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Things to do this winter to keep an outdoorsman spirit

By DICK MARTIN • Mar 16, 2019 at 10:09 PM

It’s shaping up to be a longer than usual winter, with plenty of snow, sleet, ice, chill winds, rain, and too much time spent staring out a window and wishing you had something to do besides read or watch TV. Luckily, there are lots of things that will profitably use your down time, and get you ready for the spring that always comes eventually. Like learning to tie flies. Fly fishermen won’t always talk about their sport, but some will admit that fly fishing is absolutely lethal for catching fish.

The various game species from bass to bluegills and trout, spend most of their lives eating insects, both aquatic and those that blow into a pond, lake or stream like grasshoppers and ants. You can buy a simple kit at places from Cabela’s to L.L. Bean and more, or find one on the web, and spend some challenging hours learning to tie something that will fool the fish. There are plenty of books on fly tying available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and you might find one or two at your local library. Then purchase a fly rod and reel, and learn a new sport!

Hunting for antler sheds will get you outside on those rare warmer days, and the bucks have all dropped their antlers now, leaving them wherever they happen to fall. Seek them out in any likely deer territory, and don’t look for antlers as much as a gray or bleached tine sticking out of the leaves or showing only partially rather than a visible whole. The sheds can be made into all sorts of useful things from fireplace tools to door knobs, and knife handles to buttons.

It doesn’t take much to make those things, either. You’ll need a hacksaw or band saw, a drill to make holes, a disc or belt sander, maybe a rotary grinder, and some skill and imagination. Google up “books on deer shed projects” or buy from Amazon such as Antlers, Bone, Horn and Hide by Monte Burch. You’ll find what you need to know.

Then there’s flint knapping, another challenging sport that can bring in extra income once you learn the skills. Native Americans all over Ohio would make pilgrimages to places like Flint Ridge around Muskingum and Licking counties, and bring home as much as they could carry to make awls, spear points, axes, arrow heads, knives and such for their daily use. Flint is wonderful stuff, nearly as hard as diamond, brightly colored, and easy to work. Flint knives can be as sharp as razors (literally), and have the advantage of easy re-sharpening when they dull by chipping a new edge.

It can be purchased from dealers at various Knap-ins (see Google), at flea markets and antique shows, and do remember the smaller sizes are best. You’ll need fairly heavy copper cylinders several inches long to break off flakes, and other tools with a screwdriver end or a sharp point for fine flaking. Check your local library for books on the hobby. Get on the web and type in flint knapping, or arrowhead making or whatever, too, and ask advice from any experts you meet at shows or knap-ins. 


Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at [email protected] You also can visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.



• Boating season is just around the corner, and young boaters should know that a boating course is required for anyone operating a boat over 10 horsepower who was born after Jan. 1, 1982. The ODNR will offer such a free course at East Harbor State Park during the week of March 17 through 23. For details and to reserve your place, call 419-621-1402.

• Are you an amateur (or professional) naturalist who loves to study Ohio's strange little plants and places to find them? If so, you should be interested in the 2019 Ohio Botanical Symposium. This years event will be held on March 29 at the Villa Milano Banquet and Conference Center in Columbus. Topics discussed will range from Best Plant Discoveries of 2019 to Bogs and Fens of Ohio. For details and to register, Google 2019 Ohio Botanical Symposium A deer management workshop is being offered to landowners and wildlife enthusiasts that want to manage land and deer successfully. The workshop is hosted by the Division of Wildlife and will take place on March 23 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Miami Valley Career Center, adult Education Building at 6801 Hoke Road, Clayton. To register, call 937-347-0926.

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