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 downtime, 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. Are the above better than staring out your window for weeks? You decide.
Dick Martin is a retired biology teacher who has been writing outdoor columns for 30 years. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Martin writes a weekly column published in The Logan Daily News. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.