The other day I turned off U.S. 52 onto the Jesse Stuart Memorial Bridge atop the Greenup Dam just as a huge bald eagle flew over the bridge on an upstream course. A few years ago such a sighting would have been so abnormal as to prompt the observer to call newspapers and radio stations.
Crossing the bridge I looked downstream through the wire mesh fencing to see a dozen vehicles parked on the hill overlooking the fishing pier. The sauger and hybrid fishermen were out in force.
Turning off the bridge on the Kentucky end and driving west on U.S. 23 I passed a pond located between the highway and the railroad where it’s obvious a colony of beavers is at work on a lodge for the coming winter months.
Before I completed the 8-mile drive to my home, I passed two dead white-tailed deer lying on the shoulder.
All these sighs must be taken to mean that fish and wildlife – and the environment – in our area of the world are faring well, even making a comeback.
When I was a youngster growing up along the Ohio you wouldn’t have seen bald eagles, white-tailed deer, beaver or fishermen congregating in the tailwaters of a dam to catch sauger, or jacksalmon as we celled them then.
We boys used the Ohio River as our swimming hole. I recall that at times, before going in, we were required to take a 2x4 or our hands and clear away an oil slick that floated on the surface. This generally came from towboats. Deck hands pumped the remnants of their barges out as they made their way back for a load of gasoline or fuel oil.
The river water appears to be much cleaner today.
So must we conclude that the federal Environmental Protection Agency is not evil in all its ways?
I have yet to try my “skills” at fall turkey hunting, chiefly because the legal weapons for fall wild turkey season were for some time limited to bows and arrows, and crossbows, and so far archery is not one of my acquired skills.
Now, however, both Kentucky and Ohio are allowing hunters to use shotguns on the fall hunts. The fall shotgun season opens Oct. 13 in Ohio; Oct. 27 in Kentucky.
Ohio’s season will run through Nov. 25. The bag limit is one turkey of either sex per season. Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until sunset. The turkey must be checked in by 11:30 p.m. the day it’s harvested.
A valid Ohio hunting license and a fall turkey permit are required.
For a full list of all you need to know to be legal get a copy of “Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations 2012-2013,” available where licenses are sold.
Kentucky’s fall shotgun season will run through Nov. 2. A second short season is set for Dec. 1-7.
The full limit is four birds of either sex. However, no more than two birds may be taken during the shotgun portion of the season, regardless of weapon used.
No more than two birds may be taken during archery and crossbow seasons. The archery season opened Sept. 1 and will run through Jan. 21. The crossbow season opened Oct. 1 and will run through Oct. 21. It will reopen Nov. 10 and run through Dec. 31.
Can all four birds be taken with archery or crossbow equipment?
Yes, but only two may be taken during the archery-only or crossbow seasons.
The other two must be taken during the shotgun seasons.
NOT LIKE SPRING
Fall turkey hunting, I should think, will lack the thrill of hair-raising encounters with a hot spring gobbler. In the spring, only gobblers are legal game.
Turkeys are more difficult to locate in the fall than they are in the spring. You won’t be calling a gobbler in to decoys as do in the spring.
No matter the season, turkeys have a strong flocking instinct. The experts say the most common fall hunting technique involves scattering or breaking up a flock, then calling in a lone bird trying to get back with the group.
For myself, I think I shall use a pop-up blind and sit and wait patiently to intercept a flock on its daily feeding routine.
IN MATURE FORESTS
In Ohio, Mike Reynolds, the Division of Wildlife’s wild turkey biologist, said white oak acorns and beech nuts, two other favorite foods of the wild turkey, are abundant this fall.
“Hunters should be able to locate flocks of turkeys feeding in mature forests,” he said.
He said in Ohio from 1,200 to 1,500 hunters are expected to go out after fall wild turkey.
The statewide wild turkey flock now numbers more than 200,000, Reynolds said.
Nine counties have been added to the area open for hunting, bringing the total number of open counties statewide to 46, or just over half the counties in the state.
Hunters should be aware, Reynolds added, that the fall turkey season will partially overlap with the early muzzleloader season deer hunt scheduled for Oct. 15-20 on three state-owned areas – Shawnee State Forest, Wildcat Hollow and Salt Fork. Turkey hunting will not be allowed in those areas during those dates.
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (606) 932-3619 or Gsamwriter@aol.com.