Stark Parks and ODNR plan to hunt deer in Quail Hollow State Park
LAKE TWP. – Jon Brenckle knows how destructive deer can be.
The owner of Brenckle Farms saw them strolling from inside Quail Hollow State Park to his property where they munch on his crops, especially lettuce.
âWe are planting romaine, green, red, Boston.â¦ But they prefer romaine,â he said. âThey bite straight from the center. You come out, pull a (plant) up, peel the leaves and the middle is gone.
“They might injure a field. Over time you might see 50% damage to lettuce. They eat our sweet corn, but lettuce, they really like it.”
The number of deer and the destruction they cause are so extensive in Quail Hollow State Park that wildlife officers invite bow hunters to thin out the herd.
Stark Parks and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources are running the Quail Hollow Park Controlled Bow Hunting Program, a deer harvest that will run from October 2 to February 6. Hunters have until Sunday to register and have the chance to participate.
This is the first hunt controlled by Stark Parks.
The goal is to restore a balanced ecosystem and manage the deer population in the 701-acre park, made up of rolling meadows, marshes and woodlands in northern Stark County near Hartville. The large amount of deer can harm crops and native vegetation, while also leading to an increase in the number of motor vehicle accidents, Stark Parks said.
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A Malone University study conducted in January showed that the deer density at Quail Hollow – where hunting is not permitted – was 212 to 360 deer per square mile, noting that biologists say “the optimum density deer in healthy forests is 15 to 28 deer per square mile. ”
âOur estimates indicate that Quail Hollow is severely overcrowded with deer!â The study concluded. He also noted that the overabundance of deer is likely “the spread of disease among the herds, damaging crops in the surrounding areas of the park and stripping the forest floor of native plants.”
Farmers near Quail Hollow: âWe fight deer every year. “
Farmers and residents who live and do business just outside the park say the deer are ravenous.
âWe fight with the deer every year,â said Chris Byler, office administrator at KW Zellers & Son farm in the park’s southeast.
Herds of deer devour corn at Congress Lake Farms, which lines the park’s northern border along the stretch of Pontius Street that separates Stark and Portage counties.
“They’re damaging the corn,” said Kenneth Rufener, co-owner of the farm, which spans 3,000 acres in four counties. He said the deer were more active during the night, adding that they were returning to the park. âThey know this is their sanctuary,â he said.
Mike Rufener, who also co-owns the farm, said the raccoons were doing even more damage.
“Raccoons are destroying the outer rows (of corn),” he said. “They just shoot him to the ground and ruin him.”
Park volunteers say the deer unfortunately enjoy the herb garden inside the park, which was state-owned until 2016 when the county took it over.
Deer also frequently venture to the south side of the park, damaging properties along Swamp Street NE.
âThey eat all of our plants and flowers,â said Charlotte Schlabach, who, along with her husband, John, owns Quail’s Covey Bed & Breakfast on Swamp Street NE.
John Schlabach pointed to the line of 60 arborvitae trees he planted, describing how big-antler males destroyed two of the trees last year by repeatedly rubbing their antlers on the branches during mating season. He plans to install a solar electric fence to keep them out.
The deer previously chewed on his wife’s vegetable garden on the other side of their house – until she put up a solar electric fence around it.
âBefore that, they just had an assortment,â she said.
Control the deer population
Farmers in Stark County have been given “deer damage permits”, which allow them to kill more than the county limit of three deer outside of the hunting season.
ODNR statistics show that 409,808 deer licenses were sold in 2020 and 197,721 deer were slaughtered. In County Stark, 3,238 deer were killed, an increase of 14% from the previous three years.
The deer hunting season for archers does not start until September 25. The gun game only lasts for about a week from November 29 to December 5 and then again from December 18 to 19.
Deer Lottery Details for Quail Hollow in County Stark
Jeff Westerfied, deputy supervisor of wildlife management at ODNR, called the deer density situation in the park “quite unbelievable.” He said he couldn’t estimate how many deer will be caught in the next archery program.
“There will probably be a good number of deer that can be removed from this park fairly quickly,” he said.
To qualify, interested bow hunters must participate in a lottery, which runs until 11:59 p.m. Sunday. The winners will be chosen on Monday.
For a $ 15 non-refundable entry fee, residents of Stark County who are archery hunters with a valid hunting license and deer license can compete for one of the 45 spots available.
Each winner must also first demonstrate mastery of a bow.
The hunt will take place within a predetermined period of two weeks in one of the five areas which are all off the trails.
Hunters can hunt all day “from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset,” said Stark Parks Police Chief Justin Laps.
They can also keep the deer they harvest or donate it to a meat processor, he said, noting that meat processors often donate deer meat to charities.
Laps said that as of Wednesday morning, 80 hunters had registered.
Applications for the Controlled Hunting Lottery, along with full details including qualifications, rules and regulations will be available at: http://starkparks.com/deerlottery.