Monday, November 20, 2017

A twofer: Ohio's 2017 youth-only deer season kill plagued by poor weather. Again

Ohio’s youthful deer hunters had to contend with adult-sized nasty weather during their just completed two-day special season.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the kids experienced a decline of nearly one thousand deer taken during the statewide two-day/youth-only deer hunt, November 19th and 20th. These young guns shot 4,958 animals; a drop of 972 deer taken when compared to the 2016 two-day/youth-only season that saw 5,930 animals being shot.

This was also the second consecutive year that the youth-only season was plagued by poor weather that ultimately resulted in a decline in the kill. The 2015 two-day/youth-only season produced a kill of 7,223 deer; a take blessed by much better hunting weather than what youngster faced in 2016 or this year.

For further comparison purposes, the 2014 two-day/youth-only deer season produced a kill of 6,453 animals while the 2013 two-day/youth-only season yielded 6,640 deer for the young guns.

As for the number of youth hunters in Ohio, the state has sold to-date 28,468 youth hunting licenses and 10,406 apprentice youth hunting licenses, says John Windau, Ohio Division of Wildlife media spokesman.

The two-day/youth-only season was open to those persons age 17 and younger at the time of their respective hunting license purchase. Legal firearms included the types of firearms used by their adult counterparts including slug shotguns, muzzle-loaders, certain handguns, rifles firing certain straight-walled cartridges along with legal archery tackle. All youth hunters had to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult.

A county-by-county list of all white-tailed deer checked by youth hunters for the specially designated 2017 two-day/youth-only season (with their respective 2016 figures in parentheses) are: Adams: 106 (139); Allen: 21 (37); Ashland: 72 (111); Ashtabula: 115 (108); Athens: 97 (106); Auglaize: 20 (35); Belmont: 143 (147); Brown: 60 (70); Butler: 21 (19); Carroll: 135 (127); Champaign: 24 (36); Clark: 14 (11); Clermont: 33 (56); Clinton: 25 (25); Columbiana: 93 (117); Coshocton: 225 (222); Crawford: 37 (34); Cuyahoga: 0 (0); Darke: 24 (22); Defiance: 46 (63); Delaware: 17 (26); Erie: 71 (72); Fairfield: 60 (53); Fayette: 9 (18); Franklin: 11 (6); Fulton: 19 (20); Gallia: 76 (114); Geauga: 30 (41); Greene: 13 (21); Guernsey: 155 (197); Hamilton: 10 (18); Hancock: 34 (40); Hardin: 28 (48); Harrison: 119 (116); Henry: 22 (25); Highland: 97 (96); Hocking: 77 (73); Holmes: 125 (145); Huron: 59 (80); Jackson: 88 (108); Jefferson: 63 (98); Knox: 124 (144); Lake: 7 (6); Lawrence: 57 (84); Licking: 130 (138); Logan: 48 (74); Lorain: 39 (62); Lucas: 7 (6); Madison: 17 (21); Mahoning: 35 (38); Marion: 24 (36); Medina: 28 (42); Meigs: 104 (152); Mercer: 16 (32); Miami: 16 (25); Monroe: 84 (112); Montgomery: 5 (4); Morgan: 82 (121); Morrow: 32 (38); Muskingum: 164 (162); Noble: 75 (118); Ottawa: 19 (20); Paulding: 33 (44); Perry: 89 (101); Pickaway: 30 (27); Pike: 59 (85); Portage: 20 (32); Preble: 29 (22); Putnam: 27 (34); Richland: 71 (99); Ross: 138 (128); Sandusky: 9 (29); Scioto: 70 (72); Seneca: 68 (75); Shelby: 29 (47); Stark: 56 (62); Summit: 6 (6); Trumbull: 49 (79); Tuscarawas: 186 (178); Union: 26 (31); Van Wert: 14 (19); Vinton: 67 (87); Warren: 18 (26); Washington: 101 (126); Wayne: 54 (72); Williams: 26 (32); Wood: 25 (30); and Wyandot: 51 (52). Total: 4,958 (5,930).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ohio's to-date deer kill still lagging; potential poor weather could threaten youth gun hunt success

Even in the thick of the rut, Ohio’s archery hunters are still lagging behind when laid next to the respective to-date 2016 numbers.

The current to-date deer kill – as of November 7th – stands at 37,861 animals. That figure is up 10,184 deer from the October 31st to-date kill of 27,677 animals, or an increase of about 27 percent.

By comparison – and comparison is the only way that statistics can be assessed as being meaningful – the November 6th 2016 to-date deer kill was 42,268 animals.

Thus the current to-date tally is down 4,407 animals and when it is laid alongside the respective 2017 figure.

Dimming the lamp a bit more as well, Ohio’s November 8th 2016 to-date weekly deer kill count was 33 percent higher than was its previous (November 1st 2016) to-date weekly deer kill count. Which is another way of saying that last year’s to-date deer kill pace was quicker than it is for the (so-far, anyway) 2017 to-date deer kill.

Which is why baseball statistics and deer kill statistics are so much fun for their respective wonks to follow and to digest. But I digress.

In other news regarding the current to-date deer taken numbers, we see five of Ohio’s 88 counties with reported to-date kills of 1,000 or more animals each. They include in alphabetical order (with their respective 2016 to-date numbers in parentheses): Ashtabula County – 1,171 (1,192); Coshocton County – 1,305 (1,371); Licking County – 1,101 (1,324); Trumbull County – 1,040 (1,146); and Tuscarawas County – 1,031 (1,000).

The only current 2017 to-date county not yet in the “One-Thousand Club” that was a member in 2016 is Knox. Knox has seen a serious drop in its respective to-date/year-to-year deer kill, too – 894 animals currently verses 1,067 to-date in 2016, or a decline of 173 deer.

Ohio does have several counties that likely – almost certainly, in fact – will assume a membership in the One Thousand Club. Those candidates with to-date kills of at least 750 animals each (with their respective to-date 2016 figures in parentheses) are: Guernsey County – 766 (773); Holmes County – 972 (991); Knox County – 894 (1,067); Muskingum County – 859 (926); Richland County – 788 (818).

