Deer hunters looking to stalk a white-tail in Northeast Ohio will find limited access to state wildlife area parking lots.
At least in some locations. Not looking so good are the state wildlife areas in Ashtabula County. It is this county which encountered the full fury of this week’s snow storms.
With that being said, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is working to provide at least some access to a majority of its units in Geauga and Trumbull counties. Among them is the Hambden Orchards Wildlife Area in Geauga County’s Hambden Township.
Hunters there and who will participate in this weekend’s two-day bonus firearms deer-hunting season will find the entrances to the two parking lots off Rt. 608 and the one off Sisson Road have been opened.
At least partially anyway. There is enough room in each to turn around and park perhaps two or three vehicles. Needed, though, will be a good front-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle, state officials say.
For the Akron Watershed property near LaDue Reservoir snow-plowing work either has been or will be performed on about 12 to 15 lots.
And for the massive Grand River Wildlife Area in Trumbull County, the Wildlife Division anticipates opening up the lots at the shooting range, clay target range, headquarters, and a number of other popular access points.
“Each block of woods at Grand River will have at least one parking lot open so guys will have a way to get in,” said Bill Hickox, field staff member for the Wildlife Division’s Grand River Wildlife Area which oversees operations in Trumbull and Geauga counties. “We were in Geauga County on Wednesday, and the southern most parking lot in Mantua had the most snow; easily more than one foot,” Hickox said.
At Grand River about 9 inches of snow is carpeting the ground while at Hambden Orchards more than 1 foot of snow paves the surface, Hickox said also.
“Guys getting back there will be sweating,” he said.
Hickox said the problem is that the state will not approve overtime for agency employees and the Grand River unit has only vehicle capable of plowing snow.
It’s a brand-new truck and plow with only about 500 miles on it, but it is the only vehicle that we have for all of the areas that we managed,” Hichox said.
In Ashtabula County the situation is much more dismal for prospective deer gun hunters. The parking lots at the Dorset, Orwell and New Lyme wildlife areas are on the Wildlife Division’s ‘back burner,” an agency official says.
“The Mosquito Creek area doesn’t have a truck with a snowplow so that certainly limits its ability to get out,” said Allen Lee, Wildlife Division biologist. “It is unfortunate that we had this snow. There has been settling of the snow so I don’t think there will be a problem for hunters with four-wheel drive vehicles though those with other vehicles may have an issue.”
As for the Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area and both its open-to-the-public hunting section as well as its controlled hunt units, those locations are being taken care of by a tractor that is fitted with a plow, Lee said.
However, this tool is restricted in where it can go with transporting it to Ashtabula County a none-starter, Lee says.
“Further south in District Three there hasn’t been as much snow,” Lee said also. “People are interested and we understand that and would like to accommodate sportsmen but we are limited by the physical lack of both equipment and manpower.”
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn