Sunday, June 24, 2018

They don't come much bigger; new Ohio state record bow-fishing buffalo sucker taken

A decades-long quest to shoot an Ohio bowfishing-record-breaking buffalo sucker ended in a big way May 21st for Westerville’s Josh Bowmar.

Bowmar has taken the new Ohio state record buffalo sucker- bowfishing category - by arrowing a 43-pound female buffalo sucker from Hoover Reservoir north of Columbus, a fish that also measured 43.5 inches with a girth of 28.875 inches.

Coincidentally, Hoover Reservoir likewise holds the title for the Ohio hook-and-line state record buffalo sucker: A 46.01 pound specimen taken Juky 2nd, 1999 by Tim Veit of Galena.

His fish beat the previous state record buffalo sucker of 40.80 pounds, taken from Lake Erie on October 11th, 2013 by Brent McGlone.

Bowmar’s new state record – as was McGlone’s fish and all other Ohio state record hook-and-line as well as bowfishing category entries – are determined by weight only.

Also, they are certified by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio with fish species identification assistance provided by the Ohio Division of Wildlife fisheries biologists. The Ohio outdoors writers group began the state record fish program several generations ago, and is the only such journalism organization that maintains an official list of state record fish.

In achieving his long-sought goal, the 28-year-old Bowmar said he’s been targeting Hoover for a decade, the 2,218-acre impoundment being only 10 to 15 minutes from his home.

The thing is, the buffalo sucker spawn is so short on Hoover – just one or two days – you have to be there at the right time or you’ll miss it,” Bowmar said. ““My wife and I went to Hoover for a full week to see if we could meet the spawn.”

Bowmar said that he and his 29-year-old wife, Sarah, visited Hoover the day before he shot the sucker, saw fish spawning and decided to return to the same spot on May 21st. The couple also returned May 22nd to try and see if there might be an even larger buffalo sucker “but by then the spawn was all ready over,” Bowmar said.

Being there at exactly the right time is hard, and there is an element of luck,” Bowmar said.

The Bowmars are dedicated archerers who spend up to six months traveling and videoing their exploits, including the taking of the new Ohio state record bowfishing record for buffalo sucker. This 4-minute/13-second long video can be seen on YouTube by accessing “Bowmar Bowhunting” and scrolling through the various entries.

Bowmar said as well that following his taking of what would become the new Ohio bowfishing state record buffalo sucker, Sarah arrowed the 25-pound male consort to the female he had just shot.

I just happened to have shot the female and Sarah shot the male, but if there was a woman’s state record division I am certain Sarah would now hold it,” Bowmar said.

Both fish were taken in water considered somewhat deep for such bowfishing activity; about four or five feet and located off a point in Hoover Reservoir and not in some weedy or muddy bay, Bowmar said.

Shooting the fish demanded attention to details even before hitting the water. Bowmar has set up a Hoyt 60-pound draw weight recurve bow for instinctive shooting, and also employs an Easton FMJ bowfishing arrow comprised of a carbon core sheathed in an aluminum tube.

The arrow is designed to penetrate deeper into the water than most other bowfishing arrows,” he said.

That point was a key factor in the Bowmars’ duel success as the buffalo sucker spawning pair was about three feet below the water’s surface.

I drew back and gave it everything I had,” Bowmar said.

To further underscore the seriousness with which the Bowmars attach to bowfishing, the couple was first line to buy a specially designed and built bowfishing Tracker Marine Grizzly boat with “all of the bells and whistles,” Bowmar said.

Bowmar intends to have the new state record mounted, a fitting trophy, he says.

I absolutely knew it was a monster fish and that Hoover had a potential new state record,” Bowmar said. “And as you can see from the video, it lost a lot of eggs on the deck of the boat. I’m guessing that had I plugged it and the fish had not lost all of those eggs, it would have gone 46 pounds.”

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, June 22, 2018

Here, kitty. Lake Metroparks raising for eventual release an orphaned Harrison County bobcat

A woman out-foxed a red fox and in the process saved a bobcat kitten from becoming a certain hors devoures for the wily canine.