It is perhaps telling to note that every county mentioned so far – with the exception of Tuscarawas County – has seen a decline in their respective 2016 verses 2017 to-date deer kills. They are not alone. Among some of Ohio’s other counties with notable to-date deer kill declines (with their respective 2016 to-date numbers on parentheses) are: Adams – 676 (811); Brown – 466 (543); Carroll – 560 (680); Columbiana – 560 (729); Highland – 483 (618); Hocking – 538 (605); Jefferson – 254 (489); Lorain – 582 (755); Perry – 408 (500); Ross – 504 (645); Scioto – 377 (502); and Williams -382 (485).

In all, only 12 of Ohio’s 88 counties have posted to-date 2017 deer kill gains when compared to their comparable and respective 2016 to-date deer kill numbers. They are: Auglaize County – 220 (198); Butler County – 410 (404); Clinton County – 179 (152); Erie County - 255 (235); Huron County – 478 (465); Montgomery County – 224 (215); Morgan County – 494 (486); Morrow County – 358 (348); Noble County – 452 (427); Ottawa County – 118 (112); Tuscarawas County – 1,031 (1,000); and Union County – 249 (233).

Crawford County has posted identical to-date 2016 and 2017 deer kill numbers – 239.

Lastly, only one of Ohio’s 88 counties has yet to see a 2017 to-date kill that hasn’t crossed over into the three-figure tally. Fayette County’s 2017 to-date deer kill stands at 68 animals. Last year this time Fayette County had achieved the same piece of statistical notoriety only in 2016 its to-date kill number was 81 animals.

Of course, all of these figures will change and perhaps markedly so as Ohio’s two-day youth-only firearms deer hunting season is scheduled for this weekend, November 18th and 19th. The weather will unquestionably determine the deer kill, just as it did in 2016 when rain, cold and wind hit much of the state during the youth-only deer gun season.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast is calling for breezy conditions along with unseasonably cooler than average temperatures as well as a strong chance of rain and then a rain-snot mix followed by a chance of all snow in some locations and for both days. Ugh and double ugh.

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

UPDATED: Ohio deer hunters picking up pace but EDH mortality thwarts kill in some counties

(Note: Corrected to reflect "EHD," and not "EDH."

With the rut in Ohio now underway the state’s archery deer hunters are beginning to pick up for lost time in the woods.

However, the pace dramatically lags behind in a couple of Ohio’s 88 counties as the midge-transmitted viral malady epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) has taken a deadly and serious toll on the localized deer herds. This reduction in deer numbers is consequently being reflected in the to-date deer kills and almost certainly will carry over into the up-coming firearms deer-hunting season.

The October 31st to-date deer kill total stands at 27,677 animals, including 11,040 antlered deer. Those numbers translate into more than a 30-percent jump in the total deer kill during the one-week reporting period. Along with that jump is a nearly 50-percent gain in the number of antlered deer being shot by archers during the same seven-day period.

For a little review the previous to-date (as of October 24th) deer kill stood at 18,123 animals, including 5,821 antlered deer.

Importantly, though, when placed alongside the comparable 2016 to-date figures we see that the current similar statistics still demonstrate some lag. For the period ending November 1st, 2016, the-then total deer kill was 28,402 animals that included an antlered deer take of 10,761 deer.

However, such differences can only and best be described as minuscule and inconsequential. For now, anyway.

In reviewing the current to-date (again, as of October 31st) numbers we see that several of Ohio’s 88 counties are approaching the four-digit mark. The current Top 10 crop of counties (with their respective to-date 2016 numbers in parentheses) are: Coshocton – 912 (also 912); Ashtabula – 892 (853); Licking – 814 (881); Trumbull (also 814) & (852); Tuscarawas – 737 (648); Holmes – 714 (677); Knox – 618 (688); Muskingum – 600 (566); Richland – 582 (583); Hamilton – 528 (516).

As can be seen, five of the aforementioned Top 10 counties saw increases in their respective 2017 to-date deer kill when compared to their respective 2016 to-date numbers. And one county saw identical figures while a seventh was short by just one deer.

Taken as a whole, 40 of Ohio’s 88 counties posted gains or identical numbers in their 2017 respective deer kills from the previous to-day reporting week, ending October 24th. That 40 figure is substantial, too, given that last week only seven counties had recorded gains from their previous 2017 to-date numbers as of October 17th.

However, the EHD anomaly is impacting to a large extent the deer herd and kill numbers in Jefferson County, located in Northeast Ohio and along the Ohio River. And to a lesser – though still serious - degree, Jefferson’s next-door neighbor, Columbiana County.

To date as of October 31st, Jefferson County recorded a deer kill of just 163 animals. That is a huge drop from its respective 2016 to-date (as of November 1st, 2016) kill of 308 animals; or drop of 145 deer – close to being a 50-percent decline.

In Columbiana County the 2017 to-date deer kill ledger stands at 386 animals. Its comparable 2016 to-date deer kill was 509 animals, though; representing a smaller drop though still a significant decline at around 22 percent.

Scott Peters, wildlife biologist for the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) office in Akron said that Ohio was not alone in seeing EHD attack a state’s deer herd. Across the Ohio from Jefferson and Columbiana counties, Pennsylvania's sister counties also saw severe EHD -related deer mortality this past summer and autumn, Peters said.

Such depressions in the deer herds in Jefferson and Columbiana counties could prove worrisome for hunters who spent time in their respective woods. Each county is home to multiple numbers of areas open to public hunting. Among them are the 4,167-acre Brush Creek Wildlife Area and the 3,023-acre Fernwood State Forest, both in Jefferson County; and the 2,266-acre Highlandtown Wildlife Area and the 3,848-acre combined Beaver Creek State Park and State Forest – all three in Columbiana County.

For the Bottom Bunch, the current to-date figures are (with their respective 2016 to-date numbers in parentheses) are: Henry County – 97 (103); Pickaway County – 93 (101); Ottawa County – 84 (83); Van Wert County – also 83 (84); Madison County – 72 (89); and Fayette County – 41 (45).

