Tuesday, August 4, 2015

So Fetch!

Part of a GSP's repertoire has to be retrieving - and retrieving from water. And it is hardwired into them. In a thoughtless, bone-headed dog owner move, I casually threw a stick into a flooded river when Jurgen was a pup. He went after it full force, which wasn't my intent, but the current and water depth was more than he bargained for.

Since that time, he hadn't swam. He did get back in the water, but as for getting his beyond wading, he wasn't having any of it. And that's kind of big deal for a dog that's supposed to retrieve ducks like it's second nature. I didn't want him to get laughed at by people and Labradors. Something had to be done.

As luck would have it, we were going out of town and didn't have anybody to watch him overnight. So I called the breeder, Tate Stratton and he said that he had room and could keep him. When we got there, I sort of mentioned that he didn't like to swim. He said "I think we can get him swimming." And the result was Jurgen completed his first live-bird retrieve and water retrieve in the same day.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hunting Dog Breeds

21 greatest gun dog list from field and stream
Hunting without a dog sucks. In my opinion, any way. Dogs bring enthusiasm and vibe to the event that never lets up. That's why, as much as I enjoyed the challenge of bowhunting, I don't go because I can't involve a dog. On my very first hunt ever at 12 years old I watched amazed as a German shorthair - from another hunting party - swept the field before us. My father was a bowhunter and for us in the uplands as a kid, we took turns being the "dog." It was pretty evident when they left the field that the real deal had not left much to be found by us.

At that time, a real hunting dog seemed out of reach. I had Siberian Husky that was hell on groundhogs, but the February she put up 7 pheasants on a random walk woke me up. I took a dog every time I could, regardless of breed. A terrier mix. What our Southern Ohio neighbors called squirrel dogs but looked like no recognizable breed. No matter what breed if any, they have better noses and perspectives that humans will never understand.

When I found out that my roommate in college had Brittany Spaniels, owning a legitimate bird dog seemed more real. Then my friend moved to Missouri and got his first GSP, Fowl Weather Abby and it seemed possible. And actually happened with Sundance West Eva Diva, and now JΓΌrgen vom Stillwater I have had well-bred GSP for sometime now, but I'm glad that this list from Field and Stream includes what some would call non-traditional hunting breeds. 

Any dog makes almost any hunt better in my opinion.

Grass Connectors and Roadways

We need more native grasses in Ohio. It's that simple.

Virtually everything that lives here depends on and needs those plants at some point during the year. During my commute, one of the very obvious things I've noticed is what appears to me be unnecessary mowing - a big why? Why do we mow so much land along our roadways? If nothing else, go ahead and mow from the road to the ditch, but from the ditch to the fence establish warm-season grasses. Nobody walks or plays ball there, or will they ever. And all kinds of wildlife would benefit from the better habitat.

I couldn't come up with a valid objection in my head, so I looked for more informed opinions. I wrote a letter to the ODNR asking if they had a program working with ODOT to somehow minimize mowing and allow for warm-season grasses to grow. I received a very cordial return phone call from John Kaiser at the ODNR Division 5 office. He let me in on some of his current roadside grass project, which were very close to what I had been thinking. And he let me know what I could do personally: write a letter to ODOT. Letters can be persuasive and get attention. So that's what I'm doing and encouraging others to do.

Here is my letter to ODOT.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- -

Shawn Anverse
Ohio Department of Transportation
Transportation Administrator
1630 W. First Street
Springfield, OH 45504

Dear Mr. Anverse,

I would like to propose that we find a solution other than attempting to mow everything on the roadsides and make space for native grasses and forbs. Native plants benefit all kinds of wildlife in addition to reducing costs in the long run. I know that Indiana and Minnesota have plans involving roadsides and grasses. I'd like to think that Ohio is leading the way on this area but it doesn't seem to be the case.

I'm aware that there is a pilot program in Darke county, but believe that we should move swiftly to enact some sort of program statewide. I propose that we begin by continuing to mow from the road to the ditch but return the area from the ditch to the fence to native plants.

This would create vast natural corridors for wildlife and plants and enable the mowing to attend to mowed sections more often and improve their appearance.

I am willing to help, discuss, communicate, whatever it takes to make this happen. Please let me know how I can be of assistance.


Devin B. Meister

Thursday, May 28, 2015

There, I Fixed It - In 3D

If you want an example of how tech and manufacturing are changing before our eyes, you don't have to look very far. 

Recently my daughter wanted a holder for her kayak paddle to keep it from rolling around the top. It's nice to have if you're fishing or want to take your hands off of the paddle to take a picture .
She happens to be a mechanical engineering student, so naturally she was going to make something.

When I was her age I would have probably made something out of a crushed beer can and duct tape. You can scratch the probably because I likely did that for the boat I had when I was in school. And never mind the age, that's probably the solution I'd arrive at today.

Nope. Not her, not now. They have access to 3D printers at school. 3D printing, if you're not familiar is the process that's very similar to regular ink printing on paper. Instead of ink the machine drops a plastic resin that solidifies into hard plastic. Instead of one pass over a sheet of paper, the 3D printer can make multiple passes to build up the piece into the final design. 
She designed a snap-on piece that swivels to accommodate the angle of the paddle no matter where it's placed on the cockpit of the boat. It's two pieces but made in one printing. Nice. Certainly better than a beer can. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lighting the Way to Summer

Lightening bugs have always been fascinating. Seeing the first one is the definitive harbinger of summer. When they disappear too soon in late summer it's always a wistful feeling knowing that summer is drawing to a close, no matter how much I enjoy fall. 

I saw the first firefly of this year, 2015, on May 23, from the patio at Station One while listening to the Nate McDonough band. I'm making a more concerted effort to record data on events outdoors. It's a hard habit for me to start I'll admit. But here is another start. 

While this flashing bug was flying solo, others are capable of a rhythmic group performance, like this one from Thailand.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What's Biting Here?

There has to be a better way. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is discontinuing their weekly district fishing forecast. This will force many anglers to adopt new ways of getting information about local lakes. But frankly, I'm not sure a lot of thought or research went into some of those reports. "Channel cats are being caught off the bottom on cut-baits and chicken livers" appeared for a number of lakes from June to September. Probably accurate, but not that helpful.

With hands forced, I'm certain with smart phones and technology the outdoor community could crowdsource a better and more reliable fishing forecast machine that would benefit anglers and the ODNR.  Scan a QR code and get a map of the lake and updates from people that actually fished the lake. Over time if you could sort the results by time, date, species and lure that would provide great information for anglers arriving at the body of water and for the ODNR.

It might look something like this: Fish Fox Lake.

I recently learned that Minnesota has an app to enable anglers to participate in a creel surveys every time out. That's great and will save them money. It could also provide additional data. Or not. What's missing is an immediate benefit for the angler to know more about the body of water they are fishing right now. That would be powerful. 

Fish Fox Lake

This an example of the type of information that could be collected in a table to share with the ODNR and anglers for a win, win, win.

I'd want to collect species, size, time temperature, and approximate depth.

That wouldn't reveal too many secrets but would provide and excellent foundation to start.

Crowd-sourced Fishing Log

Type of Water: 
Fox Lake was constructed in 1968 by the Margaret’s Creek Watershed Conservancy District. Maximum depth: 21 feet.


  • Largemouth bass
  • Channel catfish (stocked in alternate years)
  • Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Gizzard shad is the main forage species.

  • Angler Reports:

  • Largemouth bass; caught a 20 in on a purple worm near stumps 5/18/89
  • Gizzard shad is the main forage species: I've never seen a shad here.
  • Ameis:

  • Channel catfish: saw a guy take 6 on 5/11/2015

  • Add a report:

    View Lake Map: Fox Lake

    Methods of Fishing & Best Fishing Sites
    • The best largemouth bass fishing can be found in the spring and fall. As springtime water temperatures warm up, bass will move into shallow water areas to feed and to prepare for spawning. Fish near shallow structure such as tree stumps, fallen trees, or weed bed edges. Spinnerbaits, rubber worms, crankbaits, and jig-n-pig combinations work well. Warm summer water temperatures will usually push fish into deeper depths. Fishing during the early morning hours or in the evening will provide better results. Cooler fall temperatures will trigger bass to move back in the shallow water areas. Fishing success may pick up as bass prepare for winter.
    • Bluegill can be caught throughout the lake from early spring until fall. Popular methods include wax worms or redworms fished below a bobber. Look for spawning beds in shallow water during the spring and throughout the summer. Many bluegill can be found concentrated in these areas.
    • Channel catfish angling picks up by mid-June. Night crawlers, chicken livers, or prepared catfish baits work well when fished on the bottom. Night fishing for catfish is a popular method for catfish anglers.

    Fish Survey Report
     Largemouth Bass GoodPoor21.1

    Visit ODNR official page for Fox Lake.

    Tuesday, May 12, 2015

    Habitat Help

    Cool season grasses suck for upland habitat. If where you live and hunt is covered in fescue and other grasses like in the picture to the left, you know what I mean. But managing food plots can get expensive in real $$, never mind the time

    But potential good news – just saw this on the OutdoorLife website. If you have land and are looking for seed for wildlife purposes, this could be the ticket, thanks to the National Wild Turkey Federation's Conservation Seed Program. According to the article, it's typically grains like corn, milo and wheat. But any hunter in the uplands know that those can be valuable to wildlife in a number of ways, from nesting cover to winter food. The best part - it's free.

    You can read the article in its entirety here: http://www.outdoorlife.com/articles/hunting/2015/04/land-management-how-find-free-food-plot-seed 

    Monday, April 13, 2015

    Six Myth's and Misperceptions About Ohio Bobwhite Quail

    If you remember Bobwhite Quail in any sort of abundance in Ohio you are telling you age. They are primarily restricted to the SW part of the state at this time, but there are efforts under way to help restore this native species. And deservedly so. Like most upland birds, they're primary need – and what has been eliminated – is habitat.

    This document from the Ohio State Extension office, "Managing for Bobwhite Quail in Ohio's Agricultural Landscape" offers great advice.

    "It is important to think of bobwhite habitat from a bobwhite’s eye view. Bobwhites live on the ground, so relatively open ground cover with dense overhead protective cover is ideal for these birds."

    What can you do? First is delay mowing and haying until later in June if possible. 

    Second, consult back to this document which offers a great list of Bobwhite friendly plants and suggestions for habitat mix. 

    Third, learn the truth about common misperceptions about Bobwhite Quail in Ohio and ensure that they are not perpetuated.

    Two of the most common are:

    1. Misconception: Turkeys prevent bobwhite populations from recovering. False.

    2. Misconception: Predation by coyotes prevents bobwhite populations from recovering. False.

    Fourth, join Quail Forever or Pheasants Forever and help protect and restore habitat for our upland birds.

    Friday, February 6, 2015

    Can a Fish Save an Ecosystem?

    All ecosystems have a linchpin or series of linchpins around which various life forms depend. In the far north that linchpin is the salmon. “Wild Salmon Center President Guido Rahr states it better and more eloquently than I ever could in the TEDx Talk below (thanks to Field & Stream for the find). I won't tread that ground again.
      But what about other ecosystems? What are their linchpins that hold the environment together and that others depend? Can we identify them and what are we doing to preserve them?

    The American Bison used serve a similar purpose as the salmon through the interior of North America. Their regular migrations across plains had a dramatic affect on the ecosystems and balance.
    Bison range map
    North American Bison range map by year. Source:

    Now, perhaps in place of the bison, whitetail deer that used to be found more often in woodland landscapes have moved west. They might occupy an open niche, but they don't have the same impact as the massive herds of buffalo that once roamed the plains. Animals and organisms that relied on the impact of the bison – prairie chickens, prairie dogs just to name a few – are lost.

    Similarly, the Passenger Pigeon used to migrate throughout the east and midwest in numbers that by an estimate where huge. Undoubtedly they played a similar role in that ecosystem at that time. What we lost at that time is difficult to say.
    Passenger Pigeon breeding and distribution map
    Passenger Pigeon former distribution in orange,
    breeding grounds in red. Source:
    Years ago, Jimmy Buffet wrote an article (that I can't find a link to) but it was a long the lines of "everything wants to eat a quail - including me." We know quail are natural prey for many predators and in trouble across most of their native range. As are ruffed grouse in many areas. Monarch butterflies the same. These are just the obvious examples.

    We need to look and understand the critical issues and populations, and identify strongholds now so that we can move forward intelligently.