It’s an Active Time for Outdoorsmen

Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni

I don’t know where the fall of 2017 went, but I wasn’t outside for hardly any of it. I had other responsibilities, and they trumped anything else on the agenda. Regardless, although I won’t be chasing any critters for a while, others will, and this weekend should be a busy one. First, deer hunters will get one more chance to bag a deer with a shotgun today and tomorrow. These extra two days are nothing new and were initially established over ten years ago in response to hunter comments requesting more weekend hunting time. Since the request fit in with management goals of the state’s deer population, the suggestions were implemented.

With the deer harvest numbers up across the state, including Auglaize and Mercer Counties, it’s hard to determine how many hunters haven’t filled their tags. It is expected that the extra weekend will bring out those still looking for venison and maybe a few trying to fill an extra tag. For some, the pressure to bag an animal in a short period of time might cause them to ignore the rules of the sport, at least a little bit. The hunt becomes a contest limited by the clock and competition with other hunters. It’s the last quarter of the last game of the season. If scoring is the goal, anything is liable to happen. Whatever you think, keep in mind that all hunters are under the scrutiny of the public, and a good percentage of them don’t care if you eat venison or not. Unlike other hunting, deer hunters are required to wear hunter orange while in the field. It is easy to see them from a long way off. That’s good for safety. Just remember that all can see how you act in the field. Those that follow the rules won’t be remembered by the hunting critics. It’s the guys that forget the ethics of fair chase who will be talked about.

I realize there are times when I tend to preach, and I apologize if some feathers are ruffled…not really. Good hunters that I know agree with a lot of what I say. For example, presenting a good hunting image to the public, especially the rural public, is important for the survival of the sport. Taking advantage of an extra tag or bagging a deer that fits in a skillet just to fill a tag will affect next year’s deer population. Keep in mind that bag limits are set not only in response to hunters but also the insurance industry and the agricultural industry. In the long run, every deer harvested by hunters puts money in the pockets of both. Driving deer is an accepted hunting tactic in many areas. Driving deer in an area that is sectioned, flat, and relatively open requires little hunting skill, and I don’t particularly care for it. End of sermon. My views and a buck will get you a coffee refill at most gas stations, and having said that, enjoy the weekend and be careful.

Meanwhile, waterfowl hunters will be able to hunt the south zone as that duck season reopens December 16 and runs through January 28. We have a unique situation as far as duck hunting is concerned in that the north and south zone in this area are divided mainly by Lake Saint Marys. The lake is in the north zone, and much of the farmland south and west is in the south zone. These zones were created to give lake hunters an optimum chance to have open water during the majority of their season. Unfortunately, the recent cold spell brought on an early ice cover. It will take a significant warming trend to get open water before the December 31 season end. Locally, the south zone boundaries were supposed to give field hunters the chance to hunt late migrating ducks. In theory, area hunters got an extended season by being able to hunt both zones without extensive travel. In reality, I don’t think a lot of waterfowl hunters benefited a great deal from zone boundaries. By this time of the year, farming practices have all but eliminated any areas that provide waste grain for migrating waterfowl. As always, getting ducks and hunters together at the right time is about as predictable as a doctored slot machine. Luck is involved, a lot of luck. Skill seems to be secondary. Goose hunters, on the other hand, have a better chance of bagging a bird or two during the remainder of the season. First, there is a good population of Canada geese that remains in the area most of the year. Secondly, the season length for geese is extremely liberal extending well into February. The secret to having a good goose season is the willingness to spend a lot of time in the field.

With winter less than a week away, some outdoorsmen choose to call it quits until spring rolls around. Meanwhile, those who like the cold have a lot of outdoor activities available. Whatever your choice, enjoy the season, indoors or out.