Close proximity to Lake Erie and a plethora of large reservoirs in the region combine to make northeast Ohio a magnet for wintering Canada geese. Dan Kramer, Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District Three Wildlife Management supervisor, is enthusiastic about the goose-hunting opportunities in northeast Ohio this month.
“Essentially, there are geese everywhere up here,” said Kramer. “Goose-hunting opportunities on public land are typically best in wildlife areas that host a lot of share-cropping,” he added. “Hunters should look for wildlife areas with corn or soybeans. The grain fields attract and hold the geese for a longer time than wildlife areas that don’t feature crop fields.
“Of course, if there are grain fields nearby but outside the wildlife area, hunters can still experience some good shooting,” he added.
MOSQUITO CREEK WILDLIFE AREA
At the top of Kramer’s list for public honker hunting in his district is 9,500-acre Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area. He cites the area’s considerable acreage that is planted primarily with corn, which is heavily utilized by resident and migratory Canadas.
Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area is known for its annual lottery goose hunts, where the names of fortunate hunters who enter a drawing each August are drawn and awarded a day in a pre-built blind. But there are walk-in hunting opportunities at the Trumbull County wildlife area as well.
Four days each week during the waterfowl-hunting season (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday), there are two drawings for half-day waterfowl hunts in 18 locations on the area.
The early drawing, which takes place about 5:15 a.m., offers hunters a chance to get in on the action from one-half hour before sunrise until noon. An 11 a.m. drawing awards winners the option of hunting the same spots from 1 p.m. until sunset.
In addition, if any of the advance lottery winners cancel their participation or are late in getting to their assigned blinds, those prime, pre-built hunting locations are awarded to lucky walk-in hunters via a lottery format.
Unlike the spots awarded to hunters who participate in the advance drawings, the walk-in waterfowl hunting locations at Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area do not include blinds, so hunters must use naturally occurring vegetation for concealment or bring a portable blind to fool geese into flying within shooting range.
Most of the blind sites are adjacent to 7,850-acre Mosquito Creek Reservoir and feature pass-shooting over habitat that is a mix of marsh land and crop fields where the geese trade between safe roosting waters and adjacent feeding grounds.
In addition to the public hunting opportunities organized by the ODOW, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains an easement around much of the lake that is open to hunting, and private property owners in the area (who must possess a special permit and record harvest figures) usually allow access for hunting, especially late in the season when fewer hunters come knocking.
Goose hunters at Mosquito Reservoir typically set up on points, but care must be taken to set up at least 200 yards from shore blinds that have been erected by hunters who won the spots in a pre-season lottery organized by the state park. Goose hunting from boats is popular at Mosquito Lake as well. A launch ramp off state Route 88, and another north of Pikie Bay, is used by goose hunters who hunt off the points or along the buoys marking the refuge line, hoping to get a shot at geese flying to and from the restricted area.
Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area is along state Route 88 at Mecca and state Route 46, five miles northeast of Warren.
Maps and more information are available by calling the ODOW’s District Three office at (330) 644-2293, or visit www.wildohio.com.
SHENANGO WILDLIFE AREA
Biologist Kramer said that Shenango Wildlife Area in Trumbull County contains nearly 5,000 acres of public hunting land where waterfowlers find good goose hunting. It’s all walk-in with no lotteries to enter or special areas to avoid.
While most of the wildlife is wetland situated along Pymatuning Creek, several sections on the public hunting area are managed for wildlife. Sharecroppers who plant grain within Shenango’s borders are encouraged to leave a portion of their crops standing each autumn to provide food and cover over the winter months. Hunters who know where these areas are can set up day-use blinds and enjoy excellent shooting.
Shenango is at Kinsman near the intersection of state routes 5 and 7, about 18 miles north of Youngstown. For a map of Shenango Wildlife Area and more detailed information about the goose-hunting opportunities there, call the ODOW’s District Three wildlife office, or visit www.wildohio. com.
GUILFORD LAKE STATE PARK
“One spot that is not well known would be Guilford Lake State Park in Columbiana County,” Kramer said. “There is a resident flock of Canadas on the lake and walk-in hunting is allowed by stopping at the park office.”
Kramer noted that there are a dozen designated waterfowl hunting sites situated along the shoreline of the park’s 400-acre lake specifically to monitor a growing population of resident and migrating Canada geese.
Guilford Lake State Park includes 96 acres of land in addition to the 400-acre lake, which has a 10-horsepower motor limit.
The park is at 6835 East Lake Road in Lisbon, on the west fork of Little Beaver Creek about 20 miles south of Salem along state Route 172.
Call the state park office at (330) 222-1712 to learn more about the permit process and goose-hunting opportunities there this month.
Call (866) 644-6727 for camping reservations.