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Thursday, December 18, 2014
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Published: Friday, 2/22/2013

Whitetails group seeks improved habitat for all wildlife

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR

FREMONT — There are a lot of places that hunters, conservationists, and outdoors enthusiasts can devote their time and resources. A multitude of good causes and worthwhile projects are out there, all in need of attention.

About 250 like-minded individuals have put their checkbooks and sweat equity behind the Sandusky River Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited, a national organization that encourages an extensive local footprint.

With a membership that includes a wide range of outdoors types from Fremont, Oak Harbor, Port Clinton, Toledo, Bowling Green, Findlay, and Tiffin, the local club raises money through a number of ventures, including its annual banquet, which takes place Saturday at the Fremont American Legion Post 121.

“One of the great things about Whitetails Unlimited is that the national organization puts half of every dollar that is raised back into the local chapters, so we can put those funds to use right here where we all live,” said chapter president Keith Kralik.

The Sandusky County Chapter partners with the Oak Harbor Conservation Club and puts the funds it raises to work at the L.J. Darr Memorial Wetlands, located on the Toussaint River north of Oak Harbor, adjacent to Camp Sabroske and near the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and Magee Marsh Wildlife Refuge.

“These funds are used for habitat improvement, planting wetlands areas, reclaiming marshlands, erosion control, fields for bluebird habitat — essentially our check goes to wherever it is needed,” Kralik said.

Many of the members of the local chapter of Whitetails Unlimited are also involved with the Oak Harbor Conservation Club, which manages the Darr site and provides a large share of funding for projects at the wetlands area.

Kralik said that while one of the primary goals of the Whitetails Unlimited organization is to preserve the tradition of deer hunting, a number of the members are non-hunters, and all of the work the group funds locally will benefit a very broad range of wildlife.

“Creating suitable habitat is a plus for all of our wildlife, so we have bird watchers, trappers, deer hunters, and people with many other interests involved in our chapter,” he said. “It is a very diverse group that comes together to do something significant, as a kind of legacy project.”

Kralik said that as government budgets continue to constrict, groups of involved private citizens have to carry the burden of financing numerous habitat efforts.

“There was more government help in the past, but in today’s world, we have to find ways to generate the funds necessary for these very worthwhile projects,” he said.

The Sandusky County Chapter banquet is open to all members and anyone interested in the Whitetails Unlimited organization or its projects. A social hour with raffles begins at 5 p.m., with a steak or chicken dinner served at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40 for individuals and $30 for a spouse or child age 15 and under. Included in the price is an annual membership. Tickets and more information are available by calling 419-202-9544.

Whitetails Unlimited is celebrating its 30th year, and in that time its chapters have raised more than $55 million for educational programs, habitat creation, restoration, and preservation for programs aimed at preserving the hunting tradition and for research. The Wisconsin-based group has about 90,000 members across the United States.

WILD TURKEY FEDERATION BANQUETS: The Whiteford Valley Gobblers of the National Wild Turkey Federation will be hosting their 20th Hunting Heritage Banquet on March 2 at Dusseau’s Reception Hall in Temperance. The doors open at 5 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. Membership is included in the banquet ticket price, with a single ticket with membership costing $60, and a pair of tickets with membership costing $85. There are numerous raffles, as well as live and silent auctions planned, with items such as fishing charters, pheasant hunts, prints, and many others available. Anyone who wins a firearm will be required to pass the NICS before taking possession of that firearm. Reservations are required, and for more information or to purchase tickets, call Jack Price at 734-856-1214.

The Whiteford Valley Gobblers Chapter was founded in 1992 and is one of the 91 chapters in Michigan, and more than 2,000 in the United States.

The Putnam County Full-Strut Chapter holds its banquet on March 1 at the Leipsic Fishing & Hunting Club. For tickets and information contact Michael Dunlap at 419-516-3558.

The Black Swamp Chapter banquet takes place March 2 at the Defiance Eagles on West 2nd Street in Defiance. For tickets and information call Troy Brown at 419-658-8709.

The Bad Creek Chapter meets for its banquet March 8 at the Fulton County Sportsmen Club in Wauseon. Information and tickets: call John Gombash at 419-356-7775.

The Maumee Valley Chapter banquet takes place March 15 at Holland Gardens on Angola Road. Contact Jeff Wright at 419-467-4187 for tickets and information.

The Sandusky County Chapter meets for its annual banquet at Ole Zim’s Wagon Shed on State Route 590 northwest of Fremont on March 22. For information and tickets call Mark Gill at 419-603-8630.

The Turkeyfoot Gobblers Chapter will hold its banquet March 23 at the Am Vets Post 1313 in Napoleon. Bob Shadday at 419-579-0092 had information and tickets for the event.

The Lakeshore Longbeards Chapter banquet is April 4 at the Port Clinton Elks Lodge. Contact Jim Frattaroli at 419-967-0149 for more information.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.



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