Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ohio's deer hunters have six impliment options; can big-bore air rifles be far behind?

Armed with more options than ever, Ohio’s deer hunters are taking to the woods with everything from Medieval Era longbow technology to Nineteenth Century-style buffalo rifles to the latest jazzed-up shotguns and state-of-the-art revolvers.

Equipped with its frequently maligned virtually real time deer check-in system, the Ohio Division of Wildlife has at its disposal an equally quick read out of the six forms of implements that Ohio’s successful deer hunters employed to bring home the venison.

And there are stirrings that seventh option may appear down the road, the use of big-game-capable air rifles seeing the okay given in several states.

For now, with two year’s worth of data regarding the allowance of a legal assemblage of straight-walled rifle cartridges, the Wildlife Division is able to provide reliable apples-to-apples hunting implement usage.

What the data shows is that during the statewide general firearms deer-hunting seasons (combining last year’s seven-day season and tacked-on late December two-day season) that sportsmen and sportswomen had no fewer than six available deer-hunting implement options: shotguns, crossbows, longbows, muzzle-loading rifles, rifles chambered for specifically designated so-called “straight-walled” calibers, and an also restricted list of calibers associated with handguns.

The Wildlife Division has likewise assembled list of similar deer-hunting implements used by qualifying youngsters during the statewide two-day youth-only firearms deer-hunting season.

What the back-to-back data demonstrates is that the fewest number of deer killed during the firearms seasons are taken with longbows, followed by crossbows. For the former implement type, the 2014-2015 season the number of deer killed was 211 and for the latter the figure was 349.

The 2015-2015 season saw the number of deer killed with longbows increase to 261 while the figure associated with crossbows rose to 544.

Perhaps the best speculative explanation regarding hunter usage of any archery implement during a firearms hunting season focuses as much on the “where” as to the “why.”

In any number of communities across Ohio, gun hunting is forbidden though the use of archery tackle is legal tender. Consequently, a hunter looking for a quiet tree stand or ground blind sit in an archery-only community may very well decide against joining the gun-toting army in rural Ohio.

“I would say that’s a safe assumption,” said Clint McCoy, a Wildlife Division’s deer biologist. “It certainly makes sense.”

Possibly, too, McCoy ponders, is that the small number of deer being taken with handguns is due to the challenge such implements offer to their users than to the firearms’ effectiveness at bagging an animal.

Historically, McCoy says as well, handguns have not been a major player during any Ohio firearms deer-hunting season. This past year the Wildlife Division recorded only 577 animals being killed by hunters using handguns; a drop from the 511 animals killed with such implements the previous firearms season.

Indeed, of the six forms of hunting implements now permitted during Ohio’s firearms deer-hunting season, the handgun ledger was the only one to post a decline.

The use of muzzle-loaders continues to hold steady, too, the Wildlife Division’s computer-generated numbers note, even as a percentage of the overall kill as well as the raw numbers of deer actually shot.

For the 2014-2015 firearms deer-hunting season, 8,471 deer were taken with muzzle-loaders, a figure that grew to 8,376 animals for the 2015-2016 season with nearly identical percentage-of-total deer taken.

Likely of no surprise to anyone is the growth in the number of deer being shot with rifles enshrined in the Wildlife Division-approved list of straight-walled calibers. For the 2014-2015 firearms deer-hunting season, 5,359 deer were killed using such permitted weaponry.

However, for the two combined 2015-2016 firearms deer-hunting seasons that number rose to 8,376 deer. Perhaps more telling is that the percent-of-total deer taken with rifles chambered for approved calibers climbed from 8.18 percent in 2014-2015 to 11.41 percent last year.

“I believe that there will be an upper limit/leveling off in the number of deer killed with but we’re still in a growth period. At least for the moment,” McCoy said.

In terms of straight-walled rifle caliber preference, a Wildlife Division deer hunter survey showed that 48.1 percent of the surveyed hunters who returned forms said the .45-70 Government was their selected caliber, 28.2 percent indicated it was the .44 Magnum, 13.8 percent shouted out the .444 Marlin, 3.4 percent picked the .357 Magnum, and 2 percent chose the .45 Long Colt.

