The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 15, 2012

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: A turkey, a turkey, my kingdom for a turkey

Real turkey... shown, exposed

For the Star Beacon

— “Oh my god, what kinda turkeys were those today in your article? Sure were ugly.”

“Hey, Dale, how long you been huntin’ turkey my friend?”

“Dear Mr. Sunderlin, I really enjoy reading your articles every Monday in the Star Beacon, but could you please categorize what species of turkey that was in today’s paper? I’ve never seen or hunted any that looked like that.”

“Not sure if you got my first email re: the Star Beacon’s picture of turkey vultures rather than turkeys. If not, I’m sure you will enlighten them.;>)”

“Good morning. Dale, that turkey pic in today’s Beacon sure looks like a buzzard to me. The tip off is the dead fish it’s eating. Best regards. my friend”

“Not the turkey I see in my backyard. Does the fish improve the flavor?”

And by no means the last message I received but one of the best came from my dear friends. Mike and Diane Heiner:

“Based on the photo in today’s Star Beacon story, Diane and I will politely decline any turkey dinners served at your house. We feel bad because we know, Dale, you did not do that. Mike and Diane Hiener.”

Many thanks, friends

Thank you Mike and Diane for that vote of confidence, at least my close friends and many of my readers knew and were sympathetic to the predicament. My pat answer, which I copied and pasted several times last Monday, was as follows:  

“Oh my god, the phone has been ringing off the hook and my cell phone, too! I didn’t submit the picture; it was a file picture from somewhere that the Star Beacon had. When I opened it up this morning at 4:30 I knew something looked wrong. When we got home and I looked at it in the house, I almost fainted. I need to talk with Don McCormack and see who did the picture and then do some sort of disclaimer. Thanks for the note and thanks for understanding. Your Friend in Camo, Dale”

Help, Don, help!

Later that infamous morning when I took a break from coping and pasting, in-between phone calls, I made a quick phone call myself, to my editor, Don McCormack, and plead my plight to him, but the more I talked the more I laughed.

The more I thought about it, the funnier the situation became and again the more I laughed. By the time I hung up the phone, I was ROTFL, as the texter’s say.

Janie thought I was having an out-of-body episode or something. Once I finally regained my composure, I sent Don an email: “Don, can I submit a short story on what a true turkey looks like? My phone won’t stop ringing and my email is dang near full up. Help, my friend! What’s your suggestion, you always have a cool head in matters like this? Your Friend in Camo, Dale.”

Exposed to my peers!

The moment of truth finally came when I went to my Conneaut Fish and Game meeting, which just so happened to be that night at 7:30. By the way, did I mention that Charlie Plats the President of CFG, another longtime good friend, had already called me early on that morning and reminded me what a turkey looked like?

When I walked in, I kept my head low and kinda looked at the ground, but it did no good, several members made rye comments then snickered. As the meeting started, Charlie brought it to order, made a few annotations concerning happenings and lo and behold, brought up the subject of what a real turkey looks like as compared to the ones that were in my article that a.m.

I couldn’t take the humiliation anymore; I stood up, slammed myself against the wall and posed as if being hung on a cross. Go ahead and crucify me, forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do; only kidding about the Lord part! I then humbly explained my quandary. Oh sure Dale, yeah-right bud. Thank god it was all in fun.    

The worst part

Most everyone that ribbed me about the state of affairs said the same thing, “The worst part about the screw up was that the buzzard’s picture was bigger than you! Oh my gosh, did that make you look ridiculous or what? The turkey vultures were standing at the edge of a lake and eating a carp. Eastern turkeys don’t do that sort of stuff or eat dead carp.

“How did this happen and who made the mistake?”

Truth be told  

When I arrived home from my meeting, Janie met me with the news that Don had called. He had fessed up, it was his mistake, he did it, and it was all on him.


I know Don isn’t a hunter and, in fact, by his own admission the only thing he had hunted since he bagged a deer at age 9 and was forced to drink a cup of its blood (an old indian legend, supposedly) was Bigfoot, from the roof top of a house on Johnson Road in Rome Township, when he was 18, more naïve, and believed in Bigfoot.

How it happened  

Don explained to Janie that he pulled a file photo, glimpsed at it, the word “turkey” appeared in the description, so it must be good, right?


He didn’t even realize what had happened until the next day when his inbox began to fill up, also. OK, so what do we do to make it right, asked Janie in a laughing manner?

“Go with it,” Don replied. “I’m man enough to admit I made a mistake. It sure isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. Go with it and have fun with it.”

