Gina McKnight, Author, Freelance Writer, Equestrian, Blogger, and Poet! Welcome to my international blog about horses, writers, authors, books, cowboys, equestrians, photographers, artists, poets, poems, and more horses.
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Saturday, March 28, 2015
Chip Gross, Author & Outdoorsman
Ohio USA, welcome author and outdoorsman Chip Gross.
is a graduate of the Ohio State University, Wildlife Management. He has
experience as an expert outdoorsman; freelance writer, novelist, photographer,
and speaker. He has known the life of a Lake Ranger, State Wildlife Officer,
and more. You will enjoy Chip’s interview about writing, photography, his favorite
place to enjoy Ohio’s natural beauty, and Ohio’s bear population…
your favorite outdoor writer?
favorite writer is Allan W. Eckert, now deceased; but he
was not necessarily an "outdoors writer." Eckert was a fellow Ohioan, and I consider
him my writing mentor. Early in his
career, he wrote natural history magazine articles and books, then later
switched to historical narrative. I like
Allan's writing style, and have probably subconsciously tried to emulate it in
my writing. Pick up a copy of any of his
books and you'll be in for a treat. I
have written several magazine articles about Eckert, and was able to meet him
several times while doing the interviews, a highlight of my writing
you currently writing?
the author of six books about the out-of-doors, but am not currently working on
a book project. I'm also the author of
hundreds of magazine articles, both print and online. For the past decade, I've been the Outdoors
Editor for Country Living magazine,
published by the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives. As such, I write a monthly outdoors column
for that publication, titled Woods,
Waters & Wildlife. In
addition, I write for about a dozen other outdoor-oriented magazines, some
regularly and some only once or twice per year.
the premise for you fiction novel Home, At Last, Is the Hunter?
in 1994, Home, At Last, Is the Hunter
is a fiction novel based on my life.
It's the story of young Jeff Stewart, who learns to hunt the wild turkey
from his maternal grandfather, known as The Boss. The grandfather character in the book is a
combination of my father and grandfather.
The wildlife officer character is a combination of the many wildlife
officers I knew and worked with during my 26-year career with the Ohio
Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. I took an early retirement from that state
agency 13 years ago to become a freelance writer and photographer. The book has a spiritual (Christian) message,
and is appropriate for readers from mid-grade school through adult.
book Poachers Were My Prey, you tell the true story of R. T. Stewart and
his adventures as an undercover wildlife law enforcement officer with the Ohio
Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. How did you meet R.T.
first met R. T. Stewart when he and I were both young wildlife officers with
the Ohio Division of Wildlife. He began
his career as a uniformed officer, but was eventually assigned undercover. When that occurred, I told him that I'd like
to be the one to write his story once his career was completed. He agreed to that, and when he retired he and
I wrote Poachers
Were My Prey. The book was
published in 2012 by Kent State University Press, and subsequently won first
place in the book category of the Outdoor Writers Association of America,
Excellence in Craft awards competition.
The book also won an Outstanding Media Achievement award from the
Outdoor Writers of Ohio.
instructional fishing book, titled Trolling
Big-Water Walleyes, talks about the secrets of fishing the Great Lakes.
Can you share one (or two) secrets?
may seem like a no-brainer, but the "secret" to catching Great Lakes
sport fish (particularly walleyes) is fishing where the fish are. The Great Lakes are so vast that many, many
miles of water often contain few or no fish during various seasons of the
year. And many Great Lakes fish species,
such as walleyes, are migratory. So if
you don't know what the fish are doing, and consequently where they are located
at any particular time of year, you'll be fishing dead water. A second "secret" pertaining to
walleyes, particularly when trolling, is to fish slowly. I usually troll between one and two miles per
hour. In essence, it's slow-motion
fishing, but very productive. For more
specifics, pick up a copy of my book!
your favorite fishing hole?
favorite fishing location is Lake Erie, simply because it is so
productive. Considered the "Walleye
Capital of the World," millions of walleyes are caught from Lake Erie
annually. My wife and I also fish for
yellow perch on the lake, usually during the fall.
of lure/bait, etc. do you use?
walleyes, I troll large, plastic stick baits (minnow-imitation lures) during
early spring and late fall, and nightcrawler harnesses during the remainder of
the open-water period of the year.
Creek flows near our family farm. We see a lot of wildlife come and go with the
seasons. The deer are beautiful, but can be pests in crops and gardens. What
are your views on Ohio’s deer population and what can be done to control the
population in the future?
not a deer hunter, I've been a sport hunter nearly all my life. I was taught to hunt by my father, and began
when I was 13. Today, I'm mainly a
small-game hunter, preferring spring turkey hunting and wingshooting. As for the Ohio deer population, I have every
confidence in the wildlife biologists hired by the Ohio Division of Wildlife to
manage the deer herd. It is not an easy
job, but these men and women are dedicated professionals who have the good of
the wildlife resource at heart. Having
worked with many of these fine people for years at the Division of Wildlife, I
can personally vouch for them concerning their professionalism and skills. Despite what you might hear otherwise, Ohio's
deer herd is in good hands.
bears, too. Or at least one bear; scat in our barnyards and along our creek
bank. As a livestock owner, I do not appreciate their presence. What is your
experience with the bear in Ohio?
don't have any personal experience with black bears in Ohio, but view them as a
part of our natural heritage and would like to see their population continue to
increase. Wildlife biologists currently
estimate the population in the state at somewhere around 100 black bears, mainly
in eastern and southern Ohio.
photography is captivating, especially of birds. Bird watching has become ever
so popular. My sister-in-law is an avid birder. What is the key to capturing
great avian photos?
Wildlife photography is a
subject unto itself, and bird photography can be particularly difficult. It takes patience and good photo equipment
and technique to be successful, but most importantly it takes a knowledge of
birds and their behaviors. In other
words, where do you find them and what will they likely be doing at various
seasons of the year? I do my bird
photography both from blinds and by simply walking around in the
locations/habitats birds frequent.
where in Ohio can you find the best photo op for birding?
number one choice for birding and bird photography in Ohio would be Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and adjacent Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. Both are located along the western shoreline
of Lake Erie between Port Clinton and Toledo.
The two best times of year to visit are spring and fall, during migration,
but anytime you can get there is worthwhile.
Photo (c) Chip Gross
photographer, can you share one of your favorite photos?
photo is of whitewater rafting the New River in West Virginia. To get the shot, I positioned myself onshore
below a set of particularly gnarly rapids and shot photos of various rafts as
they came paddling through during the day.
It's a good photo for several reasons; it's cropped tightly, the action
is "frozen" by a high shutter speed, and the exposure and lighting
are good. The photo won the President's
Award (Best of the Best) for the Outdoor Writers Association of America,
Excellence in Craft awards competition.
Of the Ohio
native fauna, which species thrills you the most; coyote, wild turkey, catfish,
spend about a month each spring chasing wild turkeys. I put out a photo blind in late March and
take photos of the birds for three weeks before the hunting season begins in
late April. You can see some of those
photos in a photo essay of mine in the current (April 2015) issue of Country
Living magazine. Once the hunting
season comes in, I turkey hunt with my younger son, which has become a
tradition for the two of us through the years.
His oldest son, one of my five grandsons, will be joining us in the
turkey woods for the first time this year, and I'm looking forward to that!
award-winning outdoor author and photographer, what has been your greatest
outdoor experience to date?
my greatest outdoors experience so far was the opportunity my wife and I had
two years ago to visit Alaska for two weeks.
We spent a week of that time in Denali National Park, where I took some
1,800 photos and she took 800. We also
had the opportunity to kayak around icebergs and land in a small airplane on a
glacier at the base of Mount McKinley.
If you are an outdoors person, save your pennies and get to Alaska
sometime during your life. There is
nothing in the Lower Forty-Eight that compares.
great opportunity to discover nature and wildlife; many beautiful parks with
regal aesthetics. Where in Ohio would you guide the person who is looking for
the perfect place to relax and enjoy nature?
Ohio, I would recommend the Hocking
Hills Region in the southeastern section of the state. It not only has outstanding natural beauty
and many miles of public land, but also many amenities to choose from; everything
from campgrounds to Bread & Breakfasts to secluded cabins to rustic