G. Sam Piatt
PDT Outdoors Writer
Seems there’s always a few strange events happening around here in southern Ohio and northeastern Kentucky. I get emails and phone calls about them from time to time.
And I never use publicly the names of such individuals, unless they OK it.
This past week brought reports of UFOs in the skies over Ohio 140 and of a black panther crossing U.S. 52 just west of the entrance to the Shawnee State Park marina and golf course.
It was about 8 a.m., the e-mail writer said, when he “saw a large black cat cross 52 toward the north, moving me to say aloud, ‘That’s a big cat!’ As I approached, it jumped the ditch and headed north toward the forest. It disappeared into some thick brush.”
The cat had a long tail and was about two feet tall.
“The thing glided across the road, not running like a deer, and it easily jumped the ditch…I swear it was much bigger than a house cat,” said the e-mailer.
This was the first report of a black panther in nearly three years, when several people swore they saw one in the White Gravel area near Minford, as well as spotting one farther west, around McDermott.
This past Tuesday, just after dark, a couple was driving home along 140 from Oak Hill toward South Webster, when they spotted in the sky three yellow lights, all in a row. They were in the direction of their farm home.
As they watched, the lights just simply disappeared. The sky was clear, so it was evident they did not go behind cloud cover.
The next night, around 8 p.m., the wife came out onto the porch, looked up, and in the same area of the sky they had seen the lights the night before, there they were again. Three yellow lights in a row, and quite obviously not stars or planets.
They emitted no sound at all.
As she watched, the lights formed themselves into a triangle and seemed to move in and out. Then, in a flash, just as they had the night before, they vanished.
Last week, on a drive up U.S. 23 from South Shore to Greenup (14 miles) I counted four adult deer – three does and a buck – lying dead in the median.
All appeared to be fresh kills, struck by cars or trucks during the nighttime or early morning hours.
And so comes another rutting season for the white-tailed deer, a time when love-sick bucks are on the move and less cautious, a time for motorists to beware when driving, especially during the hours of dusk and dawn.
As much as possible, without blinding oncoming motorists, keep your headlights on high beam. And let your eyeballs turn back and forth, like the lighted arm on a radar screen.
The deer will be further stirred to action when more than 200,000 hunters hit the woods for the opening of Kentucky’s gun deer season Nov. 9, just two weeks away.
Officials with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources estimate the state’s deer population at about 800,000 animals, and they’re hoping for a record kill during the season’s 16-day run.
Without hunters controlling the growth of the deer herd, they say, serious consequences occur in the form of deer-vehicle collisions and crop damage complaints.
They say conditions are right for a record.
“Because of the mild winter and wet spring, we had a large number of healthy fawns this year,” said Tina Brunjes, big game coordinator for Fish & Wildlife. “The potential is there to exceed the 2004 harvest, provided the weather cooperates.”
Hunters took a record 124,000 deer in 2004.
The oaks’ production of acorns, which make up much of the deer’s food source, appears to be down from previous falls. That generally means does will be on the move more in search of food, and that serves to help hunter success in the woods.
Hunters must wear hunter orange clothing on their head, back and chest whenever a firearms season for deer is open.
Check the 2013-14 Kentucky Hunting &Trapping Guide for a map of deer season zones and for bag limits, equipment restrictions and other regulations for deer hunting.
These are available free of charge wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, such as Boland’s Mini Mart (740-858-9566) on U.S. 52 just west of West Portsmouth; or KD’s Food Mart (606-932-4711) on U.S. 23 two miles east of South Shore.
Ohio’s deer gun season doesn’t open until Dec. 2.
A FEW SHORT LINES
Samuel Johnson, asked to tell the difference between men and women, replied, “I can’t conceive, madam, can you?”
And then there was Thomas Hood’s facetious pun about the battle:
“Ben Battle was a soldier bold,
And used to war’s alarms;
But a cannon-ball took off his legs,
So he laid down his arms!”
G. Sam Piatt can be reached at 606-932-3619 or firstname.lastname@example.org.