The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 26, 2014

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Wanted: Waterfowl hunters’ feedback


Star Beacon

— Ohio waterfowl hunters have the opportunity to provide input on next season’s hunting regulations through an online survey, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Survey topics include the timing of the 2014-15 waterfowl hunting seasons and hen mallard bag limits. The survey is already available at www.wildohio.com and must be completed by Friday, Feb. 14. The survey contains approximately 25 questions and should take less than 10 minutes to complete.

The Ohio Wildlife Council establishes season dates and other regulations in the summer after federal guidelines are provided for the 2014-15 waterfowl hunting seasons. Input will be used so hunting opportunities can be matched to the preferences of as many hunters as possible within the constraints of federal guidelines.

Similar information was solicited from Ohio waterfowl hunters in 2013 and used to set the 2013-14 hunting season dates. A full report and a summary of the report are available at www.wildohio.com on the Waterfowl Hunting Resources page.

Similar to last year, Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp buyers who purchased a hunting license and have provided a valid email address will be emailed an invitation to take the survey in an effort to increase awareness and participation.

Hunters will need their customer identification number to take the survey. The identification number is found on all Ohio hunting and fishing licenses or at www.wildohio.com. Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp customers who wish to provide an email address to receive future invitations can do so by visiting www.wildohio.com and clicking the Wild Ohio Customer Center.



Urban coyotes

Ohio wildlife biologists are frequently contacted by concerned residents who spot coyotes in highly developed areas. This is often not cause for alarm. Coyotes are highly adaptable animals that live in a wide variety of environments thus there is no need to report sightings to wildlife officials unless the animal appears hurt, sick, or habituated. Here are a few steps to keep in mind when you encounter an urban coyote in the Buckeye State.

n Understand coyotes are common throughout Ohio’s 88 counties and are regularly seen within city limits. You can read more about coyotes at www.wildohio.com.

n There are no wolves living in the wild in Ohio.

n If you spot a coyote on your property, make sure to remove all “attractants” to deter the coyote from returning. This includes removing garbage and pet food primarily before nightfall and cleaning up around the grill. Do not feed coyotes directly.

n Coyotes prey primarily on small mammals such as rabbits and rodents. However, interactions with domestic pets do occur sometimes. Keep small dogs and cats inside (especially after nightfall) or leashed when outside. Motion-sensitive lighting tends to be helpful too at keeping wildlife away from your home.

n Occasionally, an inquisitive coyote will stay put and watch you curiously. Make noise. Clap your hands and shout; the coyote will likely move on at this point. If it doesn’t, throw objects like rocks at it to scare it away. A coyote that loses its fear of humans could potentially become a threat.

n If the coyote visiting your yard does not respond to harassment techniques such as loud noises or it is presenting a conflict even after removing attractants from your yard, contact a nuisance trapper. You can locate a trapper on our website at www.wildohio.com. Nuisance trappers use highly regulated techniques to reduce urban wildlife conflicts. Coyote populations in rural areas can be managed through legal hunting and trapping methods.

Consult the yearly “Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations” digest for more information.



Final countdown

This is it, folks, the last hoorah. Only seven days left of the 2013-14 deer hunting season. But ya know what? Late-season hunting can provide some of the most productive time spent in the woods. I know you’ve only got a few days left but you may be able to enjoy some success by locating the remaining food sources and keeping a close tab on the weather.



Feeding patterns

By now, nearly all of the crops are out and the acorns have been devoured. The rut is over and right now a bucks main objective has moved from reproduction to bulking back.

He needs to regain the weight he’s lost from the rigors of the rut in preparation for the winter that’s gripping us now as well as what’s to come. Thus, they will begin to venture back to their predictable late summer feeding patterns.



Food sources

I know time is short, but by spending just a few evenings in the woods, you can quickly learn where the deer are spending the majority of their time, at food sources. The bucks have spent several weeks in November as well as December on their feet looking for hot does.

During this time, they lose a large percentage of their body weight. They need to put that weight back on in order to survive the harsh Ohio winter. When you locate these food sources, afternoon setups usually tend to be the best.



S/U on the edge

Often times, the deer will bed near the food source so setting up can be a challenge. You might want to find a tree on an edge that provides you with some cover (which is hard to find in the bare winter woods in the middle of winter) and allows you to shoot into the field.

If a tree with cover is hard to find, try setting your stand facing away from the field and utilize the tree for cover. It can be a pain having to constantly look behind you, but once it gets prime time, I like to stand and turn around anyway.



Watch for cold fronts

Once you have the food source and stand located, keep an eye on the weather.

January, as we well know from the last several days, is a time when big, northern cold fronts can drop the temperature 20-plus degrees in just a few hours. These big systems normally have precipitation associated with them. Hunting just before and just after these systems can be awesome!

There’s nothing better than an afternoon in the stand with snow falling. When the wait for a big front to arrive is over, make sure you get to the stand early especially during sub freezing temperatures. The deer will begin moving in the early afternoon while it’s still warm.



I like afternoons

I generally don’t like hunting mornings during the late season. I’m not saying you can’t be successful during this time, but you have to watch the chance of educating deer and the activity will quickly shift to a different location.

Also instead of battling the freezing temperature in the dark, I like to sleep in, eat breakfast, and head out around mid day. It’s usually a couple of degrees warmer and I can see.



Give it a try

Hunting during the late season can be miserable with freezing temperatures, but if you do your homework and are patient you may just be able to capitalize on Mr. Big Boy’s predictable patterns.

Remember, pass it on or it will surely pass on.



Datebook

n The Maple Country Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation will be hosting its fifth annual Coyote Open on Feb. 14-17. Preregistration is required at $10 per hunter. 100 percent pot payout. You can see rules for payout details on the web page. Contact Bill Trump at 983-7203, Tony Bitner at 221-9786, Adam Hollobaugh at 313-7406 or Matt McDermott at (330) 221-3063 for more details. You can also register online 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, south of Route 322. If you any questions or need further information you can call Dan Hines at 645-8889.

Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. Reach him at djss@roadrunner.com.