Vienna Township demands answers about hunting preserve’s safety

VIENNA, Ohio (WYTV) –¬†Vienna Township residents still have several concerns about the safety of Candywood Whitetail Ranch, a hunting preserve that opened on the former golf course last year.

Candywood allows for the on-site hunting of game such as deer, sheep, boar, and elk.

Vienna Township resident Linda Fabrizio questioned Candywood Co-owner Mike Mullenax about the hunt’s safety.

“Now how are you going to ensure that a bullet isn’t going to hit somebody on [Route] 82 or a resident?”

Since its opening, some people living nearby have protested the facility, saying it’s too close to homes.

Even after assuring them no one shoots toward the front of the property, goes out at dark, or is anywhere on the preserve without a guide, community members and officials at Monday’s Trumbull County Commissioners meeting had more questions.

“What qualifications do the guides have? Again, in the law there is none. State of Ohio doesn’t have any regulations for any type of guides,” said Trustee Phil Pegg.

That list of questions keeps growing, especially after learning about plans to operate the former clubhouse as a restaurant that serves liquor.

“You’ve got now hunters that don’t have to have a permit to even fire a gun and they can go out and they can drink,” Fabrizio said. “You’re looking at a very dangerous situation.”

Mullenax refused to answer several of the questions at today’s meeting. He asked township trustees and residents to compile a list of concerns so the hunting grounds’ legal counsel could address them properly.

“The fact of the matter is we’ve basically had to pry information out,” said resident Rodney Bender.

Fabrizio said it’s “another cop-out” from Candywood owners.

“Everything should have been able to be answered today and if he was not capable of doing that on his own, he should have had his attorney represent him here.”

She wants the hunting preserve gone.

“There’s no compromise. It does not belong in a residential community and this is where it’s at,” she said.

County commissioners said they plan on regrouping for further discussion after receiving answers from Candywood’s legal counsel.

Mullenax declined to comment after the meeting.