LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION
The 200-acre wildlife area is located within Pickaway County, 3.5 miles east of Commercial Point and four miles north of South Bloomfield. It is adjacent to the Scioto River along its most western edge, and is bordered by an old feeder canal to the east which was once part of the Ohio and Erie canals system. The area can be reached from the north and south by U.S. Route 23, from the west via State Route 762 and from the east by Duvall/Harrisburg-Fairfield Roads.
The terrain is very flat and located within the Scioto River floodplain, which has resulted in very moist soils throughout the area. These moist soils support an array of unique plants, which are mainly located on the property north of State Route 762. Wet meadows, flooded wetlands, vernal pools, and patches of warm season prairie grasses are the primary habitats located north of State Route 762. Habitats south of State Route 762 include woodlots with vernal pools scattered throughout, riparian corridors, and openland. Cooperative farming, including rotational cool season grasses, controlled burning and native warm season grass plantings are used on this area as part of the wildlife management program.
HISTORY AND PURPOSE
The land that comprises the Mackey Ford Wildlife Area was acquired in 1996 with the assistance of organizations including Ducks Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy. Prior to its acquisition, the Mackey Ford Wildlife Area was intensively farmed for several decades. However, the area has experienced frequent flooding from the Scioto River, which has resulted in the formation of several shallow depressions. These depressions provided an excellent opportunity for wetland restoration. A 20-acre wetland mitigation program taken on by the Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Columbus Regional Airport Authority was constructed in late 2008.
The Mackey Ford Wildlife Area lies within the Lower Scioto Focus Area of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, which is an extremely important migration corridor for waterfowl in the Mississippi Flyway. The purpose of the Mackey Ford Wildlife Area is to provide excellent opportunities for hunters, fishermen, and wildlife enthusiasts, along with quality habitat for migratory waterfowl. These goals are met through management practices such as wetland restoration, cooperative farming, and grassland restoration.
FISH AND WILDLIFE
Major sport fishes in the Scioto River include bluegill, sunfishes, largemouth and smallmouth bass, rock bass, channel catfish, carp, suckers, and crappies.
Upland game species include cottontail rabbits, and mourning doves. Waterfowl species include mallards and Canada geese. Popular forest game species are fox squirrel and white-tailed deer. Furbearers include raccoon, opossum, muskrat, mink, weasel, red fox, gray fox, coyote, and skunk.
A diversity of waterfowl, including mallards, pintails, black ducks, and Canada geese, use the Scioto River corridor during spring and fall migrations. Waterfowl can also be found throughout the wetlands in the northern section of the wildlife area. Large numbers of shorebirds can be observed during spring and fall migrations, and are most easily viewed within the wetlands north of State Route 762 when water levels have dropped. Other birds of interest include the Northern harrier, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, osprey, and the occasional bald eagle. Vernal pools scattered throughout the eastern edge of the property also provide excellent opportunities to observe a range of amphibian species.
HUNTING, TRAPPING, AND FISHING
The wetlands north of State Route 762 provide good opportunities for waterfowl hunting. Squirrel and deer hunting are best in the woodlots south of State Route 762. Rotational crop fields on either side of State Route 762 offer dove hunting opportunities. The Scioto River offers fishing opportunities for smallmouth bass, rock bass, channel catfish, bullhead, carp, and suckers. Undercut banks, riffles, and obstructions in the river provide the best spots for concentrations of these species. Trapping opportunities for furbearers such as mink and muskrat exist within the wetlands north of State Route 762.
PUBLIC USE FACILITIES
A parking lot is located to the south of State Route 762 and just east of the Scioto River. Access to the Scioto River can be obtained via an unimproved boat launching area located on the most westerly side of the wildlife area. This area is for the loading and unloading of watercraft, and all vehicles and trailers must be returned to the parking area after unloading. Dog training and exercise is only permitted on the wildlife area from September 1 to April 30 each year.
Day-use-only waterfowl blinds are permitted throughout the wildlife area, except along the border with the Scioto River. No hunting blinds are allowed in this area because the property line does not extend beyond the eastern bank of the Scioto River. However, hunters may launch boats and float the Scioto River for waterfowl as long as all hunting regulations are followed.
Further information on the wildlife area may be obtained from the Area Supervisor, Deer Creek Wildlife Area, 12552 Post Rd., Mt. Sterling, Ohio 43143; telephone (740) 869-2365 or from the Wildlife District One Office, 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus, Ohio 43215; telephone (614) 644-3925.
TURN IN A POACHER
Ohio’s TIP, “Turn In a Poacher,” program is helping to curtail poaching throughout the state. TIP is designed to involve the public in reporting wildlife violations. Citizens who observe wildlife violations should call the TIP toll-free hotline at 1-800-POACHER.