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Ohio’s Gobblers Facing Harder Times

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Spring turkey season results suggest that Ohio’s gobbler hunters might be facing tougher times. While the situation isn’t dire yet, any hopes for a quick rebound to the bountiful days of the past remain unfulfilled.

The 2024 spring turkey season concluded last Sunday in 83 South Zone counties, including central Ohio. The Ohio Division of Wildlife reported a total harvest of 15,426 turkeys, which is a slight decrease from last year’s total of 15,550. This year’s total includes birds taken during the statewide youth season in April, 30 days of hunting in the South Zone, and the first 23 days of hunting in the Northeast Zone. Hunting in the five Northeast Zone counties (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull) ends at sunset this Sunday.

Although the 2024 numbers are an improvement over the alarming results of 2021 (14,546) and 2022 (11,872), they still fall short of the more prolific years. For instance, the 2018 spring take was 22,612, and the 2017 take was 21,096. From 2000 to 2010, the spring harvest exceeded 20,000 birds eight times, peaking at 26,156 in 2001.

In 1993, the Ohio Division of Wildlife introduced a two-bird limit in the 42 open counties, although the second permit initially cost double the price of the first. This premium was dropped by 2003. The two-bird limit remained until 2022 when the declining turkey population led to a reduction in the spring limit to a single bird for the first time in almost 30 years.

Some have suggested eliminating the fall turkey season or imposing restrictions on targeting hens to help the population recover. However, the wildlife division has maintained a short fall season and continues to allow the harvest of a single turkey of either sex.

An ongoing research project in Ohio aims to track changes in wild turkey habits and examine the potential effects of environmental conditions. The goal is to identify measures that could enhance survival rates. Falling turkey populations are a common worry among both gobbler advocacy groups and state and local wildlife agencies nationwide.

Of the 83 counties where the turkey hunting season has ended, Belmont led with 451 birds checked, followed closely by Monroe and Tuscarawas, each with 447. Among central Ohio counties, Licking finished top with 255 birds, followed by Fairfield (91), Delaware (78), Union (44), Franklin (17), Pickaway (14), and Madison (4).

Leave your thoughts about the situation in Ohio in the comments below. 

 

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Don’t Want “Snowflake” Kids? Get Them Outside

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Americans should prioritize encouraging their kids to get off social media and head outdoors, where they can learn valuable life lessons, according to John Radzwilla, the editor-in-chief and CEO of Hook & Barrel Magazine.

Radzwilla, who runs the popular outdoor publication he describes as “a redneck GQ,” believes parents need to focus on spending time with their children away from screens that are dominating the lives of many youngsters. As an avid hunter and fisherman, Radzwilla firmly believes that kids “need” to be outdoors to develop essential life skills.

Spending time outdoors builds the skill sets that children will carry into their adult lives. Radzwilla emphasizes the importance of children learning to deal with various situations, such as changing a light bulb, which they won’t learn by spending time on TikTok.

Radzwilla highlights that there are many “feel-good reasons” to get kids outdoors, such as capturing photos of their first experiences that make parents feel “warm and fuzzy.” However, he also stresses more significant reasons, including teaching children to adapt and overcome uncomfortable situations, which are valuable skills in adult life.

Being crafty with their hands is another lesson learned outdoors. Whether building a treehouse or a fort in the woods, these activities teach children how to use tools and fix things, skills that remain useful throughout life.

Radzwilla believes that being outdoors also teaches children about overcoming adversity, avoiding danger, being aware of their surroundings, camaraderie, and “playing by the rules.” He notes that getting children outside doesn’t require elaborate trips; simple activities like fishing in the neighborhood pond can be just as enjoyable as more epic adventures.

Parents should understand that children often care more about spending time with them than the specific activity. Radzwilla shares his routine of taking his son, Jack, on a half-mile walk to school each morning, during which Jack picks up trash along the way. This simple activity teaches responsibility and the value of taking care of nature, all while spending quality time together.

Radzwilla’s passion for nature, which led to co-founding Hook & Barrel, demonstrates how the simplest outdoor tasks can impart valuable lessons. Children learn by observing their parents working hard, using tools, and completing tasks. The outdoors not only offers activities and stimulation but also an environment where children can learn about hard work and gain a sense of accomplishment.

By encouraging children to embrace the outdoors, parents can help them develop crucial life skills that will serve them well throughout their lives. The experience of being outside, away from screens, can teach children responsibility, adaptability, and the value of hard work.

What do you do to make sure your kids get plenty of time outside? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Louisiana Hunters Arrested for Fraud in State-Run Contests

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Louisiana wildlife officials have arrested six men accused of committing fraud in two state-run hunting contests by submitting wild hogs caught in Texas. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) law enforcement agents have taken action against these individuals for their alleged misconduct.

The individuals arrested include Trace Davis of Longville, Hunter Webb, Davy Haymon, and Don Pollard Jr., all of Pitkin, Coby Bushnell of Dry Creek, and Nathan Granger of Vinton. They face severe charges reflecting the serious nature of their alleged actions. All six men are charged with hunting contest fraud and criminal conspiracy. Additionally, Davis, Webb, Bushnell, Haymon, and Pollard Jr. face an additional charge of violating interstate commerce, while Davis is also charged with obstruction of justice. Webb faces a separate charge for hunting under a suspended license.

The LDWF investigation revealed that the suspects captured wild hogs in Texas and then submitted these hogs for two Louisiana hunting contests. The contests in question, the Dingler Wild Hog Roundup in Bienville Parish (Feb. 9-10) and the Swamp Time Hog Hunt in Caldwell Parish (March 14-16), both had rules stating that the hogs must be caught within Louisiana during the event dates.

Nathan Granger, who did not participate in the Caldwell hunting contest, turned himself in at the Bienville Parish Jail on June 4. The other hunters surrendered themselves at the Bienville Parish and Caldwell Parish jails on June 7.

The charges carry significant penalties. Hunting contest fraud and criminal conspiracy can result in up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. Violating interstate commerce could lead to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail. Obstruction of justice carries a potential fine of up to $10,000 and five years in jail. Hunting under a suspended license could result in up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The investigation by LDWF officials is ongoing, with the potential for further developments. This case highlights the importance of adhering to hunting regulations and the consequences of fraudulent activities in state-run contests. As wildlife officials continue their efforts to maintain the integrity of hunting competitions, hunters and participants are reminded of the critical importance of following all rules and regulations to ensure fair and lawful practices.

What are your thoughts about the fraud down in Louisiana? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

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Grizzly Bear Attack in British Columbia Highlights Need for Vigilance

In a remote area approximately 80 miles southwest of Calgary, a 36-year-old man and his father faced a harrowing encounter with an adult grizzly bear. The attack took place on May 16 near Elkford, British Columbia, as the pair was tracking a different bear with the aid of dogs. The incident left the man with “significant injuries,” according to CBS News.

Response and Rescue

Elk Valley Regional Royal Canadian Mounted Police quickly responded to the scene after the father called for assistance. They found the victim suffering from several broken bones and deep lacerations. Fortunately, during the attack, the man managed to defend himself using a firearm, causing the bear to flee. He was subsequently airlifted to a hospital in Calgary and reported to be in stable condition.

Conservation officers conducted an extensive search and located the grizzly bear, which was found dead. The bear had multiple gunshot wounds, leading officers to confirm it was the same bear involved in the attack.

Although grizzly bear attacks are relatively rare, their frequency has been increasing as bear populations grow and their territories expand. This incident underscores the importance of remaining vigilant when in known grizzly habitats. For personal safety, it is advised to carry bear spray or a firearm as a precaution.

Safety Measures

When venturing into bear country, it is crucial to take preventive measures to avoid such dangerous encounters:

  • Stay Alert: Always be aware of your surroundings and look for signs of bear activity, such as tracks or scat.
  • Carry Protection: Bring bear spray or a firearm for defense, and know how to use them effectively.
  • Make Noise: To avoid surprising a bear, make noise while hiking or moving through dense brush.
  • Travel in Groups: There is safety in numbers; bears are less likely to approach larger groups.
  • Secure Food: Store food properly and dispose of waste to avoid attracting bears to your campsite or hiking area.

This unfortunate incident near Elkford serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of wildlife encounters and the importance of preparedness. By taking the right precautions and respecting the presence of wildlife, outdoor enthusiasts can help ensure their safety while enjoying the beauty of grizzly country.

 

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