Northeast Ohio's November Goose Bonanza!
October 05, 2010
Ohio's top waterfowl biologists expect another great season in Wildlife District Three, where thousands of resident and migrant geese spend the winter. (November 2009)
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.
The 1,475-acre LaDue Reservoir serves as the primary water supply resource for the city of Akron. Officials overseeing LaDue have worked with the ODOW recently to allow recreational opportunities that include waterfowl hunting.
"A drawing in mid-September each year at the Geauga County Fairgrounds for 10 waterfowl blind locations at LaDue," Kramer said. "But those permits are transferable, so if you ask around, you might get access even though you missed out of the drawing."
LaDue Reservoir is in southern Geaug
a County approximately 30 miles east of Cleveland at the intersection of U.S. Route 422 and state Route 44. State Route 44 is along the west side of the reservoir, and U.S. Route 422 crosses the reservoir.
The Ladue Public Hunting Area totals nearly 8,800 acres across several parcels of property stretching from the East Branch Reservoir south and into northern Portage County. Much of this property lies along the Cuyahoga River and surrounds the Wendell R. LaDue Reservoir.
The city of Akron operates and maintains a boat ramp and public restroom facilities at the south end of Valley Road. The city of Akron also maintains an unimproved boat ramp at the south end of the lake off State Route 44.
Boats are limited to electric motors only.
The nearest district office is the ODOW's Wildlife District Three, 912 Portage Lakes Drive, Akron, OH 44319, or call (330) 644-2293.
The city of Akron's Watershed Section has its main office at 1570 Ravenna Road, Kent, OH 44240. Call (330) 678-0077 or try the Web site at www.ci.akron.oh.us.
FUNK BOTTOMS WILDLIFE AREA
When the cold rains of November fill the plains upstream of Wayne County's Mohicanville Dam, known as Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area, local goose hunters know fast action can follow, according to biologist Kramer.
"There's a flood easement covering some 1,400 acres that fills easily with a good rain, and waterfowl literally flock to the site," he said. "When we have the rainfall and the backup of water, the hunting can be spectacular with the conditions are right."
The area is near the town of Funk, some 10 miles southwest of Wooster off state Route 95. Goose hunters use small boats or wade and set up on the shoreline of the temporary reservoir waiting for geese to show.
Another area south of Wooster that is popular with goose hunters is Killbuck Marsh, biologist Kramer said.
"It's more consistent than Funk Bottoms simply because the waterfowl hunting isn't dependent on a significant rain event," he explained. "It's a marshland 365 days a year, and there are geese in residence most of those days."
The first couple of weeks of each waterfowl season, the hunting at Killbuck is open only to selected lottery winters, but after that the area's 6,000 acres are open to walk-in access.
Killbuck Marsh is approximately 15 miles south of Wooster along state Route 83. The wildlife area offers a mix of flooded woods, marsh and significant grain fields planted by sharecroppers in and around the wildlife area.
Access to some of Killbuck's best waterfowl hunting is off state routes 83 and 226, which border the wildlife area. Call (330) 567-3390 for a map and more details on hunting the Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area.
"Most of the goose hunting activity across the southern part of District Three is concentrated on four Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District lakes," said Kramer.
"Those are big bodies of water surrounded by woods with some agricultural areas, and geese seem to prefer them because of all the open water."
All four MWCD lakes -- Atwood, Tappan, Clendening and Leesville -- offer launch ramps as well as campgrounds and cabins for hunters, and there is a lodge at Atwood Lake.
By November, there are few fishermen on the lakes and duck and goose hunters have the water to themselves, according to the district wildlife management supervisor.
The northernmost MWCD lake in the district, Atwood contains 1,500 acres of water and is surrounded by more farmland than the other three WMAs Kramer recommended. That makes it a top pick for wintering waterfowl, including Canada geese.
Atwood Lake is in eastern Tuscarawas County between Carrolton and New Philadelphia along state Route 39.
Maps and more information are available from the MWCD at (330) 343-6780 or by logging on to atwood @mwcdlakes.com.
Leesville Lake's 1,000 acres are 15 miles south of Carrollton in Carroll County along state Route 212. Like the other MWCD lakes, its waters are open to waterfowl hunting, and there are launch ramps available. Camping is popular among hunters at Leesville Lake, as is staying in rustic cabins.
For maps and more information about hunting geese at Leesville Lake, call (330) 343-6647 or visit Leesville@mwcdlakes.com.
Tappan Lake, offering 2,300 acres of water for goose hunting, is in Harrison County, about 10 miles west of Cadiz along state Route 250.
Along with launch ramps, campsites ands cabins, Tappan Lake hosts a resident flock of honkers and accommodates its share of migrants flying through northeastern Ohio each November.
For a lake map showing boat launch ramps and campgrounds, call (330) 343-6647 or visit Tappan@ mwcdlakes.com.
The MWCD's popular Clendening Lake offers 1,800 acres of good goose hunting west of Cadiz along state Route 799. Known more for its fishing opportunities, Clendening is probably the most overlooked MWCD lake in the district for goose hunting.
There are several launch ramps, as well as cabin and campground rental options. More information on Clendening Lake is available by calling (330) 343-6647 or by logging on to Clendenning@MWCDlakes.com.
For more information, call the ODOW's District Three wildlife office at (330) 644-2293 or visit www.wildohio.com.
Also, see ODOW Publication #295 for bag limits and season dates for hunting geese and other migratory waterfowl.