As the sound of high-power rifles begins to fade at Camp Perry, signaling the end of the National Rifle and Pistol Matches, the boom of shotguns will resound at Vandalia, just north of Dayton, as thousands of gunners gather for the Grand American World Trapshooting Tournament.
The Matches, which began in early July at Camp Perry just west of Port Clinton, are in their final phase this week with high-power and long-range rifle competition. But the Grand American, the largest trapshooting tournament anywhere, is just getting under way with preliminaries beginning Wednesday.
The National Matches and the Grand American together easily allow Ohio to claim it is the home of competitive shooting.
Presented by the Amateur Trapshooting Association, this is the 105th edition of the Grand American. It is expected to draw some 7,000 competitors from around the world this year, plus some 100,00 spectators during an 11-day, 21-event run that culminates with the Grand American Handicap championship on Aug. 21.
During the Grand some five million clay targets will be thrown on 100 trap-fields, which are strung out for a mile and a half along U.S. 40, just west of I-75 (Exit 63). Trapshooters from 8 to 80 will be vying for a prize purse of more than a million dollars.
Ten warm-up events are scheduled Wednesday through next Sunday, prior to Grand Week, when the actual championships are conducted. Following is the schedule for Grand Week:
Aug. 16 - Singles Class Championship, 200 targets.
Aug. 17 - Trap & Field Doubles Class Championship, 100 targets; President Dave Kaiser Handicap, 100 targets.
Aug. 18 - ATA Clay Target Championship, 200 targets.
Aug. 19 - Doubles Championship, 100 targets; Parliamentary Coach Handicap, 100 targets.
Aug. 20 - Champion of Champions, 100 targets; Remington Nitro 27 Handicap, 100 targets.
Aug. 21 - Grand American Handicap, 100 targets; High Overall Champion of America, 1,000 targets scored from prior events; High All-Around Champion, 400 targets scored from prior events. The Handicap is the most prestigious individual trapshooting event.
The ATA expects a well-attended Grand in 2004, inasmuch as expansion at Dayton International Airport, just to the north of the ATA home grounds, will cause the closure of the 30 western trapfields by 2005.
In turn, much more stringent target and other requirements will be necessary in the 2005 Grand, the last tournament set for the current home grounds.
The ATA announced two years ago that it would move to a new, 1,500-acre site at Sparta, Ill., where the 2006 Grand American is expected to be held.
For other details on the Grand, visit the ATA Web site, www.shootata.com, or call the ATA at 937-898-4638.
Preliminary results of trawls by Ohio Division of Wildlife crews show that the 2004 spring perch hatch is slightly below average.
The walleye hatch, however, appears to be poor at best.
Jeff Tyson, supervisor of the division's Lake Erie Research Fisheries Station at Sandusky, said that June and July trawls averaged about 40 young-of-year perch per hour. That indicates a year-class similar to 1992 or 1993 but better than 1995 or 2002.
Walleye trawls, however, are averaging just 1.5 young-of-year per hour, which he rates as "better than '95 and '02, but not much." The 2002 walleye year-class is considered to benon-existent in practical terms, perhaps the poorest on record.
The primary survey of the summer, however, will come the last two weeks of August. It may be mid-September before the 2004 year-classes are formally rated, Tyson said.
The August survey will include 40 sampling stations in Ohio waters and about 30 in Ontario waters.
Tyson said he is somewhat puzzled by the apparent low performance of the 2004 perch and walleye hatches, inasmuch as the weather this spring was not much different from 2003, when super year-classes, especially of walleye, were produced.
The 2003 walleye, which are extremely abundant, are in the 9 to 10-inch range now. Any of these undersize fish taken by anglers should be handled gently and returned to the water quickly. The minimum keeper length for walleye is 15 inches.
"Recruitment is a pretty complex issue. It can't be just weather. There's got to be some other cue."
Waterfowl hunters may enter drawings on Aug. 21 at 18 state parks for the privilege of setting up a duck-hunting blind for the fall season.
The list of eligible parks includes East Harbor at Lakeside-Marblehead in Ottawa County, five blinds, telephone 419-734-4424.
Other western Ohio parks with duck-blind drawings include Indian Lake, Logan County, 34 blinds, 937-843-2717, and Lake Loramie, Shelby and Auglaize counties, 19 blinds, 937-295-2011.
Applicants must appear in person and show proof of a 2004 hunting license, along with a signed 2004 federal duck stamp and 2004 state wetlands stamp endorsement in the applicant's name. Drawings will begin at 8 a.m.
A $50 nonrefundable permit must be bought by successful applicants.
In related news, an early special Canada goose hunt at Maumee Bay State Park is set for Sept. 7, 8, 9, and 10.
A drawing to assign blinds for the hunts is set for Aug. 27, 3 p.m. To be eligible, a hunter must submit a postcard to: Special Goose Hunt, Maumee Bay State Park, 1400 State Park Rd., Oregon, Ohio 43618.
Applicants must list name, address, and phone number, along with a guest hunter's name and address. Two hunters will be allowed per blind, with hunting hours of sunrise to 10 a.m. on the assigned day.
Successful hunters in the draw will be notified by phone. Permits are nontransferrable.