The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 10, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Use results to plan your hunt

For the Star Beacon

— The 2013 Ohio acorn mast survey conducted at 36 wildlife areas showed a decrease in production from the previous year, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Ohio’s fall crop of acorns is an important food source for more than 90 forest wildlife species, and mast crop abundance can influence hunting plans.

The overall number of white oak trees producing acorns decreased 30 percent after an almost banner year in 2012, and the number of red oak trees producing acorns decreased by 32 percent.

Hunters can expect to find white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and squirrels concentrated near areas with heavy crops of white and chestnut oak acorns. In areas with poor acorn production, these animals are more likely to feed near agricultural areas and forest edges. Acorn production is cyclical, with some trees producing acorns nearly every year, and others rarely producing. Wildlife prefer white oak acorns because red oak acorns contain a high amount of tannin and taste bitter.

Division of Wildlife employees scanned the canopies of selected oak trees on 36 state wildlife areas to determine the percentage of trees that produced acorns and the relative size of the acorn crop. An average of 21 percent of white oak trees and 34 percent of red oak trees bore fruit in 2013. Thirty-three wildlife areas reported a decrease in white oak acorn production, and 31 wildlife areas showed a decrease in red oak acorn production. In 2012, 52 percent of white oak trees and 67 percent of red oak trees bore fruit, nearly matching the exceptional production in 2010.

Although the 2013 survey shows acorn mast production is below average, it has oscillated during the past five years. Anecdotal reports of above average crops of walnuts, hickories and beechnuts may offset the acorn decline in 2013. Hunters may find this information online at

The Division of Wildlife is currently participating in a multi-state research project to estimate regional acorn production throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Wildlife biologists hope to use the acorn production information gathered in the study to forecast wildlife harvest and reproductive success rates on a local and regional basis.


Field reports

State Wildlife Officer Hollie Fluharty, assigned to Trumbull County, received a call from the sheriff’s department about an injured animal. The dispatcher indicated that a resident had found an injured platypus and that it needed to be rehabilitated. Upon arrival it was determined that the injured animal was not a platypus at all, but instead a very disgruntled beaver. The beaver had sustained a minor injury to its foot and the individual transported it in a car to the sheriff’s office in an attempt to seek medical attention for the animal. Considering the injury, the beaver was returned to the location where it was found.

Seth Fowler’s first

On Oct. 12, 2013, 10-year-old Seth Fowler and his mentor, Mike Irwin, climbed into their stands about 5:30 a.m. and got comfortable. They had a small buck come in under Mike’s stand and mill around for about 30 minutes, just before daylight. Mike could see a gathering of small horns on him, considering he was only 10 yards away. Mike was there for Seth and to possibly fill a doe tag since he had already filled his buck tag back on opening day this year. No shot for Seth, so Mike just enjoyed the scenery.

I’ll pass on that

At 7:15 a.m., a doe ambled in and circled to the north of the duo but didn’t present a shot for Seth, again Mike passed on in hopes she would come back in closer to Seth. About an hour went by before another doe came in from behind Mike towards the east and fed on acorns behind their stands. She started to walk to his left about 35 yards and her path would put her right out in front of Seth.

He knows the drill

Mike snapped his fingers just enough for Seth to hear him. Seth looked his way and Mike pointed to the doe. Once Seth saw her he knew exactly what to do. He slowly raised his CVA muzzleloader and waited for her to walk to get a little closer. His adversary was coming in cautiously; she eased up to the feed pile and started to eat.

Deer-kick boogie

Seth took his time and waited for her to turn broadside. Once she was in position at 25 yards Seth was on her and shaking like a leaf. Nonetheless, he squeezed the trigger, the muzzleloader roared and smoke filled the air. His prey did the deer-kick boogie and ran off south about 75 yards, where the twosome heard her pile up.

Thumbs up

Mike looked at Seth and gave him a big thumbs up and motioned for him to turn his radio on. He whispered over the airwaves and told him “nice shot, stay put for now and we’ll go get her in a little bit.”

Like a bloodhound

They descended from their stands about 10:30 and found some blood. Mike explained to Seth what to look for and he proceed to sniff out the track like an ol’ bloodhound. They only went 50 yards or so when Seth looked at Mike and shouted, “There she is.”


Mike said, “To watch a young hunter take hold of his first deer was amazing, the gleam in eyes was self gratitude in itself,” He then proceeded to show him how to field dress his deer and Seth went right at it with no problem. Once that was accomplished, Seth and Mike drug her out the path and Seth took over from there, dragging her to the truck.

Passing it on

Mike has hunted with Seth before, he came close to filling his tag on a doe but he did feel comfortable with the shot. At the time, Mike commended him on his ethics and told him he was proud he passed on it. This year, Mike was blessed with being able to watch the entire hunt from a stand only 25 yards away from Seth and help him find success. That’s what it all about, passing it on.

Seth’s stats

Ten-year-old Seth fowler harvested his first deer on Oct.12, 2013 at 8:45 a.m. while hunting with his mentor, Mike Irwin in Thompson. He was using a CVA Wolf .50 cal. muzzleloader flinging out Thompson Center bullets with a 100 gr. Powder charge. His doe was at 25 yards when he shot it and she piled up around 75 yards further. He was sitting in a North Star climbing tree stand at 10 feet off the ground. He was wearing Realtree camo and sprayed down with Dead Down wind scent eliminator before going out. His doe weighed in at 75 to 80 pounds field dressed.

Rut update

Since I’m retired and able to be in the woods more than past years, still not as much as I’d like to be, I can now give you my observations as to what’s happening rut wise.

All I’ve got to say so far is OOPS! I was kinda off on the rut, at least in the area I hunt. Janie and I went out last Tuesday and oh what a sight to see. Bucks chasing doe willy-nilly all over the woods, what a deer-huntin’ rush!

As Janie was getting into her stand, she didn’t even have her bow up yet and a nice buck, at least for our area, came running past her hot on the trail of a hell bent I’m not ready yet doe running in front of him. She radioed me and told me to be on the look out for a rut crazed, snot snortin’, fire-breathing buck chasing a poor bewildered doe. I pulled my bow up and was ready.

We pretty much sat the rest of the day without any activity until 5:02 pm when boom, the woods exploded. Here came that poor damsel in distress with her suitor not far behind. They were zigging and zagging their way toward me at a high rate of speed.

I said to myself, “Not this time, Bubba, baaa, baaa”. That’s my poor rendition of a bleat with my mouth, but it worked — they stopped. Well kinda… about 75 yards out in front of me, oh what a heartbreaker. Not enough Kentucky windage on my bleat.

As I sat there and watched the show of all shows, she would zig and he would zag, she would stop, he’d stop and crouch with a wanton stare at her. She would jump and take off a few yards and he’d be in hot pursuit.

I sat in total amazement for better than 30 minutes watching what most hunters never get to see in a lifetime of hunting, OMG what a high! All I can say is to quote Uncle Si, “It’s on like Donkey Kong.”

It’s happening, get out there and enjoy it, it won’t last that long.

Oh, deer        

This report is for the first 39 days of the 2013 Deer Archery Season. The percentages are in relationship to the same timeframe in the 2012 archery season: 


The Ashtabula County Wildlife Conservation League (ACWCL) in conjunction with Whitetails Unlimited will be hosting their annual “Buck Fever Night” on November 29, 2013 at the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds Expo Building in Jefferson.

50 percent of all net proceeds will go directly back to our local area for conservation-related activities. Proceeds from this event will benefit youth programs in cooperation with Ashtabula County Conservation League.

Single non-membership Ttcket cost $25 and include dinner. Purchase your Buck Fever tickets by Nov. 15 and be automatically entered into a drawing for a chance to win a $100 book of gun-raffle tickets!

Table Captain Package includes 10 buck-fever tickets, entry in table captain-only gun drawing, free WTU cap, Seats reserved in your name and Recognition as a special WTU guest.

Raffles, $100 hunters raffle package, 9 gun-board raffle tickets, 30 bucket raffle tickets, WTU gift, WTU 1-year membership.

Purchase a $100 raffle package before Nov. 25 and also receive a bonus gun ticket and a free $50 hunters raffle book (3 gun board raffle tickets 10 bucket raffle tickets). This item is picked up at event, buck fever ticket NOT included.

Become a sponsor, donate $150 in cash or merchandise, and receive our WTU sponsor Browning knife with case and decal, two buck-fever tickets, and entry into a sponsor-only gun drawing! Please call for merchandise sponsorship opportunity.

Membership, purchase a 1-year associate membership for $25, not necessary to purchase to attend event, and is included with $100 hunters package.

For more information and to purchase tickets, call Dale Sunderlin at 466-2223, Tim Starkey at 992-2195 or WTU headquarters, Denny Malloy at (330) 507-9489.

Orwell Gun Club will be holding its Lucky Shoots starting on Friday, Nov. 8 and  Friday Nov. 15 and culminate with a Thanksgiving Turkey shoot on Nov. 24. Lucky shoots will start at 7 p.m. and the Turkey Shoot will begin at 1 p.m. Allowable firearms are all modern standard shotguns in good working order, no scopes are allowed and all shotguns must have a minimum choke .672 diameter or larger. FMI, call Bob Lewandowski at 281-7351.

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

Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. Reach him at