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