Want to go hunting for the first time? A local ranch is here to help with safe and enjoyable hunts

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ANGOLA, Ind. (WANE) – Hunting is back in season across northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio. For Jeff Berlew at Northern Whitetail Ranch, it means a return to a favorite hobby.

Berlew helps operate the ranch located in Steuben County. The ranch was inspired by a friend of Berlew’s, who ran a similar ranch in Indianapolis. He had a similar preserve and gave many individuals from different walks of life the opportunity to hunt.

Northern Whitetail Ranch is approximately 100 acres and is under the jurisdiction of the Board of Animal Health (BOAH). The ranch offers Whitetail Deer and Sika Deer hunts. BOAH keeps track of the ranch’s hunting records, animals stocks, and the healthiness of the herd. With them being in charge, the ranch is able to sell hunts in the enclosure.

Berlew says if you are planning on hunting with Northern Whitetail Ranch, you can purchase a permit through the ranch. Berlew will grant you a license and will help you through your hunt. The ranch constantly monitors the facility, the animals, and the catches. The quality and age of the animals is controlled. Their staff will sit with you through the entire hunt and help with decision-making and harvesting. The environment is controlled to ensure hunts are conducted safely.

Everyone is welcome to hunt at Northern Whitetail Ranch. The facility features three different elevated Muddy Blinds and a variety of different habitats, including pine trees, prairie grass, open fields, and freshwater ponds.

On a typical day, hunts will begin in a blind about 30 to 45 minutes before daylight. You will sit in the blind and watch for different animals. You have the option to change blinds throughout the duration of the hunt; each blind is placed along common routes of animal movement. A break is then taken through midday, as the animals are usually sedentary during the heat of the day. You will then come back out around 1:00 to 2:00 PM and hunt until dark. The ranch will have you sit and wait for the animals to come to you rather than chasing the animals. Berlew will do some distance measurements and help you with shot selection. The shot to kill the animals must be humane and clean. The shot from the blind is designed to be into the ground, which ensures a missed shot goes safely into the ground.

Berlew says most hunts are for the animal’s meat and horns. After you have killed the animal, the harvested animal is tagged and paperwork is submitted. The ranch makes sure everything is properly documented.

A wide range of equipment is used to hunt the animals. Hunters can participate in rifle hunts and archery hunts. Rifle hunts include muzzleloaders, shotguns, and long guns. Archery hunts include crossbows, longbows, and compound bows.

Berlew says the best time for hunting is around this time of the year. This is peak breeding season for the deer, which makes them especially active. The weather is also very good for hunting. Berlew likes cool weather in the mid-30s and overcast skies. A few snow flurries are also good. The colder weather makes the animals move more and eat more, plus it is more comfortable in the blinds. The animals are unpredictable, but they do like clover and freshwater when they are available.

Ultimately, hunting is so special because of the peacefulness and camaraderie. It is a great opportunity to enjoy nature and spend time with friends and family. Berlew recalls times when three generations hunted at the same time. Everyone gathers around and shares stories with each other. Even if you do not like hunting, enjoying time with family, nature, and the animals is priceless. Berlew loves the ranch because it gives people the space to hunt safely and comfortably.

Berlew hopes that by taking care of the animals, habitats, seasons, and abiding by the rules, hunting at the ranch will be a renewable resource for years to come. If you want to learn more about Northern Whitetail Ranch, including when you can hunt this year, visit their Facebook page.

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