Teddy bears will be purchased in untold numbers this Christmas season as gifts for children, both around the country and around the world. Ever stop and wonder why?

Guiding the president for several days was Holt Collier, the most famous bear hunter in the state. Born a slave, Collier was now a freed man who made much of his living by bear hunting. He and his pack of top-notch hounds were said to have taken more than 3,000 black bears. 

Had it not been for Ohio’s duck hunters, much of Ohio’s marshland, which is so important to both birding and hunting today, may well have been lost to development.

"There’s a singular reason that some of the best Lake Erie marshes in Ohio have been saved from destruction. One reason, two words: duck hunters. It sounds blunt and oversimplified, but from the viewpoint of wildlife, duck hunters saved the marshes.”

During settlement, the Buckeye State lost an estimated 95% of its original wetlands, much of that the Great Black Swamp, which once covered nearly all of northwestern Ohio and northeastern Indiana. That gigantic region was a haven for wildlife of all sorts — not just waterfowl — as the water slowly drained into the vast marshes that ringed the western edge of Lake Erie from Toledo to Sandusky.

Four guys holding on to what is becoming a lost art: Scott Lynch, Dave Miller, Greg Thomas (also shown at left), and Rick Truman, hunting with their beagles.

For some 25 years, I raised beagles for hunting cottontail rabbits. Reluctantly, I gave it up about a decade ago when my oldest dog died. What I miss most about the sport is the sound of the chase.

Hunters call it hound music.

My longtime friend and fellow outdoors writer Mike Tontimonia is another who knows the sound well. A member of Carroll Electric Cooperative in eastern Ohio, Tontimonia estimates he’s owned 150 beagles during his lifetime — both hunters and field-trialers — with as many as 20 dogs in his kennel at any one time.