In Northeast Ohio, the current to-date numbers with their respective 2016 to-date numbers in parentheses are: Lake County – 237; Cuyahoga County – 345 (362); Erie County – 194 (167); Geauga County – 374 (415); Lorain County – 448 (562); Media County – 382 (421); Summit County – 397 (433); Portage County – 461 (487).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

To-date 2017 deer kill off by more than 15 percent

Ohio’s to-date deer kill appears to have suffered at the hands of unseasonably warm and dry weather and maybe an abundant mast crop in some locations that’s kept animals away from game feeders stuffed with corn.

The to-date deer kill count stands at 18,123 animals, including 5,824 antlered animals, almost exclusively, bucks.

By comparison, the close 2016 approximation date of October 25th was a then to-date deer kill of 21,336 animals. Contained within this number were 6,948 antlered animals.

Thus, this deer-hunting season to-date kill is off by more than 15 percent, though a lot of hunting remains ahead for both archery and gun Ohio sportsmen and sportswomen.

Current leaders with their to-date numbers (and 2016 proximate to-date figures in parenthesis) are Ashtabula – 650 (641); Trumbull -620 (682); Coshocton – 579 (666); Licking – 527 (643); Tuscarawas – 488 (474); Holmes – 442 (492); Knox – 406 (515); Richland – 390 (431); Muskingum – 363 (421); Clermont – 341 (364).

For Northeast Ohio, the comparable figures – excluding Ashtabula and Trumbull counties – are Lake – 173 (201); Cuyahoga – 277 (294); Lorain – 317 (445) ; Erie – 127 (also 127); Geauga – 254 (323); Medina – 263 (318); Summit – 291 (326).

Only seven of Ohio’s 88 counties have posted to-date gains when placed alongside their respective 2016 to-date numbers. Besides Ashtabula and Tuscarawas counties, the others are Fayette – 31 (26) (Fayette is also the to-date caboose in the number of deer taken to-date during the 2017-2018 season) ; Henry – 69 (67); Madison – 55 (50); Miami – 129 (127); Union – 113 (105).

And one – Erie County – has identical 2016 and 2017 to-date numbers, 127.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Seven percent of adult Ohioans now leagally licensed to carry concealed

While the issuance of new concealed carry permits fell slightly from the first quarter to the second quarter of this year, the number of legally licensed Ohioans being granted renewals increased during the same period.

Also, it is now estimated that Ohio has more than 627,000 legally licensed concealed carry permit holders, says the Buckeye Firearms Association.

The Association says too that such a figure translates into seven percent of the state’s adult population being licensed to carry a firearm concealed: more than doubling the three percent so accredited 10 years ago.

In scouring the concealed carry permit numbers complied every three months by the Ohio Attorney General, the agency’s pegs the number of new licenses issued during the period of April, May and June at 22,306 with the number of renewals stated as 14,647. During the first quarter period of January, February and March, the corresponding numbers were 24,516 and 13,167, respectively.

However, a further look at 2016’s second quarter concealed carry new and renewal license issuance does show a significant drop when stated against the comparable 2017 second quarter new license category but an increase – again – in renewals. During the second quarter of 2016 the state’s 88 county sheriffs issued a whopping 32,259 new concealed carry licenses and renewed 11,276 such permits.

In total year-end numbers for 2016, Ohio’s 88 county sheriffs issued 117,953 new concealed carry licenses (a new record) and renewed 40,986 concealed carry license.

As for second quarter 2017 concealed carry license leaders, the Top Five counties for issuing NEW licenses were: Franklin – 1,669; Lake – 1,618; Montgomery – 1,113; Butler – 768; Clermont – 717.

At the tail end of the ledger with the issuance of the least number of NEW concealed carry licenses during the second quarter of 2017 the rankings were (in descending order): Fayette and Pike – 40 each; Monroe – 39; Morgan and Putnam 37 each; Meigs – 33; Noble and Paulding – 28 each.

The 2017 second quarter Top Five counties for issuing RENEWAL concealed carry licenses were: Franklin -961; Lake – 752; Montgomery – 694; Clermont – 580; and Hamilton – 494.

Ohio saw 20 of its 88 county sheriff’s issue more 2017 second quarter renewal concealed carry permits than new ones. And while most of these counties were rural a couple of urban exceptions included Lucus – 383 new licenses verses 401 renewals – and Cuyahoga – 215 new licenses and 348 renewals.

Also, Ohio saw four counties where no renewals were indicated by their respective sheriff as being issued during the second quarter of 2017. These counties included Monroe, Gallia Lawrence, and Erie.

Other 2017 second quarter statistics provided by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine showed that there were 432 concealed carry license suspensions, 85 revocations, 350 denials, 16 so-called “license processes suspended,” and the granting of 12 temporary emergency licenses.

During the 2017 first quarter these figures were – respectively – 352 concealed carry license suspensions, 176 revocations, 520 denials, 33 so-called “license processes suspended,” and the granting of 17 temporary emergency licenses.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Lake Metroparks' aggressive fish stocking program hooks eager anglers

Lake Metroparks has the perfect bait to lure anglers.

The Lake County-based agency has long maintained an aggressive fish stocking policy and this autumn has proven itself to be no exception.

In early October the parks system poured one-thousand pounds of largemouth bass and five-hundred pounds of keeper-size sunfish into four of its ponds and small lakes. All of the bass were at least 12 inches long while the sunfish measured six to eight inches.

If that were not enough, on October 25th Lake Metroparks stocked one-thousand pounds of rainbow trout – these fish averaging between one and one and one-half pounds each – into the parks system’s Granger’s Pond, located within Veteran’s Park in Mentor. At 33 acres Granger’s Pond is Lake County’s largest inland body of water.

And about the same time the agency officially dedicated is 200-foot long fishing pier at its Painesville Township Park; offering Lake Erie anglers a golden opportunity to cast for resident walleye, white bass, rock bass and smallmouth bass along with seasonally migrating steelhead trout.

Broken down the ponds receiving the warm-water species were the aforementioned Granger’s Pond, the 2.5-acre Blair Road Park Pond in Perry Village, the one-half acre pond at the Farmpark in Kirtland, and the 1.5-acre wetlands at the agency’s Concord Woods Park in Concord Township.

