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Toledo news, weather, traffic and sports | Toledo, Ohio, | wtol.com

For many Ohioans, hunting and fishing providing necessary escape during stressful pandemic

Hunter Brian Ellithorpe, from Oregon, says the increased number of people enjoying the outdoors is one of the bright spots of 2020.
Credit: WTOL
Hunter Brian Ellithorpe, from Oregon, with his hunting partner Boomer.

OREGON, Ohio — For local man Brian Ellithorpe hunting provides an escape from everyday life and the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.

Ellithorpe hunts 4 days a week near his home in Oregon, on the outskirts of Lucas County, with his sidekick and dog, Boomer.

He and Boomer will sit, as hunters do, completely still and focused, calling out to geese they hope to shoot in what he calls setting the decoy spread.

Call it taking social distancing to the extreme.

“Even when all the COVID precautions came out, the mayor and everybody were urging people to get outside to go fishing," said the 29-year-old project engineer. "At that time, it was the walleye run out on the river, and everybody was saying ‘get outside, enjoy outside’. Keep your distance of course, but that kind of changed how many people decided to join in on it. And it’s not a bad thing at all."

More people are licensed to hunt in Ohio than ever before.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, 246,524 people are currently licensed to hunt.

That's a 5.5% increase over the year before. Even more people are fishing.

The Division of Wildlife says 819,907 are licensed to fish, 11% more than the previous year.

Ohioans are turning to and embracing nature for what it can provide during uncertain times - the makings of a good meal and a moment of peace.

“COVID itself didn’t affect how we operate as sportsmen and sportswomen, but it really involved a lot more people, and I feel like if there’s any positive out of 2020 that would be the positive part," said Ellithorpe.

He says anybody can give hunting like he does a try.

They'd need waders, decoys, and a gun. A dog like Boomer would help too.

Knowing in advance what birds can and can't be shot is vital of course.

A clear head and a level of patience helps a hunter wait for his or her chance to shoot.

And maybe that's why so many people are signed up to hunt in 2020, to get away from the pandemic, and do something that ultimately brings them peace.