The special controlled deer hunt at the Ravenna Army Ammunition Plant will be held this year, but it won't be directed exactly as it has been in years past.
The popular hunt at the Portage County military installation -- properly called the Ravenna Training and Logistics Site-- was canceled in 2001 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The Ohio Army National Guard administers the RTLS with the site's main use being military training.
Civilian participation in the special hunts is determined through a drawing process in which hunters send in a special application.
Get their shot
This year, roughly two-thirds of the hunters who were thwarted by 9/11 will get their shot at a deer.
Changes for the 2002 hunt include the fact that a number of hunters selected last year won't get a chance to hunt this year -- a move strictly based on availability. Additionally, there will be one extra day this year than in 2001, and there will be no specific day set aside for a youth hunt as in years past.
When the Ravenna cancellation was handed down in 2001, Michael Budzik, chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, said: "We know that many of these hunters may have applied for several years before being drawn. Because of that, we will honor those selected this year for the next time hunts are held at these facilities, which we hope is next year."
Hunters who had been drawn for any of the canceled hunts were to receive a letter explaining the cancellation and their status as next year's selected hunters. Notices for this year's hunts are to be issued, according the DOW
Dan Kramer, wildlife management supervisor for District Three in Akron, said 674 permits were to be issued in 2001 for the Ravenna hunt. Kramer said that this year, 468 permits will be issued.
The 206 hunters who don't get selected will instead get a letter notifying them that they will automatically receive a permit for a 2003 hunt -- if one is held. That decision will be made next year.
One extra day
There is one extra hunt day at the arsenal this year, a spokesman for the DOW said, because there will be fewer areas to hunt because of security restrictions.
Bill Beagle, a spokesman for the DOW's District Three, said, "Even with the extra day at Ravenna this year, we will not be able to accommodate all of the hunters who were chosen in 2001."
He also said that those who were selected last year and get to hunt this year can probably not count on hunting the exact same time periods they were selected to hunt in 2001.
"They will be spread out over the seven selected days," Beagle said.
Moreover, because there are other controlled hunts in Ohio that have an application deadline of July 31, the DOW will wait until all those applications are in before sending them -- including last year's Ravenna "winners" -- to a private company that compiles data and pulls applications for permits, Beagle explained. That aspect of the process, he said, likely won't happen until early August.
Meanwhile, Lt. Colonel Tom Tadsen, commander of the RTLS, said a youth hunt is not planned for 2002. "We had one youth hunt day scheduled last year, and in previous years, usually averaged around 75 youth hunters per hunt day," he said.
"A couple of years ago, based on public hunter requests, we lifted the restriction that excluded youths from the adult hunt days. That effectively made every hunt day a potential youth hunt day, if the adult was willing to apply with a youth as a partner."
Tadsen added that among those chosen as primary hunters in last year's adult hunts -- and who gets named for a slot in this year's hunts -- will undoubtedly include some percentage of youth hunters. "[The Division of Wildlife] agreed that this plan was the best we could do, considering the security restrictions we must comply with," he said.
Specifics on those security restrictions at the RTLS are not available for publication, Tadsen explained. He said that the additional security measures are restricted for publication. "Information is on a need-to-know basis only, and not available to the press or the general public. This is a common-sense issue," he said.
Although he also could not outline specific hunt areas, Tadsen did say that all of the alpha-numeric designations have been changed. "The hunters will not receive a map in the mail as they had previously," he said." They will be provided a map when they sign in, and the map must be returned before they leave RTLS."
An earlier DOW announcement set the 2002 hunts as follows: Oct. 12, 19 and, 26; Nov. 9, 16 and 23; and Dec. 14. During the Oct. 26 and Nov. 23 hunts, 50 percent of the hunters will be allowed to harvest a deer of either sex. The other 50 percent will be limited to taking only an antlerless deer. Only antlerless deer may be taken during the remainder of hunts.
"Based on security requirements, and after adjusting marked hunt area boundaries, there are 65 separate civilian hunt areas this year," Tadsen said. He added that the DOW randomly chooses the civilian hunters to be assigned to each hunt area and then, in turn, Tim Morgan, the arsenal's civilian environmental supervisor, and his staff randomly assign military personnel to the hunt areas available to them.
Tadsen also said that the main concern was to make sure the deer population at the arsenal was being managed properly.
"Our intention is to reach the desired state of a well-managed deer herd with fewer does per buck than we currently have," he said.
The RTLS commander said that the hunts were designed in such a way to avoid massive deer population swings from year to year, as has happened in the past.
Tadsen said Morgan and his staff designed and developed the hunt strategy scientifically to be the best possible program to support the facility's military mission and facilitate its security requirements.
Wags the tail
"Our military mission is to manage the training site to provide maximum availability of training lands for military training. The deer management strategy is designed to maintain a healthy population within carrying capacity of the land, with the minimum number of hunts, and therefore the minimum impact on military training." Tadsen said.
"The deer are not managed for the sake of hunting. Hunting is used as a management tool in the overall management of the RTLS ecosystem(s) to support sustainable training and meet national security objectives. Military training and security are the dog that wags its tail. Deer hunting is the tail."