With its eyes on improving the deer kill at its 492-acre River Road unit in Madison Township, Lake Metroparks is incorporating a trio of important changes with its by-lottery-only controlled archery deer hunt.
Lake County resident or business owners only can apply either online or in person for the hunt program starting Monday, July 9. The deadline for entries is Aug. 6 with the drawing scheduled for Aug, 10.
Last year selected hunters killed only 15 deer: Nine antlerless animals but six bucks. Both the total number of animals killed by the selected hunters as well as the buck-to-do ratio were not particularly impressive.
Even so, the program was hugely successful in terms of attracting potentially interested participants. The agency received 400 applications but issued only 90 permits.
In order to improve on seeing more animals shot as well as more of them being does the parks system will now require that a hunter must first kill an antlerless doe before arrowing an antlered buck. This is the first of three important tweaks to the hunt, which again will be partitioned into two-week hunt sessions.
These sessions will begin Oct. 10.
The second change, says Lake Metroparks officials, is to allow those hunters selected to bring their own ground blind, tree ladder or climbing stand so long as this equipment is commercially manufactured. No "home-made" equipment is permitted, parks officials say.
Also, these blinds and stands can be placed anywhere within a 50-yard radius of the pre-established, still-supplied and grain-maintained electronic game feeder and two-person "buddy" ladder stand.
A third new wrinkle is that Lake Metroparks will permit a lottery-selected hunter to name a partner who will have the opportunity to participate whenever the former is either unable and chooses not to hunt.
Several caveats exist, however. The partner must also pass the required archery proficiency test, attend one of the mandatory orientation session, and observe all of the rules and regulations required by any other selected participant.
To prevent abuse of this new rule the parks system's rangers will monitor closely to see that the original hunter was not just severing as a "front man" or as a "ghost hunter" whereby the partner had others apply in order to increase the odds of being picked, agency officials say.
Left unchanged is that a non-hunting companion can continue to it with the selected archer
."We are making these important improvements to this program to create more opportunity and increase the deer harvest at River Road," said Paul Palagyi, Lake Metroparks' interim executive director.
Asked why Lake Metroparks is holding steady with its archery-only policy instead of expanding it to include the use of shotguns and muzzle-loading implements during the week-long firearms deer-hunting and two-day bonus deer gun season, the agency says bows ans crossbows remain the safest tools.
"Lake Metroparks also wants to stay with these improvements for this up-coming archery deer-hunting season before possibly expanding it any of other other holdings,"also said Tom Adair, Lake Metroparks' natural resources' manager and the program's administrator.
For further information - including the hunt program's extensive and detailed list of requirements, the proficiency test and where it can only be taken, and all other guidelines - visit Lake Metroparks' web site beginning Monday, July 9, at www.lakemetroparks.com.
Information only - no applications being accepted - can be obtained by calling Lake Metroparks' registration office at 440-358-7275.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn