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Best Buck


Snow Goose Hunting Primer






Best Buck

See Page 28

Pollution Hotline

1-855-347-4545 Turn In Poachers


Inside News

Set Their Own Fees?

Lawmakers may be on verge of giving PF&BC authority to determine fishing license prices. See Page 5

The Search is on

Fish & Boat Commission finding, protecting wild trout streams at an accelerating pace. See Page 7


Beating the Light Bite Blues: Tips to Catch Tentative Panfish


VOL. 13, NO. 04

GRAND PRIZE New Boats forWINNER 2016:

Hunting the Hunters: Late Winter Best Time for Pursuing Predators



Pick Out Right Rig, Spring is Coming

Looking to Open Water: Trendy Soft Bait Options


PGC: No ban on the use of deer urine

FEBRUARY 12, 2016


Best Buck Winners

By Jeff Mulhollem Editor Harrisburg — Pennsylvania Game Commissioners, at their recent meeting here, again discussed but did not pull the trigger on banning hunter use of deer urine. They made it clear, however, that they would not hesitate to make the move – aimed at helping to stop the spread of chronic wasting disease among the state’s wild deer – in coming months if better alternatives don’t emerge. Deer urine is thought to carry prions, the infectious agent responsible for causing the always fatal to deer and elk disease. Hunters often spray deer urine onto soil to attract bucks. Last year Vermont and Virginia implemented such a ban, and Alaska and Saskatchewan previously banned GRAND PRIZE WINNER. Bryan Henley, of Bethel Park, arrowed this 8-point buck, with a (See Deer Urine Page 36) 20-inch spread, Nov. 4, while hunting near Pittsburgh in Allegheny County.

Nonresidents may get to apply sooner

Neighbors are Angry

Northern Centre County residents sad, disgusted about the killing of tame piebald doe. See Page 8

Watch Your Label!


Staff Report Harrisburg — And then there was one. One week, that is. That’s how long nonresidents of Pennsylvania would have to wait to apply for a doe tag after Keystone Staters get their first chance at one under a regulation change given preliminary approval by Pennsylvania Game Commissioners. In years past, there’s been a two-week gap between the application period for residents and nonresidents. Commissioners, meeting in Harrisburg on Feb. 2, voted unanimously to make the change so as to better accommodate former

Going into the meeting, commissioners were talking of eliminating the gap between the resident and nonresident application period altogether. They were thinking of letting everyone, regardless of where they lived, apply for a doe tag at the same time. A couple of sportsmen’s groups objected to that. Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs spokesman John Kline said the group’s board opposed that because there was no real sense of how big a problem even existed. Who, he asked commissioners, was complaining

Pennsylvania residents who have move away for reasons of work, family or school, but want to return to hunt with friends and relatives, said Commissioner Dave Putnam, of Centre County. “By penalizing nonresidents, we’re mostly penalizing former Pennsylvanians who want to come home to hunt with their families,” Putnam said. The change has to get final approval yet, something that’s expected when commissioners next meet in April. If that happens, nonresidents will be allowed to apply for an antlerless license on the third Monday in July each year.

For details, see ad – Page 36

(See Doe Tags Page 22)

Another merger plan unfolding for agencies

Staff Report Harrisburg — Might this be the time? On at least three occasions in the last 20 years, lawmakers have examined the idea of merging the Pennsylvania Game and Fish & Boat commissions. They’ve authorized studies

Upcoming Events Southeast trout Regular trout

– April 2 – April 16

Contents Donald Frayvolt, of Derry, trapped this bobcat Dec. 19 near his home.

News................. Pages 4-15 Columnists........ Pages 16-18 Nature Page............Page 32 Fishing Report.... Pages 44-45 Calendar.................Page 46

looking at the pros and cons of such an action. It’s never happened, of course. The state remains the only one of 50 with separate agencies for managing fish and wildlife. In fact, despite all the previous fact-finding, lawmakers have never even gone so far as to actually introduce legislation calling for a merger. That’s about to change. At the time this issue was going to press, state Rep. Martin Causer, a Potter County Republican, was circulating for co-sponsors proposed merger legislation. The reason: money. Both the Game and Fish & Boat commissions are seeking more of it. They’ve asked lawmakers to (See Merger Plan Page 22)

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February 12, 2016

February 12, 2016



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Lawmaker turnover affects sportsmen

There was a time – and it didn’t end all that long ago – when state lawmakers would not even discuss, let alone consider, giving the Fish & Boat or Game commissions the authority to set their own fees for fishing or hunting licenses. That’s why it is so striking to learn that a Republican senator and a Democrat representative recently began circulating for co-sponsors a bill that would allow the Fish J EF F M U LH O LLE M & Boat Commission to set fishing license EDI T O R fees on its own (see story on Page 5). Back in the old days, allowing commissioners and agency leaders to have autonomy to set rates seemed to be unthinkable at the Capitol. If agency leaders were able to set license fees, without begging lawmakers for an increase through an elaborate, years-long process, the supposedly independent commissions could operate autonomously and lawmakers would lose control over decisions about doe license allocations and trout stocking. But there has been a lot of turnover in lawmakers in recent years, and many of the legislative newcomers apparently don’t feel the need to try to manipulate the commissions that many of their predecessors did. A pragmatic Sen. John Eichelberger, who likely soon will introduce the bill giving the Fish & Boat Commission the ability to set fishing license fees, summed up his feelings this way: “I don’t lie awake at night thinking these guys are out spending money unnecessarily,” he said. “They’re not going to price themselves out of business.” Eichelberger believes checks are built into the system to prevent that – such as the state Senate decides who serves as commissioners and the agency has to answer to lawmakers through annual reports and a legislative audit every three years. The question now is, how many other lawmakers agree with him. Significantly, Eichelberger’s bill will not include the Game Commission. There is no talk of that agency being given the authority to set hunting license fees. That, apparently, is a leap too far. And no bill has been unveiled that would give the Game Commission the ability it has been seeking for a one-time increase of hunting license fees. Another piece of news from the Legislature revealed last month is that Potter County Republican Rep. Martin Causer is again seeking to merge the Game and Fish & Boat commissions. Causer began circulating a co-sponsorship memo looking for support among lawmakers in late January, and said he hopes to officially propose a merger bill within a month (see story at the bottom of Page 1). As justification, Causer cited a study done by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee released in March of 2014 that predicted a merger would save about $5 million annually. He pointed out that both agencies are currently seeking license fee increases. Immediately, of course, leaders of the two commissions began to recite reasons why such a merger would not really save any money and may actually be more expensive. Despite the fact that Pennsylvania is the only state to maintain separate agencies to manage fish and wildlife, they claim our structure is somehow better and more efficient. Without judging the merits of the arguments pro and con, I will say this: It is past time for commission leaders to stop referring to the costs of “rebranding” as a reason to not merge – pretending that the costs of decals on vehicles, patches worn by officers, and letterhead and publications having to be replaced is prohibitive. That sounds desperate and pathetic. Pennsylvania Outdoor News welcomes unsolicited fishing and hunting photographs. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of photograph to: Pennsylvania Outdoor News, P.O. Box 1393, Altoona, PA 16603-1393 Email: paoutdoornews@atlanticbb.net Website: www.outdoornews.com/pennsylvania

Publisher: Glenn A. Meyer Editor: Jeff Mulhollem Associate Editor: Sue Mulhollem (814) 949-8883 or toll-free (877) 800-1297 Managing Editor: Rob A. Drieslein Sales & Marketing Director: Evy Gebhardt Webmaster: Aaron Geddis Social Media Specialist: Jason Revermann Display Advertising: Aaron Wolf (877) 231-5365 Classified Advertising: Patty Haubrick (763) 398-3453 or (877) 494-4246 Administration: Dianne J. Meyer, Sara A. Pojar, Jennifer Chamberlain Subscriber Services: Teresa Anderson, Stephanie Meybaum, Carol Soberg, Gloria Raymond Layout Supervisor: Ron Nelson Layout Associates: Don Dittberner, Nichole Kinzer, Ronnie Anderson Ad Production Supervisor: Cindy Rosin Ad Production Associates: Nichole Kinzer, Dana Tuss Office hours: Monday - Friday: 8am - 4:30pm Phone: (763) 546-4251 or (800) 535-5191 Fax (763) 546-5913 PENNSYLVANIA OUTDOOR NEWS (USPS #22-186) is published bi-weekly, 26 times annually, by Outdoor News, Inc., 9850 51st Ave. N., Suite 130, Plymouth, MN 55442-3271. Periodical postage paid at St. Paul, MN and additional mailing offices. Subscription rates: $24.00 (one year), $44.00 (two years). Single copy: $2.50. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Pennsylvania Outdoor News Inc., 9850 51st Ave. N., Suite 130, Plymouth, MN 55442-3271 THE SPORTSMAN’S CHOICE FOR NEWS AND INFORMATION


Copyright 2016

“Don isn’t the sort to bore you with ‘Big Fish’ stories.”


The jury is still out on CWD and hunter deer urine use

Nicholas Haley, DVM Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology Midwestern University

Perhaps no issue is as controversial in the hunting community right now as chronic wasting disease. There’s constant finger-pointing and a lot of theories about how it will change hunting forever for the worse; knee jerk reactions on the use of urine-based scents or the movement of farmed deer. But fortunately, emerging scientific research suggests that CWD doesn’t have to be the scourge that many fear. Previously, a herd at an Iowa ranch was depopulated after several of the animals tested positive for CWD, as is standard U.S. Department of Agriculture protocol. It’s uncertain how the disease took root, though there are any number of theories.

The situation took years to resolve as the ranch owner fought for a more equitable solution than the loss of the entire herd. As such, CWD steadily spread among the animals. While unfortunate, this example provided a unique opportunity for work on a live animal test for CWD. After testing and euthanizing the entire herd, sadly a large percentage were identified as CWD positive. The silver lining was that, based on the negative animals in the herd, we are developing a more sound understanding of CWD resistance in deer and at the same time closer to developing a live animal test. If we can further characterize this resistance in deer, that’s very promising. As CWD spreads in the decades to come – and it will, since any

(See Commentary Page 43)

Letters to the Editor

Commentaries and letters are the opinion of the writers; not necessarily that of Pennsylvania Outdoor News.

Coyotes not native here

I’d like to set the record straight on the status of coyotes in the commonwealth. They are not native to Pennsylvania. They never were native to Pennsylvania. The first description of the coyote was by

Attention Readers Pennsylvania Outdoor News invites letters from its readers. All letters must have the writer’s name, complete address and phone number. (Phone numbers will not be printed.) Letters should be no longer than 250 words. Form letters will not be printed. Pennsylvania Outdoor News reserves the right to edit. Address letters to: Letters to the Editor Pennsylvania Outdoor News PO Box 1393, Altoona, PA 16603-1393 Email: paoutdoornews@atlanticbb.net

Online Opinions This issue’s question -----------------------------------------------At their recent meeting, game commissioners discussed allowing bowhunters hunting the last week of archery deer season in November to take bears. Do you think that would be a good idea? Yes No Last issue’s question ------------------------------------------------It looks like a bill will be introduced to legalize the use of leashed tracking dogs to find wounded white-tailed deer. Do you hope it becomes law? Yes (67 percent) No (33 percent)


Meriweather Lewis during the Lewis and Clark exploration from 1803 to 1806 somewhere along the Missouri River. The animal was not known except occasionally east of the Great Plains. It later expanded its range east as the forests were cleared. Later descriptions were written by other explorers, including J.J. Audubon. The Lewis descriptor can be found in the abridged version of the Journals of Lewis and Clark and Audubon’s North American Quadrupeds. Charles Macdonald Center Valley, Pa.

Raise cost of antlerless tags Getting additional revenue to close the Game Commission’s projected $15 million budget deficit via proposed increases in several license categories must be approved by the Legislature, which will involve prolonged debate, hearings etc. I have a solution. In the 2015-16 license year, 746,500 doe tags were gobbled up by Pennsylvania hunters. At $5 per tag, this amounted to $3,732,500. Using the same number of tags but raising the cost to $20 per tag will generate $11,197,500 in additional revenue, which will nearly cover the deficit. Perhaps the Legislature would stomach this eas(See Letters Page 38)

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February 12, 2016

PGC proposes minor changes in bear and turkey seasons Staff Report Harrisburg — Pennsylvania Game Commissioners giveth and they taketh away. That will be the case in 2016-17. At their Feb. 2 meeting, commis-

sioners gave preliminary approval to seasons and bag limits for the coming fall and winter hunting and trapping seasons. They’ll have to re-affirm their decisions when they next gather in April. Nothing is settled until then.

Sounding Board ers, at their recent QUESTION: Game commission ning hunter use of meeting, again discussed ban an effort to help deer urine-based attractants in sting disease in slow the spread of chronic wa l about that? Pennsylvania? How do you fee

Cory Rowe

Honesdale, Wayne County

“Instead of banning it altogether, I think they should regulate the deer farms where they collect the urine. That would be a lot easier to manage.”

Steve Kish

New Tripoli, Lehigh County

“I believe the jury is still out on the actual threat this product poses for spreading CWD in wild deer populations. But, I have to say, better safe than sorry on this one. Besides, nothing increases your chance of success more than old-fashion scouting and time on stand.”

Ed Smith

Pine Grove, Schuylkill County

“I’ve read some articles on that. Yes, if the Game Commission thinks CWD is spread by urine, then they should ban it.”

Matt Reed

Lewisburg, Union County

“I don’t think CWD is as large of a problem as the PGC and the Department of Agriculture are making it out to be. I don’t think a ban would make any difference.”

That’s also when they’ll decide how many antlerless deer licenses to make available for this coming deer season. But they have proposed some changes. That involves black bears in two wildlife management units. They’re adding hunting opportunity in unit 1B and taking it away in 3A. Unit 1B in extreme northwestern Pennsylvania is not considered part of the state’s traditional bear country, said biologist Mark Ternent. But no one has told the bears, apparently. Populations there have been expanding, with a resulting increase in nuisance complaints, despite the harvests of hunters, he said. To address that, commissioners agreed to extend bear season there. Hunters will be able to shoot one from Wednesday through Sunday of the first week of the firearms deer season. Hunters in unit 3A in northcentral Pennsylvania are losing a similar hunt. Last year, to address concerns expressed by wildlife conservation officers and farmers, hunters could take a bear any time during the first week of deer season. That extended opportunity did its job; complaints are down all around, said Commissioner Dave Putnam, of Centre County. So the commission is eliminating that extended hunting for this fall. That may have a second benefit of keeping hunters elsewhere at home, Putnam said. In ending the extended hunting in 3A, commissioners said “the primary reason for removal was concern over the loss of firearms deer-hunting pressure in neighboring Wildlife Managemet Unit 2F due to deer hunters opting to hunt instead in Wildlife Managemet Unit 3A because of the additional bear-hunting opportunity.” Turkey hunting is changing in four units, as well. Four wildlife management units that seem to have good habitat and potential for more birds are instead seeing declines in their flocks. They are 1A, 1B, 2A and 4C. To address that, commissioners shortened the fall seasons in each. In Unit 4C, the season would go from three weeks plus the three-day Thanksgiving season to two weeks plus the three-day season. In units 1A and 2A, the season will go from two weeks plus Thanksgiving to one week plus Thanksgiving, while in 1B it will go from one week plus the Thanksgiving season to just one

Comm. James Daley

week. Commissioner James Daley, of Butler County, asked if the board should just shut the fall season down entirely in some places “for a year or two,” to allow flocks to build up faster. Turkey biologist Mary Jo Casalena said closing seasons only has the potential to work if the closures last three years, at a minimum. Anything less than that

Brothers Todd and Rod Shipton, of Greenville, both shot a bear Nov. 25 in Elk County. Todd’s, on the left, weighed 227 pounds and Rod’s, on the right, weighed 170 pounds.

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Bobby Wolfgang

Pine Grove, Schuylkill County

“From a hunting perspective, I’d hate to see natural lures go because they are really effective. Conservationwise, though, I’m interested in what the biologists determine. Maybe it could be more strictly regulated.

Rick Watts

Dillsburg, York County

“Most hunters don’t understand the serious implications CWD will have on our deer herd. Well-respected studies show that CWD prions are transmitted through urine. Until all parties can come up with 100 percent prion-free deer urine, then the only responsible action is to ban its use.”

– Compiled by Tyler Frantz

leaves any chance at a rebound at the mercy of spring nesting weather, she said. Commissioners have also proposed changes regarding a couple of small game species and a furbearer. They moved the opening day of the youth-only squirrel and rabbit seasons up, from Oct. 10 this past fall to Oct. 1 this year, and moved opening day of the statewide regular cottontail season up one week, to Oct. 15, to coincide with the regular squirrel opener. They also made snowshoe hare season one week long statewide again. The furbearer change involves fishers. The season was six days this past year; it’s proposed to go to 12 in 2016. And deer? That’s one place where no changes are being made. Despite hearing some testimony from people who want a return to concurrent buck and doe hunting, commissioners are maintaining seasons and antler restrictions as they were last fall.

Outdoor Adventures Galore

Elk viewing, wild & scenic rivers, state parks, wineries, festivals, and family fun!

www.VisitPAGO.com 814-849-5197

February 12, 2016

PF&BC Awards Grant to Conservancy Harrisburg — Pennsylvania Fish & Boat commissioners, at their recent meeting here, approved an $80,000 grant to the Wildlands Conservancy as part of a $413,000 project to construct two boat launch facilities on the Lehigh River water trail and provide signage along the entire length of the trail. The sites are known as the Walnutport access in Walnutport, Northampton County, and the Treichler’s Bridge access in North Whitehall Township, Lehigh County. The commission previously awarded the conservancy a $270,000 grant in 2012 for the project. Additional funding has been committed by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Walnutport Borough and Lehigh County. Catch, Release Extended at Opossum, Leaser

Harrisburg — Pennsylvania Fish & Boat commissioners, at their recent meeting here, adopted a regulatory amendment that extends catch-and-release regulations on Opossum and Leaser lakes, in Cumberland and Lehigh counties respectively, to all fish except trout. The commission began re-establishing the fisheries in 2013 after the dams at the lakes were rebuilt and the facilities were re-opened to the public. However, recent assessments found that fish populations have not been significantly re-established. The commission, according to a news release, will monitor fish populations at the lakes while they develop and recommend appropriate regulations once the fisheries are rebuilt to continually provide high-quality recreational angling opportunities. The amendment will go into effect on July 19.