Lake Metroparks also has a score of other small, farm pond-type waters that receive stockings at other times of the year.

As for the rainbow trout, Lake Metroparks spent $3.80 per pound – or something on the order of $3,800 – for the fish which came from a private fish hatchery in Castalia, near Sandusky, said Tom Koricansky, the parks system’s natural resources manager.

“That’s about the same number of trout that we’ve been stocking in Granger’s for the past couple of years,” said Koricansky, who added in something of an understatement, “It’s been a popular program.”

Understatement it is, as the following morning more more than two dozen motor vehicles were observed occupying slots in Veteran’s parking lot while their owners and others were busy fishing from the three T-docks that jut into the small lake.

“What’s nice too is that some of the fish will over-winter in Granger’s and will still be available in the spring,” Koricansky said also.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Ohio's Attorney General channels NRA to help with school safety

Announced 2018 Republican gubernatorial contender and current Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine last month announced a school safety educational partnership between his office and the National Rifle Association.

The partnership involved bringing to Ohio the NRA’s National School Shield Assessor Training program. The first of these classes was conducted October 24th and 25th in the Wellston school district.

Attending the two-day conclave, said DeWine, were various school personnel, school resource officers as well as law enforcement officer representing more than 20 Ohio school districts. The NRA’s foundation picked up the entire tab for the progra, including paying for the various participants to attend.

The NRA-led program involves the organization helping to provide security experts who have the ability to help educate not only the educators but also local law enforcement regarding security assessment techniques.

This assembly encompasses everything from what to look for as it relates to current school building security, but also what improvements can be incorporated to make such structure even more safe for students, school staff and school visitors, DeWine said.

“I am proud to partner with the NRA to bring its impressive and helpful National School Shield training to Ohio,” DeWine said. “Keeping our kids safe at school is a too priority at every school.”

Course participants received certification on what was presented during the course study while their respective school districts will also now be eligible to apply for grants to help bolster safety improvements within structures The money will come from the NRA’s foundation and not taxpayer sources, DeWine said.

DeWine said that the initial success of the conclave at Wellston was so obvious that the attorney general wants to take it to other school districts around the state.

Following the February 12, 2012 shooting tragedy at Chardon High School and the one December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, DeWine said his office has made raising awareness regarding the importance of school safety a priority, and that the NRA’s “expertise and resources provided through this program will help to ensure the success of this important work.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Handgun buyers' habits sliced and diced and the results are in

In an extensive and first-ever look at the nation’s handgun buyers and owners, a joint gun industry study reveals just how diverse is this rather large segment of the firearms community.

The report was compiled by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - the marketing and lobbying group representing the firearms industry – and Fernandina Beach, Florida-based Southwick Associates. Southwick was established 25 years ago and is in its own words “a market research and economics firm, specializing in the hunting, shooting, fishing, and outdoors recreation markets.”

Its data is eagerly sought by manufacturers and sellers of these products which are willing to spend thousands of dollars for Southwick’s exhaustive and in-depth research. A full course of this particular study on handgun buying habits will cost a non-Shooting Sports Foundation member $3,500, for example.

All of which is important because the report’s research says that more than 24 million Americans think they will buy their first firearm within the next five years.

In the latest take on handgun buying and usage the joint project categorized pistol and revolver affectionatos into eight subset categories, utilizing descriptive terminology for several of them: Hunter, Collector, Social Shooter, Skills Builder, Urban Recruit, Protector, Guardian Gary, and Debbie Defense.

And though those last three segments would appear at first blush to be one and the same, Southwick and the Sports Foundation breaks them down even further.

As for the segments’ population profiles, the report says that “Hunters” make up 11 percent of the market and buy handguns for – obviously – hunting. This segment also is typically older and is more rural oriented and is not “concerned about concealability” but still “seeks quality while remaining price sensitive,” the report says.

“Collectors,” says the report, makes up a rather small segment at eight percent and is mostly male who are slightly older and wealthier than other handgun buyers. Interestingly enough, collectors may not actually be zoned in on rare or antique weapons but seek to own different types of handguns though “price and versatility are not a concern,” the report notes.

The “Social Shooter” likewise makes up eight percent of the market. Here, the shooter remains largely rural though is more diverse and is interested in firearms “as a way to spend time with friends.” The price of a handgun is an important concern here, the report states, as is versatility. Still, a Social Shooters typically does spend a whopping 40 percent more on a firearm than does a Hunter. And next to the Hunter, the Social Shooter likewise will check out long-guns as possible purchases.

As for the “Skills Shooter,” the report takes note that this group comprises 12 percent of the handgun buying market. Here, the members are more likely to be suburban with “modest incomes.” Members do not consider themselves to be “outdoorsy,” but are the youngest of all the eight segment memberships. Importantly for firearms makers, sellers and marketers, this segment has a high rate of both females and minorities, they do not own many firearms of any kind, and desire both concealability and low weight in a handgun: a reflection of this segment member’s “interest in personal protection,” the report says.

Perhaps where market growth is the most challenging due to more stringent gun control laws often found in cities and suburbs is the “Urban Recruit” segment, which makes up only four percent of the market. However, this subset does have the highest percentage of minorities – 25 percent. Members of the Urban Recruit handgun buying branch have generally lower incomes though they are more price conscious and demand versatility. They do not engage in much target practice but do have a high rate of military or law enforcement service.

Then there is the “Protector” segment, the largest subset at 26 percent. The members of this group are often family oriented, are a professional with an above average income level. They don’t identify as being “outdoorsy” but do align themselves as protective of their families and home. They also tend to have done a considerable amount of research into what they want to buy and go armed with that knowledge when they visit a retailer, the report states.

As for “Guardian Gary,” this is also a specialized group even though it represents 15 percent of the market. It is, however, a strictly male-dominated subset, slightly older, self-defined as being tech-savvy, analytical, and “old fashioned.” Home protection is more important than worrying about outside the home protection. Guardian Gary has no interest in recreational shooting. Perhaps surprisingly Guardian Garys spend 17 percent more than do Collectors.

