WOODALLSCM.com November 2017 - 25 the park there’s hunting right there. There’s not a lot we have to do to cater to hunters — they’ve been coming here for years.” Pickens also has a taxidermist, who works in his restaurant, who can mount a monster whitetailorelkforhisguestsand hasrelation- ships with a couple of local meat processors who can help package their kills for the trip back home. Having those connections makes his park “pretty much the full deal,” he said. Fisherman also visit the park to fish for salmon and steelhead, just five miles down the road on the Salmon River, which flows for 425 miles through central Idaho. Hunters and fishermen aren’t the only visitors to the park, though, said Pickens, who addedthathikersfindthisagreatlocaleaswell, and it’s also ideal for wildlife viewing or horse- back riding. The Lewis and Clark Trail runs nearby,andthere’swhitewaterraftingtobehad as well. It also helps that they are just three miles out of town, close to restaurants and stores that hunters can use to eat and resupply. The biggest piece of advice he has for campground owners or potential campground buyers who want to attract hunters is location, location and location. That’s the factor that makes his park stand out among the competition. “Thelocationhastoberight.Ofalltheparks aroundhere,noneofthemhavetheaccessthat Idoforhuntingoutofthepark,”hesaid.“Toride a quarter of a mile on 93 and head up into the woods, into the canyons at two different locations,andhavehundredsofmilesofstate- managedlandtohuntiswhatit’sallabout.Plus, there’s a lot of game here.” He isn’t kidding about the abundance of game.Hisparkhad27visitorshuntingdeerlast seasonand24deerweretaggedbythatgroup. During the 2016 hunt, the park hosted 17 elk hunters with 10 elk tagged. Hunterstravelfromfarandwidetogettothe park. “Mostofourbusinessinthecampgroundis fromoutsideourarea,”saidPickens.“Wehave a group from Pennsylvania, a group from Cali- fornia and from Ohio. We get a lot of out-of- state people here. Some of them are also from the Boise area, about five hours away.” These are seasoned outdoorsmen and women who don’t need a guide service, so Water’s Edge merely provides a base camp for them. Avid hunters are also attracted to the Coshocton Kampgrounds of America (KOA) in Coshocton,Ohio,ownedandoperatedbyRyan McPeek and his wife, Camille. “This is our fifth season owning the park,” saidMcPeek.“Wedidn’tbuildthepark,butwe rehabbedanoldpark.Essentiallywestartedout with no customer base and kept looking for ways to draw customers. “The county we live in, Coshocton County, has the most public access hunting land in Ohio,” he continued. “We’ve got more than 50,000 acres here, plus quite a lot of woodland area and lots of corn and bean crops, so it caters to a really good deer population.” With that good deer population comes a sizable transient hunting population each fall, not just from Ohio, but also from other states. “We get a lot of people from North and SouthCarolina,forexample,tohuntOhiodeer,” said McPeek. “We realized that a lot of these folks are looking to camp, so we decided to build facilities to make their experience better and give them a nice comfortable base camp here at our park.” Partofthatcomfortisdoinglittlethings,like providing chili for hunters on a Sunday night before their Monday morning hunt. Coshoctonishometobothprivateandpub- lichunting,bothlocatedclosetoMcPeek’sKOA campground. The hunting land is about a 30- minute drive from the park. Previous to McPeeks’ownershipofthepark,itdidn’treally cater to recreational campers. That changed after the McPeeks’ purchased it and started fieldingcallsfromhunterslookingforaplaceto stay.Today,thecampgroundhasapproximately 60 sites that are a mixture of full hookups, water/electric only and primitive sites. Most of the hunters at his park are RV campers. “Eachgroupvariesfromoneguyhuntingon his own, up to four or five guys coming out to hunttogether,”saidMcPeek.Hunterscomeout duringtherutthefirsttwoweeksofNovember, withmanyofthecampersbookingtheircamp- sites for a week or so, with some staying up to a month. The costs of keeping the park open later is negligible, he said. “WekeepourbathhouseopenthroughDec. 3, which is the last day of gun season in Ohio,” said McPeek. In case freezing temperatures come during that time, the park’s water pipe risers are equipped with heat tape that can be turned on to keep the water flowing. There’s some local competition in the form of other campgrounds and rental cabins, but the McPeeks added a special amenity just for hunters that the others don’t have. “A local outfitter I was talking with three or four years ago suggested we add a walk-in cooler,” he said. “It’s a deer-processing room and it’s got a stainless-steel table in it. It’s well lit. It’s got a hoist so they can hang their deer up,skinitandcoolitoff.It’sgoodespeciallyfor the early season hunts, because it’s warmer and they have to decide what to do with their deer, especially if they’re on a week-long hunt andtheyshootadeerondaytwo.You’vegotto put it somewhere.” Another added amenity is a target range for bow hunters to sight in their bows before heading out into the woods. The amenities they provide, word of mouth and repeat business keep their park nearly full during the hunting season. “We don’t do a whole lot of advertising or marketing, but our Michael & Lisa Pickens A bow range at Coshocton KOA in Coshocton, Ohio. Hunters– continued on page 32