Most of those trips will be good to great ones, and you'll come home tired, happy, and with good memories or meat for the freezer. But for some, such trips can bloom into a major disaster and one of the worst is getting lost in strange, wild country. It can happen even here in Ohio.
Have I ever been lost? Yep, a time or two. Once when I was 14 I went squirrel hunting in a huge wooded tract in Adams County. I was hunting with my uncle, separated as usual and wandered for hours over hills and valleys, bagging three squirrels and seeing one copperhead. When evening came and it was time to head back for the old tobacco barn where we'd parked our car, I realized I had no idea where that barn was.
I still remember today the growing panic as I hurried here and there, moving faster and faster almost into a run and looking desperately for a familiar sign. I was in no danger, unless I'd fallen and broken a leg, but I was very happy to see the old timer who pointed me in the right direction and saved me a long night in the woods or many hours of searching for a road and some habitation. Since then and even in Ohio I've learned to carry a compass, check it at hunt or hikes beginning and when it 's time to quit, pull it out and check again. If I leave a road that points east and west, and my parked vehicle to head south all I need do is turn north and I'll eventually reach that road. Simple.
In wilder country the first thing any hunter, hiker, or wild country fishing jaunt should do is to tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back, hopefully a park ranger or other official. That's only common sense. And you should do as I've always done on hunts or back country explorations, carry a little emergency bag that will fit in a pocket or two and be ready to go when you leave in the morning. That packet should contain a cluster of large kitchen matches broken off to fit in a small watertight film container or similar packet, and a fist full or two of gorp, which is a mix of chocolate bits, raisins, nuts and dried fruit.
You should have a good sized knife too, some wire for snares, fish hooks , a few yards of monofilament line, and maybe a miniature first aid kit. These days you might also haul along some sophisticated electronic gear, something that doesn't depend on cell towers, but satellites instead. Great for sending maydays if you get in trouble
If worst comes to worst and you still get lost, remember a few things. One, you MUST stay right where you are. That's really tough when you're scared and ready to panic, but people have been lost and their bodies found up to 30 miles from where they should have been, dead of hypothermia, accident, or starvation. If you've foolishly gotten lost and told no one where you are going, at least find a stream and follow it downward. Hopefully, it'll lead to a larger river and eventually human habitation. It's all common sense, but you'd best have some. The alternative is dangerous, even deadly.
Dick Martin, a free-lance writer from Shelby, is a retired biology teacher who has been writing outdoor columns for more than 30 years. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.
HOOKS & BULLETS
• Readers who like Lake Erie walleye fishing will find this summer is the time to do it. According to the Division of Wildlife, excellent walleye fishing is expected at Lake Erie now through October. The 2019 season is anticipated to produce walleye fishing results that could surpass last year's record level of success. In 2018, walleye were harvested at the highest rates recorded in nearly 40 years. There will be lots of them out there.
• Does Ohio still have wild country? Yes, it does, and some of the wildest is in 8,646 acres of tall forest in southern Ohio near the Ohio River. Now Shawnee State Forest will be increased in size by more than 1,200 acres adjacent to the current land. "This is a great development," Governor Mike DeWine said. "Through the Forest Legacy Program, we will expand Shawnee State Forest and protect and conserve important forest land in Ohio."
• Campers and deer hunters might be interested in a new product, Pull Start Fire, that the company claims will ignite wet wood and burn for 30 minutes in rain snow, and high winds. The company also said it is totally food safe, made from organic chemical-free materials, and weighs only 4 ounces. It's sold as a three pack for $17.95 at www.pullstartfire.com.
• Women seem more interested than ever in the outdoors, and the ODNR is promoting that interest with their 6th Annual Ohio Women's Outdoor Adventures Weekend on Sept. 13 through 15. This event blends boating, fishing and outdoor skills with numerous nature and conservation activities, and will be held at Mohican State Park. Up to 120 participants will have an opportunity to improve their skills with a complete listing of sessions and registration details viewed at http://watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/owoa. The event is open to all women aged 16 and older. Cost is $320 per person and includes lodging, five meals, transportation between venues and evening activities.
• The Sportsmen's Alliance, an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of hunters, fishermen and trappers will hold its Alliance 23 Annual Rally on Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Villa Milano Banquet and Conference Center, 1630 Schrock Road, Columbus. Doors open and games begin at 4 p.m. The Rally will feature something for everyone, including a large silent auction, games and raffles with top-quality guns and outdoor gear. It will also have a wide variety of hunting adventures and fishing outings in the live auction. Rally tickets are just $50 and include a gourmet dinner plus two drink tickets. For details or to order tickets, call 614-888-4868.
• Thirteen marinas achieved base, gold or platinum certification status as Ohio Clean Marinas within the past year, achieving a balance between environmental sustainability and economic stability for the marina industry in Ohio. Among those marinas are Bay Point Marina, Marblehead, Holiday Harbor Marina in Huron, the Huron Yacht Club and Son Rise Marina in Sandusky.
• Families looking for outdoor fun over the Independence Day weekend are invited to come out for a Family Fun Day on Friday, July 5 at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. Activities will include a bird banding demonstration, fishing and archery at the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center located at 13229 West Ohio 2, Oak Harbor. Volunteers from the Green Creek Wildlife Society will be banding nestlings from the purple martin colony at 11 a.m. Archery and fishing will be available from noon to 3 p.m. Archery will be supervised by Division of Wildlife staff and all necessary equipment will be provided. Fishing will take place in the pond around the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center. Loaner poles and bait will be provided; however, anglers are welcome to bring their own fishing equipment. For more information about these activities, call 419-424-5000.
• Anyone interested in learning about hunting or who would like to know more about public hunting opportunities in northwest Ohio is encouraged to attend a free informational program on Monday, July 15. The program will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Sandusky County Sportsmen’s Club located at 3950 State Route 600, Gibsonburg. The free program iwill cover hunting the most popular game species in northwest Ohio such as squirrel, waterfowl and white-tail deer. Experienced Division of Wildlife staff will share information on how to get started hunting, where to hunt in northwest Ohio and how to apply for controlled hunt opportunities. Attendees are encouraged to bring a notepad and pencil to take notes. The program will be held indoors in the clubhouse. Please be aware that the 4H Shooting Sports program will be using the ranges on the club grounds. If you have a child interested in joining this program, shooting sports advisor, MaryAnn Miller will be available to answer questions.
The Division of Wildlife partners with conservation clubs around the state to promote shooting, hunting, fishing, and conservation in Ohio. To find a club near you, visit wildohio.gov and search conservation clubs. Questions regarding this program can be directed to 419-424-5000.