By DALE SUNDERLIN
For the Star Beacon
The extreme cold that has gripped Ohio during the month of January has kept some folks inside, but anglers are beginning to reap the rewards of this frigid weather.
Many of Ohio’s lakes, including Lake Erie, are frozen over and are providing ice-fishing opportunities that had been missing in recent winters.
While ice fishing is a great way to take advantage of Ohio’s countless fishing opportunities, it is important to remember a number of safety tips before you head out onto the ice.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and its emergency response partners advise that extreme care be taken anytime while out on the ice, especially on Lake Erie. No ice is ever completely safe, and any ice that is covered by snow should always be presumed to be unsafe.
Ice seldom forms at a uniform rate, which is especially true on large bodies of water such as the Lake Erie. ODNR recommends that any person heading out onto the ice should follow these safety tips. Additional safety tips can be found online at ohiodnr.gov.
Ice-fishing safety tips
n Contact a local ice guide or bait shop to ask about ice conditions.
n Adequately check the ice thickness before traveling onto the ice.
n Dress properly for conditions, which should include wearing an approved life vest.
n Carry a fully charged cell phone in a protective cover.
n No ice is safe ice. Ice thickness varies across a lake. Ice near the shore tends to be much weaker because of shifting, expansion and heat from sunlight reflecting through the ice.
n Avoid areas where there is water flow beneath the ice and where in-water obstructions (i.e. bridges pilings, docks and dam structures) may be present since ice is usually thinner around these objects.
n Always fish with a partner or in an area where several other anglers are present.
n Let others know exactly where you are going and when you plan to return.
n Place a cell phone in a plastic bag to protect it from moisture so it does not get wet.
n Always take along a throw cushion or wear a personal flotation device in case of immersion.
Help to protect
Ohioans who are passionate about wildlife and the state’s natural areas and preserves have a great opportunity to support those programs through the Wildlife Diversity Fund and the Natural Areas and Preserves Tax Checkoff this year.
“The state income tax checkoff program is an ideal opportunity for all of Ohio’s outdoor enthusiasts to support their natural resources,” Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director James Zehringer said. “All of the donations are utilized for preservation efforts of natural areas in the state and protecting endangered wildlife species.”
With the checkoff money in 2013, the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves was able to hire seasonal staff to help control more than 35 different invasive species on more than 500 acres in 38 state nature preserves. Additionally, populations of wildlife species such as the Lake Erie watersnake, mountain madtom and osprey, as well as the endangered Rocky Mountain bulrush, all benefitted thanks to the checkoff funding from Ohioans in 2013.
State nature preserves are sanctuaries for rare plants and animals — 40 percent of Ohio’s endangered species and nearly 60 percent of Ohio’s threatened species are protected within Ohio’s system of 136 state nature preserves. Managed by the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, these facilities benefit directly from Ohioans generously donating to the Natural Areas Tax Checkoff Program.
The Natural Areas Tax Checkoff Program is an excellent way for Ohioans to support nature conservation. The majority of the funding from boots on the ground conservation action comes from the Natural Areas Fund. Additionally, ODNR partnered with a local conservation organization to protect 95 acres of the original Pickaway Plains region in central Ohio, home to the endangered Rocky Mountain bulrush and other rare species. Donations also support facility improvements, ecological research and educational programming.
The Division of Wildlife does not receive taxpayer dollars to conserve, restore or manage Ohio’s wildlife and habitat. The tax checkoff program is an important way to help the division benefit endangered and threatened wildlife and other species of interest.
Donations made through the Wildlife Diversity Fund tax checkoff help support critical ecological management activities in Ohio, including efforts to remove non-native and invasive species that pose a serious and ever-growing threat to sensitive habitats. Information programs such as field guides are provided free to the public from wildlife checkoff funds.
Ohio taxpayers who are not receiving a refund this year may still contribute by sending a check to: ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves' Natural Areas Fund or the ODNR Division of Wildlife's Wildlife Diversity Fund, 2045 Morse Road, Columbus, 43229.
What to do?
Deer season is over and it’s getting to be that time of year when there’s really nothing palatable to hunt. Unless you’re into trapping beaver, which only goes until Feb 28, and then it’s finished also. So what is there to do?
Jonesin’ for spring
You can start reading up on turkey hunting and jones for April 21, 2014 when it comes in. Another alternative is to peruse articles on planting food plots and how to become a deer farmer.
Or you can do something constructive, serving both the deer and turkey populations, hunt them friggin’ coyote’s! Yes, coyote hunting will serve to help both and it will get you out of the house and into the woods where you belong. Sorry momma but it’s where most of us outdoors person and diehard hunters would rather be.
Here’s the official ODNR regulation on coyote hunting from this years 2013-14 hunting regulations:
Coyote Hunting and Trapping Reg.
No daily bag limit and no closed season. If hunted during the deer gun season, hours and legal hunting devices are the same as for deer gun season. Rifles and night vision scopes are legal for coyote hunting; however, rifles and night hunting between 1⁄2 hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise are prohibited during any firearm deer gun and muzzleloader seasons.
What a hoot
Hey what a hoot, you can harvest as many as you want, there’s no check in, it doesn’t matter whether they’re male or female, you can shoot more than one male, and you can use a rifle with one of them neat night vision scopes on it, kinda like Rambo, huh?
That means pull out that ol’ .243, .270, or 30.06 (that’s kinda big) PA deer slayer with the scope on it, clean it good, oil it up, get you some soft point bullets and go get em’, right? NOT!
There’s a little more or maybe a lot more to it than that. I’ve only been active at it for the last two or three years and believe me I’m a novice and definitely still learning. Two very good friends of mine, Tim Starkey and Scott Sutch, went to an ODNR Coyote Hunting Seminar a couple of weeks back at District 3 Headquarters in Akron and they said it was excellent.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend with them due to a broken pipe in my upstairs that bled down through my first floor and into the basement. My bad luck when it comes to attending seminars in Akron just never ceases to amaze me.
But the good news was that Tim being the professional that he is took some excellent notes, which he has allowed me to share with you:
Coyote Hunting, presented by Wildlife Management Supervisor Scott Peters
n Generally their habitat and food source area consists of a mix of farmlands and woods, which can boarder and encompass some urban areas as well as rural areas.
n Their hunting route maybe as big as 10 miles.
n They breed from January thru March with their gestation period being approximately 63 days.
n Female yotes will have 1 to 12 pups in April thru May.
n The pups will start hunting at 8 to 12 weeks old.
n The family will stay together thru the fall and then the young ones are run off
n Most of their diet consists of rabbit size animals or smaller and road kill.
n Coyotes will have an impact on small to medium size mammals, turkey, grouse, woodcock and waterfowl.
n Coyote will eradicate and or displace red and gray fox for food in their area. So generally if you see fox in your area there aren’t any coyotes around.
Rifle wise, a .17 caliber or up to a .243 caliber for coyotes is more than sufficient. Cartridge wise a soft or hollow point is recommended. As a side note here I’ve talked with several coyote hunting fools who also use a 10 or 12 gauge shotgun with 00 Buck shot for the up close and in person shots, hence usually when they are hunting with coyotes dogs.
Best time to hunt:
If you’re hunting daytime the first two hours and last two hours are generally the best. In the depth of winter as we’re experiencing now just about anytime during the day could be good considering they’re out and about looking for a food source.
Locations to hunt:
Coyotes will take the path of least resistance, trails, edges of fields, logging roads, etc. Make sure you keep the sun at your back and sit in the shade, good camouflage will help also. Coyotes just like deer will use the down wind approach.
When moving to a new set up, from one setup to another they should be no less than half a mile apart. Coyotes have excellent hearing and it does no good to move a couple hundred yards and call to the same dead area you’ve been working for the last hour.
Start by calling three to five minutes with a coaxer call using a low volume then wait a few minutes. Then use a distress sound at a low volume for 5 minutes, pause and wait a few minutes again.
At this point, when you start back up, use a moderate sound for 5 minutes, followed by a loud sound for 5 minutes. Take a break and again wait a few minutes. After the break start back up with a low volume coaxer again for 5 minutes. Call for a total of 30 minutes maximum at one location.
Don’t just sit there
Like I said, there’s a lot more to it than you might think but it’s an alternative to sitting around the house waiting for the snow to melt. Also, think of it this way — you’re helping the deer and turkey population out in Northeast Ohio.
The more coyote’s we harvest the less deer and turkey they’ll get. And this time of year is critical to harvest them. If they take down one doe that could be three deer they take out of the herd if that doe is carrying twins. And for every female yote we take now we could be depleting their population by up to 12 future coyote’s if she’s carrying that many.
Heck, you might even want to get in the Coyote Open contest. Do your part, get out there and hunt some yotes.
Remember, pass it on or it will surely pass on.
n The Maple Country Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation will be hosting its 5th annual Coyote Open on Feb 14-17. Preregistration is required at $10 per hunter. 100 percent pot pay out. You can see Rules for Payout Details on the web page. Contact: Bill Trump 983-7203, Tony Bitner 221-9786, Adam Hollobaugh 313-7406 or Matt McDermott (330) 221-3063 for mote details. You can also register on line at www.maplecountrynwtf.com.
n On March 13, 2014, the Men's Ministries of the Jefferson Church of the Nazarene will be holding its 49th Annual Venison Dinner. Guest speaker this year will be Dr. Angelo DeVivo. The dinner begins at 6 P.M and the cost of a ticket is $12 per person. Tickets go on sale Feb. 24, and can be purchased ONLY at Shelatz Appliance Repair and Sales on Wall Street in Jefferson. Anybody able to donate some of their deer harvest from this year will be given a free dinner ticket and a $10 gas card. Deer donations can be made by taking the animal to Ellsworth Deer Processing on Route 7 in Williamsfield, Ohio, south of State Rt. 322. If you any questions or need further information, can call Dan Hines at 645-8889.
Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.