The January 2004 issue of Country Living magazine (now known as Ohio Cooperative Living) featured a story about Ohio’s 10 best places to view wildlife.
The essay was written and photographed by W.H. “Chip” Gross — the first of 20 years’ worth of outdoors-related features Gross has written under the “Woods, Waters, and Wildlife” heading in these pages. His topics have ranged from hunting and fishing to Ohio history, and he’s showcased innumerable plants and animals found around the Buckeye State along the way.
Gross, a 45-year member of Mount Gilead-based Consolidated Cooperative and retired from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, says he has an “overwhelming fascination and appreciation for the beauty, complexity, and intricacy of the natural world.”
That certainly comes across in his writing and contributes to the popularity and longevity of “Woods, Waters, and Wildlife,” but he says there’s more to it as well.
“This column has been about people as much as it’s been about the outdoors,” he says. “I love telling readers about the various men, women, and young people I’ve met along the Buckeye State’s back roads, giving each of those mostly unsung folks their well-deserved ‘15 minutes of fame.’
“I’m looking forward to 20 years more.”
In honor of the occasion, Chip has selected a “best-of” album of some of his favorite work through the years. Look below to see his picks — and if you have a favorite that you remember, drop him a line at email@example.com.
This Native American boy was dancing in an Indian pow-wow near Loudonville when I took his photo for a column titled “Return of the natives.”
This bat, captured, banded, and released at Mohican State Park, illustrated a column titled “Bat man!” profiling wildlife biologist Merrill Tawse and his research.
This photo of my second son, Peter Gross, fishing at our neighbor’s pond won an award presented by the National Wildlife Federation.
Two workhorses “horsing around” during Spring Plowing Days at Malabar Farm State Park near Mansfield.
Whitewater rafters challenge West Virginia’s New River in a column titled “Wet & wild.” The photo won a national award from the Outdoor Writers Association of America.
This white-tailed buck, photographed at a Columbus MetroPark, helped introduce the “Outdoors in autumn” special section.
A base jumper parachutes from the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia, illustrating a column titled “Leap of faith.”
The Punderson Classic Sled Dog Race at Punderson State Park was the setting for this photo for “Born to pull.”
This pair of ospreys at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama illustrated my column “Greg Miller’s ‘big year.’”
Members of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio kayak the Little Miami River. My column “Up the creek with a paddle” profiled Ohio’s Scenic Rivers Program.
One of my all-time favorite wildlife photos: I found these two young red foxes playing near their den; the ensuing photo essay was titled “Foxy baby!”
I was at the right place at the right time to photograph this alligator fight to illustrate a column reviewing the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
A set of caribou antlers frames Mt. Denali in Alaska. This photo accompanied “America’s best idea,” about the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
I shared my passion for hunting rabbits behind hounds in “Beagles and cottontails: Do hunting dogs go to heaven?” Pictured is Greg Thomas with Daisy and Brooke.
“Lake Erie icon” profiled Marblehead Lighthouse — the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes.
I photographed this family touring South Bass Island State Park for my story “Lake Erie islands: Ohio’s three most remote campgrounds.”
A Cooper’s hawk, appearing to scream his displeasure at having his picture taken, was really just yawning with boredom when I snapped this photo from my bedroom window; the column was titled “Look who’s coming to dinner.”
My grandson, Sam Gross, gives a thumbs-up to his first airplane ride; the photo illustrated a story titled “First flight.”
I’ve always liked the haunting quality of this photo I took of the secretive ghost plant, also called Indian pipes, for a story titled “Specter of the forest.”
Controlled burns of prairies are always spectacular. This photo illustrated a column titled “Conservation Corps” about the Appalachia Ohio Alliance.