Dick Ransom, the retired founder of Hickory Farms, says he is going to pay attention to the thermometer, not the calendar, next time he goes hunting.
An avid, lifelong hunter and outdoorsman, Ransom still likes to head afield with shotgun in hand as often as his wiry, 86-year-old frame allows.
Sunday was such a day and he called together Tom Perna,
decoy-maker Tom Tschabold and yours truly for an afternoon's pheasant hunt at Ringneck Ridge Hunt Club near Gibsonburg.
But even though the early frogs, spring peepers, were singing in the flooded portions of Ringneck's woodlots and fields, one had to wonder if these addled amphibians had gotten their wires crossed. They supposedly start singing when the water temperature in their home ponds is at least 43
degrees. The air sure didn't feel like it, in any case.
It may have been the first day of spring but winter had sprung back, if the breezy, damp, chilly, gray conditions were any indication. It left Ransom longing for his longjohns. But the man, a World War II army veteran of the South Pacific and globe-trotting hunter with six extended African safaris notched on his gunstocks, knows how to tough it out without complaining - yet have a good time to boot.
He regaled his hunting party with war stories and close calls on safaris while guide Dave Gyurica directed his superb German short-haired pointer, Sadie, back and forth across the hunting fields.
An aside: Like most combat veterans, Ransom tells you the amusing stuff that happened and left the nightmares back on Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa, where he served as a senior non-com. But he did tell how, on a Kenyan safari years ago, a rampaging lion scythed open the side of his tent, inches from his head, as he slept on a camp cot. The latter was among a string of for-real hunting tales.
Suffice it to say, the crew gave a good accounting of itself in the wingshooting department. Most of the birds are headed for the oven. But as always, it is the ones you miss that you will remember most.
In the case of yours truly, that would be a cockbird that was wearing track shoes - a runner, as they are called. Sadie finally flushed it into a woodlot, where it proceeded to roost in a tree. Flushed again, the bird zigged and zagged like a ruffed grouse in an alder thicket, causing a certain 12-gauge over/under to create two new holes in the sky as the winging rooster cackled away into the mists.
On the rivers:
A little warm rain would work wonders for walleye action, veteran observers of the annual spring runs are saying.
Fish are present in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers, but fishing action has been slow to just fair, with only an occasional three-fish limit being noted. Both streams are in excellent shape as to clarity and flow, though water temperatures of 41-42 degrees are on the low end of the range for spawning run activity.
On the Sandusky River at downtown Fremont, the best bet has been a quarter-ounce leadhead jig with white plastic tail, fished slowly, said Brian Bury, state wildlife officer in Sandusky County.
"The yank and crank method is only good for snagging," he stated.
Keep a snagged fish and Bury will write you a ticket.
That said, he agreed that some legal limits were taken Sunday, but mostly single fish were caught.
The Maumee has been wadable to Blue Grass Island at Side Cut Metropark, a popular fishing site, but action has been fair to slow, said Gary Lowry at Maumee Valley Bait and Tackle. He and his wife Jan, however, have weighed a female walleye as large as 11 pounds, 8 ounces, and some males in the six to seven-pound range.
Upstream at Grand Rapids Dam, crappie fishing slowed to a crawl over the weekend, though some anglers were taking a few northern pike, said Chris Martin at River Lures bait shop at Grand Rapids.
On western Lake Erie a few boats got out late last week and started picking up some walleyes Thursday and Friday, but weekend action was a loss because of unfavorable winds, said Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait in Jerusalem Topwenship.
Local anglers Mike Warns and Greg Rutschilling put in at Cullen Park Thursday and headed toward West Sister Island. "We ended up catching our limit on walleye in the first hour of fishing," said Rutschilling. One male walleye went five pounds, and a female weighed 11 pounds, 13 ounces, stretching 31 inches.
"It was the biggest walleye I have ever caught," said Rutschilling. "We were the only boat in the area, which was nice."
Tomorrow - Woodcock watch southwest of Bowling Green, 6:45 p.m., Baldwin Woods, Euler Road between Potter and Range Line roads; call the Wood County Parks District, 419-353-1897.
Friday and Monday - Public trapshoot, 6 p.m., Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association, 349 Teachout Rd., north of State Rt. 2, Curtice; voice-activated traps now available; also, fish fry Friday with trapshoot; call Rick Ferguson, 419-836-5264.
Saturday - Salamander program, 10 a.m., Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, Mallard Lake Area, call for reservations 419-535-3057; also, wildflowers of spring, 1 p.m., Secor Metrropark, Nature Center.
Saturday - Boating education course, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Bowling Green State University, Recreation Center, Bowling Green, call BGSU, 419-372-2711.
Saturday - Evening frog walk, 6:30 p.m., Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve, begins with a slide show at Secor Metropark, Nature Photography Center, off Central Avenue; to register call the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, Steve Harvey, 419-445-1775.
Saturday - Black Swamp Bird Observatory, work party on new offices, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., meet at former Crane Creek ranger station, front of Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area, 13229 West State Rt. 2, Oak Harbor; call BSBO, 419-898-4070.
Notice to readers: Beginning next week, Steve Pollick's regularThursday column will not appear. Instead a special seasonal Pollick feature, Follow the Fish, will appear on Fridays. The regular outdoors columns will continue on Sundays and Tuesdays.