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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 7, 2019

2018 Ashtabula County hunting-related fatality case working way through courts

A case stemming from a November 25th 2018 Ashtabula County hunting-related incident has resulted in a continuation of the case until a January 13th jury trial for the accused.

Charged with various counts related to allegedly causing the death of Jared Micah Windler of Saybrook Township is Anthony Leonard Marcrom of Cleveland.

Among the alleged crimes Marcrom has been charged with by the Ashtabula County prosecutor include involuntary manslaughter as well as having weapons while under disability. Both are felonies of the Third Degree in Ohio, punishable by jail time of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Likewise, Marcom is charged with two other counts of involuntary manslaughter but which are each felonies of the First Degree. These are each punishable by up to 11 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Marcrom is also charged with several misdemeanors. Among these alleged offenses are negligent homicide, using a weapon while intoxicated, hunting without landowner’s permission, and one count of prohibition against injuring persons or property while hunting.

On Sunday, November 2th 2018 at about 6 a.m. – one day before the start of Ohio’s seven-day firearms deer-hunting season - Windler was struck by a shot allegedly fired when Marcrom hoisted via a rope a muzzleloading rifle into a tree stand, located about 15 to 20 feet from the ground.

This, according at the time by Ashtabula County Corner investigator Tom Despenses, and reaffirmed by the Ashtabula County Prosecutor’s office.

Allegedly, Windler was standing at the base of the tree when the muzzleloader discharged as it was being pulled through branches. The projectile struck Windler on the left side of his forehead, killing the man instantly, Despenses said at the time and also affirmed by the Ashtabula County Prosecutor’s office.

The investigation was led by both the Ashtabula County Sheriff and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Hocking Hills State Park alleged murder case now moves to grand jury

In a November 5th probable cause hearing before Hocking County Juvenile Court Judge Jonah Saving, two 16-year-old defendants accused of killing 44-year-old Chillicothe photographer Victoria Shafer at Hocking Hills State Park on September 2nd were bound over for trail as adults.
The two defendants alleged to have killed Shafer are Jaden W. Churchheus and Jordan A. Buckley, both of Hocking County’s Logan. Their bonds were set at $100,000 each by Judge Saving, but they remain incarcerated in the Multi-County Juvenile Detention Center in Lancaster.

Should the youths post bound they each will be required to wear an ankle monitor.

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

Other charges include Felonious Assault, a felony in the second degree and punishable by jail time from two to eight years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both; as well as 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.

They cannot be sentenced to both the murder and manslaughter charges, but the duel accusations gives a jury – either a grand jury or a trial jury - room to decide the youths’ fate, should either one or both be found guilty, said Hocking County assistant prosecutor Jorden Meadows.

The duel charges would also allow the defense teams and the prosecutor’s office room to negotiate a plea bargain, Meadows said.

Meadows said as well the case is to be turned over the Hocking County Grand Jury which will hear testimony from witnesses and the prosecutor, likely “before the end of the month.”

It’s possible the grand jury may decide which charge to go with,” Meadows said.

Should the Hocking County Grand Jury agree with one or all of the charges, an arraignment hearing will be set along with a new bond hearing, Meadows said.

Details of the September 2nd incident allege the two youths caused a 74-pound, six-foot long log to strike and kill Shafer.

Investigators with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Hocking County Sheriffs Office say Schafer was standing about 75 feet below and on a staircase at Old Man’s Cave, located within 2,356-acre Hocking Hills State Park, when she was killed instantly by the log.

Meadows said also a video of testimony taken by investigators alleges that Churchhouse flipped the log over a downed tree while Buckley is alleged to have pushed the log.

However, a female youth - who accompanied Churchhouse and Buckley to the park - said the former was the one who pitched the log off the ledge. However, the female provided testimony earlier in the hearing that she did not know who was actually responsible for the act, Meadows said.

Investigators allege the log was removed from a pile about 40 feet from the ledge, which was above a second ledge before the final drop to where Shafer is said to have been, Meadows and news accounts agree on saying.

We’ve never done this before in Hocking County so we’ve reached to prosecutors in other counties to get out our bearings, and also to the (Ohio) Attorney General for advice,” Meadows said. “It has been a difficult case.”

Sarah Wickham – the Natural Resources Department’s communications chief – said her agency was part of a team that included various local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, the Southern Ohio Ohio Crime Stoppers, as well as “valuable input from members of the public.”

This collaboration has been key to the process, and strengthened investigators conclusions,” Wickham said, “The ODNR continues to track this case and provide any support required as this process continues through the courts.”

Churchheus has retained the service of Logan attorney Ryan Shepler while Buckley has done the same with Athens attorney K. Robert Toy. At press time, neither attorney had responded to inquiries regarding this case as it relates to their respective clients.

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn