunters.

So much for the rock-paper-scissors thing. Then again, the summation of assembled data may simply prove that whether it’s a sunrise deer hunt or a sunset one, hunter participation remains at best a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Assembling the information and then figuring out a way to make sense of it all fell on the shoulders of Mike Tonkovich and Clint McCoy, the Wildlife Division’s deer management policy spear points. The two scientists utilized the recorded deer-kill times that 175,000 successful Ohio hunters posted in one fashion or another via the Internet or telephone.

The material eventually became the basis of a chart -graph with a horizontal set of numbers starting with “zero” and running in two directions and in 30-minute increments both before sunset and after sunrise. Each of these horizontal directions ended with the maximum number of five hours.

Further inscribed are separate graph lines for “All-Sunset,” “Bow-Sunset,” “All-Sunrise,” and “Bow-Sunrise.” Both “Alls” enfold the various forms of firearms and muzzle-loading rifles while “Bow” is self-explanatory.

A vertical left-hand column features the actual percentage kill, tabled in two-percent increments and running up to 20 percent.

 Likely to no hunter’s surprise - and certainly not for Tonkovich and McCoy - is how the findings point to an “All-Sunset” peak roughly 30 minutes before sunset, or about one hour before the end of legal shooting time, which is 30 minutes after sunset. As for the “Bow-Sunset,” this subset’s peak comes roughly 15 minutes later.

Much the same applies to the sunrise lines as well.

Here, the chart-graph denotes how the “All-Sunrise” line climbs rapidly from the legal daily start of 30 minutes before sunrise, peaking roughly 30 minutes after sunrise, and then slowly tapers off.

Tonkovich pointed out too that archery deer hunters experienced a virtual identical deer kill climb starting 30 minutes before sunrise.

However - and perhaps importantly so - the “Bow-Sunrise” peak is not so much a summit but rather a plateau that begins about 30 minutes after sunrise and continues for nearly another hour.

“The ‘Bow-Sunrise”’ peak is much more sustained than it is for “All-Sunrise,’” Tonkovich said.

“This could be the result of bow hunters knowing they have the rest of the day to hunt; that they’re not up against the sunset ‘wall.’ Bow hunters simply may be staying out longer,” Tonkovich said.

An anomaly appears along the “All-Sunset” line where the marker shows up as something of a washboard pattern. So intriguing was this seemingly bizarre point that Tonkovich said he and McCoy cruntched the supporting data at least twice.

“It’s speculation, but maybe gun hunters are rounding off to the nearest half-hour; you don’t see that with archery hunters,” Tonkovich said.

In all four categories the slides are substantially sharp the further from sunrise the graph’s horizontal 30-minute increments travel. The same applies to the sunset provision, only in reverse.

That said, Tonkovich noted that 53 percent of the deer check-in receipts were reported during the one-half hour after sunset to five hours before sunset period. The 30-minutes before sunrise to five hours after sunrise time period accounted for 46 percent of deer killed.

Thus the successful deer kill tilt goes to the p.m. side of the ledger, whether it was “All” or “Bow” Tonkovich said.

“This may mean that hunters are taking more time in the evening than in the morning to hunt,” Tonkovich said.

All of which might also drive one to conclude that more hunters simply are skipping out of work early rather than reporting to work late. And that brings about whether the statistics are sufficient evidence of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Tonkovich opined that deer hunters may have bitten into the apple sold to them by the outdoors media that the best chances of shooting a deer are during the two so-called “golden hours,” or the times on the cusp of either sunrise or sunset.

Consequently, many of Ohio’s reported deer are being killed - not because that is when the animals actually are on the move - but rather because “hunters kill deer when they can,” Tonkovich said.

So while the data gleaned from the 175,000 deer check-in receipts has provided some clues regarding hunter behavior, the raw information remains a barely mined treasure trove of potentially valuable insight.  Not so much about managing deer but rather, educating hunters, Tonkovich said.

Included in potential further data refinement Tonkovich says is a work-up of deer activity and then superimposing that information over the corresponding deer hunter activity.

Such an analysis might even help answer the question of whether sitting tight around lunchtime during the gun deer season when most other participants are headed for the nearest food mill really helps the savvy and patient soloist, Tonkovich said.

”I’d also like to refine this data to see how it stacks up during the rut,” Tonkovich said.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ohio's to-date deer kill tally up by 6,546 animals

Ohio’s archery hunters appear to have safety harnessed their carcasses to trees this past week.

