The Ohio Legislative Sportsmen Caucus recently held their 2015 Sporting Clay Shootout at the Cardinal Shooting Center. Kyle Rorah, Midwestern State Coordinator for the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation, welcomed the legislators and sportsmen to the event, “Today’s event is made possible by sponsors DU, Ohio State Trappers Association, the NWTF and the Ohio Conservation Federation. Karen Stewart Linkhart, who is the Chair of the Ohio Wildlife Council is here. The ODNR Division of Wildlife provided some additional shotguns for anyone needing a shotgun. The Division will have instructors on the five stand course for anyone not familiar with shooting sporting clays. Also a big thanks to the Cardinal Shooting Center for hosting the event at their sporting clays facility. Rep. Jonathan Dever and Senator Joe Uecker, two of the co-chairs of the Ohio Legislative Sportsmen Caucus, are here.”
Senator Uecker welcomed everyone noting, “I thank everyone for their participation and sponsorship. Thanks to the Division of Wildlife for providing additional firearms and safety equipment. Thanks for all the help you give to the caucus.” Rep. Dever added, “We appreciate all you do for the sportsmen community and wildlife. It is becoming harder to get people engaged in outdoor activities. The shooting sports is really our pastime and Ohio’s pastime. Let us know if there is anything we can do for you.”
Following a general rules and safety briefing the teams were announced and headed out to the course. It wasn’t long before the call of pull could be heard and the report of shotguns echoed around the woods. There was a lot of head shaking when targets were missed and rounds of support as good shots were made.
It gave all the participants a chance to know each other, and especially the legislators, on a different level away from the formality of the statehouse. I shot with Rep. Dever, who is certainly no stranger to firearms. He had his wing-shooting already tuned up and kept the pressure on other team members as he broke his fair share of the targets. The weather was wonderful and everyone had a great day at one of the finest sporting clays courses in Ohio.
ODNR Division of Wildlife Interim Chief Sue Howard addressed the sportsmen and legislators regarding major issues facing the division., “First of all thanks to everyone for taking time out of your busy schedules to be here. I just want to take a few minutes to talk about some issues. You may have recently heard that the ODNR, Division of Wildlife and the Division of Forestry, are discussing ways to protect over 60,000 acres of reclaimed mining land in southeastern Ohio. These lands are a long-standing partnership with AEP where they own the land and the Division manages it. It has been a major recreation destination of sportsmen for over sixty years. AEP is divesting of some properties in this area. We are working to keep these land open for future outdoor recreation.”
She quickly moved to address the shooting range updates, “I can’t talk about shooting ranges without talking about the federal aid Pittman-Robertson dollars. Because of the increase in firearm and ammunition sales over the last few years, the Division is receiving twice as much federal aid dollars. We are looking at where best to spend those dollars. Shooting ranges is one area we have identified. There are several projects going on across the state. We receive 75 percent in federal aid for everything we spend. We’ve been utilizing volunteer hours as the federally required matching 25 percent to minimize the actual cash spent by the Division.”
Howard also addressed the optimism surrounding the recent hatch surveys and production on Lake Erie. She noted the strong hatch and the optimism for some of the best walleye fishing at Lake Erie in the next two to three years. She wrapped up addressing the upcoming hunting seasons which are a busy time for the personnel with the Division. She noted that the youth season are starting with upland game season about to begin. The waterfowl season also kicks off. Special emphasis was given to the Buckmasters Magazine which ranked Ohio as the second best state in the country for trophy white-tailed deer.
Rorah spoke next regarding the recent September 26 as National Hunting and Fishing Day. The Ohio General Assembly passed resolutions recognizing National Hunting and Fishing Day. Rep. Dever and Senator Uecker brought the resolutions to the event to share. Additionally the Kasich administration also recognized September 26 as National Hunting and Fishing Day.
Matt Misicka, Ohio Conservation Federation, summed up the day, “It’s been a great deal of fun to meet our elected officials here today. We’ve spent some quality time and out in the field with them. The camaraderie was wonderful. Senator Uecker did a great job putting this together and ran a couple of stations on the course. It was a lot of fun.”
Rorah concluded, “This is the first shoot with the Ohio caucus in several years. I feel very fortunate that we are able to bring a very diverse group of sportsmen representatives and caucus members together to enjoy recreational shooting. The shooting sports are a vital component of wildlife conservation. I think the event went really well. The weather is perfect today. Everyone had a fun and safe time.”
Larry Moore is a local resident and long-time outdoor columnist.