Location & Description
The 4,670-acre wildlife area is situated in central Ohio eight miles north of Delaware, 10 miles south of Marion, and between U.S. Routes 42 and 23. The wildlife area is adjacent to the Delaware Reservoir and Delaware State Park and can be reached from the east and west by State Route 229 and from the south and north by U.S. Route 23 and County Road 220. The topography of the area ranges from flat to slightly rolling. The soils are generally well drained and of medium productivity. Approximately 350 acres are under cultivation in row and small grain crops annually. Approximately 50 percent of the wildlife area is in old field habitat consisting of mixed grasses, briers and small shrubs. Over 10 percent of the area has been planted to prairie grasses, timothy and clover to provide grassland wildlife habitat. Nearly 40 percent of the wildlife area consists of second growth hardwoods and brush in advanced stages of succession. The timber stands consist of cottonwood, ash, elm, beech, maple, hickory, oak, and black walnut.
History & Purpose
Delaware Reservoir was constructed from 1947 to 1950 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood control. Most of the 8,301 acres are licensed to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for fish, wildlife, and general recreation purposes. Delaware State Park, on the southwest side of the reservoir, provides camping, picnicking, and boat launching facilities for the hunter and angler. The remaining 6,000 acres, including the 1,330-acre lake, are managed for fish and wildlife and are available for hunting and fishing. The wildlife management plan for the area provides for a diversity of habitats for upland wildlife. Management techniques include sharecropping, planting of permanent nesting cover, manipulating timber stands, and periodic burning to control succession. Wetland wildlife habitat has been improved by the construction of 54 ponds and the flooding of 159 acres of seasonal wetlands. The Olentangy Wildlife Research Station, which serves as the headquarters for statewide upland wildlife research, is located here. Many field research projects have been carried out on this area since 1951.
Cottontail rabbit, ring-necked pheasant, mourning dove, squirrels, woodchuck, raccoon, muskrat, mink, and opossum are the principal upland game and fur species. Resident populations of Canada geese, wood ducks, and mallards occur on the area. During the spring and fall migrations, these and other waterfowl species can be found in large numbers on the reservoir, ponds, and seasonally flooded marsh. A great variety of both nesting and migrant birds utilize the area. Of particular interest is the spring migration of waterfowl and songbirds and the fall migration of hawks. Red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, and Northern harriers (marsh hawks) are common summer sights over the open fields and woodlots. Large numbers of turkey vultures are also present during summer. Among the rare and unusual birds which have been observed are the Northern goshawk, king rail, snowy owl, long-eared owl, great egret, cattle egret, and sandhill crane. In 1994, wild turkeys were relocated from eastern Ohio to the Delaware Wildlife Area. Bald eagles and osprey nest at and/or near the area. Bird observation is a popular activity at Delaware. Populations of black bass, bluegill, crappie, white bass, saugeye, and catfish occur in the reservoir.
The Delaware Wildlife Area is popular for rabbit, mourning dove, pheasant, and deer hunting. Pheasants are released each year to increase harvest opportunity for this popular game bird. At the extreme southern end of the wildlife area, a 159-acre marsh provides excellent waterfowl hunting. Jump shooting for ducks on the numerous ponds is often productive. Trapping for muskrat, raccoon, and mink is equally rewarding and night hunting is popular. Bass, crappies, bluegill, channel catfish, and saugeye make up the bulk of the fishery. Fishing below the dam during cold weather for saugeye and fishing the Olentangy and Whetstone rivers during the spring migration of white bass should prove rewarding. Throughout the warmer months, catfish, saugeye and black crappie fishing in the reservoir is very good. Boating with unlimited horsepower is permitted. Three boat-launching ramps are conveniently located around the lake. Boat and dock rentals are offered seasonally. A fully equipped marina offers fuel, fishing and boating supplies. A dog training area is available for year-round use. Permission to erect a permanent duck blind on the reservoir must be secured from the park manager at the Delaware State Park headquarters.
Delaware Wildlife Area also features designated access roads for Electric Powered All Purpose Vehicle (EPAPV)/Motor Vehicle Use Permit holders. The permit allows use of an EPAPV with a 30 horsepower and/or use of a motor vehicle on designated access roads on specific state wildlife areas for mobility impaired persons. The following facilities are also available to users with disabilities: rifle, handgun, and shotgun shooting ranges with accessible restrooms, and an archery range.