Still at the apex of the type of implement used by Ohio’s deer hunters  – and likely always will be – are shotguns and their many forms of projectiles. In sheer volume the number of deer killed each year by hunters utilizing shotguns dwarfs every one of the other five legal implements.

Even when combined the five other allowable implements the data comparison proves it’s not even a contest. For the 2014-2015 firearms deer-hunting season, shotguns accounted for 50,499 animals killed – or 77.12 percentage-of-total deer taken.

The comparative figures for the combined two 2015-2016 firearms deer-hunting seasons were 54,490 animals, and 74.25 percentage-of-total deer killed.

As for the future, there may be some activity advancing across the deer-hunting landscape to allow the use of large-caliber air-rifles; something of a misnomer since such implements are far removed from a Daisy Red Ryder BB-gun.

For now, only four states allow the use of air rifles for the taking of big game: Arizona, Missouri, Michigan, and Virginia.

Also, New York is looking to amend its hunting rules to allow similar usage, the stipulation being that such an implement have a minimum bore diameter of .30 inches, have a rifled barrel, and have a powering apparatus that can propel a projectile with a minimal muzzle velocity of 650 feet per second.

Manufacturers are all ready looking for an expanding marketplace, too. Crossman, for example, has introduced what it calls the “.357 Bulldog” model under the firm’s Benjamin line; a futuristic-looking air rifle that includes sound suppression, optics, a Picatinny-style rail for accessory mounting, five-shot magazine capacity, and a rifle capable of sending a 145-grain Nosler bullet downrange at 800 feet per second as measured from the muzzle along with 200 foot pounds of energy. 

Whether Ohio expands its allowance of air rifles for hunting squirrels, rabbits and other small game animals to the taking of deer is more a matter of law enforcement than deer management-biology, however, says McCoy.

Even so, McCoy said that he recently field a quarry from his counterparts in Kansas as to whether Ohio permits the use of air rifles for deer-hunting.

Thus perhaps at some point Ohio deer hunters will have yet one more option - or big-boys’ toy, if you wish – to choose from in deciding what to take into the field.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

UPDATED Harpersfield dam's $6 million replacement to be most costly such Great Lakes project

Long talked about as being a crumbling structure, the 115-year-old Harpersfield Dam on the Upper Grand River is now on the federal funding docket as a $6 million reconstruction objective in order to keep the invasive sea lamprey at bay.

As such, the project will become the most expensive such operation anywhere on the Great Lakes.

Located on the Grand River in Ashtabula County’s Harpersfield Township and a couple miles south of Interstate 90, the once-waterworks dam is fused in an historical and tourism pas de deux with the adjacent Harpersfield Covered Bridge, both of which make up a 26-acre unit of the Ashtabula County Metroparks system.

The existing concrete dam – ground-penetrating radar noting the dam’s crest is actually hollow along the structure’s entire 325-foot length - is slated for partial demolition late next year, and following final design and outsource construction bidding. Its replacement will likely see completion at some point in 2018.

All of this in order to assure that breeding adult sea lamprey cannot bypass any fallen structure and access the stream and its tributaries above the impacted site. A federally funded study suggests that the coupled mileage of the Grand River trunk and its many tributary branches could potentially offer up to 1,266 miles of habitat for sea lamprey production.

Indeed, the Corps of Army Engineers’ report concludes that existing cracks in the dam’s decaying body may even now allow for sea lamprey intrusion into the Upper Grand River Watershed.

“Harpersfield Dam currently serves as an unreliable barrier to the upstream migration of the invasive sea lamprey due its sloping downstream face and (the) lack of a horizontal lip at its crest,” says the Corps’ 16-page public presentation document.

Yet the Harpersfield Dam represents something of an anomaly to the rule that dams – regardless of their age, historical or recreational value – are more than just eyesores. They are structures which impede the natural migration of aquatic wildlife, particularly fishes and as such are typically deemed worthy only of the backhoe and the dozer.

This exceptionalism is exactly the reason why a new Harpersfield Dam is expected to be anchored almost foot-for-foot where the present century-plus-old structure is found, says federal and state wildlife officials along with the Corps.

