As anticipated because of reduced bag limits, Ohio deer donations to local food banks fell during the 2014-15 hunting season.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife and Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry work together to assist processing costs associated with the venison donations. According to the DOW, the program allows for subsidy grants to be provided in allotments that are matched with funds generated by local FHFH chapters. Venison donated to participating food banks must be processed by a federal, state or locally inspected and insured meat processor. Hunters wishing to donate their deer are not required to pay for the processing of the venison as long as the program has available funds.
Statewide, 1,087 deer/livestock were donated, which translates to 54,350 pounds of meat or 217,400 servings. During the 2013-14 deer season, 1,399 deer/livestock were donated, which translated in 69,950 pounds of meat and 279,800 servings. Those figures came from Josh Wilson, operations director for FHFH in Ohio. Ohio ranks fifth nationally in hunter-donated venison, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Nationally, hunters provided more than 11 million meals to people in need.
Ohio has 64 participating meat processors and 34 FHFH local chapters. Anyone interested in becoming a local program coordinator or a participating meat processor can find more information at fhfh.org.
Donations were down in Limaland, too.
The Hancock-Putnam County chapter actually had an increase with 29 deer donated, according to chapter coordinator Isaac Feeney.
“I was very pleased with the donations, especially in Hancock County. Given that Hancock County is a two-deer county, hunters now have limited tags to fill for their own family. To see the donations increase speaks to the value area hunters place on providing venison to others in need,” he said.
Mike Armentrout of the Allen-Auglaize chapter indicated 23 deer and two hogs were donated.
“We are seeing several people who donate every year, and that is good. I am hoping that the bag limit changes do not affect our deer donations, but only time will tell,” he said.
Numbers in Logan County also were down with 16 deer donated.
“While that is fewer deer than in previous years, any and all donations are appreciated by the food pantries we serve in Logan County,” said chapter coordinator Donna Daniel.
In Mercer County, six deer were donated, chapter coordinator Bill Knap said.
“We had good financial donations but fewer deer,” Knap said. “The deer harvest was down in our area in general, but we appreciate all the deer donated. “
In other Limaland counties, 13 deer were donated in Van Wert County, nine in Shelby County and one in Hardin County.
“We’ve seen a decline in deer donations the past couple of seasons in Ohio. Part of this can be attributed to the general decline in total harvest numbers in the state,” Wilson said. “Unemployment rates and difficult economic conditions can also impact donation numbers by causing hunters to keep more of the deer they harvest to feed their own families. In light of these factors, we need to make sure all hunters know that there is no charge to donate their deer, encourage them to harvest extra deer for donation, and remind them that their meat donations are needed now more than ever. We also need volunteers to help us recruit additional meat participating butchers (must be inspected and insured), and form new chapters in areas not yet being served.”
YOUTH TURKEY HUNTS POPULAR
Limaland young turkey hunters fared well during the special two-day season for youths last weekend.
Area youths bagged 45 turkeys in the nine-county area, a slight increase over the 40 taken during the same season a year ago. The take was up in five of the counties, down in two and the same in two.
Allen County showed a big increase with 10 turkeys taken, compared to four in 2014. Logan County showed a big drop, with six taken in that county this year, compared to 14 a year ago. A dozen turkeys were harvested in Putnam County this year, compared to nine last year. Six were taken in Shelby County, compared to three a year ago.
Hardin and Hancock counties showed slight increases, with four harvested in 2015 while three were taken in 2014 in Hardin. Three were taken in Hancock this year, compared to two last year.
Van Wert County had a slight dip with one taken this year, while two were harvested in 2014. In Auglaize County, two turkeys were taken in both years, while one turkey was taken in both years in Mercer County.
FREE FISHING NEXT WEEKEND
Ohioans can enjoy the annual free fishing weekend next weekend, May 2 and 3. Ohio residents can fish the vast waters of the state, including Lake Erie and the Ohio River, without purchasing a fishing license, according to the DOW.
The DOW said an estimated 1.3 million people fish each year in Ohio, and the wildlife agency stocked more than 43 million fish in 2014. Ohio’s waters are populated with a wide variety of fish species, so anglers might hook steelhead trout, walleye, saugeye, crappie, yellow perch, bass, bluegill and catfish.
PUSH FOR BOATER EDUCATION
Statistics show that a boater educated in safety measures is less likely to be involved in an accident. Thus, before the boating season gets into full swing, it is a good idea to take a boating education course.
“An informed and knowledgeable boat operator is much more likely to recognize hazardous conditions on the water and avoid a boating mishap,” said National Association of State Boating Law Administrators president Eleanor Mariani. “Classroom courses are offered through local boating safety organizations, such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons. Online courses are available 24/7 and provide state-specific information needed for your boating location. Completion of a course increases your chances for having fun on the water.”
The Lima Power Squadron holds boating safety courses over several months. This class meets the state requirement that went into effect Jan. 1, 2000. Anyone born after Jan. 1, 1982, must successfully pass a safe boating course in order to operate a vessel powered by more than 10 horsepower. You can find a course at www.usps.org. Click on boating courses and seminars and then click on finding a boating course near you.
U.S. Coast Guard statistics indicate that, when the level of operator education was known, 80 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator had never received boating education instruction. Many states require completion of a course verified by NASBLA as meeting the national boating education standard for powerboat rental or operation.
Ohio’s Boater Education requirement can be met by taking and passing an approved boating education course (classroom, online or home study) or by taking and passing a proficiency exam. Forty-nine states and U.S. territories require proof of completion of a boating education course for operators of some powered vessels. For a summary of Ohio’s regulations and available courses, go to watercraft.ohiodnr.gov.
“We are always seeking opportunities that will keep Ohioans safe on the water, and boating safety courses are a large part of that effort,” said Mike Miller, chief of the ODNR Division of Watercraft. “These courses are critical in ensuring that boaters will enjoy their time on Ohio’s waters safely with their family and friends.”