Toledo Blade's Steve Pollick offers good info for NW OH hunters

Readers of the Toledo Blade have been treated in the past few days to two informative articles about this years hunting seasons by outdoors writer Steve Pollick.

From where to find a bumper crop of pheasants in northwest Ohio counties to how to make sure a bumper crop of acorns doesn't ruin your deer season, click on the "Read More..." link below to read exerpts from Pollick's stories, and for links to the entire articles.

Click the headlines below for the complete stories from Toledo Blade outdoors writer Steve Pollick.

Pheasants abound in nearby counties
Several counties in northwest Ohio will offer some of the best hunting prospects for ring-necked pheasants and cottontail rabbits when the upland game seasons open Friday.

State wildlife biologist Scott Hull named Williams and Defiance counties, and Hardin, Wyandot and Marion counties among the top mini-regions in the state to pursue pheasants.

"There are three premier regions for wild pheasant hunting," said Hull, who leads upland research at the state's Olentangy Wildlife Research Station. The aforementioned northwest Ohio areas are two of them, with the third being Madison, Fayette, Ross and Pickaway counties in south-central Ohio.

These counties all have relatively large amounts of idled cropland in the federal Conservation Reserve Program, and that means more of the prime habitat needed for pheasants - grassland nesting cover. "Williams and Defiance counties have the most [CRP] in the state, and Ross is not far behind," Hull said.

Too, each of the mini-regions has a top-rated state wildlife area with hundreds of acres of excellent upland habitat - Lake La Su An in Williams County, Big Island in Marion County and Deer Creek in Pickaway County.

Population trends for pheasants are about the same as for 2004, with a "pretty good" summer nesting season this year, the biologist said. Statewide, the pheasant population is in the "upper hundreds of thousands but shy of a million," he added.

Each year about 200,000 birds, both wild and stocked, are bagged by hunters. Up to 250,000 hunters are said to participate at some point in the season.

Rabbit numbers are down somewhat from 2004, but well within the 10-year average, Hull said. In any case, finding land with good cover is the key to finding either rabbits or pheasants. Hunters are reminded that they must obtain permission from the landowner to hunt private land.

The rabbit season runs from Friday, Nov. 4, through Feb. 28, with a daily bag limit of four. Pheasant season runs Nov. 4 through Jan. 2 with a daily limit of two roosters, or cocks. Both seasons will be closed during the statewide deer-gun season, Nov. 28 through Dec. 4.

A season for bobwhite quail, limited to 16 southern Ohio counties, is set for Nov. 4 through 27.

Lots of nuts, acorns may affect hunting
Nuts! This exclamatory expression is being presented by an oak woodlot or forest near you.

That is because Ohio's oak-
tree families have produced a bumper crop of acorns that are producing big benefits for wildlife and that may affect some hunters' fortunes this autumn.

"It's like walking on marbles," said wildlife biologist Mike Reynolds about the super-abundance of acorns on the forest floors. "Earlier in October it was like it was raining," he added, describing the sounds of falling nuts among fallen leaves. "It was impressive."

Reynolds, a forest game
biologist with the state's Waterloo Wildlife Research Station at Athens, said that other nut-bearing trees also had a great year, though the oaks are probably the most important.

"People are telling us that this is the best acorn crop they've seen in years. [Acorns are] "a good source of energy and fats for winter."

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has joined a multi-state research project to estimate acorn production throughout the northeast and mid-Atlantic states. The goal is to use acorn production information to help forecast wildlife harvest and reproductive success-rates on local and regional bases.

Acorn production, it turns out, is cyclical, with some trees producing nearly annually and some only rarely. This year state wildlife crews scanned the canopies of selected oak trees in 38 state wildlife areas to assess the percentage of trees producing acorns and the relative size of the crop.

Results varied widely but both white and red oaks produced acorns throughout the state this year. Best production was found in the southern half of the state.

Some 150 forest species dig in when acorns rain down. Among highly visible and popular game species that feast on the oak produce are white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, squirrels and black bears.

Bowhunters, already in the woods a month, by now may have noticed the acorn factor and are adjusting their hunting plans accordingly.

For hunters who prefer the deer-gun season, which opens Nov. 28 statewide, it may mean extra scouting trips prior to the season to assay deer feeding patterns and determine whether the local deer have cleaned out some oak stands and moved to others, or whether many acorns are left at all.

After all, failure to account for the effects of a bumper crop of acorns may leave you, at deer season's end, saying, "Nuts!"

Click the headlines above for the complete stories from Toledo Blade outdoors writer Steve Pollick.

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