“The thing is, that nursery water for the invasive sea lamprey is exceptional above Harpersfield Dam,” said Phil Hillman, fish management supervisor for the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) Office in Akron. “That has been everyone’s overriding concern.”

And that concern also involves money. It costs the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission $127,000 to treat the Grand River every three to four years with a lampricide. Tear down that Grand River barrier and this expense would mushroom to more than $460,000; a due-bill the federal government would find staggering.

All of which is especially true given that the Grand River now stands atop the heap as Ohio’s Number One sea lamprey nursery, even without the additional mileage that is potentially racked up above Harpersfield dam.

So destructive is the sea lamprey that federal fisheries biologists estimate than an adult can destroy up to 40 pounds of fish in the predator’s lifetime. It does this by using its circular mouth that contains concentric rows of teeth that latch on to a fish’s body and then proceeds to employ its rasping tongue to consume its host’s flesh.

And because the sea lamprey has no natural enemy in the Great Lakes, if left unchecked it can – and has - play havoc on the system’s fish populations.

“Up until now we’ve been pretty successful in controlling the sea lamprey in the Grand River but we have concerns about the dam’s condition,” said Jessica Barber, a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Barber said those concerns focus on the structure’s grizzled centurial age and the simple fact that nothing stands forever; certainly not a manmade structure that’s withstood annual ice jams, flooding, and pummeling by countless trees ripped from their streamside moorings and shipped off down the Grand River.

“The north abundment is most in danger of failing,” Barber said as well.

Corps project manager Kennth E. Podsiadlo says that initial design concepts point to shaving off the structure’s hollowed-out crest. All of the existing base will likely remain in order to support a new upper structure which will probably extend slightly upstream and include a lamprey-impeding six-inch steel downstream-facing “lip,” Podsiadlo says.

“The design is still being worked on by our design crew but the height should be about what it currently is; again, based on what our design team determines,” Podsiadlo says.

However, any trout that can catapult itself above whatever structure is secured bank-to-bank won’t need to navigate much of the silt and rich farm spoil that the dam has held back since Theodore Roosevelt began occupying the White House following the assassination of President William McKinley of Ohio.

The reason being, says Barber, is because the project will include scooping out the above-dam mucky goo and transporting it offsite.

“So there will be minimal downstream impact from silt,” she said.

In regards to funding, the check is being picked up by the federal government from two distinctly different pots. Those outlays will include a current estimate of $2.1 million from the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission – which is supported by both the United States and Canadian federal governments - and the remaining $3.9 million from the Corps’ Congressionally approved Great Lakes Restoration Initiative account, both Barber and Podsiadlo say.

“This is a something that is absolutely necessary,” Hillman said also, thusly noting that the cost of doing nothing will only favor the invasive sea lamprey.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ohio's deer hunters to see same rules, but the weather? Not so much

Ohio’s deer hunters will see a mirrored reflection in the 2016-2017 deer-hunting seasons, bag limits and other regulations, the image being the same as the just concluded all-inclusive 2015-2016 deer-hunting season profile.


Thing is that while the deer-hunting regulations will be the same the probability is high – make that, very high – that Ohio’s hunters will encounter much poorer weather.


On Wednesday the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council was presented with the proposals for the various up-coming deer-hunting seasons. These rules and regulations were then showcased again this afternoon during an Ohio Division of Wildlife-hosted teleconference with the state’s outdoors writers.


Left unchanged are in which counties hunters can shoot two, three, or four deer. Along with those county-by-county respective bag limits come where an antlerless-only tag is legal tender.


Under the proposals, only in 10 of Ohio’s 88 counties will a single antlerless-only tag be legal.


The proposed various 2016-2017 deer-hunting dates are: Archery - September 24th to February 5th; Youth-only firearms season – November 19th and 20th; General firearms season – November 28th to December 4th; “Bonus” two-day general firearms season – December 28th and 29th; Statewide muzzle-loading season – January 14th to January 17th.


Wildlife Division officials did, however, engage in some back-peddling on when it would likely propose abandoning its long-standing county-by-country deer management protocols in favor of a deer-management unit profile that is employed by many other states, including next door neighbor, Pennsylvania.