Lastly, is “Debbie Defense,” and as the segment name implies, is entirely female. This segment stands at 15 percent with its members being both young and ethnically diverse. She enjoys the outdoors, too. And importantly for handgun makers looking to tap into this market, Debbie Defense members insist in a handgun’s concealability and lightweight. However, she is not set on any specific product feature nor is brand loyal; in fact, 46 percent of those surveyed said brand recognition was unimportant to them. Like her Guardian Gary counterpart, Debbie Defense has no interest in recreational shooting.

Other data collected in this huge survey effort indicates that the Hunter, the Urban Recruit, and Guardian Gary are most likely to make a purchase at an outdoors specialty store while Debbie Defense is more prone to visit a general sporting goods store. Social Shooters, Collectors, and Skills Builders are more likely to turn to the Internet. No mention is made on where the Protector segment generally shops.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Osborne Farm's eagle nest will be protected in any Equestrian Dream plans

If horses ever will have the run of a new high-end planned community in Lake County’s Kirtland Hills Village, then American bald eagles will continue to soar above the proposed equine-related project.

In fact, the eagles are all ready homesteaders on a large piece of private property located within the village, edged on the north by Interstate 90, Ohio Route 615 on the west, and Chillicothe Road to the south and east as the pie-slice-shaped parcel curves back up toward the interstate.

The property is generally and locally known as the Jerome T. Osborne Sr. horse farm; a holding right out of a Kentucky thoroughbred estate. Nestled in about the center of the property is a copse of tall trees including one on the grove’s western fringe that contains a several-year-old American bald eagle nest.

Some concerns had been expressed to state and federal wildlife officials regarding the future of the nest and its support tree, given the scope of an ambitious proposal called the “Equestrian Dream.” This planned community – which still must jump through its own set of bureaucratic hoops before becoming a reality – could feature 12 five-acre home sites (the minimum required by the upscale Kirtland Hills Village code), built along Chillicothe Road.

Along with the lots and any homes the development would feature a 30-acre “common area” where property owners could ride their horses.

Equestrian Dream is the brain child of Richard Osborne Sr., a well-known Northeast Ohio developer and the son of the late Jerome T. Osborne Sr.

Just where the American bald eagle nest and its support tree fits in any future development plans will require meeting strict federal guidelines. After all, the current eagle residents have legal squatters’ rights to the tree and its nest.
Consequently, the laws are very specific as to what can and cannot be done to a nest and any supporting structure as well as any disturbances within specified federal standards, says Deanne Endrizzi, avian biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest Region.

Endrizzi said that the Service requires an extensive permitting vetting process to help ensure that eagle nests and whatever structure that supports them are protected – a condition that also requires monitoring and cooperation on the part of state fish and game agencies. In this case that would be the Ohio Division of Wildlife, which is aware of the Osborne Farm eagle nest but much less so regarding the Equestrian Dream proposal.

“It is important to remember that eagle nest are protected year-round whether they are occupied or not,” Endrizzi said.

“One of the good things for the nest,” Endrizzi said also, is the proposal’s plans call for five-acre lots so that aspect should help in not crowding too close to the eagle nest.

“But permits are still needed and we wouldn’t do that until any actual building begins,” Endrizzi said.

Not surprisingly how both federal and state officials remain firmly committed to eagle protection is borne out by the fact that even though the species is no longer listed as endangered it remains the nation’s symbol. The species thus is protected under the federal government’s Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act’s umbrella.

And Ohio stands firmly committed to the care and future of the eagle in the state. For this year the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s eagle nest survey estimated that Ohio had 221 American bald eagle nests statewide and which were believed to have produced a minimum of 312 eaglets.

At least seven of those nests were/are located in Lake County, too.

“And there could be more,” said Wildlife Division communications manager John Windau.

More or less still demands that people cannot simply skip the law and do as they wish when it comes to building near an eagle’s nest. Rules and rules and they are intended to help keep the American bald eagle from returning to the Endangered Species list.

Even so, Endrizzi says that in rare circumstances the Service will issue a permit that would allow a person to cut down a tree or remove a nest. However, such allowances are typically awarded only if the structure or nest is threatening to harm something like an existing home or people, Endrizzi said.

“We try and work closely with any property owner,” Endrizzi said.

And Kirtland Hills officials not only are going to take a close look at the Equestrian Dream proposal they also want to keep an eye out for the eagle nest. After all, the birds that occupy it are village residents as well, says the community's village council president Glenn Schwaller.

“Certainly this is something that we should take note of, and it’s really nice to see how the eagle has made a comeback,” Schwaller said.

As for the Osborne clan, the developer’s son – Richard Osborne Jr. - said he has brought the matter of the eagle nest to the attention of his father and likewise believes that the eagle nest will get attention should the proposal move forward.

“I have brought your concerns to my father whom is working on this project,” Richard Osborne Jr. said in an email exchange on the subject.

“I am concerned as well and will make sure any appropriate provision will take place related to the nest's protection. It is truly amazing to have American bald eagles soaring above our area and I will make sure your concerns are addressed.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Lake Metroparks' new Lake Erie fishing pier hooking lots of interest

Painesville Township’s Tim Hickey managed to both catch a very nice Lake Erie steelhead from a new Lake Metroparks project he also did nicely in avoiding being in hot water with his wife.

By catching a chunky five-pound or so steelhead trout from the parks system’s newly constructed (mostly) fishing pier, Hickey took home a prize that kept him in his wife’s good graces.

“My wife said I wasn’t allowed to come home unless I caught a trout,” said a beaming and half-joking Hickey. “Now I don’t have to sleep in my car.”

Hickey was casting a rig consisting of a small jig tipped with several maggots and suspended beneath a foam plastic float. The affair had been launched from Lake Metroparks’ pier, a massive metal “crib” loaded with a quarry of heavy rocks and superimposed with a concrete deck. The pier also features a couple of picnic tables, sheltering awning, and a system of heavy-gauge tubing that serves as guardrails along with some signage.

The pier juts 200 feet into Lake Erie and is located at the end of Hardy Road and terminating at Painesville Township Park. The 37-acre park is owned by the township but the whole kit-and-caboodle is managed by Lake Metroparks under a 25-year lease agreement.

Lake Metroparks has completed the three-year pier project; an object of studies, wading through the required governmental red tape and squirreling away about $2.5 million in funding. It was paid for by Lake County property taxpayers, of whom Hickey happily says he is one.

“The pier has turned out really, really nice,” Hickey said. “It’s so cool to see our tax dollars being spent so well. Lake Metroparks always gets our family’s ‘yes’ vote at levy time.”

The pier is actually just one component of the parks system’s efforts to shore up the 100-year-old park. A complex component, to be sure, as a lot of forethought went into designing and building its superstructure and associated land-based erosion control edifice, says Lake Metroparks’ executive director Paul Palagyi.

Basically, said Palagyi, the pier consists of a steel basket into which contains huge rocks. As Lake Erie tries to punish the pier’s superstructure the water runs through the crib and the waves’ energy is defused. It’s a much better design concept than using steel bulkheads which are not always successful in standing up to the pounding of Lake Erie’s oft-times powerful waves, Palagyi says.

“This design is intended to extend the life of the pier and I doubt that any of us will ever live long enough to see the day come when it is destroyed,” Palagyi said.

Left in place just to east of the new pier – and now largely ignored – is a several generations-old concrete model that had always attracted steelhead, bass and walleye anglers but was never easily accessible.

“We left it there because, quite frankly, it would have been too costly to remove,” Palagyi said.

Palagyi said as for the new pier project, it was broken down into two phases with the first one costing $619,000 and included the 800 feet of reinforced shoreline protection. The second phase cost $1.9 million and featured the specially designed and built pier and its appointments as well as landscaping the park’s slope, adding steps and a switchback paved path for handicap accessible vehicles.

While the bulk of the bill was footed by Lake County property owners, Painesville Township’s park board does kick in several hundred thousand dollars annually to help offset maintenance costs, Palagyi says as well.

“There are not too many locations anywhere along Lake Erie where persons with mobility issues can access as good a fishing hole as this pier provides,” Palagyi said.

For anglers, the new pier represents perhaps one of the finest public fishing platforms between Cleveland and Conneaut. Make that “free” public fishing platform as the parks system will allow no-charge angling access 24/7 to anyone and everyone and not just for Lake County residents.

“Really, you cannot find a better strategically placed shore access site for walleye and steelhead fishing,” Palagyi said. “The fish like to cruise the shoreline and will swim right alongside the pier’s two faces. The pier is right in the middle of it all.”

Indeed, while fishing any pier is often times best right at its nose, the pier extends into water deep enough that trout, smallmouth bass and walleye can be caught – and are being caught – throughout its entire 200 foot length.

At the pier’s end anglers may be fishing water that’s 10 or 12 feet deep but even where the structure edges the shoreline the water’s depth is still several feet deep: and is situated in such a way that various sport fish species that love rocks will be available to anglers, Palagyi says.

Also, some 15 lights run the pier’s length, offering plenty of illumination to tie on lures or rig baits. And if that’s too much artificial daylight all an angler has to do is cover a light with a sweatshirt, Palagyi says.

And because the rather longish Grand River west breakwater at the mouth of the stream is about two miles to the west, sand migration is essentially halted. That means the lake’s ground floor extending out from the park and its pier are an amalgam of stone, rock and boulders with little in the way or either sand or mud.

“Perfect fish habitat,” Palagyi said.

Of important note is that the pier’s deck does ride about 10 feet above the lake’s surface. Add another three feet for the wrap-around steel tube railing and it’s a bit of a drop to retrieve a caught fish.

No problem as anglers found solutions even before the park’s official dedication October 17th.

Some anglers have discovered the so-called “pier nets” popularized by fishers working the Atlantic Ocean’s string of fishing piers. Without going into too much detail, such a device consists of large-diameter landing net material stretched over a metal hoop and suspended by three chains that are attached to a small ring and from which is tied a lengthy piece of rope.

Drop the affair over the pier’s side and let it sink a ways, slide a caught fish over the enveloping net and raise the whole shebang.

The alternative is that some anglers are using home-brewed handle extensions of either PVC piping or aluminum and figuring how best to incorporate a way to take down the unit into a truck-manageable length.

While the pier will be shut down during dangerous late fall through early spring weather, should a temporary reprieve appear the parks system will simply open the gates until the nasty stuff returns, Palagyi says.

Palagyi says also that though the pier was designed in large measure with anglers in mind they are not by any means the only ones welcome. The pier will offer outstanding evening sunset viewing and will prove to be an exceptional birding location as waterfowl in huge flights often pass close to shore at lake surface heights.

“We have more than a few eagles in the neighborhood, too,” Palagyi said.

But don’t think that these pursuit seekers are going to be squeezed out by people wanting to turn the pier into a reserved private party venue. That’s not going to happen on his watch, says Palagyi.

“We’ve all ready turned down requests to reserve the pier,” he said. “Hey, if a party wants to host a wedding on the pier that’s fine. The bride is just going to have understand that she may be standing next to a fishing rig with a night crawler on it.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Wolrdwide fish virus now killing thousands of Pymatuning Reservoir carp

Well-known and respected Pennsylvania outdoors writer Darl Black said that a recent crappie fishing outing on Pymatuning Reservoir with his wife Marilyn stunk, but it wasn’t for the lack of catching any of the tasty panfish.

Instead, a nose-curling stench came from the rotting carcasses of untold thousands of carp, the fish dying as the result of the swift-moving and equally fast-acting koi herpes-virus. This virus was identified only in 2000 but has been encountered nearly worldwide – particularly in countries with extensive aquaculture industries such as India, China, and Israel where carp are raised for food.

Also heavily impacted are places with considerable ornamental fish businesses that raise the carps’ close cousin, the koi, the species after which the viral disease is named.

To date only carp and koi have been identified as susceptible to koi herpes-virus and no other member of the minnow family – to which these two species belong – has shown evidence of the disease.

As for visible symptoms, infected fish typically exhibit signs of infection that include severe gill lesions seen as gill mottling with red and white patches, bleeding gills, sunken eyes, and pale patches on the skin.

An infected fish may succumb to the disease in an eye-blink of a rush: within only one or two days. And some research says that an ornamental koi pond could be totally wiped out in a matter of just a few weeks.

However, both the Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission have been quick to quiet any fears that koi herpes-virus poses a risk to human health.

Matt Wolfe, fisheries biologist with the Wildlife Division’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) Office in Akron, said that diseased-dead carp were first noted around the Labor Day weekend at the 16,349-acre flood-control reservoir, built in the mid-1930s. The lake rests in both Ohio and Pennsylvania and which share joint fisheries management of the popular Northeast Ohio-northwest Pennsylvania angling destination.

We began receiving a few reports here and there but over the past few weeks the numbers have pretty steadily ramped up,” Wolfe said.

No sick or dead carp were observed by Fish Commission staff in the eastern portion of the reservoir commonly referred to as the Pymatuning Sanctuary. The sanctuary is separated from the main lake by a narrow dam and small spillway. This is the fabled and popular tourism location where “the ducks walk on the fishes’ backs.”

Live carp were collected by Pennsylvania’s Fish and Boat Commission staff on September 12 who then shipped the fish to the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center for testing. The Center confirmed on September 21 that the fish had tested positive for the koi herpes-virus, said Commission spokesman Eric Levis.

Both Ohio and Pennsylvania fisheries experts say there is no way of knowing where the disease originated, though Pymatuning’s exceptionally large carp population made it an ideal candidate for koi herpes-virus to gain a foothold, Wolfe said.

If you had to pick a lake where there’d be a high likelihood for the disease, Pymatuning would be it,” Wolfe said.

The Fish Commission’s addendum on the subject notes that the disease could have been found in some infected fish, been present in the bilge water of an angler’s boat, or perhaps it originated from a backyard pond or maybe the disease came with an aquarium fish that someone may have released into the lake.

But Wolfe did note that with the arrival of cooler weather the lake’s water temperature will decline as well, throttling back the incidence of the disease.

As for whether the koi herpes-virus will rear its ugly head, that is “hard to say”, though perhaps the disease’s impact template may match that of another fish virus, said Wolfe.

Look at VHS (viral hemorrhagic septicemia) that hit Lake Erie; it ran rampant and eventually fish began developing an immunity to it,” Wolfe said.

However, the Fish Commission says it is entirely possible that Pymatuning may experience periodic outbreaks of koi herpes-virus. That situation has some history at Pymatuning which is still seeing residual outbreaks of “red spot disease,” a viral infection that has periodically plagued the lake’s renowned muskie population.

Even so, one concern remains that the some carp may not necessarily becomes victims of koi herpes-virus but possibly may become transmitters of the disease; a sort of Typhoid Mary for carp.

Added to that worry, Wolfe says, is that the disease “could jump ship and be bounced from one lake to another” via hitching a ride in the watery live well of an anglers’ boat or attached to the strands of hydruala - which has likewise infected Pymatuning - and then dropped in the waters of some other reservoir, lake or stream.

Here at the Division when we retrieve one of our boats we thoroughly treat the hull and the trailer with disinfectant to kill any organism,” Wolfe said. “It’s a good and highly recommended practice for anyone to do.”

The Fish and Boat Commission says also that its web site for more information on how to “Clean Your Gear” and stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. That site is at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Portman's bipartisan senatorial efforts pay off with algal bloom control legislation

Ohio’s junior senator and Republican Rob Portman has managed to cross the fractious political divide and engage several of his Democratic colleagues to come aboard in an effort to deal with massive algal blooms.

Portman joined with Florida’s U.S. Senator and Democrats senators Bill Nelson of Florida and Gary Peters of Michigan to see to it that the full Senate successfully passed the “Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act.”

This act reauthorizes the 1998 act that bears the same name, with Portman and Nelson also working together in 2014 for a reauthorization of the act. In that reauthorization Portman managed to secure a Great Lakes’ associated segment that helped to prioritize efforts directed at such freshwater bodies as Lake Erie.

Portman says the program – which is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - was birthed by the original act which fueled the federal government’s research and subsequent response toward dealing with harmful algal blooms.

Such blooms have plagued Lake Erie for several years. The record-breaking heat in September along with a general lack of both wind and rain exasperated the algal bloom situation on Lake Erie and the Maumee River in September, scientists say.

Nelson has a proprietary interest in the subject as well. That is because algal “dead zones” have cropped up in the salty Gulf of Mexico just as they have in Lake Erie’s freshwater and the Chesapeake Bay’s brackish water.

In the case of the Gulf of Mexico, an algal-created oxygen-deprived dead zone the size of New Jersey occurred in 2014 while one measuring more than 8,481 square miles developed in the Gulf of Mexico in the summer of 2002.

Importantly, said Portman, recent program efforts include NOAA’s seasonal forecasts on the expected severity of algal bloom events in Lake Erie along with a biweekly Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom bulletin issued by NOAA. This bulletin provides forecasts of the movement and toxicity of bloom events in Lake Erie as well as such inland water bodies as Buckeye Lake or Grand Lake St. Marys, Portman said, noting the size and scope of the problem.

"This legislation takes critical steps toward protecting Lake Erie and other freshwater bodies throughout Ohio and the nation from toxic algae,” Portman said, noting that it’s “important that these water bodies are protected, as they supply drinking water to millions of Ohioans and are critical for Ohio’s tourism and fishing industries.”

Portman said also that for the first the renewed legislation will allow for possible funding to be made available to communities with significant algal bloom outbreaks to “help protect against environmental, economic, and public health risks.”

I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this important legislation to the president for his signature," said Portman. 

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, September 25, 2017

Ohio's Natural Resources Department continues to defend the indefensible

Even after nearly seven years of holding down the fort the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ leadership still finds itself trying to both win over pro-sportsmens organizations and justify its full-nelson hold on the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

No where does this mangled mindset appear more in evidence than via a video shot September 8th during a portion of the Ohio State Trappers Association’s annual convention, held at the Holmes County Fairgrounds in Millersburg.

This hour-plus-long video contains a testy (at times) exchange between members of the Trappers Association and the Natural Resources Department’s assistant director Gary Obermiller. It is posted on the Association’s Facebook page.

