WINFIELD, Ga. --- Cecil Bullard just might have built the world's largest fishing lure.
"It's actually a fish attractor," he said. "It's cover for little fish, and those little fish bring in the bigger fish looking for them."
Bullard and fellow volunteers in the Friends of Mistletoe State Park organization have pooled their efforts to create concrete and plastic "trees" that could double as modern art statues. But for purposes of fishing, they will be installed beneath the waters, where only the fish can enjoy them.
"So far we've put four of them together, and the Corps of Engineers is going to help us by bringing out a barge, and we can load them up and put them out in the water," he said. "What we're after is bank fishing -- close enough where people can fish from the shore."
The canary yellow piping used in the project is high- impact plastic left over from the corps' installation of an oxygen injection system at Lake Russell. "We anchored them in concrete, so it will sit on the bottom."
Although perforated pipe is very expensive, it can no longer be used for oxygen diffusion once it has basked in sunlight over a long period of time.
"We plan to put them in about 15 feet of water," Bullard said.
With water levels dangerously low, some fish attractors will be placed at that depth at today's low lake levels, while others will be placed in anticipation of then lake refilling.
"We'll get them out there later this month or in February for sure," he said. Within a few months, the structure should attract large numbers of crappie, white perch and other structure-loving species.
The fish attractors are among several projects undertaken by the Friends of Mistletoe volunteers, who were formed to help out around the park in an era when state budget cuts are making it more difficult to get everything done.
Other projects include expanding the park's boat ramp for low-water use, building a swimming beach near the campground, improving hiking trails and building steps to access the waterfront during low-water.
Anyone interested in becoming a park volunteer can contact Burke at (706) 541-0321.
HUNTING ACCIDENTS: Georgia's busy 2008-09 hunting season yielded 34 hunting accidents -- including four fatalities, according to Georgia's Wildlife Resources Division.
This year, however, there wasn't a single reported fatality related to firearms, although state authorities did investigate 12 separate shootings and plenty of accidents involving falls from tree stands.
Among the shootings, six hunters were shot by other hunters in cases where people were mistaken for game or similar accidents. Six other hunters accidentally shot themselves, and three of those occurred while victims were climbing in or out of deer stands.
Among the four fatalities were two hunter deaths attributed to heart attacks and two tree stand accidents in which the victims died.
Here is a summary of the shootings reported:
l Oct. 18: A 19-year-old Effingham County hunter was shot in the hand by his grandfather as they both fired at the same deer.
l Oct. 29: A 46-year-old Echols County hunter was shot in the chest with a 12-gauge shotgun when another 46-year-old hunter mistook him for a deer.
l Nov. 1: A 63-year-old Glynn County hunter shot himself in the hand while climbing a tree stand.
l Nov. 2: A 13-year-old Jackson County hunter shot himself in the right toe.
l Nov. 9: A 53-year-old woman in Stephens County was shot by her 35-year-old daughter with a center-fire deer rifle, shattering her leg bones and right calf muscles. She was airlifted to a trauma center.
l Nov. 9: A 54-year-old Hartwell, Ga., hunter shot himself in the arm while climbing down from a deer stand.
l Nov. 23: A 33-year-old Douglasville hunter shot himself through the left foot and shin.
l Nov. 27 : A 56-year-old Georgia Wildlife Resources Division officer was shot by a hunter who thought he was a deer.
l Nov. 30: A North Carolina man hunting in Rabun County shot himself in the right toe.
l Jan. 3: A 14-year-old Grady County hunter shot himself while climbing into a tree stand.
l Jan. 10: In Appling County, a 44-year-old hunter was shot in the cheek by an unknown party whose identity still has not been determined.
l Jan. 10: A 15-year-old Echols County hunter accidentally shot his 17-year-old friend with a deer rifle. The bullet went through both legs.
During the 2007-08 season, there were five shooting fatalities, of which four incidents involved children or teenagers. During 2006-07, there were no fatal shootings and the single reported fatality involved a fall from a tree stand.
Typically, about 350,000 people hunt in Georgia each season.
CLAY PIGEON PROGRAM:
Georgia's Cooperative Extension Service Clay Pigeon Target Shooting Program will hold its annual orientation from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29, at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
The club is open to kids in grades 7-12 and includes coaching by trained volunteers. The annual fee of $135 includes shells, clays, trophies and competition fees to attend regional and state matches. Practices begin in February and are held at the closed Columbia County landfill. Participants may also borrow a shotgun if they need one. For more details, call the Extension Service office at (706) 868-3413.
Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.