We bask in the summer sun, stroll through the leaves of autumn, dig out of winter snows and take to the fields in spring. Each of these seasons offers its own rewards and hardships, and each has a lesson to teach us.
Spring is a time of rebirth of the land, a land that once appeared dead (but only dormant) waiting patiently for time to pass and the sun to warm the ground and waters. Deer soon appear along forest edges, teaching fawns the skills they’ll need to survive in their brand new world.
Opossums waddle by with their young riding piggyback as they learn to find food while perfecting their catlike preening skills to kill the abundance of ticks that have tried to make their coarse, gray coats their home. Curious juvenile raccoons notice their rambling as they playfully forage in creeks in their delinquent-style search for crayfish.
Bluebirds spar to defend their nests while weaver finches sneak in to raid their homes and kill the young. The beautiful, yet more aggressive, tree swallows will inhabit those same areas, but the weavers have learned those homes are far more difficult to infiltrate.
Eagles and ospreys are on high patrol as they collect food for quickly growing young who are overwhelming their nests, eager to learn to take to their own wings. Woodcocks perform their amusing head-bob dance before taking flight in an aerial ballet, only to plummet back to earth to resume their lonely tango.
Fish return to ancestral spawning areas, with some fighting currents in upstream battles and others constructing and defending pond and lake-built nests while stony river redds are built by steelhead hens. This all happens under the watchful eye of otters, herons, cormorants, eagles and larger fish, each waiting for the inevitable meal.
Wood ducks, pintails, teal and their many waterfowl cousins wing north, emblazoned in their breeding plumage while a myriad of warblers bounce about the tree limbs with orioles assembling their sagging nests higher in the branches.
Morel mushrooms pop up in secretive places while their neighboring mayapples, spring beauties, Dutchman’s breeches and jack-in-the-pulpits bloom nearby, all too quickly losing their grandeur to disappear into the greening backdrop while trees unfold with summer’s shade.
Gobblers thunder in woodlots while great horned owls give their eerily haunting voice to the night, only to trigger a prowling coyote’s howl. Spring is a time of birth and danger, a time of renewal and of survival, a time of a balance being drawn between the land and those who share it, each desperately fulfilling nature’s commitment to survival.
And we spend our time mowing the yard, rolling the yard, trimming the yard, mulching the yard and planting our gardens and fields “¦ it’s a time of hard, necessary work. But, as important as those things are, it’s imperative that we keep in touch with the world around us, in the wild things that surround our daily lives.
It’s in wild things that we can renew our humanity and understanding of the sometimes invisible worlds that we share. These things are what drive me to the turkey hunt and the trout streams: to be a witness to what I’ve grown to love.
May I suggest that you continue with those daily chores, but to never forget to reap the beauty and lessons that this season so fleetingly offers? Summer’s changes are quickly approaching and another spring will soon be gone forever.
“Nature is but another name for health, and the seasons are but different states of health.” — Henry David Thoreau
“Nature gives to every time and season a beauty of its own.” — Charles Dickens
Along the way:
Those planning a fall vacation should notice that the 2018-2019 hunting and trapping seasons have been approved by the Ohio Wildlife Council.
Whitetail deer: Ohio’s only big-game animal, the whitetail deer, draws a great deal of hunting interest each year. Here is a quick overview of deer hunting seasons for 2018-2019:
Deer-archery: Sept. 29 to Feb. 3, 2019
Youth deer-gun: Nov. 17 to 18.
Deer-gun: Nov. 26 to Dec. 2; Dec. 15 to 16.
Deer-muzzleloader: Jan. 5 to 8, 2019
A reduction in the bag limit, from three deer per county to two deer per county, was approved for Jefferson County. This change is designed to encourage herd growth in that area. All other county bag limits remain the same. The statewide bag limit remains at six deer. Only one deer may be antlered, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit.
Another change will allow only antlered deer to be taken on public hunting areas following the weeklong deer-gun season (beginning Dec. 3). Additionally, no more than one antlerless deer may be taken from public hunting areas per license year, except from a Division of Wildlife authorized control hunt.
Waterfowl hunting: The hen mallard bag limit increased to two per day. The pintail and black duck bag limits also increased to two per day. The waterfowl bag limit for ducks and geese is consistent statewide and does not change by zone.
Wild turkey hunting: Harvest records and research indicate wild turkey populations have increased in areas that may now be included in the fall season. Fall turkey hunting expanded to three additional counties: Erie, Hancock and Lucas, a season that’s now open in 70 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Fall turkey hunting is Oct. 13 to Nov. 25.
Bobcat: The trapping season proposal was tabled to allow time for additional research, preparation and social groundwork to be completed.
The Ohio Wildlife Council is an eight-member board that approves all of the Division of Wildlife proposed rules and regulations. The council votes on the proposed rules and season dates after considering public input.
Pennsylvanians who harvest deer anywhere in New York, Ohio, Maryland or West Virginia may no longer take them home without first removing the carcass parts with the highest risk of transmitting chronic wasting disease (CWD).
Hunters are allowed to import meat from any deer and other cervids so long as the backbone is not present. They may also return with cleaned skull plates with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; tanned hide or raw hide with no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; capes, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft tissue is present; and finished taxidermy mounts.
• Tomorrow: Ladies day, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day, Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186. Get a safe introduction to firearms or hone the skills you have. Shotguns, rifles and handguns will be covered. For information, call Jackie Schnapp at 419-957-0459 or Sherri Ziessler at 419-788-4849.
• Tomorrow: International Defensive Pistol Association shoot, 9 a.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• Thursday and Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.