In doing so the bobcat is now in the rehabilitative hands of Lake Metroparks at its Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center in Kirtland.

Good Samaritan Nicole Perez was visiting Tappan Lake in Harrison County when she saw what was assumed to be a run-of-the-mill house cat kitten being carried away by a fox.

Perez ran toward the fox, which then dropped the kitten. She then took the kitten to a local veterinarian, and was informed it wasn’t a domestic kitten at all, but a bobcat kitten less than one week old and in frail condition.

Advised by the Ohio Division of Wildlife as to the best course of action to take, Perez drove north to Lake County where Lake Metroparks’ Wildlife Center staff took over. The Center has experience in dealing with rehabilitating bobcats, this being the forth member of the species that the Center has worked with, said the unit’s manager, Tammy O’Neil.

When the bobcat kitten arrived we weren’t sure if it even would make it, being the smallest of the four that we’ve received,” O’Neil said. “It was touch and go for a while.”

O’Neil said that on arrival the bobcat kitten weighed only 270 grams – or 9.52 ounces and its weight had climbed to 1.9 kilograms, or 4.2 pounds. At the time of this story’s appearance the bobcat should be about 11 weeks old.

The bobcat is in what call an ‘intermediate’ enclosure about five feet by 10 feet, but as the kitten matter we will move it into a larger enclosure about 20 feet by 20 feet by 10 feet tall, and it will a lot of natural features so the bobcat can become familiar with that type of surroundings it will find when its released back into the wild,” O’Neil said. “That’s when it will be provided with live prey in order for the bobcat to develop its hunting instincts.”

Interestingly too, at the time this story was written the sex of the kitten was uncertain. It takes a while before the sexual attributes of such animals becomes better defined, O’Neil said.

Even the vet wasn’t sure, and one of the bobcats we rehabilitated before we thought at first was a male was actually a female,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil said she and her staff intends to release this bobcat next spring and near where it was found.

Bobcats were removed from Ohio’s endangered species list in 2014, following the species’ naturally inspired expansion through a large portion of the state. From 1970 through 2017, there have been 2,025 verified sightings of bobcats in Ohio, including 499 last year and of which 18 were in Harrison County, notes Wildlife Division documentation.

This is another example of how successful the bobcats’ reemergence has become in Ohio that taking a kitten like this to a wildlife rehabilitator is almost now routine,” said Jeff Westerfield, wildlife management supervisor for the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) office in Akron.

Harrison County is located in District Three.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

By the official numbers: Firearms made in the U.S. and Ohio soared in 2016

In the political watershed year of 2016 that saw a generally pro-gun Donald Trump elected as president and anti-gun candidate Hillary Clinton defeated, the United States’ licensed firearms manufacturers expended a lot of energy making new products.

Based upon statistics provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, in 2016 these properly licensed gun makers cranked out 11,497,441 new firearms. This is the last year for which the ATF has current, final and official figures.

The reason for this apparent reporting lag time is that the country’s gun makers have until the following April to notify the ATF of gun production figures for the preceding calendar year. Given that such technical data may have errors or else be in need of further refinement, finalized numbers typically don’t see the light of reporting day for several months after each December 31st, says ATF spokeswoman Suzanne Dabkowski with the agency’s Cleveland office.

It must be stated up front that all figures compiled by the ATF represent the total number of firearms made per gun type classification, not sales. It is entirely conceivable that many of these 2016-made firearms remain in the inventories of wholesalers and retailers, Dabkowski says as well.

Also, ATF-available figures are for firearms made in the United States, not those imported, which is an entirely different set of numbers. For interpretation purposes, firearms production is defined as being “firearms including separate frames or receivers, actions of barreled actions, manufactured and disposed of in commerce during the (documented) calendar year,” the ATF’s report states.

In all, and based upon the most current, finalized data, the United States has more than 11,000 ATF-licensed firearms manufacturers, of which more than 400 are based in Ohio. Every U.S. firearms manufacturer pays a $150 fee to the ATF for a license, which is good for three years, Dabkowski says.