“We’re looking for more constituent input,” said Clint McCoy, the Wildlife Division’s lead deer management biologist. “If in six months we hear from more hunters that they want it than it would become more likely (sooner).”


About the only noticeable difference between the actual 2015-2016 and the proposed 2016-2017 season dates is where the two-day often-called “bonus” two-day general firearms deer-hunting season lines up. This past December that season fell on a Monday and a Tuesday. For this year the proposal hooks on to a Wednesday and a Thursday.


Asked also about the fact the antlered deer harvest jumped an impressive and unexpected 12 percent for the 2015-2016 all-inclusive seasons, Wildlife Division officials reiterated that it was their belief how a poor hard mast crop (the acorns from white and red oaks, mostly)forced many deer to go on a search for food.


Such a hunt meant that the deer sought out game feeders and corn piles maintained by hunters, thus making the animals more vulnerable to the arrow and the bullet.


Also, the Wildlife Division maintains that this past autumn’s and winter’s El Nino-driven much warmer weather allowed more hunters to stay afield longer than usual.


However, neither of those conditions is anticipated for this up-coming all-inclusive deer-hunting season, regardless of which dates the Wildlife Council ultimately does approve.


The reason for this upheaval is two-fold. First, seldom is there a back-to-back hard mast crop failure. Typically a lean year of acorn production is followed by a strong year, and vice-versa.


Then too, this past year’s El Nino-influenced weather pattern will be nothing more than a memory receding in the weather record book rearview mirror.


Scientist’s with the federal government’s Climate Prediction Center have issued a report noting that “Since we are now past the peak of the El Nino event… the relevant questions relate to how quickly the event decays and whether we see a transition to La Nina, which frequently follows on the heels of El Nino events.”


In climatologically spoken geek, the Centers’ scientists are predicting a “return to neutral conditions” by late spring and early summer along with a 79-percent chance of “La Nina by next winter.”


Likewise, the Centers is saying that the historic run of La Nina events drives wetter than average precipitation amounts in at least some portions of North America.


Thus for the upcoming 2016-2017 autumn and winter periods, the Centers is projecting above average amounts of precipitation for the Pacific Northwest, as well as the Ohio Valley and the Great Lakes.


In short, Ohio’s troupe of deer hunters will almost certainly see both a colder than normal and wetter than normal 2016-2017 all-inclusive deer-hunting season.


Or much closer to what they encountered during the 2014-2015 all-inclusive deer-hunting season when deer kill numbers retreated from the previous 2013-2014 all-inclusive deer-hunting season tallies.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Uncle Ted Nugent must go

Many families have a wild and nutty relative, a person that at parties will plant a lampshade on his head, tell inappropriate jokes in front of children, guests and women, and generally engages in embarrassing behavior.

We – the five million members of the National Rifle Association – have a crazy uncle, too.

Worse, we facilitate Uncle Ted Nugent’s crash rudeness and all-too frequent deplorable acts that - while they may prick the thin skins of the Anti-Second Amendment Lobby - they also do nothing to enhance our organization’s image before a much less tolerant public. A public, by the way, we’re going to need this election cycle to help defeat the likes of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

Nugent’s latest episode should be that last straw; an act so lacking in dignity, self-control and just plain meanness that as an organization we must relegate Uncle Ted to the basement.

His latest over-the-top – no, hatred - rant involves a posting that Nugent recently wrote (February 8th) on his Facebook account. This diatribe included photographs of a dozen leading members of what I prefer to call the Anti-Second Amendment Lobby.

The names are familiar to each of the NRA’s five million members. Among those whom Nugent singled out were California’s retiring Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and the Anti-Second Amendment Lobby’s sugar daddy and former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg.

Of course Nugent had every right and reason to note that this group of 12 men and women hold in contempt the Second Amendment along with the NRA and its membership roster, which features several members of my family; my wife and me included.

However, Nugent went far beyond simply showing the 12 faces and correctly identifying them as being opponents of a treasured Constitutional right. He included electronically pasting the image of an Israeli flag across each of the faces of his 12 chosen Anti-Second Amendment Lobby activists.

Adding another disgusting anti-Semitic viewpoint, Nugent tossed more volatile words on his hate-filled fire. He tattooed to the photograph of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg this written notation: “(He) gave Russian Jews millions of your tax dollars.”

Certainly I hold little regard for Bloomberg, a billionaire with a trillion-dollar-size ego. But Nugent’s screed that Bloomberg is an “Israeli agent” that helps fund that Middle East state goes well beyond simply being an embarrassment. It is hateful. It is uncalled for. It is unnecessary.

And it is politically counterproductive to protecting the Second Amendment; a task now made more challenging because we the members of the NRA are letting our crazy uncle get away with his hate speech.

News accounts do note that my wife and I are not alone in the pro-Second Amendment camp in denouncing Nugent’s horrid display of anti-Semitism.

Not that it has done any good.

When the founder of “Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership,” Aaron Zelman, denounced Nugent’s unspeakable harangue, Uncle Ted fired back at the person he once said was “my American BloodBrother” with “How tragic that the self inflicted scourge of political correctness can blind so many otherwise intelligent people!”

In other words, Nugent simply cannot grasp the damage and danger his pen and mouth pose to advancing the pro-Second Amendment agenda of the NRA membership.

And don’t be fooled. The opponents of the Second Amendment have wasted no time in capitalizing on what Nugent refuses to accept: That words do hurt a good cause.

No, it is time long past that the NRA’s membership insist that Uncle Ted be directed back to the cellar, the door closed and there for him to be forgotten as one of the Anti-Second Amendment Lobby’s best weapons.

Take note as well that if the NRA refuses to take action against Nugent, well, the organization will have seen the last $50 check from me for the organization’s up-coming political campaign.

Even more, Bev and I will simply no longer renew our respective memberships once they become due.

We can tolerate an embarrassing, lampshade-wearing uncle. What we will not do is facilitate a venom-filled one that spews the kind of hateful bile spewed by the likes of Ted Nugent.
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, February 8, 2016

Ohio's deer hunters posted unplanned deer kill gain

With the dust all ready settling on Ohio’s 2015-2016 deer kill totals only 24 hours after the archery season ended, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is expected to announce as early as within the next 72 hours what the 2016-2017 deer-hunting proposals will look like.

In all, Ohio’s hunters bagged and tagged 188,335 deer. That figure is up 12,590 animals that hunters killed for the all-inclusive 2014-2015 deer-hunting year. For this deer-hunting year (2014-2015) hunters killed 175,745 animals.

For the previous 2013-2014 all-inclusive deer-hunting year Ohio recorded a kill of 191,465 animals, which is only 3,130 more animals than hunters arrowed and shot during the just-concluded 2015-2016 all-inclusive deer-hunting year.

Then again, the entire intend behind 2015-2016’s ramped up deer-hunting restrictions was to cut back on the number of animals killed, not to produce an increase.

That being said, the modest gain of 12,590 deer being killed is tolerable, Ohio Division of Wildlife game biologists are saying.

This belief is enhanced given the fact that the weather during the 2014-2015 all-inclusive deer-hunting year was not kind to deer hunters while the El Nino-driven weather for the just-concluded year enhanced hunter activity, agency biologists are saying.

And when the fact that a widespread dearth of hard mast – fat-rich white and red acorns – is factored in, the state’s slight deer kill gain is understandable. Deer simply had to keep on the move in order to sustain good health by finding a decent meal, says Clint McCoy, the Wildlife Division’s deer biologist.

“Yes, our regulatory changes were designed to cut back on the antlerless harvest, and though that didn’t happen as we had hoped, it did help prevent the sort of harvest increase we saw with antlered deer,” McCoy said.

A breakdown of the 2015-2016 all-inclusive deer-hunting year’s antlerless and antlered deer kills show that 76,689 antlered deer were taken and 111,640 antlerless deer were killed. For the comparable 2014-2015 hunt the figures were, respectively, 66,058 (antlered) and 109,687 (antlerless) deer.

In bringing the view into sharper focus with an additional comparison – the best way that numbers have meaning – for the 2014-2015 all-inclusive deer-hunting year the figures were 67,267 (antlered) deer and 124,188 (antlerless) deer.

Thus, Ohio’s 2015-2016 all-inclusive buck kill is way up from what was produced during any of the previous two all-inclusive deer-hunting seasons.

“Obviously we couldn’t predict the big hurt on the mast crop nor the change in the (climatic) weather,” McCoy said.

All in all then, McCoy says, Ohio’s deer hunters ought to expect seasons dates and lengths, bag limits, and all of the other deer-hunting rules to closing shadow those encountered during the 2015-2016 all-inclusive deer-hunting year.

“I don’t believe there will be many changes,” McCoy said.

In looking at the county-by-county deer kills, the Number One spot goes to Coshocton County. Here, a recorded total take of 5,700 animals was posted. The previous all-inclusive deer-hunting year saw a take saw a total deer kill of 5,727 animals, representing a miniscule drop of just 27 white-tails.

Second place goes to Licking County with a kill of 5,365 deer. The previous all-inclusive seasons’ kill was 5,281 animals. Simple math shows that Licking County’s kill rose by a minuscule 80 animals.

A closer look at the county-by-county deer kill shows that some 23 of Ohio’s 88 counties saw declines; most by small amounts. However, there were some noticeable drops. Among them were Erie County – falling from a posted 2014-2015 deer kill of 951 animals to 750 animals (a decline of 201 deer, or 21 percent); and Morrow County – dropping an even 100 animals; 1,437 deer taken during the just-concluded all-inclusive 2015-2016 deer-hunting year and 1,537 animals shot there the year before.

The county that brought up the rear turns out – once again – to be Fayette County where only 310 were shot this past all-inclusive deer-hunting year. Fayette likewise finished last during the 2014-2015 all-inclusive deer-hunting year with a kill of 380 animals as well as the 2013-2014 all-inclusive deer-hunting year with a kill of 292 animals.



Here is a list of all deer checked by hunters during the all-inclusive 2015-2016 deer-hunting season and as provided by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
The first number following the county’s name shows the kill number for the 2015-2106 season, and the 2014-2015 season kill number is in parentheses:
Adams: 4,157 (3,278); Allen: 1,102 (1,027); Ashland: 3,026 (2,903); Ashtabula: 4,844 (4,418); Athens: 3,979 (3,317); Auglaize: 828 (786); Belmont: 3,205 (3,128); Brown: 2,754 (2,596); Butler: 1,382 (1,391); Carroll: 3,557 (3,406); Champaign: 1,242 (1,317); Clark: 759 (755); Clermont: 2,821 (2,689); Clinton: 789 (915); Columbiana: 3,299 (2,996); Coshocton: 5,700 (5,727); Crawford: 1,165 (1,081); Cuyahoga: 814 (725); Darke: 738 (730); Defiance: 1,767 (1,724); Delaware: 1,684 (1,586); Erie: 750 (951); Fairfield: 1,955 (1,931); Fayette: 310 (380); Franklin: 817 (790); Fulton: 802 (736); Gallia: 2,914 (2,564); Geauga: 1,886 (1,859); Greene: 835 (849); Guernsey: 4,435 (4,181); Hamilton: 2,007 (1,743); Hancock: 1,185 (1,116); Hardin: 1,270 (1,149); Harrison: 3,788 (3,448); Henry: 684 (697); Highland: 2,919 (2,662); Hocking: 3,727 (2,856); Holmes: 3,718 (3,625); Huron: 2,204 (2,064); Jackson: 3,194 (2,560); Jefferson: 2,663 (2,565); Knox: 4,465 (4,191); Lake: 908 (897); Lawrence: 2,113 (1,791); Licking: 5,365 (5,281); Logan: 2,071 (1,885); Lorain: 2,459 (2,401); Lucas: 759 (655); Madison: 497 (493); Mahoning: 1,835 (1,991); Marion: 892 (819); Medina: 1,873 (2,013); Meigs: 3,592 (3,125); Mercer: 603 (583); Miami: 833 (835); Monroe: 2,598 (2,162); Montgomery: 684 (780); Morgan: 3,096 (2,822); Morrow: 1,437 (1,537); Muskingum: 4,966 (4,748); Noble: 2,970 (2,419); Ottawa: 424 (488); Paulding: 1,064 (1,072); Perry: 2,867 (2,495); Pickaway: 803 (806); Pike: 2,382 (1,880); Portage: 2,178 (1,968); Preble: 965 (1,020); Putnam: 704 (759); Richland: 3,189 (3,141); Ross: 3,425 (2,921); Sandusky: 874 (935); Scioto: 3,034 (2,148); Seneca: 1,785 (1,677); Shelby: 1,050 (1,118); Stark: 2,760 (2,625); Summit: 1,487 (1,436); Trumbull: 3,293 (3,185); Tuscarawas: 4,922 (4,883); Union: 932 (904); Van Wert: 492 (576); Vinton: 3,059 (2,503); Warren: 1,266 (1,244); Washington: 3,526 (2,954); Wayne: 1,971 (1,923); Williams: 1,836 (1,790); Wood: 841 (1,077) and Wyandot: 1,515 (1,568). Total: 188,335 (175,745).

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, February 7, 2016

If gun shows are so bad than why do so many good people attend them?

My brother and I visited the Akron gun show yesterday, Saturday, February 6th; a sort-of fairly regular ritual for the two of us retirees.


At such events we pluck down one buck to park our car – almost always my Jeep – and each pay our respective $6 admission fee. Every now and then Rich will spring for my ticket as well, though not as frequently as I’d like.


Attendance at such events may include one of us (very occasionally) selling a firearm, (even less occasionally) buying a firearm, or (much more frequently) stocking up on some shooting do-dad or gun-related tool.


Since I have a federal Curio and Relic license I have bought a couple of inexpensive old-timey and ex-military weapons that are chambered for hard-to-find caliber ammunition. Sometimes I can locate a decent deal on ammunition for my Polish Mokarov-wanna-be or my Romanian Tokarev.


Such pricing needs to beat what can be found on-line at a score of sites that sell ammunition. Sometimes I can and sometimes I can’t, but just the act of looking through ammunition display racks of the weird, unusual, obsolete and new calibers is itself a cool way to spend a few hours on a Sunday.


In some respects for gun cranks on the order of Rich and me its comparable to what some women see in visiting shoe stores and arguing over whether to buy pumps or high heels. Or so I’ve been told.


Anyway, Rich and I arrived late in morning, operating under the assumption that the gun show’s early morning crowd would have seen it all and that the Summit County Fairgrounds' parking lot would have begun to lose cars and gain parking spaces.


We were wrong. Ho, boy, were we ever, as I deposited Rich near the front entrance while I continued to cruise the parking lot in a hunt for a reasonably close place to stash my Jeep.


When we departed at 2 p.m. there still was a long line of attendees waiting to get in, each to pay their $6 each admission fee and then tour the displays of guns, ammo, knives and aged military bric-a-brac for sale.


Such a long line of eager attendees appearing some two or three hours before the show closed for the day is not only unusual, it is unheard of. Much credit is being given to that best of gun salesman, President Obama.


I’m not entirely sure of that, however. Gun shows have always proven to be popular with a lot of firearms enthusiasts; a slice of Americana that I doubt exists in such a form and format anywhere else in the world. Maybe having such an Anti-Second Amendment sort of guy for president is just another excuse we gun cranks use in order to saddle up and head for the big show.


Anyway, Rich went his direction once inside and I went another, me spending time looking over largely the older stuff, and giving just the slightest and cursory look at the AR-platform rifles that seem in congregate in dealer clumps here and there.


By no means do these purveyors of such firearms dominate gun shows; not the ones Rich and I attend, anyway.


Yes, we do see what legitimately could be said sellers who obviously don’t pocess a federal firearms license. They’re the ones that have a hand-drawn placard that says something to the effect they’re liquidating at least a portion of their firearms inventory.


The firearms that these sellers put out have always seemed to me to be grouped into two two types: Owners of the expensive collectables like Lugers, Winchester Model 12 shotguns, and M1 Garands with a smattering of British Enfields, Russian Mosens, and American Springfields.


The other type also has left me with an impression, that being, they are asking way too much for their handguns, rifles and shotguns, operating under the false assumption that what is valuable to them as family heirlooms must be worth a pretty penny; even when they are not, however.


