On snowbound days like these past two, days when the fireplace seems too inviting to stray from, I like to conjure up and write about – even if needs be from the light of a Cole oil lamp – memories of better days. This day from my bank of such memories, involving an Ohio River trotline, started out pleasantly enough:
I sat in the rear of the old wooden johnboat and used an oar to hold it steady in the light current. In the bow, Delbert Fultz moved us along the trotline and baited each hook with four-inch chubs we had trapped from the river.
Twilight was gathering itself into the valley as we noticed dimples dancing on the surface all around us.
“Hello scissors, look how the minnows are working,” Delbert said.
Then we felt the fat raindrops splattering on our heads and arms and knew it wasn’t minnows. He dropped the line back to the bottom, moved to the middle seat, and rowed for shore, 40 yards away. Before we covered the distance the heavens opened and rain came down with a fury.
Rainwater was sloshing in the bottom of the boat as we leaped out and pulled the boat up. The bank was mostly clay and we boys had cut “steps” in it for the path leading from the village down to the landing. Water was pouring down over those steps like miniature waterfalls.
We were about halfway up, Delbert in the lead, when he went down. He shot by me on his back, arms and legs extended. I tried to grab him and down I went. Delbert crashed into the boat and I crashed into him.
“Hello scissors,” he repeated, fighting to regain his feet.
Up the bank we started again, and down we went again. Again we wound up
on our backs back at the boat. We finally made it into the village by going downstream, slashing through a grove of willows, and plowing through a narrow field of corn.
Events like that night of the summer rainstorm become cherished memories that stick in our minds through the years. I was 11 or 12 at the time. Delbert, long gone now, was the leader of my Boy Scout troop. He taught us outdoor skills and love of God and country, and took time to teach me how to set an Ohio River trotline.
We boys made money for school clothes by dressing the catfish we caught from the trotline, rowing across to the Court Street Landing in Portsmouth, and selling them on Market Street.
HUNTERS DO THE JOB
The management of the whitetail deer herds in Ohio and Kentucky by controlled numbers and seasons has done its job again, according to figures released by wildlife management officials for the 2015-16 seasons.
Through Jan. 20, Ohio’s total harvest statewide showed 182,861 animals harvested – with 75,314 of those being antlered deer.
All seasons are closed now, except archery, which runs through Feb. 7.
The harvest for local counties showed 4,067 taken in Adams, 3,316 in Ross, 3,120 in Jackson, 2,955 in Scioto, 2,327 in Pike and 2,083 in Lawrence.
Through Dec. 23, Kentucky’s total statewide kill has exceeded 150,000 whitetails – for the first time ever.
The previous state record harvest of 144,409 was set during the 2013-14 seasons.
The tally will continue to rise because the figures do not include those for the Free Youth Weekend Dec. 26-27, the totals for all of crossbow season, which ran through Dec. 31, and the finally tally for archery season, which ran through Jan. 18.
The modern gun season in November drives the annual harvest total. During that 16-day season, hunters telechecked 44,314 deer on opening weekend and 105,440 overall during the firearm season.
Roughly 300,000 people hunt deer each year in Kentucky and biologists estimated the state’s deer herd at 1 million before the archery season opened in early September.
“The fact that it’s our highest harvest on record is great news,” said Gabe Jenkins, deer program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The herd is healthy and reproducing. We had a couple of bad winters but we had a good mast crop that got us through. It’s all come together.”
FOR THOSE WHO FAIL
“All honor to him who shall win the prize,”
The world has cried for a thousand years;
But to him who tries, and who fails and dies;
I give great honor and glory and tears.
For great is the man with a sword undrawn,
And good is the man who refrains from wine;
But the man who fails and yet still fights on,
Lo, he is the twin-born brother of mine.
—- Joaquin Miller (1841-1913)
Reach G. SAM PIATT at (606) 932-3619 or [email protected]