By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman
It’s no news to me that Ohio’s oak trees are offering an abundance of acorns this season. The red oaks that tower over our small, metal-roofed cabin have been letting us know since September by shedding their fruit, which sounds like a rifle shot when a premium acorn hits the “tin” roof. Official numbers back-up our own findings: the 2023 survey of acorn abundance on select Ohio wildlife areas shows an average of 40% of white oaks and 54% of red oaks bore fruit, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW). The long-term average for white oak production is 37%, and 54% for red oaks.
“The thousands of acorns a mature Ohio oak tree drops on the forest floor will feed about 90 wildlife species,” said Kendra Wecker, ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief. “Deer, turkeys, squirrels, ruffed grouse, blue jays, raccoons, woodpeckers, foxes, and more seek out and eat acorns throughout the fall and winter.”
This is the 19th year the Division of Wildlife has completed the mast survey. In doing so, each summer, Division of Wildlife employees scan the canopies of oaks at 36 selected wildlife areas to determine the percentage that produced acorns as well as the relative size of the acorn crop. Statewide, the proportion of white oaks bearing acorns (40%) was similar to 2022 (38%), while the percentage of red oaks with acorns (54%) was 16% higher than last year. Acorn abundances vary by region. All results, including tables and historical numbers, are available at wildohio.gov.
Acorns come in two basic types: red and white. They are divided into these groups based on the type of oak tree. Red oak acorns take two years to develop, and the acorns are bitter, containing a large amount of the chemical tannin. White oak acorns take only one year to develop and have a sweeter taste. The differences cause periodic fluctuations in statewide acorn abundance. Low mast production years are a normal part of this cycle, and wildlife readily adapt to find alternative food sources.
Roosters released statewide
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife will release more than 14,000 ring-necked pheasants at 25 public hunting areas this fall, with the three major releases taking place this month: Friday, Nov. 3 (opening day); Friday, Nov. 10, and Thursday, Nov. 23 (Thanksgiving Day) at the following locations:
• Central Ohio: Delaware Wildlife Area
• Northwest Ohio: Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area; Oxbow Lake Wildlife Area; Resthaven Wildlife Area; Ringneck Ridge Wildlife Area (by permit only, find additional information from the Sandusky County Park District); Tiffin River Wildlife Area; and Wyandot Wildlife Area.
• Northeast Ohio: Camp Belden Wildlife Area; Charlemont Metro Park; Berlin Wildlife Area; Grand River Wildlife Area; Highlandtown Wildlife Area (no youth releases); Spencer Wildlife Area; West Branch Wildlife Area (no youth releases); and Zepernick Wildlife Area.
• Southeast Ohio: Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area; Pleasant Valley Wildlife Area (no youth releases); Salt Fork Wildlife Area (no youth releases); and Tri-Valley Wildlife Area.
• Southwest Ohio: Caesar Creek Wildlife Area; Darke Wildlife Area; Fallsville Wildlife Area (no releases for Nov. 10); Indian Creek Wildlife Area; Rush Run Wildlife Area; and Spring Valley Wildlife Area.
Ohio’s ring-necked pheasant hunting season is open from Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, until Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. The daily harvest limit is two male birds; no hens (females) may be harvested. A valid Ohio hunting license is required to pursue pheasants and other game birds. Additional details on Ohio’s fall pheasant releases can be found at wildohio.gov, along with maps of public hunting areas, the current hunting and trapping regulations, and more.
Hargus Lake dam renovation
The ODNR recently rededicated the A.W. Marion State Park dam to celebrate the completion of a $9.6 million rehabilitation project that includes the first major dam rehabilitation at Hargus Lake since 1956. A new concrete spillway was installed, which increased the dam’s flow capacity by 60%. Additionally, the slope of the 1,500-foot-long embankment was flattened to improve long-term stability. Design and construction administration services were provided by HDR Engineering, Inc., and The Ruhlin Company performed the construction using 110,000 cubic yards of earth fill, 1,800 cubic yards of concrete, and 18,000 cubic yards of sand and stone.
Boating and fishing opportunities abound at 145-acre Hargus Lake. Hand-powered vessels and boats with electric motors are allowed, and the lake is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and channel catfish.
Antique tackle featured
The Akron/Canton chapter of the National Fishing Lure Collector’s Club will hold its annual fishing tackle show and sale on Saturday, November 11 (Veteran’s Day) at the Holiday Inn Canton, located at 4520 Everhard Road NW in Belden Village. The show is open to the public from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. with $10 admission. For more information, call 330-612-9438 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.