Friday, November 16, 2012

Ohio's hunters, anglers hurry to beat seasonal changes

A thick cream-colored mist ascended from off the farm pond’s surface, steamed by the 20-degree air.

Not surprisingly a rime of ice crystals etched the muzzles of Ben, my oldest brother’s Labrador retriever, and my two retrievers, Berry and Millie.

Having entered the farm pond the dogs’ watery residue had chilled to form the crystals. At least their shaking was due more to the fact that they were hunting rather than having just taken a doggie skinny dip.

Positioned in the blind, Terry, my oldest brother, and I also queried one another on how much longer we believe it will be before the pond freezes over.

“Hope it doesn’t until after gun season so we can still hunt some geese,” Terry said.

That very well may not be the case. The long-range forecast for the period Nov. 25 to Dec. 2 - Ohio’s firearms deer-hunting season - is a decidedly cold and snowy one.

Daytime highs may only creep up into the low to mid-30s while nighttime lows then are currently projected to fall to around the 20-degree mark.

Plus snow showers. There are always snow showers around these parts come deer gun season.

Which pushed a sense of urgency on Terry and me to capitalize on the pond’s still-open waters. It’s not going to last.

Neither will the open waters of Lake Erie be around much loner. Which helps explain why some yellow perch anglers are still going out for that one last good bite.

The same is true for the area’s steelheaders. They are hoping to stretch as much as they can out of the Grand River, Chagrin River as well as tiny Arcola and Euclid creeks before they each become locked in ice.

All of these anglers are looking over the shoulders, though, knowing that winter’s icy grip will soon compel them to abandon their respective pleasurable pursuits.

So once the last round of Thanksgiving Day turkey leftovers are eaten, Black Friday’s shopping excursions are completed, and the end to Ohio’s seven-day firearms deer-hunting season is concluded the outdoors world largely goes into a run-sleep mode.

To be sure there are short bursts of activity. The state’s two-day so-called bonus deer gun season in mid-December, January’s short-lived muzzle-loading deer-hunting season, and perhaps a field hunt for geese or a big-water shoot for ducks will provide outdoors opportunities.

Of course, Ohio’s archers still have more than two months to shoot a deer. At least for those bowmen who don’t mind spending frigid evenings and chilly mornings tethered by a safety harness many feet above the earth.

Yet those activities are for the diehards; the hunters who will apply duct tape to the soles of their boots to keep them from leaking. That sort of thing.

The same for the truly serious angler; the lone steelheader who puts up with rafts of flow ice on the Grand River or the night-time walleye angler who needs the power of a four-wheel-drive truck to get his boat trailer up or down the launch ramp.

These are the men and women who simply cannot give up. At least not until nature calls for a show of the cards.

Certainly there will be folks who simply switch gears. These are the people who are now engaged in leafing through the pages of Cabela’s all-new ice-fishing catalog.

That, or else they are exploring the Internet in the hopes of finding a still-available late winter Texas deer hunt or a Florida wild pig hunt.

Even so, here at nearly the half-way point in the year’s autumn hunting and fishing seasons, the end is in sight.

Then again, the thoughts of how to make next season’s activities all the more productive, all that more enjoyable, are burning ever-so brightly.

You see, while the tides for the hunter and the angler may rise and fall with each passing season the ship still sails on to some port out beyond the horizon.

 - Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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