Friday, Apr 20, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Dip with a dock dog

Dean Skillman has a yellow Labrador retriever named Wylie, who would jump at the chance to appear on TV.

In fact, Wylie, a 2-year-oldmale, jumps so well and so far he will appear on television on ESPN s Great Outdoor Games, in the sanctioned DockDog competition next July in Madison, Wis. Here is the story: Wylie is a dock dog. That means he is trained to and, being a Lab, loves to run flat-out and leap into water.

Skillman, of Lambertville, Mich., has been working Wylie at home to compete on a standard competition-length dock, which is 8 feet by 40 feet and stands 2 feet above the water. Friends helped him build a practice dock over his backyard pool when he got serious about dock-dogging.

I use the chase technique, he said. That means tossing out a training baton and letting Wylie blast off the dock into a leaping airborne retrieve. It s a Lab long jump.


Dean Skillman and his 2-year-old yellow Lab strut their stuff by their backyard pool in Lambertville, Mich. Skillman tosses a baton and Wylie leaps after it, sort of a Lab long jump.

Hires / Blade Enlarge

The baton is about a foot long, three inches in diameter, and covered with bright tennis ball-like material. But Skillman has wrapped on stripes of black tape to help his charge see it since, he explained, dogs only see in black-and-white.

In just eight months of competition, Wylie has leaped from novice to master rank, winning 25 ribbons along the way.

At the recent Cabela s DockDog National Championships in Kansas City, Wylie executed his best jump, 24 feet, 4 inches, to make the finals.

Sitting in fourth place with his last jump left, Wylie ripped off a 23-foot, 6-incher to tie for first place with a black Lab named Beau from New Orleans. In a sudden death jump-off, Wylie stretched 22 feet, 4 inches. Beau went an inch farther. No matter, both dogs qualified for the Great Outdoor Games and perhaps again can duel it out there.

Skillman admits that at 63 his arthritis discourages him from hunting ducks with Wylie, given the usual damp and cold.

For more information about this emerging sport, visit the Web Site

The first week of the archery deer hunting seasons in Ohio and Michigan is not even in the books and already some big book bucks have been brought to bag.

Mark Lodzinski, of Artistic Touch Taxidermy in Oregon, has taken in three eyebrow-raisers so far. You would think it was the opening day of gun season, he said of the number and quality of antlers so far.

The taxidermist points to three bruiser bucks that catch his eye:

• A 16-pointer that weighed 253 pounds, dressed, taken by Craig Stiles of Genoa, in Wood County on Sunday. Lodzinski aged the buck at 6 years. It scored 186, nontypical, green. Antlers must be dried for 60 days before they can be official.

• An 11-pointer that dressed at 215 pounds, taken by Kevin Netrzeba of Curtice, and shot in Defiance County. It scored 159, green, and was a 4 -year-old.

• A 12-pointer that dressed at 205 pounds, 4 years old, taken by Michael Tye of Toledo, in the special early-draw hunt at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. It scored 162, green.

Deer are on the move at all hours, likely because of the movement of farm machinery in the harvest of corn and soybeans. Increased movement prompted by the rut, or breeding season, is not normally expected until next month.


Tomorrow: Naturalists Camera Club of Toledo, 7:30 p.m., Secor Metropark, Nature Photography Center, Central Avenue entrance, program on Owen Sound, Ontario; call Adele Shelton, 419-474-2911.

Saturday: Northwest Ohio Canoe and Kayak Club, paddling the Tiffin River; call Kevin, 419-393-2103.

Saturday: Women in the Outdoors, all day, Camp Berry, south of Findlay, sponsored by Hancock County Chapter, National Wild Turkey Federation; call Cheryl Stuard, 419-365-5567.

Saturday: Annual fall campout, noon-6 p.m., day lodge, Mary Jane Thurston State Park, State Rt. 65, west of Grand Rapids; birds of prey display, hayrides, traditional music, bean soup dinner, folk crafts and artists; call the park, 419-832-662.

Saturday and Sunday: OTNA Harvest fest, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, west side day-use area, Van Buren State Park, State Rt. 613 east of I-75, north of Findlay native North American cutural gathering, with crafts, dances, storytelling, drums, history, native food and vendors; call the park, 419-299-3807.

Saturday: Free boat inspections for waterfowl hunters, noon-1 p.m. at Cullen Park, 2-3 p.m. Meinke s East Marina, Lucas County ramp; call the Ohio Division of Watercraft, 419-836-6003.

Saturday: Waterfowl hike, 9 a.m., Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area, meet at Sportsmen s Migratory Bird Center, 13229 West State Rt. 2, Oak Harbor; call 419-898-0960, ext. 31.

Monday: Public trapshoot, 5:30 p.m., Wolf Creek Sportsmen s Association, 349 Teachout Rd., north of State Rt. 2, Curtice voice-activated traps now available; call Rick Ferguson, 419-836-5264.

Monday through Oct. 14: Hunter education course, 6-9:30 p.m. nightly, American Legion Hall, Portage, south of Bowling Green off State Rt. 25; call Norma Best, 419-353-3171.

Contact Steve Pollick at:spollick@theblade.comor 419-724-6068.

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