Monday, December 9, 2019

UPDATED/Ohio gun deer hunting kill totals may reflect switch to archery season

A mediocre jump of just 2,741 deer killed during Ohio’s just-concluded seven-day firearms deer hunting from its 2018 counterpart is telling as much by what the numbers do not say than what they do acknowledge.

In all, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s preliminary figures for the December 2nd through 8th general firearms deer-hunting season was 63,493 animals killed-harvested. The comparable 2018 figure was 60,752 deer, while the 2017 figure was 72,814 animals, and the 2016 figure was 66,759 deer.

I think the real story, though is the harvest to-date, which is about 147,000 deer harvested compared to 132,000 deer (to-date) harvested last year,” said Mike Tonkovich, the Wildlife Division’s deer management administrator.

Still, the 2019 gun deer season harvest is still five-percent below the three-year average for the gun season, “and I’m not sure we’re ever going to see it come back to what it once was,” said Tonkovich also, who noted that at one time the general firearms deer-hunting season accounted for fully 91 percent of the state’s entire deer kill-harvest.

But that was before we had the youth firearms season, the two-day (bonus) season and the muzzle-loader season,” Tonkovich said.

Tonkovich said as well how such numbers are owed in more than a little measure to changing deer hunter habitats; the general firearms season no longer is the rooster in the barnyard. That job is increasingly being taken over by archery hunters using crossbows and longbows.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this year or next year that the archery deer harvest will exceed 50-percent for all deer taken,” Tonkovich said.

In effect, anymore it appears the gun season is a way for archery hunters to remain in the field rather than the archery season allowing for an extension of opportunity by gun hunters.

I guess that’s one way of looking at it,” Tonkovich said.

Tonkovich also questions the reluctance by some hunter-observers to believe the state has an abundance of deer.

We have more deer on the landscape now (and) over the last couple of years because of conservative regulations,” Tonkovich said.

What hunters who are not killing deer – or even seeing deer – may be doing wrong, Tonkovich surmises, is that they possibly are hunting where they always did; thus, not where the deer are today.

Hunters also are shying away from conducting drives or by still hunting, preferring to sit tight on a stump or in a tree stand. Such stationary tactics may lead to fewer deer being seen, let alone taken, Tonkovich says.

Importantly, says Tonkovich, is any pressing of the panic button so as to try and assign deer-management strategies similarities between one county where regulations are restrictive - and the kill-harvest numbers have grown - to counties with more liberal bag limits and where kill-harvest numbers have plateaued or even shrunk.

I’d be reluctant to draw conclusions on what we are doing in one county and which should be applied to another county,” Tonkovich said.

During the seven-day season the state saw two non-fatal hunting-related accidents, called "incidents," in Wildlife Division lingo. One occurred December 3rd in Vinton County and the other happened December 7th in Washington County, said agency spokesman Brian Plasters..

The Vinton County incident reportedly involved a self-inflected wound to a leg and caused by a handgun. The Washington County incident allegedly involved a rifle with the injury also to a leg. That one was not self-infected, Plasters said.

"Both incidents are undergoing investigations," Plasters also said.

Here are the preliminary county-by-county deer kill-harvest numbers with their respective 2018 figuress in parentheses: Adams: 935 (960); Allen: 361 (250); Ashland: 1,272 (1,124); Ashtabula: 1,901 (2,028); Athens: 1,265 (1,326); Auglaize: 341 (269); Belmont: 1,196 (1,085); Brown: 797 (739); Butler: 294 (250); Carroll: 1,473 (1,454); Champaign: 376 (337); Clark: 182 (177); Clermont: 558 (554); Clinton: 257 (185); Columbiana: 1,173 (1,133); Coshocton: 2,322 (2,180); Crawford: 562 (497); Cuyahoga: 49 (39); Darke: 248 (215); Defiance: 768 (583); Delaware: 388 (352); Erie: 208 (224); Fairfield: 599 (620); Fayette: 139 (91); Franklin: 115 (143); Fulton: 308 (292); Gallia: 980 (1,150); Geauga: 526 (585); Greene: 232 (196); Guernsey: 1,734 (1,732); Hamilton: 136 (147); Hancock: 487 (405); Hardin: 554 (382); Harrison: 1,408 (1,290); Henry: 380 (258); Highland: 843 (803); Hocking: 1,196 (1,117); Holmes: 1,465 (1,290); Huron: 980 (865); Jackson: 987 (1,087); Jefferson: 786 (700); Knox: 1,771 (1,513); Lake: 149 (181); Lawrence: 685 (817); Licking: 1,514 (1,423); Logan: 699 (614); Lorain: 566 (628); Lucas: 115 (117); Madison: 165 (146); Mahoning: 493 (616); Marion: 384 (336); Medina: 568 (606); Meigs: 1,076 (1,238); Mercer: 302 (228); Miami: 217 (172); Monroe: 1,059 (1,103); Montgomery: 137 (122); Morgan: 1,244 (1,205); Morrow: 558 (551); Muskingum: 1,972 (1,924); Noble: 1,167 (1,264); Ottawa: 122 (113); Paulding: 480 (333); Perry: 1,016 (1,044); Pickaway: 306 (244); Pike: 631 (691); Portage: 584 (559); Preble: 284 (253); Putnam: 306 (232); Richland: 1,179 (1,142); Ross: 994 (940); Sandusky: 246 (216); Scioto: 667 (781); Seneca: 814 (736); Shelby: 388 (283); Stark: 813 (810); Summit: 146 (153); Trumbull: 1,116 (1,123); Tuscarawas: 2,127 (1,996); Union: 298 (281); Van Wert: 230 (175); Vinton: 900 (943); Warren: 286 (264); Washington: 1,464 (1,411); Wayne: 801 (696); Williams: 624 (546); Wood: 333 (273); Wyandot: 716 (596). 2019 total: 63,493; 2018 total: (60,752).

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@ameritech.net
JFrischk4@gmail.com

Thursday, December 5, 2019

As Ohio gun deer season openers go, the 2019 model was okay

In parts of Ohio the dismal weather for the state’s opening round of the 2019 seven-day general firearms deer-hunting season came close to mirroring that seen for its 2018 counterpart.

Even so, the 2019 first day deer kill-harvest showed gains in the majority of Ohio 88 counties. Of those 88 counties only 22 failed to meet or exceed their respective 2018 opening day deer kill-harvest numbers.

The preliminary 2019 opening day deer kill-harvest figure was 15,501 animals; up from the 13,651 deer taken during the first day of the 2018 season.

And the 2019 opening day saw a couple of other noteworthy bits of information, too: The Ohio Division of Wildlife reports the state did not register any deer hunting accidents, called “incidents” in official agency lingo.

Meanwhile, though Ohio’s hunting fees saw any number of increases they do not appear to have impacted overall deer-hunting tag sales. Through December 1st – day before the 2019 gun deer season began - the Wildlife Division issued 329,108 deer tags. For the corresponding period ending November 25th 2018 that number was 326,873 tags, said agency spokesman Brian Plasters.

That speaks volumes in the interest in deer hunting in Ohio,” also said Clint McCoy, the Wildlife Division’s chief deer biologist.

McCoy did say the 2018 opening day deer kill-harvest “wasn’t what it could have been” but was not too bad, either, even though the weather was hardly pleasant across much of Ohio.

And if you recall, the weather for the 2018 deer opener was much, much worse,” McCoy said. “So given that we were up a little shouldn’t be too surprising: there were a lot more four-legged critters out there that were carried over from 2018, for one thing.”

The statistics also reveal a couple of initial “huh” moments. Among them is the drop in the opening day deer kill-harvest for the adjoining counties of Scioto, Jackson, Lawrence, and Gallia counties.

On the reverse side of that coin were the gains seen in a number of western Ohio counties. Among them being Allen, Henry, and Butler counties.

Each either doubled or nearly did their opening day harvests,” McCoy said. “Even if their total numbers are not huge, certainly, herd growth in them has to be part of the conversation.”

Asked about what he anticipates the entire Ohio general firearms deer-hunting season will yield in the way of kill-harvest, McCoy thinks a take of 65,000 to 75,000 animals is a fair and reasonable expectation.

We’ll see how the rest of the week plays out but it should be better than last year,” McCoy said.

Here are the county-by-county opening day deer kill-harvest figures with the 2018 numbers in parentheses: Adams: 206 (188); Allen: 86 (45); Ashland: 350 (277); Ashtabula: 601 (489); Athens: 314 (283); Auglaize: 74 (61); Belmont: 283 (217); Brown: 180 (153); Butler: 61 (26); Carroll: 377 (340); Champaign: 94 (64); Clark: 23 (38); Clermont: 112 (64); Clinton: 55 (43); Columbiana: 326 (269); Coshocton: 663 (587); Crawford: 121 (112); Cuyahoga: 10 (11); Darke: 54 (50); Defiance: 216 (146); Delaware: 99 (72); Erie: 53 (42); Fairfield: 124 (126); Fayette: 23 (13); Franklin: 24 (29); Fulton: 94 (78); Gallia: 215 (237); Geauga: 103 (113); Greene: 41 (34); Guernsey: 426 (402); Hamilton: 17 (20); Hancock: 91 (80); Hardin: 138 (91); Harrison: 385 (285); Henry: 117 (59); Highland: 195 (183); Hocking: 309 (252); Holmes: 423 (387); Huron: 268 (208); Jackson: 211 (241); Jefferson: 198 (153); Knox: 544 (425); Lake: 27 (35); Lawrence: 113 (153); Licking: 399 (396); Logan: 158 (137); Lorain: 123 (130); Lucas: 20 (24); Madison: 32 (22); Mahoning: 128 (144); Marion: 93 (86); Medina: 113 (109); Meigs: 242 (230); Mercer: 75 (55); Miami: 31 (35); Monroe: 228 (221); Montgomery: 33 (19); Morgan: 311 (276); Morrow: 122 (120); Muskingum: 511 (489); Noble: 246 (283); Ottawa: 25 (15); Paulding: 140 (87); Perry: 233 (244); Pickaway: 77 (51); Pike: 127 (122); Portage: 117 (104); Preble: 43 (41); Putnam: 73 (61); Richland: 302 (261); Ross: 206 (186); Sandusky: 44 (48); Scioto: 103 (126); Seneca: 181 (141); Shelby: 77 (65); Stark: 168 (184); Summit: 17 (23); Trumbull: 344 (284); Tuscarawas: 557 (512); Union: 57 (56); Van Wert: 42 (43); Vinton: 208 (170); Warren: 48 (38); Washington: 362 (321); Wayne: 178 (184); Williams: 210 (150); Wood: 68 (43); Wyandot: 185 (134). 2019 total: 15,501 (13,651).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net
JFrischk4@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Ohio posts a so-so 2019 fall wild turkey-hunting season

Ohio’s fall wild turkey hunters’ rather mediocre 2019 season was perhaps less a reflection of any possible declining bird numbers as perhaps a continuation of a falling number of participants.

For the 2019 Ohio fall wild turkey hunting season – which ran October 12 through December 1 - hunters in Ohio killed 1,054 birds. In 2018 that figure stood at 1,131 birds.

And the 2019 kill-harvest was also below the five-year mean of 1,388 birds, and less than one-half the 2016 kill-harvest of 2,168 turkeys of both sexes, said Mark Wiley, the Ohio Division of Wildlife biologist who oversees the management of the species on a day-to-day basis.

To some degree, reproductive success in the months prior to the fall season seems to influence fall harvest totals, Wiley said.

We typically see spikes in the fall harvest in years with very high reproductive indices of poults per hen. As an example, the 2016 reproductive index was well above average, as was the fall harvest that year,” Wiley said.

Unfortunately, Wiley says, Ohio’s “reproductive indices in 2017, 2018, and 2019 have all been below average, as were their respective fall harvest totals in those years.”

Wiley says as well that Ohio’s fall turkey harvest total is not a reliable indicator of turkey population status or trend. Variables such as hunter effort likely influence the fall harvest total as much or more than turkey abundance, Wiley said.

Unlike the spring season when hunters are afield solely in pursuit of turkey, many seem to hunt turkey opportunistically in the fall.” Wiley said.

Citing as an example, Wiley said an avid deer archer might not pursue a turkey specifically in the fall, but might be prepared to take a bird if it wanders within range during a deer hunt.

This is a plausible explanation for why 40- to 50-percent of turkeys harvested in the fall are taken by archery methods, compared to just two- to three-percent in the spring,” Wiley said.

Another possible – even, likely - wrinkle regarding the on-going slide in the kill-harvest during Ohio’s fall wild turkey-hunting season is the topic of hunter effort, Wiley says also.

It is worth noting that the total number of fall turkey permits issued in Ohio has declined consistently for more than five years. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources issued 9,441 fall permits in 2019, which was a four-percent decline from the 9,825 permits issued in 2018, and also below the 5-year average of 10,792, permits,” Wiley said.

Annually, between 2015 and 2017 the Wildlife Division issued more than 11,500 fall permits for each season, Wiley said as well.

Here are the county-by-county numbers for Ohio’s 2019 fall wild turkey-hunting season with their respective 2018 figures in parentheses: Adams: 11 (11); Allen: 10 (8); Ashland: 15 (14); Ashtabula: 27 (39); Athens: 9 (20); Belmont: 19 (29); Brown: 11 (11); Butler: 16 (7); Carroll: 31 (22); Champaign: 7 (2); Clermont: 35 (13); Columbiana: 42 (17); Coshocton: 44 (52); Crawford: 7 (2); Cuyahoga: 0 (6); Defiance: 15 (14); Delaware: 11 (9); Erie: 8 (6); Fairfield: 7 (12); Franklin: 1 (4); Fulton: 10 (10); Gallia: 17 (32); Geauga: 24 (34); Guernsey: 31 (42); Hamilton: 9 (11); Hancock: 6 (4); Hardin: 7 (2); Harrison: 16 (35); Henry: 2 (3); Highland: 24 (26); Hocking: 15 (20); Holmes: 24 (32); Huron: 9 (12); Jackson: 14 (21); Jefferson: 24 (8); Knox: 26 (18); Lake: 7 (9); Lawrence: 6 (19); Licking: 22 (25); Logan: 7 (11); Lorain: 13 (5); Lucas: 11 (12); Mahoning: 17 (11); Medina: 13 (13); Meigs: 20 (19); Monroe: 15 (29); Morgan: 18 (28); Morrow: 9 (6); Muskingum: 16 (25); Noble: 22 (30); Paulding: 8 (3); Perry: 16 (18); Pike: 6 (18); Portage: 12 (18); Preble: 6 (9); Putnam: 3 (5); Richland: 21 (19); Ross: 17 (17); Scioto: 18 (25); Seneca: 8 (2); Stark: 19 (16); Summit: 13 (9); Trumbull: 26 (21); Tuscarawas: 40 (40); Vinton: 13 (11); Warren: 5 (4); Washington: 14 (19); Wayne: 6 (9); Williams: 21 (14); Wyandot: 2 (4). Total: 1,054 (1,131).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFRischk@Ameritech.net
JFrischk4@gmail.com

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Ohio's 2019 youthful gun-deer season hunters bring home the venison

Don’t read too much into this year’s just concluded youth-only firearms deer-hunting season figures though a few snippets of “uh-huhsare certainly understandable.

Or so says the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s chief white-tail deer biologist, Clint McCoy.

This year’s edition of the statewide youth-only season ran November 23rd and 24th. Only those youngsters age 17 and under were legally allowed to participate, and each youngster had to be accompanied by an adult mentor.

In all, these youths shot 6,234 deer, a drop from the 6,585 animals that youths killed during the 2018 youth-only season. Yet this year’s numbers are still way ahead of the 4,892 deer that youths shot during the 2017 season or even the 5,930 animals that youths shot during the 2016 youth-only season, said McCoy.

What is interesting is the type of implements that youths are using,” MCCoy said. “Last year prior to the start of the youth season, 3,797 youth (deer) permits were used, but this year that number was 5,259. That’s a huge jump.”

Thus, says, McCoy, it definitely appears that more young people are taking to the woods with archery tackle before the youth-only gun season even begins.

Interestingly, too, is that the number of youth licenses through November 24th dropped by some three percent between 2018 and 2019. In 2018 the number was 36,578. This year that figure was 37,624, McCoy said.

Yet even caveats have caveats. The way the calendars were arranged, there was an extra week between the start of the archery season and the start of the youth-only season this year, McCoy said.

McCoy also hastened to add that trying to read too much into individual county deer kill-harvests can lead to misconceptions.

The Portage County kill shows that 128 deer were taken during the two days, though that number includes animals shot during a controlled hunt at the Ravenna Arsenal.

The reverse is seen in Erie County where a controlled hunt was held last year at NASA’s Plum Brook Station but not for the impacted weekend this year, said McCoy.

Though both these hunts were for adults, their respective deer kill-harvest figures are lumped together in the youth hunt statistics since all of the animals were taken with firearms.

As for divining tea leaves - and thus the impact the youth-only season might have on the up-coming general firearms deer-hunting season - be careful of choosing a soothsayer, McCoy says.

I can’t see how there really is any real connection,” McCoy says. “The weather will play an important factor, as did the poor weather for the 2017 youth-only season.”

Here is the county-by-county breakdown of the deer kill-harvest during the youth-only firearms deer-hunting season November 23 and 24, with their respective 2018 figures in parentheses:

Adams: 81 (145); Allen: 40 (35); Ashland: 167 (133); Ashtabula: 119 (155); Athens: 111 (133); Auglaize: 37 (38); Belmont: 112 (136); Brown: 65 (86); Butler: 28 (36); Carroll: 119 (111); Champaign: 42 (53); Clark: 19 (26); Clermont: 65 (67); Clinton: 28 (39); Columbiana: 115 (84); Coshocton: 263 (288); Crawford: 49 (39); Cuyahoga: 2 (1); Darke: 41 (27); Defiance: 85 (67); Delaware: 29 (31); Erie: 21 (83); Fairfield: 43 (62); Fayette: 16 (14); Franklin: 7 (11); Fulton: 24 (18); Gallia: 66 (126); Geauga: 50 (42); Greene: 23 (29); Guernsey: 158 (154); Hamilton: 8 (12); Hancock: 51 (35); Hardin: 59 (42); Harrison: 130 (117); Henry: 26 (19); Highland: 113 (94); Hocking: 86 (84); Holmes: 210 (237); Huron: 90 (96); Jackson: 94 (117); Jefferson: 76 (83); Knox: 202 (185); Lake: 6 (12); Lawrence: 45 (78); Licking: 149 (146); Logan: 72 (90); Lorain: 63 (59); Lucas: 6 (10); Madison: 16 (28); Mahoning: 34 (56); Marion: 33 (22); Medina: 50 (43); Meigs: 127 (138); Mercer: 45 (22); Miami: 25 (32); Monroe: 81 (98); Montgomery: 15 (13); Morgan: 90 (144); Morrow: 50 (54); Muskingum: 166 (172); Noble: 95 (118); Ottawa: 15 (19); Paulding: 58 (42); Perry: 81 (85); Pickaway: 32 (28); Pike: 60 (91); Portage: 128 (29); Preble: 39 (47); Putnam: 48 (42); Richland: 108 (112); Ross: 129 (136); Sandusky: 26 (29); Scioto: 76 (98); Seneca: 85 (83); Shelby: 44 (45); Stark: 78 (81); Summit: 8 (14); Trumbull: 82 (97); Tuscarawas: 243 (226); Union: 32 (37); Van Wert: 26 (38); Vinton: 82 (92); Warren: 24 (34); Washington: 131 (118); Wayne: 105 (77); Williams: 44 (43); Wood: 42 (34); Wyandot: 70 (83). Total: 6,234 (6,585).


- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net
JFrischk4@Gmail.com


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Things you may not know about Thanksgiving (though the U.S. Census Bureau does)

I receive oodles of press releases daily from a wide array of organizations and government bodies. Among them is the U.S. Census Bureau, which is warming up its PR engine in anticipation of the up-coming 2020 census, an official U.S. Constitutional requirement conducted every ten years.

This past week the Census Bureau issued an interesting/informative release on the subject of Thanksgiving, which (of course) will be celebrated Thursday.

Among the tidbits are:

* This will be the 399th such event. That is, if you wish to say the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Don’t tell that to Virginians however, who claim the actual first Thanksgiving meal was served at Berkeley Plantation outside of what is today Richmond in 1619. Oysters and ham were the featured items there, not turkey and cranberries.

* In 1620, there were 2,499 Europeans in what would eventually become the 13 colonies. That number would grow to 374,388 one century later. Today the total population of the United States is 329,064,917.

* Just 53 pilgrims celebrated the fall harvest, an English tradition, in the New World in 1621. In 2018, some 22.8 million people in the U.S. reported English ancestry. The number in Massachusetts was 607,612.

* The first Thanksgiving included 90 Wampanoag Indians. The 2010 Census counted 6,500 members of the Wampanoag American Indian tribal grouping.

* Thanksgiving originated as a harvest festival. Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, with a proclamation by George Washington after a request by Congress. Thomas Jefferson chose not to observe the holiday.

* The event became a national holiday on Oct. 3, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving.

* Eventually, President Franklin Roosevelt would officially declare that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month. This, to encourage earlier holiday shopping.


- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net
JFrischk4@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Ohio's to-date archery deer kill is "miles ahead" of where it was in 2018

Ohio’s deer hunters scored significant gains in the number of animals they killed between the November 12th and 19th reporting periods.

The November 12th weekly reporting period showed a total deer kill-harvest of 58,671 animals while the November 1th9 deer kill-harvest showed a take of 70,567 animals, or a jump of 11,896 white-tails.

However, compare that 70,567 figure with the corresponding November 20th, 2018 figure of 67,881 deer and the difference shrinks to just 2,686 animals. Yet here exists a really huge caveat.

The November 20th, 2018 total tally also includes the 6,563 deer taken during the November 17th and 18th, 2018 statewide youth-only firearms deer-hunting season.

Thus, subtract the 6,563 figure from the 67,881 figure and the actual November 20th, 2018 to-date archery deer kill-harvest figure stands at 61,318 animals.

Consequently, the November 19th to-date deer kill-harvest is actually 9,249 more animals than bowmen shot last year for the same recording period in 2018.

“That’s a 14-percent increase, and that is pretty significant,” said Clint McCoy, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s chief deer biologist. “We are miles ahead, archery-wise, than where we were one year go.”

Of course, much territory remains, especially with the state’s general firearms deer-hunting season set for December 2nd through 8th.

“We are about where we expected to be, given our conservative regulations and all,” McCoy said also. “All of the stars are aligned for a good harvest overall.”

Regarding further the December 19th weekly reporting period, 23 of Ohio’s 88 counties reported deer kill-harvests of one-thousand or more animals each. For the November 20th, 2018 reporting period the figure was a tad more: 24 counties.

Even so, of Ohio’s 88 counties, 66 of them showed to-date gains when their November 19th weekly numbers were compared against their respective November 20th, 2018 numbers, even with the inclusion of last year’s youth gun season.

Some of the leading counties as of November 19th (with their respective November 20tg, 2018 numbers – including the youth-only gun season figures - in parentheses) were: Ashtabula – 1,813 (1,719); Coshocton – 2,633 (2,467); Holmes – 1,787 (1,635); Knox – 1,706 (1,673); Licking – 1,980 (1,890); Muskingum – 1,711 (1,641); Richland – 1,356 (1,247); Trumbull – 1,615 (1,515); and Tuscarawas – 2,028 (1,867).

Only six of Ohio’s 88 counties had kill-harvests of 300 or fewer animals each, and based upon the November 19tg weekly reporting period: Clinton – 286; Fayette – 111; Madison – 217; Marion – 300; Pickaway – 283; Van Wert – 200.

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net
JFrischk4@gmail.com

Monday, November 18, 2019

Hocking Hills State Park case moves forward; change of venue is possible

The two 16-year old males accused of murdering a Circleville woman on September 2nd at Hocking Hills State Park saw one charge against each individual being dropped though remaining – and more serious - ones were recently agreed to by the Hocking County Grand Jury.

The two defendants who are alleged to have killed 44-year-old Chillicothe photographer Victoria Shafer are Jaden W. Churchheus and Jordan A. Buckley, both of Hocking County’s Logan.

Churchhaus and Buckley have been charged with murder, which is an Unclassified Felony punishable by up to life in prison.

Other charges include Involuntary Manslaughter, a felony of the first degree and punishable by jail time of three to 11 years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both or both; and Reckless Homicide, a felony of the third degree, punishable by jail time of up to five years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Not agreed to by the Hocking County Grand Jury was the county prosecutor’s initial charge of Felonious Assault, a felony of the second degree and punishable by jail time from two to eight years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.

However, neither Churchheus nor Buckley can be sentenced to both the murder and manslaughter charges, but the duel accusations gives a jury room to decide the youths’ fate, should either one or both be found guilty, said Hocking County Prosecutor Benjamin E. Fickel.

Fickel said if a jury finds the two young men are guilty of murder they could be immediately incarcerated to serve their sentence in an adult prison.

If a jury finds them guilty of one of the lesser charges than a juvenile court judge would sentence them to serve their time in a juvenile detention facility, Fickel said.

It’s rather complicated under Ohio law,” Fickel told “Ohio Outdoor News.”

Various legal proceedings for the accused youths are tentative, with pretrial conferences set for mid-December for each, followed by a trail for one at the end of January and the other for the first part of February.

Fickel said also the case and its details remain under review, and it is possible that the matter could see a merger of court dates and an ultimate combined trial.

Likewise, it is possible the case could involve what is called a change of venue. This means one or both trials would be moved to another county, given the notoriety of the case, Fickel said.

We’re a rather small, rural county and we’ve never had to bound over a juvenile to adult trial for murder before,” Fickel told “Ohio Outdoor News.”

Churchheus and Buckley were released under their own recognizance but under strict guidelines that include no contact with other juveniles along with home detention, Fickel said.

Fickel said also a gag order has been imposed on the case. This prohibits both his office and the defense attorneys from speaking about the merits of the case though not its legal details.


- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net
JFrischk4@gmail.com