The Christmas Tree Ship will deliver trees and cheer the traditional way on Saturday, Dec. 2, at the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo.

“Christmas Tree Ship” tradition returns

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

As in days of old in many Great Lakes ports, Christmas trees will in Toledo by boat on Saturday, Dec. 2, when The National Museum of the Great Lakes, in partnership with Geo. Gradel Co., invites folks to join a holiday tradition by welcoming back the “Christmas Tree Ship.” And thanks to the generosity of The University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC), museum admission will be free for all on that Merry Saturday.

Here’s the backstory: on Nov. 23, 1912, the schooner Rouse Simmons sank in Lake Michigan while carrying Christmas trees, a popular way to transport the holiday trees at the time. Remembered as the Christmas Tree Ship, her captain, Herman E. Schuenemann, was known for giving trees to families in need. The story provides the inspiration behind the Museum’s community giveback event encouraging individuals to make a memory to last a lifetime by watching Santa arrive at the museum’s dock delivering Christmas Trees and holiday support.

“Museums have been shown to increase our sense of well-being and make us feel healthier. They inspire, challenge and stimulate us, while also making us proud of where we come from,” said Kate Fineske, museum spokesperson. “The Christmas Tree Ship Community Giveback Day allows us to connect individuals on the East Bank of the Maumee River and access the Great Lakes with their maritime roots while providing healthy holiday support.”

The event asks individuals to “get a tree or give a tree” as well as provide holiday support by donating towards gift cards for its community partners. In addition, for every donation made, UTMC will match individual gifts with a healthy hygiene kit for community members in need.

The National Museum of the Great Lakes provides community support in partnership with East Toledo Family Center, Family House, Lucas County Children’s Services, and Sylvania Area Family Services. In addition, they are encouraging individuals to make a full day of holiday activities by viewing the 51st Annual East Toledo Holiday Parade which begins at 11 a.m. at South Ravine Parkway, and ends at Metroparks Toledo’s new Glass City Enrichment Center.

Following the parade, guests are asked to walk or drive to the Museum where Santa and a boatload of Christmas Trees will arrive to receive visitors in front of the Museum Tug Ohio.

To learn more about the event, purchase a tree for yourself or individuals in need, or provide holiday support with a donation visit or call 419-214-5000. Individuals interested in receiving a donated tree are asked to reach out to one of our recipient partners or call 2-1-1.

FHFH a Go!

In another seasonal example of cheer-spreading, the ODOW is once again partnering with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) to support local food banks with donated venison. Through this program, FHFH and participating processors donate harvested deer to charitable organizations throughout Ohio.

Hunters who harvest a deer and would like to donate the venison can bring it to one of 26 certified deer processing shops in Ohio. Each donated deer is provided to a verified charitable organization that offers food assistance. One harvested deer yields approximately 50 pounds of venison and 200 meals. Find the complete list of processors accepting donations of harvested deer at Hunters who donate their deer are not required to pay for the processing of the venison.

“Venison is a healthy source of protein, and I’m proud that the Division of Wildlife can help Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry share that meat with those who need it,” Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker said.

This program encourages the harvest of deer for the purpose of wildlife management in Ohio, as well as provide for the wise and charitable use of the wildlife resource for direct public benefit. During the 2022-23 hunting season, FHFH coordinated the processing of 1,132 deer donated by Ohio hunters, after which some 60 charitable organizations distributed the venison.

Ohio’s deer archery hunting season is open until Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and the statewide gun seasons until Sunday, Dec. 3, and again Dec. 16-17. The muzzleloader season is from Saturday, Jan. 6 to Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024. Hunting licenses and deer permits are available on the HuntFish OH app, at, or at any license vendor.

OLHAP a hit with hunters

Speaking of hunting, Ohio’s Landowner-Hunter Access Partnership (OLHAP) is a great way to find fall hunting opportunities near you. Free daily permits allow hunters to access up to 19,200 acres of private land enrolled in the program. The OLHAP system also provides controlled hunting access to public properties normally closed to these activities.

 Enrolled private lands can be accessed by those with a free daily permit. Permits are distributed on a first come, first served basis. Participating hunters receive a list of rules for the property, and landowners receive a notification when a hunter reserves a permit to the property. All hunting activities except whitetailed deer gun hunting are permitted by Ohio Landowner-Hunter Access Partnership users. Permits can be obtained at or on the free HuntFish OH mobile app. 

Use the OLHAP system to sign up for hunting access with participating property owners, and to enter drawings on select public areas for controlled waterfowl hunts. Hunters can reserve available permits for private lands beginning at 8 p.m. the day before their planned hunt. Permits are valid from 5:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. on the day of the hunt. Permits are only valid for the individual whose name is listed on the permit. Anyone accompanying an OLHAP permit holder must also have an OLHAP permit issued in their name, even if they are not hunting.

OLAP is funded, in part, by the federal Farm Bill under the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP) and provides funding to state and tribal agencies through a competitive grant process to implement programs encouraging hunting access on private properties. The Division of Wildlife also uses the OLHAP reservation system to provide controlled waterfowl hunting opportunities on Thursdays at Andreoff, Killdeer Plains, Magee Marsh, Mercer, Mosquito Creek, Moxley, Pickerel Creek, and Pipe Creek wildlife areas, as well as Nimisila Reservoir, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, and Howard Marsh Metropark.

Spring gobbler hunting dates set

The Ohio Wildlife Council has approved the following wild turkey hunting dates for spring 2024:

• Statewide youth wild turkey season: April 13-14

• South zone: April 20-May 19 (all counties except the northeast zone)

• Northeast zone: April 27-May 26 (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull)

The statewide limit is one bearded turkey during the 2024 spring season. Find additional information in the 2023-24 Hunting and Trapping Regulations and at

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