Central Ohio – Wildlife District One
While reviewing reporting information in the deer harvest database, State Wildlife Officer Tony Zerkle, assigned to Fairfield County, looked for errors and discrepancies that could potentially be violations. The most common issue Officer Zerkle encountered was individuals checking in their deer after noon the day following the harvest. Officer Zerkle contacted many of these hunters, and the majority of the hunters claimed they were unaware of the noon cutoff time. Officer Zerkle explained that this requirement is printed in the annual Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations. In most cases, the individuals were warned and a notation made in their customer account.
During the 2017-18 deer muzzle loader season, State Wildlife Officer Josh Shields, assigned to Union County, was on patrol when he received a phone call from an off-duty officer traveling on U.S. Route 33. The off duty officer observed two hunters not wearing hunter orange, hop a fence along the highway. Officer Shields drove to the location, spotted a vehicle parked off the highway, and followed footprints in the snow until he located a bow hunter in a tree stand. The hunter was not wearing hunter orange and was hunting alone with an apprentice hunting license. The hunter contacted his partner who arrived at the location shortly thereafter. The second hunter had also failed to wear hunter orange. The hunters said they knew they were required to wear hunter orange, but that their orange vests had not been washed with scent neutralizing soap, so they left them in the truck. Officer Shields issued both men citations for failing to wear hunter orange during the deer muzzleloader season. The two hunters retrieved their orange vests from the truck and finished their hunt. Both men were found guilty in the Marysville Municipal Court and each paid $160 in fines and court costs.
Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two
During the 2017 gun weekend, State Wildlife Officer Matt Smith, assigned to Defiance County, was patrolling near the Defiance and Paulding county line when he noticed several deer running toward the roadway. Officer Smith watched the deer with his binoculars, and witnessed a pick-up truck run a stop sign and race toward the deer. The driver of the truck then stopped in the roadway and began to drive in reverse, in an attempt to stop the deer from crossing the road. This caused two other vehicles to break and swerve into the other lane. Officer Smith raced toward the suspect’s truck and initiated a traffic stop. The suspect admitted that he was trying to push the deer toward a friend. The man was issued a summons for hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle.
Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three
During the deer archery season, State Wildlife Officer Craig Porter, assigned to Jefferson County, received a complaint from a concerned resident stating that he heard a gunshot the previous evening and believed someone may have killed a deer. Officer Porter went to the location and observed a deer hanging in a tree behind a nearby residence. Officer Porter contacted the tenant of the property and conducted a brief interview. Through the course of the interview, it was revealed that the suspect had spotted the button buck in his yard and used his 12-gauge shotgun to shoot the animal. In addition to killing the deer before gun season, the suspect did not have a valid hunting license or deer permit. The individual also failed to game check the deer. The man was issued two summonses and the deer and shotgun were seized as evidence. The suspect appeared in court, was convicted, and paid $350 in fines and court costs. He was also ordered to attend a hunter education course. All evidence seized was forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
While working litter enforcement along the Lake Erie shoreline, State Wildlife Officer Randy White, assigned to Lorain County, observed two men sitting on a break wall drinking beer. After finishing their beverages, the men disposed of their cans between the rocks. Officer White contacted them as they left to issue both men summonses for litter, but subsequently discovered that they had active warrants for their arrests. Both men were arrested, issued summonses for litter, and transported to jail. The men were later convicted in court and each paid over $300 in fines and costs.
Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four
While working enforcement during deer gun season, State Wildlife Investigator Travis Abele and State Wildlife Officer Mark Basinger, assigned to Athens County, met with a couple checking traps on a 4-wheeler. The female was carrying an unloaded shotgun and wearing hunter orange on her way to hunt deer. The officers found them using a trap that is too big to be set legally in Ohio. The female was also not carrying her deer permit. The couple had just left their parked truck, and the officers warned them about both violations. The female retrieved her deer permit from the truck, and the couple went back to checking traps and hunting legally.
During the 2016 deer gun season, State Wildlife Officer Jared Abele received information about a deer being killed illegally on private property along Two Mile Road in Vinton County. The witness stated that she observed multiple deer feeding in a field beside her residence when she heard a gunshot. The witness went outside and observed a deer lying in the field and observed two men standing near a truck on the roadway. The witness took a picture of the truck and wrote down the license plate number. Once inside she heard another gunshot and observed the two individuals loading both deer into the truck. Officer Abele was able to connect the vehicle to an individual in northern Ohio. He contacted State Wildlife Officer Nathan West, assigned to Wyandot County, for assistance. Officer West interviewed the suspect and determined the suspect’s brother had shot the deer. Officer West learned the shooter lived out-of-state and was able to conduct a phone interview with him. Both suspects were issued summonses for multiple violations. The suspects pleaded guilty to the charges and paid a total of $1,354 in fines and court costs.
Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five
While on patrol one day, State Wildlife Officer Matt Hunt, assigned to Greene County, checked for activity at Spring Valley Wildlife Area. Officer Hunt located a vehicle parked on the wildlife area, near a privately-owned quarry. The vehicle had fishing equipment inside, but the owner was nowhere to be found. Having had prior complaints from the quarry’s owner about people fishing without permission, Officer Hunt entered the property where he quickly located a man fishing. When Officer Hunt contacted the fisherman, the man admitted that he did not have permission to fish in the quarry. One citation was issued for trespassing for the purpose of hunting or fishing.