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Girls With Guns Equal More Fun

If you’re a woman hunter and have always wondered what it’s like to hunt amongst other women that share the passion, then you’re in luck. There’s a secret stash of land in Ohio’s district three area, 21,683 approximate acres to be exact, and for one day out of the year only women hunters are allowed a crack at some of the trophy bucks that roam the property.

The hunt I’m referring to is held at the Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Area, the former Ravenna Arsenal, and is part of Ohio’s Controlled Hunt program.  No one knows the quality of deer that the property holds better then Kimberly Ludt, Environmental Specialist for the Ohio Army National Guard who is permanently stationed at Camp Ravenna. Kim assists Environmental Supervisor, Tim Morgan, in organizing and managing the hunts held on the property and is a hunter herself.

This past season Kim was hunting on the grounds during the last hunt of the year when she downed a monstrous 11-point buck, a buck many hunters only hope for a chance at. Kim has been a hunter for the past six years and you can tell by the sound of her voice that she’s proud to call herself a hunter. But that wasn’t always the case for Kim. “I actually wasn’t in favor of hunting and was a vegetarian for many years. I got to be more comfortable and accepting of hunting after my husband and I met. After we got married I started spending some time with him in the field while he was bow hunting and thought that this was something I could get into. A few years later I ended up taking archery at a ‘Women in the Outdoors’ event and I was hooked. My husband bought me a shotgun for my birthday one year and a bow the following.”

As an employee of Camp Ravenna, Kim is able to participate during the hunts as long as she isn't scheduled to work. On November 28TH she had taken the morning off to go hunting and was in the field with her husband. They were hunting 75 yards apart when Kim heard him shoot. The shot was aimed towards the 11-point buck, but wasn’t lethal as it hit him high. Kim paused after his shot as the buck ran from the direction of her husband and stopped 50yards from her. Her Remington 870 sounded and this time the buck wasn’t so lucky as Kim’s shot found his vitals.  The buck field dressed 160lbs, and is estimated to have been over 4 ½ years old.  Better yet, this was only Kim’s second deer ever. Her first was a year and a half-old spike taken from Camp Ravenna last year.

Kim’s success is one of many that women experience during the hunts held at Camp Ravenna and the only way Kim agreed to do this article was if we could get the word out about the Women’s Hunt and talk about the success that women have experienced. Here’s how you can get involved:First, don’t let age or experiences stop you, these hunts are for all as one young lady found out.

It was 2008 when Rachael Gatt, then 11yrs old, of Medina, Ohio, passed her hunters' safety course. She was later picked to hunt at Camp Ravenna and this hunt would be her first ever. With her grandfather accompanying her, Rachael was able to harvest her first deer, a spike buck. That’s what it’s all about!

The Ohio Division of Wildlife offers Controlled Deer Hunts on properties around Ohio that are normally off limits to hunters. Camp Ravenna is part of this program and has been for years.

A Controlled Hunt works like this. From June 1ST to July 31ST, the ODOW accepts applications from anyone that fills out and sends in applications for the hunts. A small fee is required to enter each hunt you apply for - $3 per hunt if you submit online or $5 per hunt for hard copy. Randomly selected applicants are then picked and notified. If picked, hunters can bring a partner with them to the area for the assigned day but must comply with all rules and regulations specific to the hunt's district as well as any rules set by the property managers. Camp Ravenna has such regulations and we’ll get to those shortly.

The ODOW first approached Camp Ravenna in 2006 in regards to holding a Women’s Hunt as part of the Ravenna Controlled Hunts. The commander at the time, LTC Thomas Tadsen, agreed to the hunt and they’ve continued it since. Only women can apply, but if chosen she may bring a male or female hunting partner of her choice.  However, only women may take an antlered deer on this hunt and only one antlered deer may be taken per pair of hunters. For example, if two women partner up for this hunt, only one of them may take a buck.

The 2006 season drew 672 applicants, out of those, 200 pairs of hunters showed up to hunt. That number dropped slightly in ’07 and ’08, but in 2009 779 hunters applied and 234 hunted. A normal hunt can draw as many as 260 hunters. An interesting note from Kim was the success rates they’ve had for this hunt – 2006 16.5% - 2007 19.9% - 2008 22.84% - 2009 23.9%. Increases are always good and Kim said that these percentages are usually a little lower than the other hunts, because women tend to be more conservative, waiting for the perfect shot rather than taking a lucky shot. Women’s hunts tend to be centered around the rut, just to give women a slight edge.

There are approximately 130 hunt areas ranging from 50 to 200 acres that each pair must stay in. To help keep hunters safe and in assigned areas, Camp Ravenna utilizes Volunteer Escorts. They patrol hunt area boundaries and by doing so they help get deer up and moving. As reward for volunteering their time, they’re also permitted to hunt.

Because Camp Ravenna is a military training site, some areas are designated as off limits to the public. These areas are designated as military hunt areas. Military hunters can apply to hunt these areas, similar to the public hunters that apply to the ODOW.  The selection process for the military hunters is random, just like the drawing for the public hunt areas.

Specific rules apply and every hunter that is picked to hunt will be provided with rules that must be followed. To relay a few – only ahotguns are allowed, hunter orange is a must, and certain bag limits apply. White/albino deer roam the property but they ask that you do not shoot them, simply enjoy actually seeing
one.

Curious about the background of the property? Camp Ravenna is federal property managed by the Ohio Army National Guard as a training site. There’s still a small amount of cleanup occurring in areas where munitions were produced and/or stored. The Army still retains responsibility for those areas (approx. 1300 acres) until cleanup is complete. After its complete the property gets turned over to the Ohio Army National Guard to manage as a training site but still remains federal property. They’re required to manage the property in accordance with Army regulations, also state and federal laws.  “Army Regulations require being good stewards of their lands and managing the resources on it appropriately. The deer hunts are integrated as part of the natural resources management program. Keeping the deer herd at a healthy population is an important part of wildlife management and overall ecosystem management on the facility.”

In an effort to get an estimate of the deer population and determine the number of deer that need to be harvested the following year, employees perform roadside deer surveys in late August. This helps determine the buck to doe ratio. Also contributing to determining the deer population, ODOW completes winter counts by flying over the facility with a helicopter. These two factors along with the number of deer already harvested the previous year help Camp Ravenna determine how many hunts to hold the following year.

Now all you need to do is apply and cross your fingers. This is a fun hunt any which way you view it and it’s just waiting for you to give it a try. For additional information on Controlled Hunts and how to apply visit www.wildohio.com or call 1-800-WILDLIFE. Good luck!

Many thanks to Kimberly Ludt for the information and photos provided. And my congratulations to her on a successful season.

 

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