Dillon Wildlife Area
By: Kyle Hobson
Walking through the woods, you hear the fallen leaves crunch underneath your feet. Looking off into the distance, you can hear some rustling in the leaves. Looking through the trees, you see some movement: a big, mature whitetail deer. In that moment everything freezes; it’s only you and your target. You draw your bow, hold your breath, focus in, and then release your arrow to fly. You hit him right behind the shoulder. Lowering your bow, you fill with excitement, knowing you had a good shot on him. Following the blood trail is the next best part. Following the winding trail, seeing the blood drops get closer and closer together, you look up and see the trophy you just harvested, and all of your hard work and dedication pays off. Number 2 on the top five places to hunt, Dillon Wildlife Area is a great place for hunters and fishermen. There are many things to do out there. Located off of Route 146, it is the best public recreation land around here.
Hunting there is very plentiful, with many species of wildlife. Many people go there to harvest wildlife, including deer, grouse, squirrel, raccoon, and coyote. There are many more species out there, way too many to list. I have been there many times to harvest fox or gray squirrel. I have come out very successful almost every time I have gone there. I use my AR-22, and that gets them every time. I have used a 20-gauge shotgun, but I don’t think it is hard enough to hunt them. I like the difficulty of the hunt with a .22. My buddy who lives in the city, and has no property to hunt on, goes out there every year and gets a successful deer kill early on in bow season every year. I also hunt for raccoons out there; they are very plentiful, eating the clams and fish from shore. My friend and I go out there in November through December, and we harvest many coons from that stretch of woods. I just purchased a new rifle to hunt for them this season. When we hunt for them, we run a dog on them—that is about the only way to hunt them, unless you get lucky and see one running across an open area or a trail. I love using the dog; the thrill of hearing the hound do the signature Treeing Walker howl just gets your heart racing. Once you hear that, you take off running, following your GPS tracker. It is fun hunting the small game out there.
There are many species of fish in the water portion of the 4,000-acre plot. The species consist of but are not limited to Largemouth Bass, crappie, Channel Catfish, Shovelhead Catfish, muskellunge, saugeye, carp, and many types of suckerfish. When fishing out there, you can catch a number of different species on just a bobber with a hook and nightcrawler. I spend more of my time bass fishing with hard plastic and soft plastic baits during the day. The best to use there is a square bill crankbait when you fish from a boat. Also, using a Senko soft worm wacky style will catch them every time. When nighttime comes around, I stay out all night and fish for catfish. When I fish for them, I use a goldfish, crawfish, or nightcrawler with a special spray of rotten shad. You can catch them at daytime, but they are much more active feeders at night. I have caught a 17-pounder and many 10 and under at night. During the day I mainly catch squealers, which is the nickname for baby catfish. Almost every time you fish there, you will catch something; it just depends on bait, time, and location.
You can also run a trapline out there. Some of the species you can trap are fox, squirrel, mink, muskrat, racoon, and beaver. You can use a couple different types of traps that include dog proofs, live box traps, and footholds and snares. A dog proof is a cylinder with a trip lever and a metal bar that traps the raccoon’s arm in it; you place it on creek banks where you see their tracks. The best bait to use there is stuff with fish in it, being that they are so close to the water. If you use a box trap, you can use peanut butter so nothing can shake the bait out of it. When you’re setting a snare, you don't use bait; instead, you place it on a very active game trail and wait for something to walk through it. My personal favorite is the dog proof because you don’t really have a chance of catching a skunk like you would in the box traps. You try to run the dog proofs on sides of creek banks, active game trails, or anywhere you can see a lot of activity.
Dillon Wildlife Area is the best public land for any outdoorsmen or women who don’t have property of their own. They have it all, from hunting to fishing and trapping. I come out successful almost every time I go there. With so many ways to harvest so many animals, it is such a wildlife-rich area. Go out and experience it for yourself. You will have a great time if you go.