Thirteen-year-old Joshua Carder could end up wearing the nickname Cool Hand Luke - all due respect to the late Paul Newman - given the way he conducted himself on his first bowhunt for deer.
The son of Matt and Annmarie Carder, of West Toledo, he bagged himself a dandy buck - his first deer, on his first bowhunt, this on his first time afield this year. All with no muss and no fuss.
The buck, carrying an estimated weight of 220 pounds, was a long-tined 10-point with a 19 3/4-inch antler spread. But those are just the facts. It is the story that counts, as told by Matt:
Josh, an eighth-grader at Little Flower School, earned his hunter-safety certificate last year and went out gun-hunting with his dad a couple of times. But he did not have a chance to bowhunt until this fall. Father and son got out Nov. 2 on a private farm in Wood County, each in a treestand about 20 yards apart covering likely deer travel-lanes.
It was getting cold and dark by 5:30 p.m., Matt said, and they had seen nothing. Father and son started hand-signaling about possibly hanging it up for the day.
Moments later, "Josh stood up, turned around, grabbed his bow, draws, aims, and shoots - it's over," said Matt.
At first he wasn't sure what Josh was up to, for he had not seen the buck. "The deer snuck in behind him and I couldn't see anything."
But talk about a cool hand. Thousands of deer no doubt have been missed by young and inexperienced hunters who succumb to buck fever. Josh worked so fast it probably didn't even come up.
Next thing Josh is signaling his dad that he shot a buck and Matt signaled to wait 20 minutes - "it seemed like an eternity." Presently Matt got down, went over and checked on his son, and they looked around briefly. No arrow, no sign. So they walked out of the woods and decided to wait a couple of hours.
Returning with flashlights, they found the arrow, broken in two, and then the buck, about five yards from Josh's stand. The young bowman had made a perfect shot.
In truth, said Matt, "it was over in a matter of seconds. It's the buck of a lifetime. Father-son, you couldn't ask for a better moment."
In related news, good numbers of fine Ohio bucks are being brought in this season, notes Mark Lodzinski, of Artistic Touch Taxidermy in Oregon.
As of last week he had taken in 83 deer, 27 percent more than in 2007, and even the early, too-warm temperatures had not slowed the pace.
"We've got phenomenal antlers this year," Lodzinski said, noting that of the 83 bucks he had taken in, at least 36 would qualify for Ohio Big Buck Club honors.
"The state is doing a great job," the taxidermist said of the Ohio Division of Wildlife's management program, which indirectly is aimed at encouraging reductions in numbers of overabundant does and giving bucks that extra season or two to grow bigger sets of antlers.
"Every year we're getting more and bigger bucks," the taxidermist added. Following are some of the bigger bucks, green-scored, that he has measured:
Brian McGrady, Clyde, 161 inches; Bob Scott, Maumee, 167 inches; David Wauford, Toledo, 148 inches; Eric Jones, Bowling Green, 174 inches; John Eckel, Perrysburg, 151 inches; Larry Pinkerman, Monclova, 166 inches, and Jason Albanese, Weston, 151 inches. (Albanese may be familiar to area fishermen and boaters - he is a state watercraft specialist from the Maumee Bay office).
In other news, Ohio hunters and trappers will find good populations of furbearers this fall and winter, the Ohio Division of Wildlife said in its annual forecast for seasons which got under way this week.
Hunting and trapping for fox, raccoon, opossum, skunk, and weasel is open through Jan. 31, and trapping season for mink and muskrat is open through Feb. 28, except in Sandusky, Ottawa, and Erie counties and Lucas County east of the Maumee River, where the season extends through March 15.
In addition, beaver trapping will run Dec. 26 through Feb. 28 statewide, the same dates for a special river otter trapping season in 43 counties.
Limited otter trapping is allowed for the fourth year. The species was reintroduced to the state between 1986 and 1993 and quickly expanded in numbers and range, to the point that it was removed from the state endangered species list in 2002.
There are no bag limits or restrictions on hours for taking furbearers, except for otters, where bags are county-dependent. See the bulletin, River Otter Trapping Regulations for details. With the exception of coyotes, a fur-taker permit is required for hunting or trapping furbearers. A special permit is required for beaver and otter trapping on public hunting areas.
Ohio is a leading trapping state, with 89 licensed fur dealers and 16,000 licensed fur takers.
Lake Erie report - Excellent walleye trolling for big fish has been the norm in recent days, winds allowing, in the Cedar Point-Vermilion area.
Toledo troller Ross Robertson landed an 'eye "just shy of 14 pounds" last Saturday, and he took a 13-pounder and an 11 1/2-pounder Friday. He is doing most of his fishing four to eight miles off Cedar Point.
"It's been like this for three weeks," said Robertson. "This is probably going to be the best fall in 10 years."
True to form, the schools of big walleye that have been "down east" all summer are circling back west toward the staging grounds for spawning in the western basin reef and island complex.
Robertson said he talked to two other trollers who landed 40 fish in four hours. He is trolling various Reef Runner crankbaits in 38 to 41 feet of water and, as usual for him, "trying to stay away from other boats."
The Ohio Division of Wildlife seconds the Robertson motion on the trolling bite, but expands the working zone to 30 to 42 feet of water. After-dark pier fishing, casting with crankbaits, has been sporadic, the division office at Sandusky said.
In related news, an Ontario commercial fishing captain has been fined $3,000 and a Wheatley, Ont., company has been fined $1,000 for inaccurate reporting of their walleye take.
Angelo Copolla, of Leamington, the skipper of the Miss Melissa II, and 524490 Ontario, Inc., of Wheatley, were the focus of charges by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. OMNR officers found Coppola had not declared 440 pounds of walleye netted on April 18.
The Maumee Valley Gun Collectors have set their final show of 2008 for tomorrow and Sunday at the Lucas County Recreation Center, 2901 Key St., Maumee. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Other details are available on-line at mvgca.com.