PF&BC Eases Rules on Inflatable Boats

Harrisburg — Pennsylvania Fish & Boat commissioners, at their recent meeting here, adopted a regulatory amendment that eliminates the requirement that inflatable boats must have at least two separate buoyancy chambers to be used on commission owned and managed lakes. With the advent of high-quality, durable inflatable boats with less than two separate buoyancy chambers, such as inflatable standup paddleboards, commission staff believes the current regulation is overly restrictive. The change will take effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Upper Kettle Creek Catch, Release Regs Set

Harrisburg — Pennsylvania Fish & Boat commissioners, at their recent meeting here, approved the designation of the upper Kettle Creek basin in Potter and Tioga counties as catch-and-release, all-tackle. The upper Kettle Creek basin includes 28.3 miles of streams and stretches from the headwaters downstream to the confluence with Long Run. It includes Long Run and all tributaries upstream to the headwaters. The change will go into effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Lake Winola Now Year-Round Trout Fishing

Harrisburg — Pennsylvania Fish & Boat commissioners, at their recent meeting here, approved the designation of Lake Winola in Wyoming County, as a stocked trout water open to year-round fishing. The lake is not only stocked with trout, but also contains a number of warmwater fish species. The change will allow anglers to enjoy fishing during the traditionally closed period between March 1 and the opening day of trout season. The change will go into effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Work Finished on Tioga’s Nessmuk Lake Wellsboro, Pa. — A two-year project to upgrade the spillway at Nessmuk Lake near here in Tioga County has been completed, according to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. The dam impounds a 60-acre lake on the Morris Branch of Marsh Creek to provide flood control for the city and to approximately 365 homes and 1,350 residents downstream. It also provides fishing and boating opportunities. The project, started in March 2014, consisted of widening the spillway by 40 feet, building a new primary outlet structure, installing a dam embankment drainage system, and replacing the control tower top. The dam now currently meets state Department of Environmental Protection regulations. PF&BC Study: Strong Wallenpaupack Fishery

Hawley, Pa. — Lake Wallenpaupack’s black bass population continues to provide exceptional angling opportunities supported through natural reproduction, according to an updated report done by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. Smallmouth bass outnumbered largemouth bass by more than six to one in the northeastern Pennsylvania lake. The report also concluded that annual fingerling striped bass stockings continue to build a high-quality landlocked “striper” fishery.

DCNR Names New State Parks Director

Harrisburg — The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources recently announced that Bureau of State Parks Assistant Director John Hallas has been named to head the state park system that oversees 120 parks across Pennsylvania. Hallas, who has served as assistant bureau director the past three years, will oversee park facilities totaling almost 300,000 acres. A native of Homestead, Allegheny County, Hallas takes over the reins of a park system that is nationally recognized as one of the best in the nation. In 2009, it received the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.


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Bill would allow PF&BC to set fees Staff Report Harrisburg — Two Pennsylvania state senators want to change the game. For as long as the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission has sold fishing licenses, it’s been the job of state lawmakers to set those prices. The commission has long lamented that fact. Especially in recent years, leaders of the agency have said that if they could set their own fees, they would likely do so more frequently, but with the increases on a smaller scale. Instead of price hikes coming every six, eight or 10 years, and coming close to doubling fees each time, the agency might institute annual increases “of 30 cents or 57 cents or whatever,” said board member G. Warren Elliott, of Franklin County. The commission may finally get that authority. Sen. John Eichelberger Jr., a Blair County Republican, and Sen. John Wozniak, a Bedford County Democrat, are circulating for co-sponsors for a bill that would allow the commission to set fishing license fees on its own. “As an independent administrative agency that is not supported by General Fund revenues and relies on user fees to pay for almost everything it does, the PF&BC has a vested business interest in setting a fee structure that generates sufficient revenues to sustain its work on behalf of anglers, boaters, and aquatic resources while having the least possible negative impact on participation and sales,” their memo reads. Having lawmakers set fees seems unnecessary, Eichelberger said. Lawmakers have oversight of the agency. They have the power

Sen. John Eichelberger to approve commissioners, and to not re-appoint them if they act inappropriately, Eichelberger said. The commission also has to report to the Legislature every year, presenting an annual report, and every three years via a performance audit. All of those tools give lawmakers a level of control over the commission, he said. Certainly there’s nothing to suggest the commission has been out of line, he added. “I don’t lie awake at night thinking these guys are out spending money unnecessarily,” he said. The co-sponsorship memo makes that same point. “It should be noted that the PF&BC has consistently demonstrated a commitment to fiscal discipline and was applauded by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee in 2014 for having the lowest expenditures per license among states surveyed across the country. This proposal builds on that track record of accountability,” it reads.

Predictably, commission officials greeted the proposal as good news. Executive Director John Arway said fishing license fees haven’t increased in over a decade, since 2005. Only one other time has it gone longer between adjustments. Having the ability to set its own fees would make the commission more nimble and better able to adjust to changing conditions. That might mean raising fees or, he said, it might mean lowering them through things like the sale of multiyear licenses. The commission could be more creative if it could set its own prices, he added. “The reality is this legislation would give us the flexibility to do that more efficiently,” he said. Spokesman John Kline said the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs has long supported giving the Fish & Boat Commission the ability to set license fees. That remains true today, he added. “We’re solidly behind it,” Kline said. Commission President Ed Mascharka said the agency should simultaneously ask lawmakers to give it the power to set its own boat registration fees. There, as with fishing licenses, the idea would not be to jack up costs too significantly all at once, he said. Rather, the commission would increase prices only as needed, and “incrementally.” As for the Game Commission – which also must ask lawmakers to adjust hunting and furtaking license fees – it would not be covered under the EichelbergerWozniak bill. Eichelberger said he would be open to supporting a similar bill for that agency, however.

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February 12, 2016

Hulton Bridge eagles now building new nest in Harmar By Deborah Weisberg Southwest Correspondent Pittsburgh — Timing is everything, even when eagles become lovebirds. A pair of bald eagles in courtship high above the Allegheny River near Pittsburgh managed to consummate their relationship about an hour before PennDOT imploded the century-old Hulton Bridge Jan. 26, and then took off downriver. Had the nesting pair been anywhere near the blast zone – roughly a 1,000-foot diameter around the old span – the project would have been put on hold until they had flown somewhere deemed to be safe, said Brian Shema, director of conservation for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. Outfitted with high-powered binoculars and a walky-talky, it was up to Shema to observe the birds and to give PennDOT the all-clear. “Any time there is a potential disturbance to an eagle or an eagle nest, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requires a permit,” Shema said. “In this case, the permit required PennDOT to get an experi-

enced party involved, which is where Audubon came in.” The permit called for Audubon to monitor the nest the day before the blast, the day of the blast, and the day

“Outfitted with highpowered binoculars and a walky-talky, it was up to Shema to observe the birds and to give PennDOT the all-clear.” after, to determine changes in behavior. There appear to have been none. On the morning the bridge was to be taken down, the eagles copulated near their nest and then flew downriver for at least a mile about an hour before the implosion, which went off without a hitch at 9:48. “They flew downriver together,” Shema said. “One disappeared around a bend, and the other perched above the river where I could barely see it.”

Shema was about 1,000 feet away from the bridge and felt the impact of the blast. “People told me their houses shook. Whether the birds could have felt it from where they were, who knows.” In any case, they were back at work building their nest on a steep hillside on Audubonowned land in Harmar before noon, after the bridge had been reduced to rubble. Audubon monitors this pair of eagles and a pair in the Hays section of Pittsburgh, and live-streams both nests at www.aswp.org. By mid-February, if their breeding has been successful, eagle-watchers should see anywhere from one to three eggs in each nest, Shema said. “It’s about 40 days until hatch-time, which puts us around April 1. Eggs hatch in the order in which they are laid.” The Harmar birds are young and produced their first – and, so far, only – eaglet in 2014. They’ve occupied their nest since 2013, and while they courted that year, “they didn’t go full circle,” Shema said. “They didn’t hatch any

These eagles’ nest is unusual compared to those built by other eagles because it originally belonged to a pair of red-tail hawks, which the eagles dislodged in a confrontation. Photo courtesy Audubon Society of Western Pa.

eggs in 2015, either – we suspect because of the extreme temperatures last winter and their inexperience.” Their nest is unusual compared to those built by other eagles because it originally belonged to a pair of red-tail hawks, which the eagles dislodged in a confrontation, Shema said. “Typically, eagles build their nests among

the very large branches of a tree, which are interior and lower. This one is perched a little differently.” They’ve also enlarged it substantially since they kicked out the hawks. “They’ve been building onto it,” said Shema. “It’s about 6 by 7 feet wide and 6 feet deep. “ Nest-building is done by both eagles and shows partnership and engineering, Shema said. “It’s made entirely of sticks that are sort of woven together. I’ve watched one eagle bring a stick to the nest and then ‘mom’ moves it. I’ve seen them mess around with one stick for half an hour.” The eagles haven’t yet put on the finishing touches – the long grasses they’ll use to cushion the sticks – but they visit the nest every day, Shema said. They will likely copulate several more times, both to bond and to increase the odds of successful reproduction, Shema said. “At this time of year, you’ll see aerial displays. They’re also out there foraging, and they’ll share food to further bond.” Most of their diet is fish plucked from the river, although they also will feed on squirrels, small birds, deer carcasses, and other carrion. While bald eagles are federally protected, they no longer have endangered status because their numbers have rebounded in recent years. In 1983, there were just three known nests in Pennsylvania; now there are more than 270, Shema said. Where the Harmar pair originated is anybody’s guess, he said. “Once the state surpassed 100 breeding pairs, they no longer did banding.”

Dr. Robert Multari, of Farrell, shot this 16-point buck, with a 19-inch spread, while hunting near West Middlesex in Mercer County on Jan. 4.