Subsequent comments made by Association attendees that are linked with the video also suggest that Obermiller’s efforts have achieved little in the way of bolstering confidence in the agency.

Which is in keeping with the Natural Resources Department on-going inability to acknowledge that it has an appearance problem trending toward arrogance. This pomposity has defined the agency’s leadership from the beginning and which still lurches itself onward with faux swagger.

Indeed, the Natural Resources Department continues to misread the breadth and depth of distrust that many Ohio sportsmen/sportswomen hold for the agency.

In a statement worthy of former Trump Administration press secretary Sean Spicer, Ohio Department of Natural Resources spokesman Matt Eislestein added to the administration’s string of back-handed insults of anyone who dares to disagree with the agency.

When asked if Obermiller wanted to amend, change, expand or comment on his statements and performance at the Trappers’ meet, Eiselstein simply stated “I don’t think anything needs added to Assistant Director Obermiller’s appearance at the Ohio State Trappers Association event. He was polite and respectful when answering questions even when interrupted and badgered during his responses.”

Similar vainglorious statements were belched a few months back when roughly 40 state and national conservation groups backed increases to Ohio resident hunting and fishing license fees. Then the Natural Resources Department’s leadership smugly snorted – in effect – as how the non-profit groups should have undertaken a poll of their respective memberships on whether the organizations should say yea or nay to any increase in resident hunting and fishing license fees.

Even forgetting for a moment the logistical improbability of mounting such a step, the very reason people belong to these organizations is because of their conservation activism. All of that is still being lost on the Natural Resources Department’s directorship which seems to believe that anything other than its opinion is fake news.

Clearly this self-promoting strategy spilled over unto the state trapper’s annual pow-wow stage; a group the Natural Resources Department now seems bent on disenfranchising by saying its people badgered Obermiller.

Obviously, too, Natural Resources Department officials both misinterpreted the response to Obermiller’s defense of the indefensible but have also failed – and miserably so – to acknowledge any of the sod-busting efforts on the part of previous administrations which broke ground on various sportsmen initiatives.

In one instance Obermiller attempted to singularly sing the praises regarding his administration’s efforts at opening state parks, natural areas and nature preserves to hunting. And while any and all such effort must be applauded, neither Obermiller, nor Natural Resources Department director James Zehringer - or even Wildlife Division chief Mike Miller - can possibly file an original patent on the idea. Their claim that the Wildlife Division has not taken advantage of this access opportunity is simply bogus.

Then too Obermiller’s statement that state parks have more public water for anglers was a bit surprising and something that stretched reality to the breaking point. After all, Ohio anglers have the Ohio River to the south and something called Lake Erie to the north. Take away those two minor fishing holes and it doesn’t take much of an imagination to determine how low fishing license sales would dip.

As the video shows, now-retired Wildlife Division District Three (Northeast Ohio) supervisor Jeff Herrick pointedly and correctly provided a short history regarding his former employer’s decades-long work in achieving the opening of dozens of state parks as well as natural areas to hunting and the agency’s dogged efforts to share this effort with Ohio’s sportsmen.

And while Herrick’s response was maybe an octave louder than a normal tone of voice, to say that his reaction to Obermiller’s politically talented interpretation of events was somehow “badgering” easily achieves audacity.

Herrick’s responses – and there were multiples of them – also demonstrated the on-going frustration felt by many sportsmen towards current Natural Resources Department’s policies and perceived threats against the Wildlife Division. These perceptions simply have not gone away because more than a few sportsmen/sportswomen still do not trust the Natural Resources Department’s leadership. Again, seven years into the department’s leadership tenure.

They remain outraged as the Natural Resources Department has utilized the Wildlife Division the way a baseball franchise mines its farm club system; robbing the latter of dedicated and experienced employees. A move that included removing the Wildlife Division’s head of law enforcement for the do-it-or-be-dismissed job of babysitting the Natural Resources Department’s communications room.

And when Obermiller tried to say that under the Natural Resources bold leadership the state parks system has achieved fiscal solvency it was candidly pointed out to him that the pilfering of the former Ohio Division of Watercraft with its fiscally solid Waterways Safety Fund, and then shuffling them into the Parks Division, certainly didn’t hurt Parks’ bottom line.

Obermiller wasn’t all wrong nor all bad, however. He was spot on in saying that the multitude of so-called wildlife production areas owned by the Wildlife Division deserve better play. Indeed, these highly obscure parcels of often superb wildlife habitat are decades old but are minimally known by Ohio’s hunters. In this regard the Natural Resources Department earns top marks for wanting to see the Wildlife Division do much more in promoting them.

And credit Obermiller for noting that the Wildlife Division has for too long been viewed as the pretty one of the Natural Resources Department’s family at the expense of its lesser siblings. Sure, some of that feeling is nothing more than jealousy but there is more than an element of truth to the long-held belief.

Problem was, Obermiller had few of these positives; his presentation often citing items of dubious accuracy. His statements on Zehringer’s Natural Resources ad hoc citizens committee make it seems like it is comprised of average joes plucked from the street. The members are anything but, and a going over the list shows more friends of the agency’s leadership than foes; a tell-tale sign that Zehringer wants to hear happy news first, foremost and last.

Even more startling, near the conclusion of the video Obermiller commented on a question addressing these two ad hoc committees. Regarding the new Wildlife Ad Hoc Committee, Obermiller said that he believes there are 12 members but “I can’t tell you all (their) names.” That is a stunning admission given that one of the committee members said he was recruited to join the group by none other than Obermiller himself.

Obmiller said as well that one year from now when he returns to the Trappers’ annual convention, if the group’s membership tells him that the Natural Resources Department has “mucked things up” he’ll take his “medicine.”

Alas, the Kasich-Zehringer-Obermiller political machine has pretty much squandered seven of its eight allotted years. And sadly this means that Administration officials still have an entire year and change to keep mucking things up, to recycle Obermiller’s own words.

To view the video, go to the Ohio State trappers Association’s Facebook page at Note that at times the visual portion of the program is heavily pixelated while the audio portion includes segments that will need rewinding and subsequent rehearing.

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn