Ohio Cuffs and Collars – March 29th, 2013

Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1

• During the 2012 deer archery season, Wildlife Officer Josh Shields received a road hunting complaint in Knox County. A witness described a vehicle that stopped on the road and dropped a hunter off with a crossbow in hand. The hunter shot at several deer in a field near the road on private property. The road hunters did not have permission to hunt on the property and were confronted by a neighbor at the location. A license plate number led Shields and Wildlife Officer Supervisor Curtis Smith to suspects in Fredericktown, where it was determined that both men were involved in the incident. A deer had been harvested but was not reported for permanent tagging. The hunter also failed to purchase a hunting license and deer permit. Five citations were issued in all, costing the men nearly $700 in fines and court costs. Both road hunters received a one-year hunting license revocation and were placed on probation and community service in the Mount Vernon Municipal Court.
• Individuals in Ohio often check deer as landowners or tenants who do not qualify as either. To reduce the number of violators in Marion County, Wildlife Officer Chad Grote uses the deer harvest records and the Marion County auditor’s website to verify that deer are properly checked. In February, state wildlife officers Justus Nethero and Grote investigated an individual who checked a deer as a tenant in Marion County who did not meet the requirements. A tenant is a person who resides on the land for which they pay rent, and whose annual income is primarily derived from agricultural production on that land. The officers determined that the individual did not rent the property, and his main income came from his job at a local business. He did not meet any other license exemptions and had been hunting without a license or deer permit on and off for five years. The individual told the officers that he only hunted on his father-in-law’s property; he knew he was not considered a landowner but thought he qualified as a tenant. The officers explained the definition of a tenant, and the individual agreed he did not meet any of the requirements but thought that as a son-in-law he should be included in the exceptions of needing a license. In Ohio, resident landowners, spouses and their children are not required to have a hunting license, fur taker permit, either-sex deer permit, antlerless deer permit, spring or fall turkey permit or Ohio Wetland Habitat Stamp when hunting or trapping on land they own. Sons-in-law do not fall into this category. The individual was issued a summons for taking a deer without a valid permit and was found guilty in Marion Municipal Court. He paid $138 in fines and court costs and forfeited the deer to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2

• On Sept. 1, 2012, state Wildlife Officer Eric VonAlmen and state Wildlife Officer Supervisor Kevin Newsome worked the opening day of the early teal season at Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area in Lucas County. During the early teal and goose season, the legal shooting time begins at sunrise. When the officers heard a shot ring out well before the legal time they moved into a better position to observe the suspected group. Two more shots were fired and observed by the officers, still well before the legal time. Contact was then made with the two hunters and the legal shooting time was explained to the hunters. One summons was issued to each hunter for hunting ducks before shooting hours and two blue-winged teal were held as evidence. The hunters were found guilty and fines and court cost were paid.
• In November 2012, state Wildlife Officer Reid Van Cleve, assigned to Ottawa County, and Lake Erie Law Supervisor Gino Barna were on patrol during the deer gun season. Van Cleve received a call from a Maumee Bay State Park officer. The park officer stated they had received a tip about a hunter shooting a deer on Maumee Bay State Park property earlier that morning. The park officer arrived to the location and discovered two deer hunters trying to cross a ditch to recover an antlered deer from the park property. Van Cleve and Barna arrived a short time later to speak with the hunters. The officers contacted the hunters at the Mallard Club Wildlife Area, which is adjacent to the park property where the deer was located. Van Cleve spoke to the hunter who claimed to have killed the deer. The hunter stated that he and his father had arrived at the wildlife area about midmorning and spotted the deer. He then stated that he had shot the deer and it had crossed the ditch where it died. While speaking to the hunter, a state watercraft officer arrived at the park and began tracking a blood trail. She found another dead deer lying 50 yards from the antlered deer. The blood trail led her to the same location as the antlered deer. After further investigation, the officers determined that the doe had been shot on the park property and the slug passed through her, striking the antlered deer in the throat, killing it as well. The officers did not tell the hunters this information at that time. Van Cleve conducted his interview, and the suspect  stated that he had shot the antlered deer while it was on park property. The suspect said that he had just bought his license and deer permit that day and it was his first time deer hunting. He indicated that he just got excited. The man’s story was not adding up. The tip had been called in before the license and deer permit were bought. Further investigation revealed that the father had shot once that morning, killing both deer. He had already harvested an antlered deer earlier in the season, so he could not legally kill another one. He went back home and had got his son to come and tag the antlered deer. The son was issued a citation for buying a license without completing a hunter’s education course. The father was issued two citations, one for hunting without written permission and one for killing more than one antlered deer per license year. The father appeared in the Oregon Municipal Court. He was given a fine and ordered to pay $950 in restitution. His hunting privileges were suspended for one year.
• Hunters hit the field in late November 2012 in pursuit of white-tailed deer during the deer-gun season. Likewise, wildlife officers all across the state were busy at work. On opening day, state Wildlife Officer Mike Ohlrich and state Wildlife Officer Supervisor Bob Radcliff had a full day’s worth of complaints in Paulding County. As sunset closed in, the two officers decided to visit a popular hunting spot. Sure enough, a couple of vehicles were parked at the location and the hunters were still in the woods. With only a few minutes of shooting time remaining, the officers waited for the hunters to return. The first group of hunters to return consisted of a dad with his children. They did not shoot anything, but judging by the children’s ear-to-ear grins there was no doubt they had a good time. It wasn’t much longer and the last group of hunters came walking back to their car. By now it was pretty dark out, however, it wasn’t dark enough to hide the remnants of blood on their hands. When asked about the blood, one young man replied that it was from some rabbits they killed the day before. The hunter eventually produced a small button buck hid in the trunk of his car. The young man chose not to tag the deer so he could continue hunting with his one deer permit. After instructing the hunter on how to properly tag the deer, the officers allowed him to keep it. The young man was issued a summons to appear in the Paulding Municipal Court and paid a $260 fine for failure to temporarily tag a deer.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3

• Geauga County Wildlife Officer Scott Denamen, along with Investigator Brian Keyser, spent a large part of the statewide muzzleloader season in Ashtabula County. Both began their careers with the division at the same time and have shared countless patrols together. Experience has taught them that adverse conditions or a scarcity of hunters never decreases the opportunity for a memorable contact. Keyser’s sharp eye provided such an opportunity on an otherwise uneventful day. Having picked out several brightly colored vehicles and orange-clad hunters from the snow-covered ground and bare trees, he alerted Denamen to reverse course. They parked at the end of a two-track and headed into the woods to check the hunters. The men all had valid licenses and tags and were in compliance with the law. What was discovered was the best deer camp either of the officers had ever seen. A 10- by 12-foot room would be a generous description of its dimensions, with a frame made of 2x4s. The outer shell was 1-inch thick cardboard with tarps over the roof for additional waterproofing. Inside were three bunks and a small heater. Total costs of construction, not accounting for “shopping”  time, was $60.
• During the 2012 deer-gun season, Jefferson County Wildlife Officer Craig Porter and Wildlife Officer Supervisor Peter Novotny responded to a hunting without permission complaint. Upon arriving at the scene, the officers observed a vehicle parked on the complainant’s property, and they located an intoxicated individual in a thick wooded area wearing only camouflage clothing. They seized his firearm, escorted the subject back to their patrol vehicle and made arrangements for a family member to pick him up. The subject was charged with failure to wear hunter orange and using firearms while intoxicated. He was found guilty in Jefferson County Court and was ordered to pay fines and court costs. In addition to the monetary penalty, his hunting privileges were revoked for one year and his shotgun was forfeited to the Division of Wildlife.
• Summit County Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown received a complaint of a buck carcass dumped on state property. He arrived at the site and discovered the carcass had been placed in a trash bag. Another trash bag contained deer parts and a box with a shipping label attached to it. Unfortunately, the label did not provide much useful information. During the deer gun season, Brown decided to check the area again for fresh litter and discovered four more trash bags containing remnants of several other deer. Inspecting the trash bags for anything of evidentiary value, Brown discovered a voided check, which was ripped into three pieces. Brown was able to piece together the check and locate the suspect’s new residence through the game-check system. The results of the investigation revealed that the suspect had dumped most of the deer carcasses. He was issued a litter summons, convicted in court and ordered to pay more than $250 in fines and court costs. He was also directed to clean up and properly dispose of the trash.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4

• State Wildlife Officer Dan Perko, assigned to Athens County, was responding to a hunting without permission call at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday of muzzleloader season. Perko came across a truck parked in the middle of the road at a farm where road shooting has been reported.  The truck was parked in a dip in the road, and a muzzleloader was pointed out of the passenger window.  The driver looked back and saw the officer’s truck.  Perko engaged lights and the suspect stalled to a stop and Perko discovered an untagged deer in the back of the truck.  The driver was issued a citation for failing to temporary tag a deer and hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle.  The passenger was cited for hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle.
• While patrolling in Scioto County during the 2012 deer gun season, Wildlife Officer Matthew Clark saw a man butchering a deer in his front yard.  Clark and Wildlife Investigator Heath Horn made contact with the man. It was determined that the deer was untagged, and the man’s son had killed it that morning.  The son soon arrived at the residence, stating that he forgot to tag the deer.  Further investigation led to three more untagged deer in an outbuilding.  The deer were seized as evidence and three summonses were issued for possession of untagged deer, as well as one juvenile charge for possession of untagged deer. Judge Steven L. Mowrey sentenced the man to $614 in fines, cost, and restitution as well as one-year hunting license suspension.  The deer were processed and donated to a local food bank.  Charges are still pending on the juvenile.  

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5

• Earlier this year, Butler County Wildlife Officer Aaron Ireland received a complaint from a local police chief concerning some untagged deer parts. While investigating the complaint, Ireland discovered a decomposing 6-point buck in a barn. Ireland interviewed several individuals during the course of the investigation. One of the individuals had shot the deer in question during muzzleloader season. The suspect stated he was not feeling well so he decided not to tag the deer. After charges were approved by the local prosecutor, the suspect was charged for failing to temporarily tag his deer.
• During Ohio’s 2012 deer-gun season, Shelby County Wildlife Officer Tim Rourke was working alongside Watercraft Officer Matt Kruse when the two encountered a vehicle driving through a field in an erratic fashion and at a high rate of speed. Locating the vehicle became a problem due to the high weeds and rusty old equipment scattered around the field, but the officers did in fact come upon the SUV again. In talking to its uncooperative driver, the officers found that a deer had been recently harvested and was on another area of the property. The officers followed the hunter back into another place on the farm, where they were confronted by three more individuals. The hunters had two deer temporarily tagged with landowner’s tags. All four individuals were very irritated by the officers’ presence and were very hostile toward them. In doing their duties, the officers not only wanted to perform a routine license compliance check, but also assist in checking the deer and answer questions the hunters might have. The hunters on the other hand, wanted no part of small talk. Rourke quickly found a hole in the story being told by the hunters, and a short investigation concluded that one of the deer had been illegally tagged. During a very brief yet intense standoff, a citation was issued and the officers were on their way. The hunter did not bother showing up for court and decided to pay $325 in fines.

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