Licensed manufacturers ranged from small gun shops that may have produced only a handful of firearms - or even as few as one – to the big names in the industry on the order of Ruger, Remington, Smith & Wesson, O.F. Mossberg, and Colt.

As a short history lesson and for comparison sake, for 2015 the total firearms production in the United States topped out at 9,358,661 units. In fact, based on ATF data going back to at least 2010, the year 2016 easily eclipsed any other in terms of seeing such a volume of firearms produced in the United States, though perhaps interestingly as well the number of shotguns made in the U.S. has fallen over the past few years.

The ATF even breaks down manufacturing by individual states with the subject matter including the gun maker’s name and hometown and by firearms type made.

A close look at the figures does demonstrate the importance of the handgun market to America’s gun makers. ATF documentation shows that for 2016 the number of new semi-automatic pistols made in the U.S. was an astounding 4,720,075 units while the number of revolvers made here was 856,291. In 2010 those statistics were 2,258,450 and 558,927, respectively.

Statistically refined further, the ATF-supplied numbers showed that for 2016, 9mm pistols ruled the manufacturing roost with some 2.28 million units made in the U.S. This caliber figure-type was followed by .380-caliber pistols at 1.13 million units. The manufacturing of .25-caliber pistols actually outstripped the making of .32-caliber pistols, though each figure was tiny: 13,141 units verses 10,175 units, respectively. And in the “to .50” caliber statistical branch were 837,535 semi-automatic handguns.

The making of .22-caliber semiautomatic pistols stood at 447,315 units in 2016; its sibling revolver category figure being 320,775 units in 2016. Other noteworthy revolver-making figures for 2016 showed that 248,144, .38-caliber wheel guns were made in the U.S. during 2016 while 182,564, .357 Magnum revolvers were produced, along with 51,451 up “to .44 Magnum” revolvers, and 45,506 “to .50” caliber revolvers

Meanwhile, the ATF report states that something on the order of 4.24 million rifles were made in the U.S. during 2016 as were 848,617 shotguns.

As was mentioned earlier, the ATF does list firearms made on a state-by-state basis, adding by type: handguns, rifles, shotguns, and miscellaneous. More on that topic in a moment.

For Ohio in 2016, the number of licensed gun manufacturers producing handguns totaled 26. These handgun makers ranged from eight companies that made one handgun each to the 90,900 handguns made by the Strassels Machine Company of Mansfield, the 32,400 handguns made by the Haskell Manufacturing Company of Lima, and the 24,100 units made by the Iberia Firearms Company of Galion.

Ohio actually had more licensed rifle makers in 2016 than handgun manufacturers. Make that many more rifle manufacturers, though it would appear that the bulk of these gun makers were custom gunsmiths. In all during 2016, the ATF cataloged 62 rifle manufacturers in Ohio although 45 of them produced 10 or fewer rifles each.

The ATF-licensed Ohio-based rifle maker producing the greatest number of firearms in this category for 2016 was the Mansfield-based Strassells Machine Company which reported making 58,600 rifle units in that year.

For shotguns, the number of licensed manufacturers for Ohio numbered only four in 2016, and ranged from just one shotgun made by Delta Group Technology LLC in Belle Center to 1,041 shotguns for the Ithaca Gun Company in Upper Sandusky. Compare those two numbers against the 339,507 shotguns made just by Remington’s historic gun-making plant in Ilon, New York.

In the quirky-sounding – though official jargon of the ATF – are the so-called “miscellaneous firearms.” This is a catch-all classification for items that require an ATF-issued firearms manufacturing permit but which are not products that fit neatly into the handgun, shotgun, and rifle categories, Dabkowski says.

“A couple of good examples are silencers (suppressors) and pistol-gripped shotguns, both of which have become very popular in recent years,” Dabkowski said.

In this category for 2016, Ohio had 14 ATF-licensed manufacturers with the most units being produced by the CBO Acquisition Company of Cleveland, producing 9,035 units.

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, June 4, 2018

Former ODNR officials not happy with what they see as current departmental foot-dragging

A confusing set of signals regarding agreements the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has with various entities that allow public hunting and fishing is irritating any number of former Wildlife Division officials.

In a March 28th memorandum the Natural Resources Department announced that its law enforcement agreement with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District – an immensely popular hunting and fishing destination opened to such activity - has “expired” but that “further direction will be given in the near future as the process to renew the Memorandum of Understanding is underway.”

However, several former/retired Ohio Division of Wildlife officials remain deeply disappointed and openly critical that Natural Resources Department did not first hammered out either an extension to any existing memorandum of understanding or developed a new one before the expiration of the existing one.

Exactly, that should have been a high priority,” said retired Wildlife Division field officer and agent, Jim Abrams.

Even more blunt is Jim Marshall, a now-retired Wildlife Division supervisor for the agency’s District Four (southeast Ohio).

How do you let that happen unless you’re asleep at the wheel?” Marshall asked rhetorically. “Incompetents. Heads should roll!”

Marshall said further that “in my opinion, this is a giant issue.”

We worked very hard to maintain good relationships with the agreement areas. Law enforcement was their primary concern, especially use of off road vehicles on areas which caused rutting and erosion on access roads, oil well roads, forestry access. These illegal activities led to increased occurrences of vandalism, dumping, littering, and so on,” Marshall said.”

Adding that “a significant amount of law enforcement time and energy were expended on projects to enforce this section of code,” Marshall says that such agreements are essential cooperative affairs that have proven a win-win for all parties.

As (the) District Four manager I would give an annual report on arrests made at the annual agreements area conference that we hosted to express our appreciation to the cooperators,” Marshall said. “Back in the golden years this represented (to my recollection) nearly 750,000 acres of hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife viewing access to sportsmen and women.”

If the apparent slow work in progress with the Muskingum Watershed District has former Wildlife Division officials upset, the Natural Resources Department’s official response to the fury almost certainly will cause considerable heartburn.

ODNR is reviewing all of the agreements for properties that ODNR patrols to ensure that officers are aware of their permitted jurisdiction in each of these areas. Officers are still patrolling the properties and can enforce all wildlife rules and laws and can, of course, act on any felonies,” said Matt EMatt Eiselstein, Natural Resources Department spokesman.

Yet critics of the Department’s believe that what they see as a sluggard’s approach to assembling memorandums of understanding with the Muskingum Watershed District and others is fool-hardy and counter-productive.

They note that Wildlife Division officers do – or, did – more than just look out for felonies on agreement lands as well as solely enforce hunting and fishing regulations on such properties, Marshall says.

On that score, Marshall gets an affirmative nod from Ray Petering, himself a now-retired chief of the Wildlife Division.
The ability of the Division of Wildlife to provide law enforcement on these areas was the key to getting them open and keeping them open to the public,” says Petering.
The Division’s ability to provide law enforcement was often the ‘carrot’ in convincing the owners of these agreement areas to allow public access.”
Petering says too, he can recall sitting in meetings, negotiating these agreements where the Wildlife Division’s ability to provide law enforcement was the “difference-maker in getting the agreement signed by the owner.”
Simply put,” Petering says, “without the ability to offer law enforcement we will struggle to add agreement lands in the future, and conceivably lose some of the ones we presently have.”
Marshall says as well that any number of sections of the state code were both necessary and agreed to by memorandum signers in order for the Wildlife Division to be in compliance with federal aid requirements and they were duly enforced, including matters that were hardly felonies, such as use of bicycles or horseback riding in off-limit areas.

Thus, Marshall says, the agreements added another layer of protection for the lands that otherwise would not exist, noting as well that such agreements have stood the test of time for more than six decades and each needed the final okay from the respective Natural Resources director.

What I can’t understand is this section of code survived the test of time through Directors and their respective legal counsels for nearly 60 years and now some (deleted) wants to throw that away,” Marshall said angrily. “Each agreement had to go to the Director’s review and signature to be valid.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn