Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Ohio's Southern Zone first week spring turkey season results lag and First day NE Zone results

It would appear that Ohio’s turkey hunters are suffering the same weather woes their deer hunting counterparts did last fall.

At least for the state’s just concluded first week of the Southern Zone spring wild turkey hunting season. For 83 of the state’s 88 counties which make up the Southern Zone –hunters reported as being killed 8,867 bearded wild turkeys.

The Southern Zone’s season began April 22nd and will conclude May 19th.

For 2018’s first week in the Southern Zone, hunters reported as as taking 10,436 turkeys; thus a 16- to 17-percent decline. Meanwhile in 2017, the South Zone’s first week kill was a reported 10,293 birds.

In the Northeast Zone which is made up of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, and Trumbull counties, the April 29th opening day spring turkey kills (with the respective 2018 opening day county figures in parentheses) were: Ashtabula – 74 (91); Cuyahoga – zero (also zero); Lake – 11 (12); Geauga – 48 (39), and Trumbull – 55 (59); total - 188 (201).

The Northeast Ohio’s spring season dates are April 29th through May 26th.

Mark Wiley – the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s chief forest game biologist – says that from 2018 to 2019 the most substantial declines occurred in east-central and southeast Ohio counties.

Turkey numbers in these regions spiked following a periodical cicada emergence in 2016 but appear to be returning to normal,” Wiley said.

To date, the 2019 spring harvest trend mirrors 2015 and 2016 seasons, suggesting the impacts of the 2016 cicada event have passed and turkey numbers in 2019 are closer to long-term averages,” Wiley said.

Although spring turkey permits will be continue to be issued through the end of the 2019 season, Wiley also says it appears 2019 permit numbers will be down from 2018.

The permit total declined more than seven percent from 2014 to 2018,” he said.

Even so, of the Southern Zone’s 83 counties, 31 posted first week gains over their respective 2018 week one numbers while four counties saw identical figures.

Yet the where drops occurred they were significant in more than a few instances, as the table listing the 2019 and 2018 South Zone’s county-by-county numbers indicate. In Guernsey County, for instance, the decline was around 30 percent, and in Monroe County the decline was also around 30 percent. And in Tuscarawas the fall was around 35 percent.

Adams: 212 (173); Allen: 30 (31); Ashland: 91 (137); Athens: 259 (302); Auglaize: 17 (18); Belmont: 286 (363); Brown: 204 (195); Butler: 93 (92); Carroll: 202 (280); Champaign: 48 (54); Clark: 8 (10); Clermont: 181 (165); Clinton: 35 (33); Columbiana: 162 (152); Coshocton: 269 (407); Crawford: 31 (23); Darke: 28 (21); Defiance: 88 (94); Delaware: 48 (52); Erie: 26 (23); Fairfield: 56 (78); Fayette: 3 (6); Franklin: 9 (11); Fulton: 43 (40); Gallia: 223 (216); Greene: 11 (6); Guernsey: 283 (423); Hamilton: 40 (35); Hancock: 16 (14); Hardin: 44 (39); Harrison: 238 (325); Henry: 32 (25); Highland: 193 (176); Hocking: 155 (239); Holmes: 135 (191); Huron: 64 (73); Jackson: 216 (252); Jefferson: 221 (267); Knox: 173 (243); Lawrence: 138 (127); Licking: 188 (205); Logan: 53 (59); Lorain: 62 (63); Lucas: 32 (41); Madison: 4 (8); Mahoning: 83 (89); Marion: 11 (10); Medina: 66 (78); Meigs: 289 (380); Mercer: 11 (11); Miami: 11 (7); Monroe: 294 (416); Montgomery: 16 (11); Morgan: 223 (287); Morrow: 67 (69); Muskingum: 299 (389); Noble: 245 (280); Ottawa: 3 (0); Paulding: 39 (39); Perry: 159 (229); Pickaway: 7 (13); Pike: 116 (153); Portage: 141 (129); Preble: 61 (59); Putnam: 29 (27); Richland: 143 (146); Ross: 158 (184); Sandusky: 9 (9); Scioto: 151 (133); Seneca: 73 (70); Shelby: 23 (18); Stark: 135 (145); Summit: 32 (33); Tuscarawas: 257 (398); Union: 27 (24); Van Wert: 6 (9); Vinton: 170 (237); Warren: 57 (50); Washington: 306 (340); Wayne: 45 (54); Williams: 112 (78); Wood: 10 (12); Wyandot: 33 (33); Total: 8,867 (10,436).
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

UPDATED/Ohio's 2019 spring turkey season opener take a 10-percent dip

Ohio’s turkey turkeys scored about 10 percent fewer birds than did the Class of 2018 opening day hunters.

Preliminary figures show that for the 83 counties where spring turkey hunting was legal for the April 22 opener, 2,965 bearded birds were shot, a drop from the 3,316 birds taken on the 2018 spring turkey hunting season.

Going back to 2015, Ohio’s turkey hunters checked 2,335 wild turkeys on the opening day. In 2016, that figure was 2,511 wild turkeys. Importantly, however, these two years represented seasons in which there were not separate south and north spring wild turkey-hunting zones.

That division began in 2017 when hunters in the south zone checked 3,123 wild turkeys on the opening day.

The five extreme Northeast Ohio counties of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula and Trumbull will see their season start April 29 in a delayed program that takes into account this Snow Belt region’s typically later turkey-breeding period.

It is expected that Ohio’ turkey hunters will struggle to achieve last year’s total season kill of 22,571 birds but may come close to the 2017 figure of 21,042 birds. The anticipated drop will be likely because the state’s turkey production index - which is the biological yardstick used measure the ratio of poults (young turkeys) to hens - has been poor in recent years.

The past two years the index has been 2.0 poults per hens observed with any figure below 2.2 demonstrating lost ground.

Ohio’s spring wild turkey season is divided into two zones: a south zone, which is open from Monday, April 22 to Sunday, May 19, and a northeast zone, which is open from Monday, April 29 to Sunday, May 26.
  • In 2018 hunters in the south zone checked 3,316 wild turkeys on opening day.
  • Hunters are required to have a hunting license and a spring turkey hunting permit. The spring season bag limit is two bearded turkeys. Hunters can harvest one bearded turkey per day, and a second spring turkey permit can be purchased at any time throughout the spring turkey season. Turkeys must be checked by 11:30 p.m. the day of harvest.
  • Hunting hours from April 22-28 in the south zone and April 29-May 5 in the northeast zone are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon. Hunting hours from April 29-May 19 in the south zone and May 6-26 in the northeast zone are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

Here are the 2019 opening day county-by-county results (with their respective 2018 figures in parentheses): Adams: 71 (53); Allen: 8 (6); Ashland: 36 (53); Athens: 76 (89); Auglaize: 5 (3); Belmont: 85 (128); Brown: 73 (54); Butler: 31 (32); Carroll: 77 (90); Champaign: 14 (18); Clark: 1 (1); Clermont: 59 (45); Clinton: 13 (4); Columbiana: 66 (57); Coshocton: 81 (149); Crawford: 9 (4); Darke: 13 (4); Defiance: 34 (33); Delaware: 16 (19); Erie: 11 (7); Fairfield: 16 (28); Fayette: 1 (2); Franklin: 1 (3); Fulton: 16 (14); Gallia: 66 (61); Greene: 3 (4); Guernsey: 86 (136); Hamilton: 14 (12); Hancock: 8 (4); Hardin: 23 (11); Harrison: 86 (133); Henry: 12 (8); Highland: 62 (59); Hocking: 55 (63); Holmes: 56 (56); Huron: 25 (30); Jackson: 66 (70); Jefferson: 74 (78); Knox: 60 (85); Lawrence: 37 (28); Licking: 63 (77); Logan: 21 (25); Lorain: 24 (18); Lucas: 14 (16); Madison: 2 (2); Mahoning: 35 (27); Marion: 3 (3); Medina: 15 (30); Meigs: 89 (110); Mercer: 3 (5); Miami: 0 (3); Monroe: 86 (126); Montgomery: 6 (5); Morgan: 71 (96); Morrow: 34 (20); Muskingum: 86 (117); Noble: 77 (69); Ottawa: 3 (0); Paulding: 12 (9); Perry: 57 (67); Pickaway: 2 (3); Pike: 44 (43); Portage: 38 (48); Preble: 21 (25); Putnam: 10 (5); Richland: 44 (50); Ross: 59 (58); Sandusky: 6 (3); Scioto: 61 (36); Seneca: 27 (26); Shelby: 11 (5); Stark: 39 (38); Summit: 10 (10); Tuscarawas: 94 (146); Union: 8 (8); Van Wert: 2 (4); Vinton: 52 (84); Warren: 17 (6); Washington: 96 (107); Wayne: 15 (18); Williams: 48 (25); Wood: 5 (3); Wyandot: 9 (6); Total: 2,965 (3,316).

Monday, April 15, 2019

Ohio's 2019 youth-only spring turkey season posts 30-percent decline

Ohio’s youthful turkey hunters suffered a roughly 30-percent decline in the number of birds they shot during the just concluded two-day youth only spring turkey hunting season.

In all, hunters age 17 and under and while accompanied by a non-hunting adult shot 1,318 birds compared to the 1,860 bearded wild turkeys that were taken during the 2018 youth-only spring season. Only 20 of Ohio’s 88 counties posted gains during the just-concluded April 13-14 youth-only season.

For further comparison, the total harvest figure also for the 2017 youth-only spring season was 1,895 birds; for the 2016 youth-only season the number was 1,564 birds; and for the 2015 youth-only season the figure was 1,589 birds.

“I’d guess I’d say the harvest was more of a return to normal,” said Mark Wiley said of the youth-only season.

Mark Wiley is the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s forest game biologist.

And though Wiley would not use the term “harbinger” to describe what this year’s youth-only season harvest means for the up-coming general spring turkey hunting season, he did caution that it still won’t be a walk in the woods to kill a gobbling tom.

That season will run April 22nd through May 19th for most of the state, and April 29th to May 26th in the extreme Northeast Ohio counties of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull only.

All that being said, Wiley does note that turkey production index - which is the biological yardstick used measure the ratio of poults (young turkeys) to hens - has been poor in recent years. The past two years the index has been 2.0 poults per hens observed with any figure below 2.2 demonstrating lost ground.

Consequently, Wiley said that while he has yet to see youth turkey permit sales as to whether any drop in such numbers would have been a contributing factor, “I’d have to say I am not surprised” by the youth season decline.

“We still have a good number of birds in southeast Ohio because of the tremendous cicada hatch there a few years back and a good number of three-year-old birds throughout the state,” Wiley said.

An interesting facet, though, Wiley says in possible defense of mitigating for a decline in the figures, is that this year’s youth-only season came a week earlier than normal. This, to avoid conflicting with the Easter weekend – something that has occurred in the past, Wiley said.

“And we have gotten complaints in the past about this,” Wiley said.

Here is the list of all wild turkeys checked by youth hunters during the 2019 two-day youth-only spring hunting season is shown below. The first number following the county’s name shows the harvest numbers for 2019, and the 2018 numbers are in parentheses: Adams: 25 (28); Allen: 5 (8); Ashland: 23 (34); Ashtabula: 32 (35); Athens: 21 (29); Auglaize: 5 (6); Belmont: 38 (54); Brown: 36 (25); Butler: 10 (18); Carroll: 25 (36); Champaign: 2 (5); Clark: 1 (3); Clermont: 25 (24); Clinton: 6 (2); Columbiana: 30 (27); Coshocton: 40 (68); Crawford: 2 (9); Cuyahoga: 0 (0); Darke: 17 (9); Defiance: 16 (22); Delaware: 6 (10); Erie: 5 (1); Fairfield: 3 (4); Fayette: 1 (1); Franklin: 0 (1); Fulton: 7 (11); Gallia: 26 (31); Geauga: 17 (13); Greene: 2 (0); Guernsey: 43 (63); Hamilton: 4 (5); Hancock: 1 (0); Hardin: 8 (7); Harrison: 38 (66); Henry: 10 (9); Highland: 23 (28); Hocking: 10 (35); Holmes: 28 (36); Huron: 8 (13); Jackson: 21 (41); Jefferson: 31 (35); Knox: 28 (38); Lake: 6 (1); Lawrence: 17 (35); Licking: 21 (43); Logan: 7 (8); Lorain: 10 (9); Lucas: 3 (9); Madison: 1 (0); Mahoning: 18 (10); Marion: 2 (2); Medina: 6 (11); Meigs: 38 (60); Mercer: 1 (3); Miami: 2 (2); Monroe: 66 (81); Montgomery: 2 (1); Morgan: 25 (44); Morrow: 13 (19); Muskingum: 30 (90); Noble: 50 (74); Ottawa: 0 (0); Paulding: 3 (6); Perry: 19 (50); Pickaway: 1 (2); Pike: 15 (12); Portage: 18 (20); Preble: 6 (9); Putnam: 6 (9); Richland: 21 (31); Ross: 17 (36); Sandusky: 0 (0); Scioto: 11 (15); Seneca: 13 (12); Shelby: 2 (6); Stark: 11 (21); Summit: 5 (2); Trumbull: 22 (26); Tuscarawas: 47 (59); Union: 4 (4); Van Wert: 2 (2); Vinton: 28 (42); Warren: 5 (8); Washington: 39 (60); Wayne: 11 (13); Williams: 7 (19); Wood: 0 (0); Wyandot: 8 (4).
Total: 1,318 (1,860).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Ohio gets millions in federal fish & wildlife aid but many other states get millions more

While hardly a drop in the bucket, Ohio’s share of federal aid dollars in the form of tax receipts from sales of hunting and fishing licenses and a few other sources do not stalk up highly with many other states.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is distributing the funds to all 50 states and U.S. territories. The funds are generated through excise taxes on hunting, shooting and fishing equipment and boat fuel.

Authorized by Congress through the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act.

They are administered through the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program and are distributed based upon a formula that includes a state’s size as well as the number of hunting/fishing licenses sold.
The recipient state wildlife agencies have matched these funds with approximately $7.3 billion throughout the years, primarily through hunting and fishing license revenues, said the Service’s deputy director Margaret Everson.
Thanks to industry, states and hunters, shooters, anglers and boaters, America’s wildlife and natural resources and the opportunities they provide will be available for generations to come.” Everson said.
In the latest round of disbursements – which have totaled more than $21 billion since Congress created the funds – Ohio’s share of the pie in Fiscal 2019 includes $7,396,090 under the “Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration” account and $13,737,911 under the sibling “Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration account.”
And though Ohio’s approximately $7.4 million in federal aid money for sport fish-related projects may seem like big bucks the figure is dwarfed by more than a few other states. Among them being: Alaska - $18.27 million (the largest along with Texas); California - $17.41 million; Florida - $12,84 million; and Texas - $18.27 million (the largest along with Alaska).
Ohio sits alongside such states as Tennessee - $7.48 million; Arizona - $7.50 million; Louisiana $7.12 million; and Oklahoma - $7.90 million.
Discounting the nation’s several territories which each received an amount, the states with the smallest amount awarded are Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia – each with $3.65 million.
Much the same can be said for the hunting- and shooting-associated funding when it comes to disbursement of dollars as to which state gets what. Here, among the top revenue-receiving states are Alaska - $28.22 million; California - $21.99 million; Texas - $30.95 million (the largest); and Pennsylvania - $23.56 million.
Joining Ohio in the also-ran category are New Mexico - $13.33 million; Illinois - $13.73 million; Louisiana - $13.43 million; and Idaho - $13.24 million.
Discounting territories, the states receiving the smallest figure were Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont – each with $4.05 million.
One can only wonder what the actual disbursements would be if the formula was based solely on the number of hunting and fishing licenses - combined with sales of hunting and fishing gear - and minus state size being part of the equation.
 Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Grand River Wildlife Area's intro program for its gun range is right on target

With an annual clientele of about 10,000 customers, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Grand River Wildlife Area shooting range is the agency’s second busiest such facility.

Leading the operation for more than 12 years is range supervisor Jason Cox who describes those shooters who utilize the range’s three 60-position setup as “family.”

And that family continues to grow, too. The Wildlife Division recently held the second of a series of voluntary introductory orientation sessions at the Grand River facility. Among the likely recruits was Dick Beyerle, who although already belongs to a Trumbull County sportsman club that has a rifle change, is interested in the public one.

I live only a couple of streets away so it would be convenient,” Beyerle said.

Less convenient will be the commute for Michael Shaffer who lives about a 45-minute drive away in Kent. Still, Shaffer believes the travel time likely will be worth the effort.

I sometimes use an indoor range but I am also looking for an outdoor range,” Shaffer said.

Thus was hatched the range introductory idea by Ken Fry, the outdoors skills coordinator for the Wildlife Division’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) Office in Akron and Allen Lea, the District’s assistant wildlife management supervisor. Both men also are range customers themselves, each more than happy to drive the nearly one-hour trip from their respective Akron area homes to the state’s public range in rural Trumbull County.

Grand River’s range is located at 6693 Hoffman-Norton Road, Bristolville Township. The range features three units with distances of 25, 50, and 100 yards.

During the 90-minute long orientation session Fry, Lea and Cox provided a look at the several facets of the range, its operation and protocols, range safety, and range etiquette.

It was explained by Fry that the Grand River range was established in 1998 and is one of 44 rifle/pistol, shotgun, and archery ranges located throughout the state on wildlife areas and state forests. However, the Grand River range is one of only five so-named “Class A” ranges and which are supervised.

These and designated Class B and Class C ranges, Lea, explained, require either a $24 annual shooting range permit or a $5 one-day range shooting permit. These passes and full information about the ranges are available on-line via wildlife.ohiodnr.gov.

Range passes also can be purchased at any retail outlet where hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Importantly, passes are not available at range itself.

Hours at the Grand River facility are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with closure on Mondays and Tuesdays to allow for range maintenance and for use by local law enforcement departments. The range is also closed in January and February (this is the Snow Belt, after all), as well as certain holidays.

Even so, the range’s popularity is not in dispute.

During the summer on a Saturday and on a Sunday after noon often all of the shooting positions are full,” Cox said.

And Lea said that Grand River’s record usage was in 2016 when it saw 14,383 shooters which “also corresponds with a peak in range permit sales for the state.”

Last year, statewide, we sold 7,594 annual range permits and 23,226 one day range permits. In 2016 we saw a boom in sales with numbers nearly reaching 11,000 annuals and 36,000 one day passes being sold,” Lea said.

These 2016 numbers coincided with a boom in number of people securing a concealed carry permit in 2015 and 2016. That boom has dropped off of late.”

So popular, in fact, is the operation at Grand River that the Wildlife Division is forever tweaking its strategies for usage by the shooting public. One such likely move is to cut the 25-yard section in half with the addition of a berm, shortening one of the proposed new units to seven yards in order to better accommodate pistol shooters, Fry says.

Back in the day, this range was designed with hunters in mind but we recognize the growth in sport shooting and the financial contribution their participants play when they buy firearms and ammunition, so you’ll begin to see changes to address their interests,” Fry said. “But we won’t forget hunters, of course.”

The range also will likely again see a lead recovery project as the state works to scour out the metal from the earthen bunkers. How that will be accomplished without also closing the entire set-up remains to be determined, Lea says.

Lea said as well the range has strict safety protocols in places to help ensure that accidents are few to none. To that goal is attached the note that in all of its years of operation the range has experienced only two minor self-inflicted injuries, Cox said.

One of these rules that at first may not seem to be of safety mindedness is that staples are prohibited in order to attach targets to the two corrugated plastic/wire frame portable target stands provided to each shooter. The reason is that the wire staples can cut a person’s hands, leaving blood on the target stands which are reused by other shooters.

Thus the requirement that only tape be used to attach targets to stands helps prevent passing on any blood-borne diseases, Cox said.

The fact that we stress safety shows just how few accidents we have had here,” Cox said. “The shooters really are self-policing the ranges, too, including helping each other out, telling others of a problem or when targets need to be pulled.”

As for what can be brought out, Lea said he sees everything from young children bring BB guns to powerful .50-caliber rifles and behemoth pistols.

If you can shoulder it, you can use it as long as it’s not a hand cannon, which is illegal by state statute anyway,” Lea said with a chuckle.

Fry said also that future introduction/orientation sessions are possible; not just at Grand River but at the Wildlife Division’s other supervised Class A ranges.

It’s something that my counterparts in the other (Wildlife) Districts are considering to do as well,” Fry said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn