Last weekend marked the annual conference of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio, an event held this year at Hueston Woods State Park in southwestern Ohio.
It was a good event attended by some fine newspaper and magazine folks, but more important the weekend drew people who have a serious interest in the out-of-doors and were willing to pass their expertise on to my readers.
One such person was Rod White of Mt Pleasant, Iowa.
White has been a pro archer for 14 years, a man good enough to shoot in events like Buckmasters and ESPN's Great Outdoor Games. He won an Olympic gold medal for archery in 1996 and a bronze in Australia in 2000. In short, this man knows his business. He's also a hunter, one who's bagged 27 whitetails that tallied from 130 to 190 points in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas. So, what's his advice for beginning Huron County archers who want to bag a deer with a bow?
First of all, he favors a Tech Hunter Extreme bow from Gander Mountain. "It's an all-around hunting bow," he said. "And it sells for a moderate price. I'd rather see a hunter buy a good bow reasonably, and spend the money he saves on other useful equipment." White also likes small diameter carbon arrows since they give excellent penetration, and G5 arrowheads of 100 grains. His advice for learning to use that bow was simple.
"A beginning bow hunter's smartest move is to find someone that already shoots" he said, "and learn from that person. Most veteran archers are more than willing to help. Join a club, too, if you can, and practice. Don't do anything fancy at first, just set up a target and shoot until you know your bow and arrows and can make nice groups at various ranges. Then practice shooting from a tree stand, in the woods, uphill and downhill, in every situation in which you might see a deer."
I met another hunter, David Lovin, who's a sales rep for Miltree Outdoors in Cincinnati. Seems he was just back from a unique hunting trip in Florida that more adventurous local archers might like to try. Lovin hunted with Central Florida Trophy Hunts, an outfit that specializes in night hunts for alligators.
"It was the wildest hunt I've ever been on" Lovin said. "We hunted in the swamps at night, pitch dark with frogs, night birds and other creatures making their calls, and in three hours we saw probably 150 gators or at least their red eyes. The guide shined his light on up to 40 gators scattered around us at a time, and we looked for one that had a lot of space between their eyes. I killed an 11-footer and a 10-footer, shooting them with an arrow on a line, then harpooning both animals with a heavier line to drag them in. It was strange, exciting hunting."
This adventurous archer gave his meat and hides to the outfitter, since he'd flown down and could take nothing back, but those who want to drive can keep the meat and hides for themselves. Not only is that meat good, tasting like the proverbial chicken, but you might be doing Florida a favor since attacks on humans and family pets by big alligators has risen steadily in recent years. Cost of the hunt is about $1,500.
One final note, a slightly ominous one, came from Fred Snyder, who works out of the Port Clinton area with Ohio Sea Grant. Snyder noted that Viral Hemorhagic Septisimia (VHS) had killed tens of thousands of sheephead last year and some yellow perch, causing a ban on imports of minnows for Lake Erie fishing. Many emerald shiners come from New York State and those won't be coming this year, so there could easily be an extreme shortage of minnows for those who like to go north for late summer and fall perching. The answer? Buy a minnow seine and catch your own in local creeks before making the trek.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org n Lake Erie walleye fishing should be excellent this year, but that won't be true for yellow perch. The perch population is in decline, due to recent poor hatches, so Gov. Ted Strickland has issued an executive order reducing the sport fishing bag for Lake Erie yellow perch from 40 to 30. The order went into effect on April 9, reducing the bag limit while new rules are finalized and placed into effect.
Fishing has slowed along the Maumee River, thanks to the recent cold spell, but anglers are still taking some fish, mostly males, on the Flats between I-475 and Jerome Road. Floating jigs with bright tails have been the most consistent producers. The Sandusky River is in much the same shape as the Maumee with slow fishing brought on by chill temperatures. But again, some are being caught, mostly on 1/8-ounce jigs with pink twister tails.
Looking for a job that will keep you outdoors and on the water, but still offers good pay and benefits? Then you might consider a career as a state watercraft officer. The ODNR is seeking as many as 20 full-time watercraft officers for statewide assignment, and job applications and information is waiting on the Internet at ohiodnr.com. The deadline to apply is May 31. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED certificate. They must also pass various physical agility, swim tests and a background check.