Allen County Sportsman and Farmers Association Turkey shoot set

By Al Smith - Guest Columnist

The Allen County Sportsmen and Farmers Association will hold a turkey shoot on Sunday at the club’s 1001 South Kemp Road location. Breakfast begins at 10:30 a.m. with the first shoot going off at noon. Turkeys, pork loins and chickens will be given as prizes.

Meredith Gilbert from the Wildlife District Two headquarters in Findlay will present a seminar on bobcats during the club’s monthly meeting on Thursday. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. The public is invited.

For further information on the turkey shoot or club meeting, please contact Bill Stratton at 419-236-9082.

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It may seem early to be thinking of open water fishing, but Limaland pro basser Kyle Weisenburger will be among 374 pros and co-anglers kicking off the 23rd season of the FLW Tour next week.

The tour opens on Florida’ Lake Okeechobee with pros fishing for a top award of possibly $12,000 with $10,000 through 60th place. The tourney begins Thursday (Jan. 25) and runs through Sunday (Jan. 28). This will be the 21st time the FLW Tour has visited Lake Okeechobee.

“Lake Okeechobee is fishing quite a bit differently than the last six or seven times that the FLW Tour has been here,” said local FLW Tour pro Scott Martin of Clewiston, a 17-time Forrest Wood Cup qualifier with more than $2.7 million in career earnings in FLW competition. “The water levels are much higher this year, and we lost a good amount of our vegetation in some of the more traditional places due to the hurricane last fall. The wind and water clarity are going to play a big role in this tournament and a lot of guys that have been coming here for years are going to have to approach this tournament quite a bit different than they normally would.

“The good news is that the fish didn’t leave, and they still have to eat,” Martin continued. “Some of the traditional areas will still be good, but there will definitely be a few new wildcard areas. Somebody is going to figure out a way to catch them in the stained water.”

Weisenburger, of Ottawa, put in a little practice time on the lake around the New Year’s holiday. He and his dad caught a couple of nice bass while practicing.

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On days the wind chill and temperatures dipped below zero, it make you wonder how these smallish creatures can survive such a hard environment.

During the recent frigid cold snaps, it was fun checking out the birds chowing down on seeds my wife puts in the few feeders she had around out front yard.

While we are warm and toasting inside, it really is a wonder how our feathered friends tolerate winter weather. These creatures adapt to weather conditions the way other animals and humans do.

Charles Eldermire, the bird cams project leader at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, says there is a basic formula birds rely on. Birds simply equate feathers plus equals warmth.

There is a reason birds seem to hang around in hordes at feeders. They are flocked for a reason during winter - it adds more eyes and numbers to seek food, thus making it easier to forage for food. Less energy exerted searching for food is a definite plus.

To survive such conditions, birds want heavy and fatty food so they can gorge. But they do need to limit the food intake because if they eat too much, it will slow them. Suet and blackoil sunflower seeds are great food for birds this time of year.

If birds slow down, they must be ware of certain prey. Cats love these feathered creatures, who quickly could become a feline’s meal. Strategically placed feeders are a plus. Ours are located close to a large lilac bush, crab apple tree, Asian pair tree and close enough to the house where birds can fly safely to the roof.

Birds have some natural ways of avoiding the cold, too. Down feathers keep body heat in. Who hasn’t owned a down vest or down coat that has kept them warm? Birds puff themselves up so their fluffy down feathers give them insulation that keeps body heat in and cold out.

Birds are like humans in some respects. They don’t like blustery winter winds either. They will go to the other side of the wind. Notice that when they sits in shrubs or trees. They are not facing the wind. Birds also will find a cavity if they get to get out of the wind.

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One bird species that does well surviving winter weather in the Midwest is the bald eagle.

This time of year is important for eagles since they are scouting for nesting locations. You might see eagles carrying sticks or branches while building a new nest of upgrading the nest they used in prior years. This is the best time of year to spot these raptors since barren trees make it easier to see them.

Eagles are found near water. The best area to find them is along Lake Erie and on a good day during the winter, you can spot them in double digit numbers and sometimes as many as two dozen or more. Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and Ottawa Nation Wildlife Refuge, located nest to each other along Ohio 2 between Oak Harbor and Port Clinton are home to several bald eagles.

But if you live along a river (like the Maumee or Auglaize) or near a lake you likely will see them, especially if they have nest there is the past. There are a couple of nest near my home. I prefer going to Independence Dam State Park since you often see the eagles flying along the Maumee looking for food. They like a dam area. Last week, my wife and I saw two eagles sitting in different trees likely spying a meal. If you watch them long enough, you might see them swoop down and catch a fish, a rodent, a rabbit or anything that would make a meal. They are like an opossum with wings - they will eat about anything that moves.

As soon as late January, bald eagles start to scout for nesting locations throughout Ohio. It is no longer unheard of to see bald eagles soaring over parts of Ohio, looking for last year’s nest or seeking out a sturdy tree in which to build a new nest. If you are lucky enough to spot a bald eagle carrying sticks or branches, this behavior is a great indication that the eagle is building a nest.

During February and March eagles begin to lay and incubate their eggs.

By Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL.

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL.

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