Mike Rex understands that his outdoors life is about to become much more complicated than simply trying to outsmart another trophy-class white-tail or work to bamboozle the next coyote.
Rex was recently appointed by Ohio Governor John Kasich as the newest member of the eight-person Ohio Wildlife Council, replacing the seat vacated when Horace W. Karr of Pomeroy died February 25th.
The 51-year-old Rex lives in Athens County with his wife and their three children. He is the business development manager for the Heartland Wildlife Division, a component of the Upper Sandusky-based and family owned Kalmbach Feeds Company.
Having all ready begun his four-year term, Rex will have until January 31, 2020 to get his feet wet and adapt to the ever-changing scope of helping direct the affairs of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. That is because the Wildlife Council is the legislatively approved body that approves – or rejects – the agency’s proposed rules and regulations.
Each Wildlife Council member is either appointed or reappointed (Council member George Klein was just reappointed) by the sitting governor but with certain requirements. No more than four members can be from the same political party, and two council members must represent agriculture, said John Windau, a Wildlife Division spokesman.
Even though Rex has an agricultural-based job he is climbing aboard the Wildlife Council’s train as a replacement Republican. His appointment came about after Rex completed an application for the vacated slot left by Karr.
Windau also said that Wildlife Council members frequently visit events and meetings outside of the oversight group’s official duties, and which can embrace everything from checking out local sportsman’s club functions to attending Wildlife Division fish and game species summits and annual open houses. The Wildlife Council meets monthly in public session from January through April and again July through October.
Though the position of a Wildlife Council member is voluntary they are entitled by law to claim expenses for such things as mileage and meals, Windau says.
Rex says he’s not approaching his new role as one of eight Wildlife Division overseers with either bravado or blinders. He readily admits he has much to learn.
“I believe that I can bring a unique perspective to the board, and part of that is because I am a very good listener, and a fair one, too,” Rex said in a telephone interview. “As a manager I’ve learned not to make snap decisions.”
However, Rex says he’s a realist and understands that neither the Wildlife Council nor the Wildlife Division is going to make everybody happy all of the time. Or- for that matter - many of Ohio’s hunters, anglers and trappers happy even some of the time.
“Being on the (Wildlife) Council is going to involve a lot of work; I understand that,” Rex said. “It’s going to be tough to make the hard decisions that are going to impact so many different constituencies.”
Importantly, says Rex as well, he does not intend to be a Wildlife Council wall flower.
“I’m not going to be afraid to ask questions if I have doubts or if something doesn’t make sense to me,” Rex said regarding an interview question about an oft-said observation that the Wildlife Council is little more than a rubber stamp for the Wildlife Division.
“I’m not a combative person but I’m not a yes man, either,” he said.
To help in transitioning into his appointment, Wildlife Council president Karen Stewart-Linkhart, will meet with Rex “to bring him up to speed on current fish and wildlife topics, discuss the position, the council and its responsibilities with the ODNR Division of Wildlife,” Windau said.
Rex will also meet with division administration to discuss the same topics. And at least one of those Wildlife Division officials is very eager to assist in Rex’s educational process.
“I am pleased with the Governor’s appointment of Mike Rex to the Ohio Wildlife Council,” said the Wildlife Division’s chief, Ray Petering. “Mike is an avid sportsman, and I am confident he will represent Ohio’s hunters, trappers, and anglers well.”
Yet more than anything else, Rex says, it is his background as a “multi-layered” outdoors recreationalist that became the spark that cranked the engine to become Wildlife Council appointee.
“Our family’s activities revolve around the outdoors,” Rex said.
Small wonder than that Rex has been an Ohio Buckeye Big Buck Club board member for some 20 years and is currently that group’s secretary and one of its former presidents.
He also has 16 Ohio Buckeye Big Buck Club trophies registered with a 17th that was taken with a compound bow - Rex’s favorite deer-hunting implement – last October. That animal will almost assuredly be enshrined in the club’s ledger next year and following the group’s waiting period and scoring criteria.
A Google search of Rex pretty much begins and ends with photographs and testimonials about his archery deer-hunting prowess at killing trophy bucks.
Rex likewise is an avid turkey hunter in addition to being a true-blue multi-species fishing enthusiast, including spending time muskie angling – an activity which Rex readily admits “I’m not really very good at.”
Even so, while Rex is a devoted archery deer hunter, takes up the task of chasing turkeys in the spring, hunts down the elusive (for him, anyway) muskie, or works at catching Lake Erie walleye, there is an if-I-could-do-only-one-thing outdoors pursuit, Rex said in the telephone interview.
“Hunt coyotes,” Rex said. “They’re just plain smart.”
And Rex will have to work hard to help ensure that for the next four years no one is going to outsmart this fox.By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff is the recipient of more than 125 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.