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Salamander hunt!

Every year there are a handful of days in Ohio this time of year where it seems the last of winter has faded. Balmy temperatures warm your bones and the welcomed sunshine pushes the last of the winter doldrums away. There are a just a few of those days in Ohio this time of year where it is simply a pleasure to be outside just for the sake of being outside.

This was not one of those days.

I got an invitation to go check some salamander traps that had been set out a couple of days prior on a central Ohio property not far from where I live. Not knowing quite what to expect, I thought it would be interesting to check out along with some salamander aficionados, including the fine folks from MAD Scientist Associates, LLC, a full-service ecological and wetland-consulting firm based in Westerville.

Thus, I found myself clad in mud-covered boots slogging through the fields and forests of central Ohio after steady rains saturated the landscape.

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Early season hunting action: The mourning dove

Tucked up against round bales along the harvested wheat field, hunters scan the September skies for mourning doves. On the golden horizon of early morning, a fluttering black cloud of bird life appears, and the hunting party readies itself for some fast-shooting action. As the migrating birds pass by the field, they swoop down to rest and feed on grain remnants 25 yards from the camouflage-concealed hunters. Suddenly the quiet serenity of the autumn morning and the whistling flight vocalization of dove wings are drowned out by explosions of bird shot.

Pump guns plunging against their shoulders, the hunters throw lead at the flock flapping about them, trying to dial in on a single bird from the dozens swirling about the field. The action is fast and furious. A few birds plummet to the ground, though most escape. Then, all is silent. Harvested birds are retrieved from the fields and the hunting party returns to their seats, awaiting the next wave of doves to arrive.

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