Oh, and outside there was the so-called "gun show loophole" crowd; gun owners trying to get the attention of passer-bys to at least look at their respective 19th Century Trapdoor Springfield buffalo rifles, well-worm Remington and Mossberg hunting shotguns and assorted other odds and ends of the sporting and surplus military arms world.

Not a single assault rifle, grenade launcher, or multi-purpose combat support aircraft was to be seen, either.


Yes, gun shows get a bum rap; typically by those individuals who have never been to many or even one. Their only mental image is formed by those who simply don’t like guns and believe that the government ought to be the final arbitrator of who gets to own what and for what purpose.


Thanks, but that’s not my game plan when I visit a gun show. I pay my six bucks, maybe buy some normally hard-to-find ammunition, and inspect a hardly used camouflaged Mossberg semi-automatic shotgun that would go nicely with a ground hunting blind.


If there is evil in this world – and I surely do believe there is – it exists in no larger measure at a gun show than it does anywhere else. I just wish the Anti-Second Amendment crowd would come to understand that truism instead of opining on a subject it really knows so little about.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ohio's 2015-2016 total deer kill finish line in sight

Ohio’s deer hunters are breaking new ground here, relatively speaking.

With just four days left in Ohio’s four-plus-month-long archery deer-hunting season, that’s six days longer at the tail end than what archers saw at the conclusion of the respective 2014-2015 deer-hunting season.

So, we’ll look at the to-date kill as of Tuesday, February 2nd and reported Wednesday, February 3rd.

This latest report notes that the total to-date deer kill stands at 186,332 animals while the previous January 31st report noted a then to-date kill of 184,791 deer.  Simple math says that an additional 1,541 deer were taken between these two reporting periods.

Included in this 1,541 figure is an antlerless kill of 1,174 antlerless deer. Given that some hunters are reporting seeing or shooting bucks that have dropped their antlers it would be reasonable to suggest that not all of these antlerless deer were does or even button bucks.

And given that last year the final weekly report was dated February 2nd, the ultimate kill for the 2015-2016 all-inclusive deer seasons will trump that seen for 2014-2015. Then again, all along this has been a more successful deer hunting season than what archers and gunners encountered last season.

The total 2014-2015 deer kill was 175,745 animals while its 2013-2014 counterpart was 191,455 animals. Taking it all in, a total 2015-2016 all-inclusive deer kill could conceivably reach 188,000 animals, give or take a few hundred whitetails.

On a county-by-county basis not much positioning has changed. The two counties with kills of at least 5,000 deer are still Coshocton County at 5,650 deer (the January 26th report noted 5,603 deer) and Licking County at 5,266 deer (the January 26th report noted 5,204 deer).

Only one other county is statistically close enough to possibly leap over the 5,000-deer threshold in time for the final count next week. That is Muskingum County with a to-date deer kill of 4,926 animals. The next closest is Ashtabula County with a to-date count of 4,805 deer.

Given Muskingum County saw an additional 31 deer killed between the two reporting periods it just might reach that 5,000 summit. A long shot, though still doable.

Unfortunately for Ashtabula County, just 41 deer were killed during this same period so its chances of breaking the 5,000 ceiling are next to none.

Oh, and the only one of Ohio’s 88 counties not to see any deer killed between the January 26th and the February 2nd reporting periods was Van Wert County. Each report for Van Wert County noted a kill of 489 deer.

Along those same lines, there still remain 26 counties with deer kills of fewer than 1,000 animals each.

 And even though Preble County has a to-date kill of 954 deer and Union County has a to-date kill of 925 deer it is highly unlikely that either of them will see a deer kill of at least 1,000 animals.

For comparison purposes the 2014-2015 season saw 24 counties with total deer kills of less than 1,000 animals each. That figure for the 2013-2014 season was 25 counties.

At the bottom – still – is Fayette County with a total to-date deer kill of 308 animals. Fayette County likewise holds the dubious honor of having the smallest deer kill for the 2013-2014 and the 2014-2015 all-inclusive seasons, too.

Hey, someone has to be in last place.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn