Saturday is opening day for several fall hunting seasons, and harvest prospects for most species are good to excellent, the Ohio Division of Wildlife reports.
Hunting for doves and Canada geese should be excellent this year in the early season, which ends Sept. 15, field reports say. The best dove hunting should come in the first week or two, depending on the timing of the first cold front, which inevitably sweeps the doves south.
Plenty of resident geese are around, said Mark Shieldcastle, wetlands project leader at Crane Creek Wildlife Research Station in Ottawa County. Hunter success will depend on the amount of scouting done before opening day to determine where the birds are flying and feeding, and then obtaining permission to hunt there. Much the same applies to doves.
Shieldcastle said that plenty of teal were produced in the prairies this year, so the early teal season, through Sept. 16, has high potential.
"It's just a matter of getting the right weather to bring them to us at the right time."
The biologist added that several hundred teal already have piled up at Pickerel Creek State Wildlife Area on Sandusky Bay.
Squirrel hunting also opens Saturday and prospects overall are good, though lower than last year's excellent forecast. Gray squirrels will be most abundant in the forested hill region of eastern and southeastern Ohio. The outlook for fox squirrels is above average, with small woodlots adjacent to cropland and treelines near rivers and streams providing the best hunting.
Seasons also open Saturday for rail, moorhen, and snipe. Details on the seasons are available online at www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife, or in the digest, 2007-2008 Ohio Hunting Regulations, which is available free wherever licenses are sold.
The Sportsman's Club Clay Crushers, of Attica, recently captured their second consecutive national trapshooting championship in the youth-intermediate division at Sparta, Ill., the new home of the Grand American World's Trapshooting Championships.
The team competed in the Scholastic Clay Target Program, an event that fielded more than 1,600 young gunners from 29 states and which was a preliminary activity with this year's Grand American.
The Clay Crushers broke six more targets, 953 out of 1,000 thrown, to outshoot the next best team, from Missouri, which posted a 947.
Team members, all in grades 7 and 8, included Nathan Waldock, Matthew Ritz, and Alisha Lutz, all of Attica, Joshua Reed, of Willard, and Clay Mesnard, of Bloomville.
"I'm just speechless," said Ron Waldock, of Attica, their coach. "These guys won an SCTP national championship last year and they've been shooting even better this year, but I never figured they could win it twice."
In 2005 they took second, missing first place by just one bird. Waldock said that his team started with him as rookies and they have just grown and grown. It is the fourth year for the team at the nationals.
"Those five have always clicked as a team," said Waldock. The Sportsman's Club, where they train, is hardly sophisticated - it is just a traphouse and a clubhouse on Waldock's farm. "That's it, pure and simple." It is quite a contrast from some of the high-powered layouts elsewhere around the country that host other youth teams.
But it works, as Waldock notes. "It's the positive side of kids and guns."
The scholastic program was developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to offer young men and women in grades 12 and under an opportunity to compete in trap, skeet and Sporting Clays events.
The 108-year-old Grand American, the largest shooting event in the world and run by the Amateur Trapshooting Association, left Vandalia, Ohio, after 2005 after 81 straight years there after being pressured out of its home grounds by expansion of the Dayton airport.
In related if late-arriving news, John Whidden, of Nashville, Ga., captured the National Rifle Association's high-power long-range national championship at Camp Perry in the final events of the National Matches, which ended at mid month.
Whidden fired a 1241-68X out of a possible 1250-125X to edge defending champion Kent Reeve, of Cary, N.C., who fired 1236-65X.
A major bird-study event focusing on the difficult-to-recognize North American wood warblers in fall plumage is set for Sept. 8 and 9 in and around the Lakeside-Marblehead area, which lies east of Port Clinton in eastern Ottawa County.
A lineup of prominent lecturers includes Jon Dunn, birder and field-guide author; Bill Evans, founder of Old Bird, a nonprofit organization dedicated to monitoring of avian night flight-calls; Elliot Tramer, biologist, author, and ornithologist with the Toledo Naturalists' Association, and Kenn Kaufman, author of the Kaufman Focus Guide Series and many papers on birds and birding, and member of the Oak Harbor-based Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO).
Saturday evening's dinner keynote scheduled speaker is Victor Emanuel, founder of Victor Emanuel Nature Tours.
Field trips are set for Sunday morning throughout prime locations in the lakeshore region. For lodging information call Mary Ann 1-866-952-5374, extension 248.
Events sponsors are BSBO, TNA, the Ohio Ornithological Society, and the Lakeside community. Other details are available at the BSBO Web site, www.bsbo.org.
Dunn also is the center of attention for "An evening with Jon Dunn," beginning with a dinner sponsored by the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Association, set for 5 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Ottawa refuge's new visitor center, 14000 West State Rt. 2, Oak Harbor.
For other details call Rebecca Hinkle at 419-898-0014. Seating is limited, and tickets must be purchased in advance.