The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

June 15, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: It's a date!

Season specifics for 2013-2014 hunting, trapping announced

By DALE SUNDERLIN
For the Star Beacon

— The 2013-2014 Ohio hunting and trapping season dates have been released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

The seasons include changes to address deer management on a county level, and increase hunting opportunities through extended hours and a new early muzzleloader season.

Deer and fall turkey permits will go on sale July 1.

Note — On Thursday, June 13, 2013, the Star Beacon ran a blip in the Area / State section on Page A5 of that days publication reporting by the Associated Press (AP), “Ohio panel OKs new statewide deer hunting rules.”

First and foremost, let me exonerate the Star Beacon of any transgressions on its part. It receives a multitude of stories from the Associated Press and use the ones it feels would be of interest to readers, this being one of them, which it is.

My fault is with the agency listed below which slanted the article, political grandstanding, in order to make it sound like they made those decisions when in all actuality they didn’t. Please read on.

What the sports men and women of Ashtabula County need to know it that this “panel,” “The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR)” is made up of a panel of politicians.

House Bill 257 of the 112th General Assembly created this committee in 1977. The committee consists of five State Representatives and five State Senators.  

In odd-numbered years, the chairperson is a House member and in even-numbered years, a Senate member.

The primary function of JCARR is to review proposed new, amended and rescinded rules to ensure the following:



My call

Now I’m not a politician and don’t know exactly how the process works but I do know this, any time politicians get involved in a decision-making process such as this particular one, the impending results can be devastating.

These man and women have no idea of what sound wildlife management is all about. Who would you rather have making decisions on Ohio’s hunting seasons and bag limits the Ohio division of Wildlife and the Wildlife Council or a bunch of grandstanding politicians and staff who are not wildlife scientists and more than likely do not even care about Ohio’s wildlife and Ohio’s outdoor sporting heritage.   

Ohio’s world-class fishing, hunting, and trapping are the result of sound wildlife management by the Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Ohio Wildlife Council. These sound scientific methods have been used to manage Ohio’s wildlife resources for more then 140 years.

The current rule process, including JCARR review and approval, has proven effective since 1977. Now where in the scope of their authority does it say they have the right to make or change any rules concerning Ohio’s Wildlife management process. Their only responsibility is to check them for their legality.



Bottom line

JCARR is taking credit for this year’s new and changed deer regulations when in all actuality they are the exact same proposals that the Division originally submitted before JCARR got involved. Submitted back in February and were supposed to have been voted on in April.

We must be coming up on an election year for these grandstanding, glory seeking politicians. Why eldest would someone in the right mind delve into an area of unknown such as they did? Oh. I forgot, they’re politicians, they know everything and what’s best for us, no matter what the situation.

Sorry, folks, you loose, not in my world!



The seasons:

Deer bag limits are now determined by county. Deer bag limits, by county:

One either-sex permit, one antlerless permit (8 counties).

Two either-sex permits, one antlerless permit (23 counties).

Three either-sex permits, one antlerless permit (57 counties) including Ashtabula, Lake and Geauga couties.

Deer hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes past sunset for all deer seasons. Antlerless permits will be valid until Dec. 1, the Sunday before the deer-gun season.

Hunters may harvest only one buck in Ohio, regardless of method of take or location. The statewide bag limit is nine deer, but a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit. Additional controlled hunting opportunities do not count against the statewide bag limit.

The antlerless deer muzzleloader season was added in October. The December bonus gun weekend, the early muzzleloader season at three public hunting areas (Salt Fork Wildlife Area, Shawnee State Forest and Wildcat Hollow), and urban hunting zones are discontinued.

The fall wild turkey season begins on Oct. 14, the Monday following the antlerless deer muzzleloader season. Butler, Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Hamilton, Huron, Seneca and Warren counties are added to the list of counties open for fall turkey hunting.

Cottontail rabbit hunting restrictions are removed in the snowshoe hare protected area in Geauga and Ashtabula counties. Remaining snowshoe hares are still protected as a state-endangered species, and it remains illegal to kill them in Ohio.

Season dates and bag limits for migratory birds, including mourning dove, Canada goose, rail, moorhen, snipe, woodcock and waterfowl will be set in August in compliance with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2013-2014 framework.



First-time campers

Ohio State Parks will offer families an opportunity to experience camping for the first time with all the gear provided, along with helpful tips from experts, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). “Camping 101” weekends are scheduled for June 21-23 at Alum Creek State Park, June 28-30 at Deer Creek State Park, July 12-14 at Buck Creek State Park and July 19-21 at Delaware State Park.

Up to 10 families, or groups up to six, can participate in each Camping 101 weekend. The Camping 101 participants get two nights of camping at a discounted rate of $20 per night, plus some meals, and free use of camping equipment including a six-person tent, sleeping bags, camp chairs, cooler, cook stove and skillet. Each Camping 101 group will be assigned to their own scenic campsite with a picnic table and fire ring, with campground restrooms and showers nearby. This program is specifically targeted for families who are interested in learning how to camp.

Camper hosts at the participating parks will offer help for the first-time campers on the basics, such as campsite set-up, outdoor cooking and building a campfire. Other activities planned for the weekend include nature programs and hikes, family fishing and movies at the campground amphitheater.

Interested persons can register by calling (614) 265-7077 or sending an email to jean.backs@dnr.state.oh.us with their preferred date and location. Participation is limited to the first 10 groups to sign up for each location on the specified date.

“Explore Your Parks” is a nationwide program sponsored in Ohio by The North Face. In addition to providing the camping gear for the Camping 101 program, The North Face stores in Columbus and Cleveland are also offering discount coupons for 25 percent off camping at any Ohio State Park with purchase of a product.  



Becoming a deer farmer II

“Let’s get back to the basics.” No matter whether you’re in business, sports or any other endeavor, you’ve probably heard that suggested from time to time. And the reasons are simple: first, the basics are what we build on as we go farther and learn more no matter what our pursuit, and second, later steps depend on earlier steps having been taken, properly and in order. The same holds true when setting hunting properties up with food plots.

 There are four basic steps that should be followed if we are to get the best possible results from our food plot efforts. Here are those four steps, which we set out in Part 1 of this article. We covered steps (1) and (2) in Part 1 of this article. Now let’s build on those first two steps.



STEP 3: Correctly prepare for planting

For optimum results, all forage blends should be planted in a seedbed which has been prepared with the following characteristics:



1.Soil pH should be 6.5 to 7.5:

Some Whitetail Institute forage products will tolerate soil pH lower than 6.5. One example is Imperial Whitetail Extreme, which will tolerate soil pH as low as 5.4. Two others are Imperial No-Plow and Secret Spot, which will tolerate being planted with very little seedbed preparation.

However, note that I said, “tolerate” that means that these products will perform well in lower pH soils, but if you want any forage to perform optimally, soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5.

The only way to be absolutely sure that the soil pH of your seedbed is within this optimum range by the time you’re ready to plant is to perform a laboratory soil test, (which we’ll discuss in a later article) and then disk or till any lime recommended in your soil test report thoroughly into the seedbed several months in advance of planting if possible. Be sure you use a soil test kit that sends your soil sample off to a qualified soil testing laboratory; and when you prepare the sample to send, be sure to tell the lab what forage you’ll be planting. That way the lab can precisely tailor its recommendations. High quality soil test kits are available from the county agents; agricultural universities soil and water departments and some farm supply stores. And remember, proper soil pH is the most important factor you can control in assuring a successful planting.



2. Create seedbed free of vegetation.

The main reason you should try to get your seedbed as clean of existing vegetation as possible is so that your forage plants will have as much root space as they need for optimum growth. If you are not able to rid the site of all existing vegetation, that won’t be a “deal killer,” but the more you can remove, the better the forage should perform. Again more to come later on weed control where we will cover the basics of chemical control.



3. Seedbed smoothness and firmness:

Seedbed firmness and smoothness are not as critical with large-seed blends but before planting these products, the seedbed should be disked or tilled; once that’s done, there is no need to smooth or firm the seedbed further before seeding. Seedbed smoothness and firmness are much more important when preparing to plant any forage product. All other forages are small-seed blends, and as such they should be planted on or very near the surface of the soil (no deeper than 1/4-inch). Once the seedbed has been disked or tilled, then the seedbed should be (A) smoothed so that it is free of all cracks, and (B) firmed to the point that your boot tracks sink down no more than one-half to one inch when you walk out into the plot. There are two ways to smooth and firm a seedbed after disking or tilling: with a weighted drag-type implement, or with a cultipacker (a roller). As I’ll explain below, which one you use to smooth and firm the seedbed is critical to what, if anything, you should do after putting your seed out.

STEP 4: Plant each site correctly

Once your seedbed has been limed and disked, add fertilizer as called for in your soil test report. If no soil test is available, then add the amount and blend of fertilizer recommended in the planting instructions for the product. Add your fertilizer just before you plant so that the nitrogen in the fertilizer will be at full strength. Once the seedbed has been fertilized and lightly disked in, you’ll need to smooth and firm the seedbed before you put the seed out. How firm and smooth the seedbed should be depends on what forage product you’re planting. The biggest difference concerns seed size.



Large-seed blends

As I mentioned in Step 3 above, some forage products are large-seed blends. These products contain both small and large seeds and are best planted with a broadcast spreader, and then lightly covered with a drag or light harrow so that they are no deeper than one half to one inch under loose soil.



Small-seed blends

As I also mentioned, all forage products are small-seed blends. These should be left at or very near the surface of the soil when planted.

If you used a weighted drag to smooth and firm the seedbed before seeding, your seedbed should be adequately smooth and free of cracks. Next broadcast the seed and cultipack or roll the plot after seeding.

That will help seat the seed into the surface of the firmed seedbed. This will insure good seed to soil contact. Be sure that you roll or cultipack the seedbed both before and after seeding with small seeds, though. If you only cultipack after, the seed can be pushed too deep into the soft soil.

However, if you used a weighted drag-type implement to smooth and firm the seedbed, the soil will still be loose enough for the seed to naturally settle right where it falls, so do nothing further once you put the seed out. Never drag over small seeds.



Final matters

Some (but not all) forage blends benefit from an additional fertilization about 30-45 days after planting with a high-nitrogen fertilizer such as 22-0-0, 24-0-0 or 46-0-0. If possible, try not to skip this step because it can really boost forage growth with these products.

Also, consider putting small exclusion cages over part of your food plots so that you can monitor deer usage.

The planting instructions for most all forage blends are as easy to find as they are easy to do, they’re right there on the back of each product bag and usually on their website. And lastly if you have any questions, they almost always have contact numbers where you can call and get advise from their food plot guru’s.

In the next couple of columns, we’ll talk about soil pH and what it exactly means as well as how important it is and the three most important things you can do to get the most production and longevity from your perennial food plots.

Until then, remember, pass it on or it will surely pass on.

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