My call

Ya know what? Don was right! (imagine that!)

That had to be one of the most interesting days I’ve had one a long time. I received emails from total strangers offering their sympathy or asking if I needed my eyes checked.

Nonetheless, Don McCormack stood up to the plate and took the rap for what had happened and for that, my friends and loyal readers, you have to admire him.

Don gave me a chance at doing this column back on Oct. 3 2005. It was a 1,350-word article on the rut, “Hunt the Rut,” to be exact.

We went through a couple of years where I did the hunting season and took off the summer months. That hasn’t happened in a while, five years and one month straight, 264 columns in a row without missing a week.

That’s a whole story in itself, how I came to be the Star’s freelance outdoor writer.

The bottom line is this, Don blew it, he admitted it, and we had fun with it.

He has never steered me wrong even when some lunatic anti sends threatening emails to me. And ya know what? I’ve never even met the man person to person. We do all our communication via emails. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve even talked to him on the phone.

So don’t chastise the Star Beacon or Don for the mistake. In fact, laugh about it and thank him, for if were not for him, I would not be there every Monday morning for you folks.

I may not be the best, but I’m there for ya every Monday, just like clockwork, and thanks to Don McCormack, at least you’ve got that.

Now if I could just get his boss to let me write about conceal-carry goings on, it would be a perfect world.


I sent in a picture of a real Eastern Wild Turkey, compliments of the NWTF for him to put in his file. Also, I sent a picture of a cock or rooster pheasant just in case he decides to put in a picture of what the ODNR is releasing in the public hunting grounds.


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Wildlife will release thousands of pheasants at 28 public hunting areas this fall. More than 15,000 ring-necked pheasants are being released to encourage pheasant hunting within the state of Ohio.

Youth-only hunts will be held Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 27-28 prior to the statewide season, which begins Friday, Nov. 2.

Ring-necked pheasants will be released on Friday, Oct. 19 and Friday, Oct. 26 in anticipation of the small-game weekends for youth hunters. Hunter’s age 17 and younger can hunt statewide for rabbit, pheasant and all other legal game in season during two designated weekends, Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 27-28.

Ohio’s small game hunting season begins on Nov. 2, with pheasant releases to take place on Friday, Nov. 1 and the evening of Friday, Nov. 9. The final release of the fall is scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 21 to increase pheasant hunting opportunities during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Youth and regular pheasant hunting within the Ringneck Ridge Area in Sandusky County requires a free permit from the Sandusky County Park District. For more information regarding the issuance of these free hunting permits, contact the Sandusky County Park District Ranger Office at 419-334-4495 or 419-355-706.

Pheasant hunting season opens Nov. 2 and remains open through Jan. 6, 2013, with a daily bag limit of two rooster (male) birds. Statewide hunting hours are sunrise to sunset.


The Ohio Lake Erie Commission (OLEC) administers Ohio’s Lake Erie Protection Fund, which was established to help finance research and implementation projects aimed at protecting, preserving and restoring Lake Erie and its watershed. The fund is supported by Ohioans who purchase a Lake Erie license plate displaying the Marblehead Lighthouse or the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse designed by Ohio artist Ben Richmond.

On Sept. 19, OLEC awarded the following two Lake Erie Protection Fund grant projects:

The University of Toledo was awarded $15,000 to quantify the benefits of implementing green storm water infrastructure in the Western Lake Erie Basin, specifically at the University of Toledo’s main campus on the Ottawa River. The results of this effort will include a list of proposed storm water retrofit opportunities for the university and a model approach for other institutions to implement similar projects. Common misconceptions about performance and costs of best management practices will be addressed in an effort to encourage implementation.

Russell Township was awarded $15,000 to address flooding and erosion concerns along Griswold Creek. Russell Township will work with Chagrin River Watershed Partners Inc. to survey stream cross-sections in order to assess down cutting and bank erosion. They will utilize a watershed approach that promotes implementation of stable stream channel characteristics and provides sustainable solutions for erosion and flooding issues. This project supports the Chagrin River Watershed Balanced Growth Plan.


Citizens wishing to help fund projects that protect and restore Lake Erie and its watershed can also send a donation directly to OLEC’s office at 111 E. Shoreline Drive, Sandusky, Ohio 44870. All donations and proceeds from the sale of the Lake Erie license plates are utilized for funding grants to benefit Ohio’s Great Lake.

OLEC was created to preserve Lake Erie’s natural resources, enhance its water quality and promote economic development in the region. The director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) serves as the commission’s chairman. Additional members include the directors of the state departments of Transportation, Health, Development, Agriculture and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

For more information on the Lake Erie Protection Fund or to read about past grant projects, visit:

Carp on this

Asian carp environmental DNA (eDNA) has been detected in three of 350 water samples collected from western Lake Erie’s Maumee Bay and Maumee River between July 31 and Aug. 4.

The three samples, all positive for silver carp eDNA, were found in Maumee Bay, two in Michigan waters and one in Ohio waters.

The water samples were collected by the ODNR, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of an extensive sampling effort developed in response to the discovery of Asian carp eDNA in water samples taken from Maumee and Sandusky Bays in summer 2011.

In addition to the three positive eDNA samples recently found in Maumee Bay, the ODNR, MDNR and Service previously announced that of 150 samples collected from Sandusky Bay in late July, 20 tested positive for silver carp eDNA.

The western Lake Erie response plan also included intensive electrofishing and test netting in the Maumee Bay and River and the Sandusky Bay and River in August 2012, during which time no Asian carp were found.

“I cannot overstate the importance of our Great Lakes fishery to the economy and quality of life in Michigan,” said MDNR Fisheries Chief Jim Dexter. “We will continue working with our partner agencies to identify the source of Asian carp eDNA in western Lake Erie so we can effectively protect the Great Lakes from the threat posed by silver and bighead carp if the species were to establish viable populations in the Great Lakes or their tributaries.”

Addressing the Asian carp threat is a priority issue for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s inter-jurisdictional Lake Erie Committee, which includes representation from Pennsylvania, New York, and the province of Ontario in addition to Michigan and Ohio. The Service and other federal agencies are also key players in Asian carp research and investigative work.

“We will keep working to address the uncertainties about the status and source of Asian carp in Lake Erie with our partner agencies through the Lake Erie Committee,” said Rich Carter, ODNR Executive Administrator of Fish Management and Research. “We are aggressively searching for live Asian carp in Lake Erie through different techniques and urge anglers to be vigilant in watching for these species while on the lake as well.”

Researchers say eDNA analysis provides a tool for the early detection of Asian carp at low densities, and these latest positive results heighten concern about the presence of Asian carp in western Lake Erie. However, the analysis cannot provide or confirm information about the number or size of possible fish.

“Our field crews were out on the water numerous times over the last couple of months, using multiple gear types and they found no live Asian carp,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley said. “We are still trying to pull back the curtain on what the source is for these positive eDNA samples.”

At present, eDNA evidence cannot verify whether the DNA may have come from a live or dead fish, or from other sources such as bilge water, storm sewers or fish-eating birds. The Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey are leading a two-year Asian Carp Environmental DNA Calibration Study (ECALS), funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to reduce the uncertainty surrounding Asian carp eDNA results.

Extensive sampling conducted for Asian carp this summer and fall have yielded no live fish, suggesting that if Asian carp are present, then they are in very low abundance.

Asian carp, including bighead and silver carp, pose a significant threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem and economy. Help from the public, especially Great Lakes anglers, will be imperative moving forward. All anglers are strongly encouraged to learn how to identify Asian carp, including both adults and juveniles, as the spread of juvenile Asian carp through the use of live bait buckets has been identified as a possible entry point into the Great Lakes. A video teaching people how to identify bighead and silver carp is available on the Service’s YouTube channel at http://youtube/B49OWrCRs38.

If anglers or constituents have observed or captured an Asian carp, immediately notify ODNR at 1-800-945-3543) or MDNR at 1-800-292-7800. Photograph the fish from nose to tail, and retain the fish on ice for verification.  Online submission forms, identification guides, frequently asked questions and management plans are also available at and To learn more about eDNA sampling and filtering in western Lake Erie, view images of the process at:

Don’t be afraid

It’s simple, but true: If you want to take a big buck, you have to hunt an area that is home to big bucks. While most huntable woods have a big buck or two, the odds aren’t in your favor in areas of heavy hunting pressure.

You can hike deep into the big woods to escape hunter numbers, but you’ll be far from farm fields that pull deer and you’ll have a long drag if you fill your tag -- that’s if you even have access to big woods to hunt.

One alternative is to find an area isolated by some type of water. Most deer hunters aren’t equipped to cross even knee-high streams or swamps, but deer cross water easily and often. A pair of chest waders can give you access to virtually hunter-free areas that likely hold bigger bucks. And remember that you can hide your wader’s streamside so you don’t have to lug them around.

Remember, pass it on or it will surely pass on.

Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. (He isn’t a turkey, but his editor just might be). Reach him at

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