February 12, 2016


Page 7

More wild trout streams are identified in state By Mark Nale Northcentral Correspondent Harrisburg — The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission has been adding streams and stream sections to its Wild Trout Waters and Class A Wild Trout Stream lists at an unprecedented rate. The trend continued at the agency’s most recent meeting. On Jan. 21, the commissioners gave final approval for 99 new streams to be added to the Wild Trout Streams list. They also delineated 37 new stream sections as Class A Wild Trout. According to agency press secretary Eric Levis, an additional 69 stream sections had been added to the Class A list, along with 201 streams placed on the Wild Trout Stream list during the previous three commission meetings – May, July and September 2015. That totals 300 new wild trout waters and 106 new Class A stream sections approved during the past year. “The commission is making great inroads and certainly moving in the right direction,” said Charlie Charlesworth, president of the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited. “Pennsylvania is now second only to Alaska in the miles of trout streams.” Although the number of streams officially recognized as having naturally reproduced trout is growing, most anglers do not understand how streams make the lists or the importance of the designations. The streams nominated for Class A status get surveyed by agency biologists or, in the case of Wild Trout Waters, often by college and university biologists working as a part of the commission’s Unassessed Waters Initiative. Based on these surveys, the streams approved in January in both categories had previously been published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin in November 2015. According to agency Executive Director John Arway, any streams identified as containing a population of naturally reproducing trout can be afforded greater protection under the law. The environmental significance of these designations is what drives the identification of streams as holding wild trout. Wild Trout Waters have naturally reproducing populations of brook, brown or rainbow trout. That is, they hold a year-round population of wild trout without stocking. There is no minimum number of wild trout required for this designation. Class A Wild Trout Streams are a different story. To become Class A, a stream must have naturally reproducing trout and also must be proven to carry an excellent population. Geographically, the new Class A streams stretch from Erie to near Philadelphia and include waters in over 35 different counties. However, most of these streams are in the central part of the state. The majority are newly identified streams, but several are just extensions of streams that already include Class A water. Class A wild trout water still makes up only a small percentage of the total miles of Keystone State trout streams. A detailed process, with specific criteria, is used to identify Class A Wild Trout Streams. Every summer, biologists from the commission survey commonwealth streams to assess

their quality. Instead of fishing rods, agency survey crews use electro-shocking apparatus to locate trout. On a small stream, a biologist wearing a backpack generator slowly wades up the middle of the stream. Wire leads are attached to a pair of insulated poles that have a 12-inch-diameter metal ring on the bottom end. Mild electric current enters the water from the circular probes and temporarily stuns trout so that they can be netted and processed. With few exceptions, Class A streams are usually not stocked because natural reproduction supplies plenty of trout. To make the list, biologists must locate at least 40 kg/ha (35.6 pounds/surface acre) of wild brown or mixed wild brook and brown trout. (The figure is a lower 30 kg/ha for native brook trout streams.) Unless you are a fisheries biologist, these figures probably mean little. It is best to think of a healthy wild trout population as a pyramid, with young-ofthe-year trout making up the wide base of the pyramid and the largest and oldest trout at the apex. Healthy wild trout streams should always have many small trout. Using average weights of Pennsylvania wild brown trout for June, a hypothetical Class A wild brown trout popula-

tion (35.6 pounds or 40 kg) in a one-mile section of a stream measuring 20 feet wide (one surface acre) might look like this: Length Number of trout 16 inches – one 14 inches – eight 12 inches – 35 10 inches – 60 8 inches – 85 6 inches – 110 2.5 inches – 400 Keep in mind, these are minimum standards and the population is generalized. Most of the 37 stream sections approved on Jan. 21 contain over 50 kg/ha of trout, four are over 60 kg/ha, and one stream has more than five times the minimum number of naturally reproduced trout required to be included on the Class A list. According to Charlesworth, these are the best of the best trout streams in the state, and it is a testament to our clean water laws that the list is growing. “The Lackawanna River just would not be a trout stream without our clean streams laws,” Charlesworth said. “Although water quality is improved, we in Trout Unlimited have a lot more to do - reclaiming more polluted streams.” Charlesworth is pleased with this progress; however, he claimed that hundreds of

Fish & Boat Commission biologists Bob Weber and Jason Detar survey a small stream for wild trout. Photo by Mark Nale streams are still awaiting official commission approval. He expressed the desire that it would all happen more quickly. Fisheries biologist Bob Weber, who heads the agency’s Unassessed Waters Initiative supports Charlesworth’s contention.

“As of Jan. 27, there are 630 streams already identified as having wild trout, but are awaiting approval,” Weber noted in an email. It is expected that more streams will be approved at the Fish & Boat Commission meeting scheduled in March.

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February 12, 2016

Folks upset by piebald deer killing in Centre, info sought By Mark Nale Contributing Writer Clarence, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s northcentral office received a call late in the afternoon on Dec. 12, 2015 – the last day of rifle deer season. According to the caller, a “white deer” had been illegally shot by a hunter near Clarence. The caller and many neighbors along Birch Run Road were upset. No doubt, an emotion-stirring tragedy had occurred that day, but this story actually began 6½ years ago, when twin piebald fawns were born to a normally colored brown doe near Clarence. A piebald deer has unusual brown and white spotting patterns and is very rare. Although a piebald deer can appear almost entirely white, they are not albino. In addition to their atypical spotted coloration, other differences can occur, including a hooked or Roman nose, an overly

arched spine (scoliosis), longer tails, shortened legs, or underbites. The piebald condition results from a genetic defect, leaving affected deer with a survival disadvantage. Neighbors noticed the oddly colored fawns and enjoyed watching them. One of the piebald fawns eventually disappeared, but the other one grew into an adult doe – often seen in the area along Birch Run Road. The piebald doe had normally colored fawns several years in a row, including 2015. Neighbors fed the deer, and as the calendar pages turned, the piebald doe became less wary of people. “You couldn’t pet it, but it would let you get within 10 yards,” one neighbor related. Several states have regulations to protect white deer. Iowa even has a law protecting any deer that are 50 percent or more white.

Neighbors enjoyed watching the oddly colored fawns. One of the piebald fawns eventually disappeared, but the other one grew into an adult doe. Contributed photo

Neither albino nor piebald deer are protected in Pennsylvania. That brings us back to the fateful day. Hunting is a way of life in and around Clarence and Snowshoe. Consequently, it should have been no surprise how this story about the semitame piebald deer might end. A yet-to-be-identified hunter was likely traveling on or standing near an old dirt forest road nearly 200 yards from Birch Run Road. He saw the piebald deer and made two quick shots. The piebald doe ran off, but dropped moments later. One of the people living along Birch Run Road heard the shots and saw “their” spotted deer struggling, and then expiring, within the safety zone of one of the houses. The hunter, traveling by all-terrain vehicle, arrived to tag and field dress his deer. He was confronted by one of the neighbors. According to his records, Wildlife Conservation Officer Mike Ondik arrived on the scene at 6:13 p.m. He had been in the middle of investigating a deer baiting incident elsewhere in his western Centre County district when he received the call. “It was dark and raining when I arrived,” officer Ondik said. “There were lots of people milling around the dead deer – some were crying, others were angry and using threatening language. The term ‘lynch mob’ was used by at least one of the onlookers. “I interviewed bystanders and learned that there were no witnesses to the actual shooting – at least none that came forward,” Ondik continued. “The person who had confronted the hunter supplied an ATV registration number for the ATV’s plate.”

The piebald doe had normally colored fawns several years in a row, including 2015. Neighbors fed the deer, and the piebald doe became less wary of people. Contributed photo The hunter was nowhere to be found when Ondik arrived. He hypothesizes that the hunter had been threatened or advised to get out of there. “The crime scene, if there was a crime, was highly compromised by the local people. It seemed that everyone in Clarence was there,” Ondik said. “If someone calls in to report a crime, it would be better if they steered clear of the scene, rather than trampling potential evidence.” Working quickly by flashlight in the rain, Ondik was able to locate and mark with pink flagging exactly where the deer was standing when the bullets hit it. From the direction of the blood splatter and hair, he was also able to hypothesize where the hunter had been when he made the shots. The dead deer was confiscated as evidence. Officer Ondik left the scene at 7:59 p.m. Ondik returned in daylight on Dec. 15 and photographed the

scene. He took measurements from where the deer was shot and determined that both the deer and the hunter were outside of any safety zone when the shots were fired. “The deer and the hunter were on what I believe to be public property – owned by Snow Shoe Township – when the shots were taken,” Ondik said. “It measured 159 yards to the nearest building – a shed.” A safety zone, where hunting requires written permission, is 150 yards from an occupied building. Wildlife Conservation Officer Dan Murray, whose district includes Clarence, continued the investigation – checking into the ATV plate number. It turned out to be incorrect. “I ran the DCNR registration number and it came up empty,” noted Murray. “Then I tried all of the other number and letter combinations that might make sense if the witness just read it wrong. All of those also came up empty, except for one – an ATV registered to a man from Lancaster County. He had an alibi.” Questions remain – Did the hunter illegally make the shots from his ATV? Did he possess a valid antlerless license for Wildlife Management Unit 2G? Did he have permission to be hunting in that area? Did the hunter chance upon the piebald doe or was he actively looking for it? In the weeks since the incident occurred, the investigation has hit a dead end. Chris Koleno, a Birch Run Road resident and hunter herself, was one of those unhappy with the shooting of the deer and the results of the investigation. “This is not an area where someone would [set up] and hunt legally. Someone was driving by on a four-wheeler trail, saw a white deer and at the most hopped off of his vehicle and threw a couple shots at the deer,” she wrote on social media. “Even if legal, this was not sporting and not what sportsman-like hunting is all about.” Officer Murray would just like to get the facts. “I’d really like to talk with this hunter – to hear his side of the story,” he said. “As of now, this is an open case and we have the piebald deer in the evidence freezer in Jersey Shore. If the deer was legally harvested, the hunter can claim it.” Ondik added, “All of the bad things that could possibly happen occurred here. The fact that the deer was habituated created a very emotional situation.” Ondik urged anyone with additional information should call the northcentral office of the Game Commission at 570-398-4744.

February 12, 2016


Page 9

New trout management plan attracts public’s attention Staff Report Harrisburg — It’s admittedly aggressive, to be sure. Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commissioners adopted a new trout management plan – meant to guide decisions regarding wild and stocked fish – for 2016-17. It was, according to the commission, “developed based on input from a work group consisting of (commission) staff, anglers affiliated with a variety of sportsmen’s organizations, and independent anglers not affiliated with a sportsmen’s organization.” It tackles a number of trout issues, ranging from unassessed waters, protection of Class A wild trout waters and stocked trout efficiency to management of waters through fingerling stocking, in-stream flow and habitat protection and improvement and public access. The commission’s old trout plan, which expired in 2014, covered five years. This one covers two, one of them already underway. That led commission board President Ed Mascharka to make a point, then ask a question. “There’s a lot in here,” he said. That made him wonder whether the commission will be able to do accomplish everything, or even a significant portion of it, in the time frame.

“We’re going to give it the old college try,” said Leroy Young, chief of the commission’s Bureau of Fisheries. The plan breaks down trout management into some broad categories – wild trout, stocked trout in streams, stocked trout in lakes, and trout in Lake Erie – and then further breaks those down into issues and strategies for tackling them. Commissioners praised anglers for their attention to detail in reviewing the plan. The public was allowed to comment on the plan, as is the case with most proposed rules changes, for example. The comments received in this case were special, though, apparently. “I just want to say, the comments we received on the trout plan, they were some of the best, most thoughtful comments I’ve ever seen,” said Commissioner Glade Squires, of Chester County. Anglers addressed several issues in particular, said Jason Detar, director of the fisheries management division for the commission. Twenty-five of the 75 people wrote in to support the plan as is.

That was the most common view expressed, he said. Some others had concerns, however. One idea expressed in the trout plan was to examine the feasibility of announcing publicly the stocking schedules for cooperative nurseries. Those are hatcheries run by sportsmen’s clubs. The commission provides them with fingerlings, usually trout; the clubs raise them at their own expense. The fish are ultimately released into waters open to public fishing. Eighteen people wrote in to say that publicly announcing the stocking schedules of those co-ops would be a bad idea. Fourteen of those comments came from the southeast region of the state. The chief concern those people had, Detar said, regarded membership. Clubs that run co-ops draw members specifically because membership is a requirement to getting word of exactly when those fish are being released, some said. Their worry, Detar said, is that if anglers can find out when fish

Leroy Young are being stocked without first becoming a member of a co-op club, they’ll opt to not join. Many of the remaining comments fell into a couple of categories, Detar said. Six people contacted the commission to suggest it emphasize management of wild trout. Five others want to see the commission spend more time developing and managing tailwater fisheries, four opposed the

Keystone Select trout program. Three each wrote in on two other topics: to ask that more special regulations waters be created, and to suggest that the commission put more of its hatchery trout in streams and fewer in lakes. Commissioners spoke up about some things they want prioritized, too. Chief among them is promoting trout fishing as a family activity. That happens most often and best on trout-stocked lakes, Squires said. They attract parents and children in a way that stocked streams do not, he said. Stocked lakes also appeal to seniors and people with physical disabilities, he added. “Lakes present a special demographic that has to be measured differently. I’d like staff to pay attention to that and weigh that in,” Squires said. At least two other commissioners agreed. Executive Director John Arway said the agency recognizes that fact and is looking for ways to take advantage of lakes as family fishing destinations.

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February 12, 2016

PF&BC’s trout movement study ends; no common thread By Deborah Weisberg Southwest Correspondent Harrisburg — The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission can’t tell you why stocked trout quickly vacate some streams, but they’ve figured out a way to keep from losing them too soon, according to Tom Greene, the agency’s coldwater unit leader. The results of a recently concluded trout movement study indicate that most of the streams surveyed were “fair to good” about holding stocked fish, and those with residency issues have responded well to adjustments in the stocking protocol, Greene said. The 10-year study was launched in 2006 in response to angler complaints.

“They electro-fished

about two-tenths of a

mile looking to recapture hatchery fish. “

Based on their recapture rates, biologists then

ranked streams from very poor to excellent.

“The old adage used to be that fish don’t move from where you stock them,” said Greene. “Then complaints started filtering in around (the year) 2000 from people who all of a sudden weren’t catching

Tom Greene trout on streams that used to fish consistently well.” Commission biologists visited about 340 streams across the state, primarily in the early years of the study. On stocking day, they counted the number of trout stocked, and then returned three weeks later to see how many had remained within a 300-meter radius of their stocking point, Greene said. “They electro-fished about two-tenths of a mile looking to recapture hatchery fish. “ Based on their recapture rates, biologists then ranked streams from very poor to excellent. Most were somewhere in the middle, Greene said. Studies showed that 87 streams were very poor or poor; 121 streams were fair, in that they retained 40 to 75 percent of stocked trout. Another 44 streams were good because

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they retained 75 to 90 percent of trout, and 88 streams were excellent, having held onto 90 percent of their stocked fish. Poor streams included Delaware Creek in Juniata County, Hoagland Branch in Sullivan County, Martins Creek in Susquehanna and Wyoming counties, Ross Run in Forest County, West Branch Chester Creek in Delaware County, and Whitely Creek in Greene County. Excellent streams included Beaver Creek in Clarion County, Hay Creek in Berks County, Laurel Run in Huntingdon County, Little Paint Creek in Cambria County, Middle Creek in Snyder County, and Van Auken Creek in Wayne County. “Our mean recapture rate was 64 percent, which is between fair and good,” Greene said. “Six to 20 percent had residency issues, and we feel we’ve addressed those.” On problematic streams, fish are now stocked a week to 10 days before opening day, and/or the dominant species of stockie has been switched to rainbow trout, because, for some unknown reason, they seem to travel less than browns, Greene said. “People might think rainbows would move more, because they associate them with steelhead, but the opposite is true, at least with the strain we grow in the hatcheries.” Tweaking the stocking schedule and the species composition “seems to be helping things out,” he said. Trout movement was particularly an issue in the northeastern part of the state, so fisheries managers conducted additional studies, using telemetry to track fish movement. While it showed trout were leaving the system, the “why” is a bit of a

mystery, Greene said. Biologists looked at habitat, water chemistry and temperature, predation and other factors in the northeast and across the state but failed to find a common reason why some fisheries weren’t holding trout, Greene said. “There’s no smoking gun – no one common thread or all-encompassing explanation

Steelhead fishing on Elk Creek in winter can occasionally still be a solitary experience. To date, the Fish & Boat Commission has acquired more than 20 miles of public fishing access in the Erie watershed. Photo by Joshua Mulhollem

PF&BC buys more access to Erie County’s Elk Creek Staff Report Harrisburg — At their recent quarterly business meeting here, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat commissioners voted to purchase three easements and one property along Erie County’s Elk Creek, further expanding the public fishing


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– for trout residency issues,” said Greene. “There were cases where one stream had good recapture, but an adjacent stream or the next one over was poor. So we try to manage around it.” “It seems to have worked well for us,” said Greene, noting that no streams have been removed from the schedule because of residency issues.





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corridor along the popular steelhead stream. “The steelhead fishery in Lake Erie and its tributaries is a popular destination for anglers and generates tremendous economic benefits to the region,” said John Arway, commission executive director. “And our fishing and boating access strategy ranks this watershed as the top priority for access improvement statewide. With the addition of these easements today, we’re greatly increasing the opportunities for anglers to fish this stream.” The access areas include: — Easements of 1,175 and 870 linear feet along Elk Creek in Fairview Township, Erie County. The easements are located off of Elk Valley Road downstream of Fairview Township’s Struchen Flats property and were acquired for $18,000 and $13,500 respectively. The addition of these two easements creates a 1-mile corridor of connected public access. — An easement of 410 linear feet along Elk Creek in McKean Township, Erie County, acquired for $5,500. The easement area is located off of Rick Road upstream of the commission’s Rick Road access. Approximately 1,600 linear feet of frontage on Elk Creek on eight acres of land in McKean Township, Erie County. The commission purchased the land for $100,000. The property is located immediately west of Interstate 79 at the end of Skinner Road near McKean. To date, the Fish & Boat Commission has acquired more than 20 miles of public fishing access in the Erie watershed through easements and land purchases under the Erie Access Improvement Program.

February 12, 2016


Page 11

Pa. coyote bounty bill advances Assembly OKs; bill, it now heads to state Senate

Heath Bromley arrowed this 600-pound black bear this past season that scored 21 9/16 Boone and Crockett while hunting in Pennsylvania.

Harrisburg (AP) — A bill that would authorize the Pennsylvania Game Commission to set a bounty on coyotes is advancing in the Legislature after winning the approval of the state House of Representatives. Named the “coyote control incentive program,” the bill would allow the game commission to pay $25 to any licensed hunter or furtaker for each coyote lawfully killed. Democrats largely opposed the measure, which passed 111-78 in December, while Republicans largely supported it in the Republican-controlled chamber. The bill was sent to the Senate. It would be Pennsylvania’s first such bounty on a wild animal in

Boating deaths were way down in ’15 Staff Report Harrisburg — There were fewer boating accidents, and significantly fewer fatal boating accidents, across Pennsylvania last year than the one before. In 2015, there were 58 accidents; in 2014, 70. Likewise, in 2015 there were four boating deaths; in 2014, 17. A handful of accident types accounted for most of the incidents. There were 12 “skier mishaps,” according to Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission statistics. There were 10 cases of people capsizing, nine collisions between vessels, and eight falls overboard. Nothing else accounted for more than five accidents. “A lot of the time it’s just a mistake or a mishap, if you look into some of the incident reports,” said Walt Ryan, boating and watercraft safety specialist. The cost of all those accidents, in dollars, was $91,493, down from roughly $215,000 from last year. One accident accounted for $25,000 of that, or 27 percent of the total. One factor – one that no one can control – was likely behind a lot of those numbers, said Corey Britcher, chief of the commission’s law enforcement bureau. “We suspect that it was the weather,” Britcher said. Much of last boating season, especially early in the year, was poor, with lots and lots of rain, he said. That had boat traffic down significantly, he added. The four fatalities were down not just compared to 2014, but to the most recent 10-year average, Ryan said. The average over that time is 13.4. “Factoring in the 2015 fatalities, Pennsylvania’s new 10-year average is 13.2 victims,” Ryan’s report reads. All of last year’s deaths shared some characteristics in common, according to accident reports compiled by Ryan. All four of the fatal accidents involved non-powered boats: two kayaks, a canoe and a racing scull. Three of the victims were not wearing a life jacket, though two had them on board their boats. All four accidents occurred on weekdays, too, one on a Monday and three on Thursdays. Drugs and alcohol may have been a factor in two of the deaths, too. Commissioner G. Warren Elliott, of Franklin County, asked

what the boating accidents reports filed by waterways conservation officers mean when they say drugs or alcohol “may have been a factor.” Ryan said it means that while traces of drugs or alcohol were found during autopsies, there’s no way to tell if either substance “was the causative factor” in the accident occurring. The first fatality occurred on April 23 when a 46-year-old male capsized on the Monongahela River in Allegheny County, the second on July 9 when a 58-year-

old man was found attached to his racing scull on Pinchot Lake in York County. The third fatality occurred on July 27 when a 75-year-old man was found near an overturned kayak on Pocono Summit Lake in Monroe County. The last took place on Oct. 29 on Lake Arthur in Butler County and involved a 51-year-old man in a canoe. In all four cases, Ryan said, it’s unknown if the boaters had any formal boater education training.

Legislation that would create a $25 bounty on coyotes has advanced through the state House of Representatives and now sits in the state Senate. Photo by Windigo Images 50 years. State law already allows yearround coyote hunting, and the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Michael Peifer, R-Pike County, said he wants to give hunters an extra incentive to reduce the growing numbers of coyotes. The Game Commission estimated that twice as many coyotes were killed by hunters last year, or about 40,000, as the number of coyotes in Pennsylvania a decade ago. Complaints about coyotes

and confirmed cases of pets and livestock killed by them have fluctuated, between a low of 304 in 2001 to a high of 603 in 2004, the Inquirer reported. Most complaints were related to a general fear of the animals, not because of a threat, the Game Commission said. Opponents of the bill say more killing of coyotes could backfire and cause their numbers to spike as they counter by breeding at younger ages and producing larger litters to fill the void.

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February 12, 2016

Former commissioner Martone looks back, ahead

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By Deborah Weisberg Southwest Correspondent Former Pennsylvania Game Commission board member Ralph Martone can trace his penchant for public service to the loss of a friend who drowned while duck hunting decades ago. “He was a local fellow, Harold Reynolds, the head of Ducks Unlimited and a mentor I sometimes hunted with,” recalled Martone, who was then in his 20s and beginning his career teaching high school physics. “When I read his obituary listing all of the things he was involved with, all I could think was, he’s gone and look at the huge hole he’s left. I wanted to step up and try to help fill that hole.” Martone loved the outdoors, so he volunteered to teach hunter education for the Game Commission. He attended the American Wilderness Leadership School run by Safari Club in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and founded the Shenango High School Conservation Club. And that was just the beginning. Martone went on to found the Lawrence County chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation – the Cascade Thunderin’ Toms – and is currently president of the Pennsylvania chapter of NWTF. He still teaches hunter education, and is a director of the Wildlife for Everyone Endowment Foundation. “I don’t know when to quit,” said Martone, now 55, and about to move with his wife Denise from his native New

Ralph Martone and wife Denise pose with the moose Ralph took in Newfoundland in 2014. Contributed photo

Castle to Clearfield County where the couple loves to hunt. “I’m passionate about hunting and conservation, and volunteering is my way of paying it forward.”


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“The previous board had to make more difficult decisions,” said Martone. “The board I joined had the privilege of seeing the plan work, of being able to modify it a little.” Although Martone is happy with deer management in general, he would like to see concurrent seasons implemented statewide. He also would like to see Sunday hunting, calling it the commission’s best hope of moving Pennsylvania to a place where it again could have one million licensed hunters. ”Other states have Sunday hunting,” Martone said. “Virginia called us when they were considering it to see what we were doing. They got it and we didn’t.” Sunday hunting would encourage more families to go afield, said Martone, who worries about a lack of youth involvement in the outdoors. Although parents complain they’re not seeing enough deer to keep their kids engaged, Martone thinks youngsters should start with small game. As commissioner, he tried, but failed, to get a September squirrel season implemented. “It would have been a great way to get dads and kids into the woods,” he said. “Surveys show that when kids learn to hunt with small game, they’ll stick with hunting longer and are more likely to keep hunting for the rest of their lives.” There are too few squirrel hunters in general, he said. One of Martone’s first accomplishments on the board was to cast the deciding vote for crossbows because, he said, it enabled more hunters to go afield. He also is proud of opening the commission’s working group meetings to the public, a change in policy he implemented as board president. “We’d taken a lot of flak and criticism for having those meetings in closed sessions,” Martone recalled. “What the public sees is exactly what goes on. This commission is as transparent as any agency could possibly be.” Martone derided lawmakers for denying the commission an increase in license fees, saying they’re “holding the agency hostage” over mistaken perceptions. “Maybe they want every constituent who calls them to be happy with deer numbers,” Martone said. “But that’s never going to happen.” It was during his time on the board that Martone discovered and ultimately fell in love with Clearfield County, where the commission maintains State Game Land 87, which has grown from 1,100 acres to more than 15,000 acres in recent years. He and his wife are preparing to move there. Both avidly hunt for deer, turkeys, and bears. Flintlock is Martone’s favorite season. The couple also fish for muskies and have taken their boat all over the northeast. “Ralph’s passion for the outdoors is unlike (that of) anyone I’ve ever met,” said wife, Denise, recalling that during their courtship, dates often revolved around setting trap lines or spotting deer, and even their honeymoon was planned around spring gobbler season. “That passion has never wavered.”

February 12, 2016


Page 13

North Branch of Susquehanna named ’16 River of the Year Staff Report Harrisburg — Steeped in historical and recreational value, the free-flowing North Branch of the Susquehanna River in northeastern Pennsylvania has been voted the 2016 Pennsylvania River of the Year following a five-week public voting period. The general public was invited to vote online late last year, choosing from among five waterways nominated across the state. Results were recently announced by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Four other rivers were nominated finalists: the KiskiConemaugh River in the southwest; Lackawanna River, northeast; Lehigh; east; and Ohio, southwest. “Shaping countless community lifestyles in the past while emerging as a recreational treasure of the future, the North Branch of the Susquehanna – like all waterways nominated for 2016 – highlights how Pennsylvania is blessed with a wealth of rivers and streams, and a core of dedicated folks who fight to protect them,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Through planned River of the

The Susquehanna River North Branch flows from New York into Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier and continues south 166 miles to join the river’s West Branch at Shikellamy State Park in Photo courtesy Endless Mountains Tourism Bureau Northumberland County. Year celebrations, public awareness of the river’s value will be increased and major initiatives along this section of the river will be underscored. Economic revitalization of river-town communities will enhance access to the river; increase tourism; and provide additional land and water-based recreational opportunities for local residents and visitors alike.”

DCNR will work with the Endless Mountains Heritage Region to create a free, commemorative poster celebrating the Susquehanna River North Branch as the 2016 Pennsylvania River of the Year. The region, the applicant nominating the waterway in close cooperation with the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, will receive a $10,000 Leadership Grant to help

fund year-long River of the Year activities. “The Susquehanna River North Branch is a national treasure in our own backyard, and we’re grateful for this opportunity to raise awareness of the river’s historical and recreational value and environmental significance,” said Endless Mountains Heritage Region Director Annette Schultz. “We’re making plans to celebrate the Susquehanna River’s newest designation throughout the year with educational kayaking sojourns, river festivals, educational forums, and River Town designations and support. This year will be a banner year for the river.” “The Susquehanna connects us to one another and the natural world. Its waters rejuvenate us and provide us with power, and its landscapes inspire us to be better stewards,” said Susquehanna Greenway Partnership Director Trish Carothers. “This honor belongs to the river and the many people who care about this very special part of our heritage. We must conserve, connect and enjoy the Susquehanna to ensure a healthy

future for our region.” A 15-mile stretch of the Susquehanna River North Branch flows from New York into Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier, and continues south 166 miles to join the river’s West Branch at Shikellamy State Park in Northumberland County. The North Branch of the Susquehanna River is a prominent regional feature, running through Susquehanna, Bradford, Wyoming, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Colombia, Montour, and Northumberland counties. Once a major transportation corridor, the entire waterway still is navigable by kayaks and canoes, even during dry seasons. The River of the Year sojourn is just one of many paddling trips supported by DCNR each year. An independent endeavor, the Pennsylvania Sojourn Program offers a dozen such trips on the state’s rivers. The water-based journeys for canoeists, kayakers and others raise awareness of the environmental, recreational, tourism and heritage values of rivers. For more information about the sojourn program, visit www. pawatersheds.org.

Scientists debate whether carp could take over Erie


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ently compose an estimated 23 percent of Erie’s fish by weight, could fall to about 13 percent. Not all native fish would fare poorly, said Hongyan Zhang of the University of Michigan, the report’s lead writer. Ironically, Asian carp could give adult yellow perch a slight boost by driving down numbers of white


tion for other plankton eaters, including gizzard shad and emerald shiners, two of the lake’s most important prey fish. The emerald shiner population could drop by as much as 37 percent. Adult walleyes, a prized sport species, could decline by 10 to 15 percent. Gizzard shad, which pres-


By John Flesher The Associated Press Traverse City, Mich. — Asian carp could become the most common fish in Lake Erie if the ravenous invaders develop a breeding population there, while popular sport species including walleye and rainbow trout likely would decline, scientists said. A newly published study based on computer modeling projected that bighead and silver carp, which are Asian carp species, eventually could make up about one-third of the total fish weight in Erie, which has the most fish of the five Great Lakes even though it’s the smallest by volume. “They would be quite abundant,” said Ed Rutherford, a fisheries biologist with the federal Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor and a member of the study team, which included scientists from several U.S. and Canadian universities and government offices. The carp are migrating northward toward the Great Lakes, where agencies have spent more than $300 million to keep them out. A few have been found in Lake Erie over the years, and some samples of its waters have tested positive for Asian carp DNA. But there is no evidence it has self-sustaining populations of silver or bighead carp. Even so, the study’s findings underscore the significance of the threat, said Marc Gaden, spokesman for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, a U.S.Canadian agency. “Lake Erie is one of the most productive inland fisheries in the world,” he said. “It wouldn’t be as valuable by any stretch of the imagination if 1 out of every 3 pounds of fish were Asian carp.” The study used an ecosystem modeling program and consultation with experts to estimate how Asian carp would affect Erie’s food chains. It found they would pose stiff competi-

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February 12, 2016

Cameras will be used to protect cave bats from people Staff Report Harrisburg — As part of its Core Values & Beliefs program, the Williams Company recently donated $2,400 to the Pennsylvania Game Commission to be used for cameraaided enforcement to protect bat caves from intrusions. The funds will go toward adding six new cameras in two new sites. Currently, the Northeast Region has two and the other five regions have one camera up and running in caves. Williams is an energy infrastructure company and provider of large-scale infrastructure connecting the growing supply of North American natural gas and natural-gas products to growing global demand for clean fuels and feedstocks. Williams owns, manages and operates natural gas pipelines within Pennsylvania. Founded in 1908, Williams employs more than 6,700 people with a regional presence and a local office in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Cave bats in Pennsylvania have experienced dramatic losses since the onset of

white-nose syndrome, a condition that causes bats to rouse during hibernation, burning the fat reserves they depend on to make it through winter and, ultimately, killing them. Protecting bats where they are most vulnerable – the caves and mines where they hibernate – increases their chances of recovery, said Greg Turner, a bat biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission who is among those leading research into the disease. White-nose syndrome is caused by a cold-loving fungus that contaminates the caves and abandoned mines where many bats hibernate and reproduce. At present, all of Pennsylvania’s bat-hibernation sites are presumed to be contaminated with the fungus, and some bat species have experienced a 99-percent population decline, Turner said. Although the disease has had devastating impacts, survivors remain, and continue to hibernate at these infected sites year after year. Eliminating the chance these survivors

Game Commission Wildlife Conservation officers place a sign warning people to stay out of the cave behind them, which shelters threatened bats. Photo courtesy Pa. Game Commission

are disturbed by people entering caves and mines for recreation could be the difference

between life and death for bats, Turner said. Any disturbance that causes bats to rouse decreases their chances of surviving through the winter, he said. The Game Commission for years has gone to lengths to keep people out of caves and mines that are important to hibernating bats. Gates that are friendly to bats but restrict people from entering have been placed at cave entrances. Areas leading to caves have been posted “No Trespassing.” And law-enforcement patrols near cave sites have been stepped up in an effort to catch trespassers. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent. Yet, intrusions continued, and in some areas, they still do. More recently, however, a new tool became available to the Game Commission in addressing these continuing problems: Cameras, that not only can capture visual evidence of trespassing crimes at sensitive bat caves, but that send text messages to alert on-duty officers and radio dispatchers an intrusion is taking place.

Preliminary numbers show deer kill down in New York By Steve Piatt Contributing Writer Albany, N.Y. — Many deer hunters across New York state are convinced the 2015-16 season was a poor one in terms of the overall kill. Department of Environmental onservation officials say preliminary harvest numbers indicate they may be right. While a final deer kill tally won’t be released for a while, officials said deer harvest reports this pastseason were down by 11 percent in the Southern Zone and 13 percent in the Northern Zone. “Overall, declines were more

pronounced for reported take of female deer than male deer and during the regular firearms seasons and late bow and muzzleloader seasons than during the early bow or muzzleloader seasons,” according to a department news release ahead of the final deer kill results, which will be released in the spring. Deer season ran through Jan. 31 in Suffolk County on Long Island, and there is a special Deer Management Focus Area offering an extended season in Tompkins County, the take in those areas won’t significantly impact the numbers.

The preliminary results set the stage for a final tally that will almost assuredly show a sharp decline in the deer kill this past season. A number of factors may have contributed to the lower take, notably warm weather that stalled deer movement. Hunters, however, are convinced other factors came into play as well, such as high allocations of Deer Management Permits in recent years and a rugged winter of 2014-15 they feel led to higher winter kill than department biologists have projected. “I haven’t paid a lick of attention to the downstate decline but

know this forum and every other has had everyone other than the DEC wondering what the heck happened to all the deer in western New York,” said one hunter on the popular huntingny.com message board. “In my neck of the woods in WMU 7M, deer were everywhere the first two weeks of November. The last two weeks of November the deer just disappeared,” posted another. DEC officials said a “minor decline” in the statewide whitetail harvest was expected heading into the 2015 season, based on severe winter conditions last year as well as an overall decline in the DMP allocation in most wildlife

management units. Fewer permits to take antlerless deer typically translates to a lower kill. “Too, unseasonably warm conditions and lack of snow during much of November and December also likely contributed to reduced hunter success in many areas,” the department’s preliminary report read. “As usual, deer harvest varies considerably across the state, and preliminarily it looks like deer hunters in western New York generally saw less of a harvest decline than in portions of central and southeastern New York. More variation will be evident when we look at the harvest by unit.”

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Page 15

Lease agreements assure Game Commission $14.6M

Staff Report Harrisburg — An agreement approved recently by the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners solidifies more than $14.6 million – revenue that had been anticipated and written into the budget for the current fiscal year, according to the agency. Commissioners claimed, given the agency’s fiscal crisis, which they blamed on hunting license fees not being raised in 17 years, that it’s important to understand the sum has already been built into the budget, and is not “a sudden influx of revenue that will fix fiscal problems.” The agreement involves the lease of the Game Commission’s oil and gas rights under 5,870 acres of state game lands 12 and 36 in Overton and Elkland townships in Bradford and Sullivan counties. The agreement is the result of a competitive bid that was announced in November and opened in December, according to the agency. Chief Exploration and Development LLC of Dallas, Texas, was the lone bidder, agreeing to pay a one-time bonus payment of $2,500 per acre for a five-year paid-up primary term, and 20.55 percent in royalties for all oil/gas and other liquids or condensates produced and sold from the

proposed tract. Additionally, the bid provides the Game Commission a well-pad location fee of $75,000 per well pad, if well pads are necessary on the game lands’ surface. The agreement restricts surface use to two well pads and access thereto for development. Oil and gas development will be regulated by the commonwealth’s Oil and Gas Regulations and the Game Commission’s Standard Restricted Surface Use Oil and Gas Development Cooperative Agreement to include a $50,000 performance bond. The agreement will include standard wildlife and environmental protection measures. The bonus payment will be approximately $14,675,000. Further, the commission will receive an annual payment of $1,400 in lieu of free gas usage. Commissioner James Daley, who as a consultant works with several firms in the shale gas industry, complimented commission staff for the terms they negotiated in the deal, noting that contracts carrying royalty rates and bonus payments at this level are rare in today’s market. In a separate vote, the commissioners today approved an agreement with EQT Production that will result in a $917,000 bonus payment.