Based on data being crunched weekly by the Ohio Division of Wildlife the agency says that 20,752 deer were taken up through the October 20th reporting period. That figure is up from the 14,206 deer recorded for the previous reporting period of October 13th.
Translated, that means an additional 6,546 animals were taken between the two reporting period.

However, 2015’s to-date reporting period showing a deer kill total of 20,752 animals is still down from the 2014’s roughly equivalent October 22nd reporting period when 25,591 deer were killed.  And the 2013 comparable kill consisted of 25,186 animals.

The big “but” is owed in large measure because the to-date 2013 and 2014 figures also included deer that were killed during their respective year’s two-day/antlerless-only/muzzle-loading-only seasons. No such special early season was held in Ohio this year.

Some shifting in the top tier deer-hunting/deer-kill counties was witnessed, as well.  The current board leaders are Licking County – 655 animals; Trumbull County – 613 deer; Ashtabula County – 583 animals; Hamilton County – 527 deer; Coshocton County – 524 animals; Knox County – 496 deer; Tuscarawas County – 456 animals; Adams County – 441 deer; Holmes County – 439 animals; Lorain County – 435 deer; and Clermont County – 417 animals.

Similarly the tally sheet for Ohio’s 88 counties shows that 13 still have not pole-vaulted over the three-figure post. These counties include: Paulding County – 99 animals; Marion County – 97 deer; Darke County – 96 animals; Putnam – 94 deer; Fulton County – 93 animals; Clinton County – 86 deer; Mercer County – 74 animals; Madison County – 68 deer; Ottawa County – 65 animals; Pickaway County – 63 deer; Henry County – 55 animals; Van Wart County – 41 deer; and Fayette County – 33 animals.
By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, October 16, 2015

Granger's Pond gets it trout; Buster rides shotgun for 12th visit

Buster, the massively huge but enormously friendly yellow Labrador retriever, is what his owner uses to determine how many times the Little Pickerel Creek Fish Farm has been stocking Lake Metroparks’ 33—acre Granger’s Pond with rainbow trout.

Since Buster is 13 years old and owner Dan Longnecker says Buster’s been riding shotgun since he was one years old, that means this is Pickerel Creek’s 12th autumn stocking of Granger’s Pond, Lake County’s largest inland puddle, and found within the 100-acre Veteran’s Park in Mentor.

The fish arrived earlier today, Friday, October 16.

“Buster’s my calendar and clock,” Longnecker said with a wry grin.

Contracted by Lake Metroparks to again stock Granger’s Pond, Longnecker hoisted net full after net full of rainbow trout from his special-purpose fish hatchery truck. These fish were then carried by Lake Metroparks natural resource unit staff to the pond.

In all, some 1,200 pounds of trout totaling about 1,100 fish were eased into the pond’s waters. The fish were given their freedom from the park’s wooden T-shaped fishing pier closest to the parking lot.

 “The fish average between three-quarters and one pound each,” Longnecker said. “There’s maybe a couple dozen golden trout with a few brown trout that got mixed in, too. But browns are mean fish; they’ll even go after the bass.”

Longnecker said the trout looked plenty healthy and took the ride from his Castalia fish hatchery to Granger’s Pond in fine fashion.

“A couple of them took bonks to their heads when we put them in but they’ll be fine,” Longnecker said.

Bonks to the head not withstanding; at least some of the trout were every bit as eager at being caught as more than 18 anglers were attempting to hook them.

Doing his best to catch the trout – and pretty much besting the other anglers – was Adam Regret of Mentor-on-the-Lake.

Regret had already caught and released three trout before any of the other fisher had taken their first fish. His lure tonic of choice was a purple-colored Blue Fox Virbrax in-line spinner.

“After a while the trout get used to seeing this Vibrax and I have to start using something else,” Regret said.
Longnecker said he also provides trout for both the Medina County and Cleveland Metroparks systems but that Granger’s Pond is one of his favorite go-to stocking venues.

“This is an outstanding area with a lot of fisherman access,” Longnecker said.

Tom Koritansky – Lake Metroparks’ natural resources manager – said the package of trout cost the agency $4,800 and added that the parks system does conduct a competitive bidding process to award some hatchery with the contract.

Thus if Longnecker ‘s bid is again the best one submitted next autumn, his Pickerel Creek fish hatchery will be making its 13th visit to Granger’s Pond.

Or about 91 years in Buster’s terms.

- 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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

UPDATED Ohio's to-date deer kill off 45 percent; Wildlife Division explains why

With three reporting segments completed the raw data is showing that between the October 6th and the October 13th preliminary tallies, Ohio’s archery hunters killed another 4,733 deer.

Thus the to-date statewide preliminary kill total stands at 14,206 animals, up from the October 6th summary total of 9,473 deer.
However, by comparison, the 2014 figure was 20,790 deer killed during the first 18 days of Ohio’s deer-hunting program.
And the comparable to-date deer kill for approximately the same number of days and approximately the same time frame in 2013 was 19,252 deer.

The Wildlife Division does have what it believes is the perfect answer to what seems to be a marked decline in the deer kill figures.

Mike Tonkovich - the agency deer management administrator - says the 2014 and 2015 data includes their respective early two-day, muzzle-loader-only, antlerless-only seasons, a season which is a no-show for this year.

Tonkovich says that rather than being down 45percent, the statewide archery deer kill is "actually up 2.5 percent -13,841 deer verses 14,179 deer over last year."

Consequently, the 20,790 figure includes 6,613 deer taken by muzzle-loaders the second weekend in October last year, not archers, Tonkovich says.

"But, your comparison certainly does draw attention to one other point worth noting," Tonkovich says. "When we picked the second weekend in October to host what turned out to be a very productive and enjoyable hunt for a lot of Ohio’s young and old hunters, the decision was based on the fact that it would have minimal impact on the archery harvest."

 Tonkovich believes as well that it "I think it is fair to say that the 45 percent deficit in this year’s total harvest through week three speaks to the fact that there was little lost in terms of archery harvest by allowing muzzle-loaders to hunt that second weekend in October.”

"If archers had made a huge harvest sacrifice by giving up that weekend, this year’s numbers would have been a lot closer to last year’s figures."

Still on the leader board’s Top Three county-by-county deer kill ranking are Trumbull County – 456 deer; Licking County – 452 deer; and Ashtabula County – 447 deer.

And 30 of Ohio’s 88 counties have yet to break over the three-figure deer kill total. Among those counties with the least number of to-date reported deer killed are: Erie – 61 deer; Madison – 49 deer; Ottawa – 41 deer; and Van Wert – 21 deer.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ohio's first 11 days of archery season tracking like those of 2013 and 2014

With another several days of deer hunting in their tree stands and ground blinds, Ohio’s archers have - as of October 6th - shot 9,473 animals.

The “as of” September 30th statewide count was 4,587 deer being killed; or a more than doubling of the kill (an additional 4,886 animals, to be exact) over the next six days.

Where the raw numbers get some meat on them is to compare this year’s October 6th (11 days of hunting) to-date numbers with the comparable 11 days of hunting during each of the 2013-2014 and the 2014-2015 seasons.

Here we see that during the 2013-2014 season’s first 11 days, archery hunters killed 9,601 deer. For the 2014-2015 season’s first 11 days, archery hunters killed 10,033 deer.

Thus for the first 11 days of Ohio’s deer-hunting season the comparable 2013 and 2015 figures very closely mirror each other; off by only a statistically insignificant 128 animals.

In checking out some of Ohio’s 88 counties, the raw numbers shows that Adams County’s deer kill has declined over the past three seasons. Based on only the first 11 days worth of numbers, of course.

For Adams County the first 11 days saw a kill of 229 deer; a figure that fell to 198 deer but a slight bump up to 203 deer for this season’s first 11 days.

Other examples include Guernsey County where the first 11 days of this on-going season saw 219 deer being killed. Its comparable 2013 figure was 227 deer killed while its 2014 comparable figure was 246 deer killed.

This year’s do-date big kids on the deer-killing block include Trumbull County (337 deer), Licking County (301 deer), Ashtabula County (300 deer).

In making an apples-to-apples to-date comparison – if using raw numbers is a proper way to harvest such data – the 2013 kill for Trumbull County was 319 while its matching 2014 deer kill number was 344 animals.

Licking County’s 2013 comparable to-date figure was 329 and its 2014 to-date figure was 373 deer.

In looking at Ashtabula County we see that in the first days of the 2013 season the deer kill was 288 while its 2014 sibling was 311 deer killed.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife is providing only this year’s to-date raw figures, noting that a host of variables can contribute to shifts in deer kills.

Be that as it may, you dance with the one that brought you and if these figures are all that’s available than they become the measuring stick.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn