Central Ohio – Wildlife District One
During the 2018 statewide deer gun season, State Wildlife Officer Jeff Tipton, assigned to Champaign County, was on patrol when he observed a couple of trucks parked along a country road. As it was getting close to the end of shooting time, he pulled over to wait for the hunters to arrive at their vehicles. After legal shooting time, two hunters arrived at their vehicle. Officer Tipton immediately asked if their guns were unloaded. One of the hunters admitted that his firearm was still loaded, and the other hunter replied that his was unloaded. Officer Tipton confirmed that the first hunter’s gun was still loaded. The other hunter, who had stated that his gun was unloaded, had placed it in the front of his truck. Officer Tipton could see that the action of the gun was closed. When he retrieved the gun and opened the bolt of the gun, Officer Tipton discovered the firearm was still loaded. Officer Tipton issued the two hunters citations for possessing a loaded firearm after legal shooting hours. The men paid a total of $350 to the Champaign County Municipal Court.
During youth deer gun season, State Wildlife Officer Maurice Irish, assigned to Delaware County, was dispatched to a Turn In A Poacher (TIP) call near the Delaware and Morrow county line. The caller stated that an untagged, dressed-out deer was hanging from a tree next to a barn. No one was in the area when Officer Irish arrived. An inspection of the deer revealed that it had been killed with a shotgun. Officer Irish remained near the deer until the suspect arrived. Upon contact, the adult male insisted he had killed the deer with his bow the day before. After further discussion, the man admitted to killing the deer with a 12-gauge shotgun, which he had stored in the barn. The man did not have a hunting license or deer permit. He also failed to tag and game check his deer. The deer and shotgun were seized as evidence. The man was required to pay a significant fine through the Morrow County Municipal Court and the firearm used in the violation was forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two
On opening day of pheasant season, State Wildlife Officer Matt Smith, assigned to Defiance County, was patrolling Oxbow Lake Wildlife Area when he observed two hunters walking toward an SUV. When the men saw Officer Smith, one of them turned and went into the woods while the other continued walking toward the SUV. Officer Smith contacted the hunter at the vehicle and asked why his hunting partner had gone back into the woods. After questioning, the hunter admitted that the other hunter was an out-of-state hunter who did not have an Ohio hunting license. Officer Smith entered the woods and found the second hunter hiding behind a tree. The man was issued a summons and ordered to pay $150 in fines and court costs.
While patrolling Lima-area reservoirs, State Wildlife Officer Craig Barr, assigned to Allen County, and State Wildlife Officer Supervisor Steve Thomson encountered several anglers at Ferguson Reservoir. While checking one of the anglers, the officers observed a small walleye floating nearby. When measured, the walleye was found to be short of the 15-inch minimum length limit. Inside the angler’s basket, another walleye measuring only 14 inches was found. The angler admitted that he had tried to release the fish after seeing the officers arrive. The angler was found guilty in the Lima Municipal Court for the undersized fish and was ordered to pay $160 in fines and court costs.
Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three
During the opening day of deer gun season, State Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown, assigned to Wayne County, received an anonymous Turn in a Poacher (TIP) call regarding an individual who was not wearing hunter orange clothing. Officer Brown arrived on scene and located the individual sitting in a tree stand wearing only camouflage clothing and carrying a shotgun. He asked the man to come down and for safety, he asked him to unload his firearm. The man ejected four rounds from the gun, one more than legally permitted. The man was issued a summons for hunting with a firearm carrying more than three shells. He was also issued a warning for failing to wear the required hunter orange clothing. The man appeared in court, was convicted, and paid $183 in fines and court costs.
Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four
During the 2018 deer gun season, State Wildlife Officer Jared Abele, assigned to Vinton County, and State Wildlife Investigator Heath Horn were traveling down a remote township road when they saw a small truck driving toward them. They could see several individuals inside the truck and in the bed, most of them wearing hunter orange. The officers pulled over to the side of the single-lane road and exited the vehicle. The truck also stopped, and members of the group told the officers that they had just finished a deer drive and were leaving the area when they encountered a hunter who stated that the group was trespassing. The officers checked everyone in the group for hunting licenses, deer permits, and firearm compliance and discovered multiple violations. The officers also discovered one member of the group had multiple warrants for his arrest from courts in Hocking, Vinton, and Jackson counties. That individual was placed under arrest and other individuals were issued summonses for their wildlife violations.
State Wildlife Officer Mark Basinger, assigned to Athens County, responded to a residence in Washington County where a dog had reportedly been caught in a trap the day before. The free-running farm dog had a slight limp and a small amount of swelling, but no visible injuries. While Officer Basinger talked to the complainant, a vehicle entered the property. The individual knew the owner of the vehicle, and assumed the person was there to hunt. Officer Basinger left his card at the vehicle with a note for the owner to call him. The owner of the vehicle called later that afternoon and explained that he had permission to be trapping on the property. The individual who originally had called from the residence was unaware that anyone had been given permission to trap. No citations were given at this time.
Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five
This winter after a fresh snowfall had occurred, an ODNR Division of Wildlife employee was driving past Spring Valley Wildlife Area in Greene County. The employee observed a pickup truck doing doughnuts in a wildlife area parking lot and the adjacent grass and fields, causing damage to the landscape. The employee was able to get close enough to take a video of the event and provide the footage to State Wildlife Officer Matt Hunt, assigned to Greene County. The offender eventually left and drove to a private campground nearby. A short time later, Officer Hunt responded and discovered that several other parking lots had also been used for the destructive recreational activity. Based on the video footage, the vehicle was easily located at the nearby campground. The vehicle’s owner was contacted by Officer Hunt and admitted to doing doughnuts on the wildlife area. The driver was issued a citation in Xenia Municipal Court and paid $175 for operating a vehicle off road on a wildlife area. Unfortunately, this kind of activity occurs at many wildlife areas throughout the year. Numerous fields and access points have had to be closed off to prevent drivers from entering food plots and crop fields, and causing landscape damage that takes significant time, materials, and manpower to repair.