Column: Bits and pieces from the outdoors

Column by Larry LaGrange

The 75-acre Parklands is a fine addition to our city of Jasper. It will be interesting to see how the area develops over time. Park and Rec Director Ken Buck and his staff worked incredibly hard on this project, and it shows. Five years or so of meetings and designs and ideas culminated into an outdoor playground that will benefit us now and for generations to come.

Buck said he recently visited a similar “managed meadow” area up north that was four years old. The wildflowers were something to see, he observed. As a fisherman though, I was naturally curious about the potential of the ponds that dot the landscape there.

P and R assistant Rob Gutgsell relates that 850 bluegill and 450 redear, both one-two inches, were stocked by the DNR this fall into Otis Pond, the one at the Pavilion. In the spring, bigger catfish and bass will go in so that the little guys have time to develop before they become a meal for larger fish.

This is the only pond that will receive stocking at this time. Buck suggests that bank anglers be careful fishing around Otis because of the netting promoting grass growth. Although the connecting lower and upper ponds look fishy, Buck says there’s not much there at this time. As with the larger park, the angling will develop over time. Well done, Park and Rec.

Here’s what else is going on in the world of outdoor activities in our area.

The Jasper Rifle and Gun club sponsored a youth trap shooting event on Sundays from late September to late October. The basics of gun handling and shooting safety were taught. Then the participants tried their hands at hitting those elusive clay targets. The NRA and the Gun Club supported the project so that the cost to the kids was minimal.

Jasper High School has begun an archery program through NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program). According to club sponsor Ross Polen, the Matthews Genesis standard bow that’s used has little draw weight, “putting the empahsis on accuracy and fairness,” Polen says. “The target distance is only about 15 feet away and the overall target (is) large so that students can successfully hit it. The distance increases when students are ready.”

Participants will use the auxiliary gym’s rubber floor on Mondays from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Instructors will teach preparation of equipment and techniques of archery to begin the sessions, and later they’ll cover the actual shooting. School Resource Officer Jason Knies assists Polen with the program. Kids can just shoot for fun, and the more dedicated ones can compete with other kids and schools by being part of an actual JHS team participating in tournaments.

The next archery practice sessions will be held on December 3, 10, and 17. The shoots end on March 4. Information is available at,, or

Property Manager Rob Sullender at Glendale Fish and Wildlife Area reports that so far this year whistle counters for quail have heard a few more calls than last year. In 2017 an overall total of 33 birds and 275 rabbits were taken.

“As we do field work this fall,” he said, “we frequently see coveys of quail, but we don’t do surveys for the rabbit population. Rabbits were rarely seen along the roadsides or trails and few were jumped while field work was done. We don’t know if that’s due to predation or the heavy rain that went through the area in June.”

And finally, according to LOL Hunting and Fishing, Wacky Wildlife Jokes, Quotes, and Anecdotes, a Russian fisherman caught a 28-inch pike and was so happy he kissed it on the mouth. I’ve seen fishermen on TV do this a few times and wasn’t sure if it was an actual contact kiss or an air job. In this case, the still lively pike clamped down on the guy’s nose and didn’t let go. Fellow fishermen tried to help to no avail. Decapitation of the fish didn’t help. It took a combo of doctors and nurses to finally free the poor soul from the pike’s hold. The resulting trophy was only a mangled nose in the middle of his face.

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