EQT, of Canonsburg, Pa., requested the Game Commission offer its oil and gas rights under a nearly 306-acre portion of State Game Land 245 in East Finley Township, Washington County. EQT has a strong, privately owned oil/gas lease position surrounding this portion of the game lands. The company has initiated unconventional well drilling and development in the vicinity of the proposed tract, and also has the ability to unitize and develop the Game Commission’s oil and gas reserve under the proposed tract by horizontal drilling with no surface use or disturbance to the game lands. The terms of the agreement are a fiveyear paid-up Non-Surface Use Oil and Gas Agreement, a $3,000 per net oil and gas acre bonus payment and 20 percent royalty for all oil/gas and other liquids or condensates produced and sold from the proposed tract. The bonus payment may be deposited either into the Game Fund or into an interest-bearing escrow account to be used for the purchase of wildlife habitats, lands or other uses incidental to hunting, furtaking and wildlife resource management, according to a commission news release. Future rentals and royalties owed the

commission shall be directly deposited into the Game Fund. The commissioners also approved a coal-mining agreement that will permit Amerikohl Mining Inc., of Butler Pa., to mine and remove approximately 15 acres of Lower Kittanning coal beneath a portion of State Game Land 153 in West Wheatfield Township, Indiana County. The Game Commission owns the surface and surface-support rights, but does not own the coal. Amerikohl has secured a lease with the coal owner. The terms are a five-year agreement, a royalty rate of 6 percent of the F.O.B. pit price for all coal mined and sold from the premises, or $2.50 per ton, whichever the greater. In exchange for the agreement, and to offset the surface impact to the game lands, Amerikohl will convey to the Game Commission a minimum of 30 acres of acceptable land. Royalties will be credited against the land value and once reached, payment of royalties will begin at the greater of the rates noted above. All coal royalty payments will be deposited in the Game Fund. Mining will be regulated by the Commonwealth’s Mining Regulations and the Commission’s Standard Surface Coal Mining Agreement, according to the Game Commission.

Beyond Pennsylvania For more Beyond Pennsylvania visit outdoornews.com

New Jersey

be found by rescuers. When the bear emerged, a dog that was with the group began barking and the bear ran away. Emergency personnel arrived and airlifted Petronino to a hospital, where he was treated for his wounds. Wildlife officials have said they don’t perceive the bear as a threat and won’t try to capture it.

Boy Who Saved Scout Leader Thought Bear Attack was a Joke

Rockaway Township (AP) — A 13-year-old Boy Scout who helped save his Scout leader from a bear attack says he thought it was a joke until he heard the man’s pleas for help and sounds from the bear. Frankie Lepore was part of a small group hiking at Split Rock Reservoir recently when Christopher Petronino stopped to show the boys a cave. He dipped into a crevasse leading to it, and the black bear grabbed Petronino and yanked him inside. He hit the bear twice in the head with a rock hammer, pulled his sweatshirt over his head, and curled into the fetal position. Lepore said he thought Petronino was joking until he heard the bear. The Scout leader told them to call 911. “I thought this was a serious situation – he might not make it alive if we don’t do something,” Lepore told WABC-TV. The boys called for help as they threw food toward the cave to try to lure the bear, and made a signal fire in order to

Ohio Deer Harvest During Gun Season up from 2014

Columbus (AP) — ­ State officials say good weather helped the deer harvest eclipse last year’s total during the weeklong gun season. The Ohio DNR said 73,399 deer were checked in the state during the annual seven-day gun season that ended Dec. 6. That’s nearly a 9-percent increase over the 65,484 checked last year.


Hunters Kill More Moose; State Sees Good Signs

Augusta (AP) — Maine wildlife regulators say the state’s hunters had a more successful moose season this year than in

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2014. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says the increased moose harvest dovetails with positive signs about the state’s official animal. State moose biologist Lee Kantar said moose observed during the season were healthy, with a good percentage of stored fat. It’s good news for the state’s moose herd, which has suffered die-offs due to parasites such as winter ticks in recent years. The state cut hunting permits from 3,095 to 2,740 this year as a result. Hunters harvested about 2,200 moose this year for an 80 percent success rate. Last year’s total was 2,022, a 65 percent success rate.

Illinois Count Shows Increase in Rare White Squirrels

Olney — The 37th Olney Squirrel Count revealed an increase in albino and gray species, organizers reported. The annual count revealed an

average of 88 albino squirrels – up from the 75 in 2014. There were 100 counted in 2013. Albino squirrels have become synonymous with the eastern Illinois town over the past 100 or so years, but there are concerns about the white squirrel population. The main reason for the annual count is to monitor the white squirrel population in an attempt to manage the species. Based on research and scientific models, Dr. John Stencel, who began studying the white squirrels of Olney in the 1970s while he was an instructor at Olney Central College and was a leader in the annual count for many years, believes extinction of the albinos could take place by 2034 if no efforts are made to help preserve the population.

Ready to allow PF&BC to raise license fees

Page 16



t’s a no-win situation. The state Fish & Boat Commission and the Game Commission rely on the Legislature to grant license fee increases. The Legislature is usually reluctant to do so, so when a hike happens it comes after a long, arduous process. That means years and years go by before any increase is realized, and by that time it’s almost too late as the agencies revenue can’t keep up with rising costs. Making the matter even worse, the period of time between license fee increases is so long that when a hike does occur it’s often significant just to make up for all the time lost. And a significant price increase with anything – gas, food or hunting and fishing licenses, is never welcomed by consumers. But unlike gas and food, hunters and anglers can simply give up the sport if they don’t like the drastic price increase. So in the end, after waiting too long for the Legislature to grant a fee increase, both state agencies stand to lose customers when a hike is approved because it is so large. Clearly, the process is broken. But there is a fix. Several of them, in fact. First, our legislators can put aside any personal issues they have with either agency and grant smaller increases but in a timely manner – say, every two or three years. I don’t agree with everything the Game and Fish & Boat commissions do either, but how can we expect them to correct things – to do a better job, if they can’t stay afloat financially? We can make strong cases why the Fish & Boat Commission should stock more trout or the Game Commission should do more habitat work, but those things take money. It’s unfair to expect either agency to do


S peakin G


more if they don’t have the money to stay in business. A second option is to require both agencies to cut costs and look for alternative sources of revenue. Actually, that’s already happening as positions go unfilled, layoffs loom and both agencies are peddling everything from fishing buttons to wildlife patches in order to raise all

“Cutting costs to meet a budget is fine, but cutting positions to accomplish that goal can be a dangerous game.” the revenue they can. The one thing about this option that scares me is leaving positions unfilled, especially those in law enforcement. Right now there are vacant officer posts in each agency. When that happens, those districts have the potential to turn into lawless regions when it comes to protecting fish and wildlife. A waterways conservation officer who has to cover an extra district due to a vacancy certainly won’t be able to watch every stocked waterway before the start of trout season. I’ve helped officers stock trout before the season opener, and when I pour a bucket into the stream, I wonder if those fish will be there for law-abiding anglers or will they succumb to the greed of a poacher? Speaking of poaching, imagine how many deer have

February 12, 2016

fallen under the beam of a spotlight on a remote, dirt road in a district that has no wildlife conservation officer? Cutting costs to meet a budget is fine, but cutting positions to accomplish that goal can be a dangerous game. One of the better options to solving the financial woes, at least for the Fish & Boat Commission, is a recent push among a few legislators to draft a bill that would give the agency the ability to set its own fishing license fees. Why not? Neither the Fish & Boat Commission nor the Game Commission receive money from the state’s general fund, so why should legislators set the cost of their licenses? Well, many feel the current process allows the Legislature to keep tabs on each agency. Keep them in line, if you will. That argument does have merit, to a degree. Maintaining a level of control over the Fish & Boat and Game commissioners is a good thing, but if that means going 10 years or more without a license fee increase then this system of checks and balances is clearly weighted to one side. Since the bill would only allow the Fish & Boat Commission to set its price and doesn’t mention the Game Commission, we’ll focus on the former. Fish & Boat Commission leaders have tried everything possible to generate more revenue and attract more people to the sport. They’ve come up with multiyear licenses, youth licenses, a throw-back fishing button and even cut the cost of a license by a $1. All the innovative approaches haven’t worked as planned, and that just leaves one straw to grasp: increase the cost of a fishing license. It hasn’t been done since 2005, and if the Legislature has to do it or the Fish & Boat Commission is given the ability to raise the fee,

The columnist worries that leaving law enforcement positions unfilled because of a tight budget will result in areas of the state turning into lawless regions when it comes to protecting fish Photo courtesy Pa. Fish & Boat Commission and wildlife. that’s fine. abuse the authority and get carried away with unreasonI really don’t think grantable license fee increases, ing the agency the authority they will only hurt themto set the price of a fishing selves. If people can’t afford license is going to result in to buy fishing licenses then an abuse of power. There is the Fish & Boat Commission still plenty of oversight from doesn’t stay in business. the Legislature to make sure Simple as that. that doesn’t happen. The Fish & Boat Conversely, the bill Commission is going broke would offer the Fish & Boat and the agency has gone Commission a chance to more than 10 years without a prove it can successfully license fee increase. operate as a business by addressing rising costs with It’s not a good situation, gradual price increases so as but let’s give the agency not to scare away its customevery tool possible and see if ers. it can turn around. And if agency leaders

Game agency approves purchase of properties Harrisburg — The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners recently approved the purchase of two tracts adjoining state game lands in Snyder and Cumberland counties. The 10-acre tract in Adams Township, Snyder County, is an indenture to State Game Land 188. It is being offered for sale by the estate of Norma M. Fetterolf at an option price of $20,800 lump sum, to be paid with money from the Game Fund. The property is forested with

oak, maple and hardwoods and it adjoins Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission property along its northern boundary. Access is from the existing game lands. The board also approved purchase of a 7.6-acre tract in Silver Spring Township, Cumberland County. The property adjoins State Game Land 170 and is being offered by the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy for an option price of $400 an acre to be paid with funds from the Game Fund. The tract is forested with hardwoods and has sassafras and witch-hazel in the understory. In other action, the commissioners approved two land donations, which will add more than 24 acres in Dauphin and Cambria counties. The board approved a 14.2acre donation in Jackson Township, Cambria County. The tract, which adjoins State Game Land 79, is offered for donation by Charles Merlo III. The property mostly is forested with mixed hardwoods in early succession, and it has approximately 1.5 acres of reverting old fields. Access to the property is off U.S. Route 22. The board also voted to accept the donation of about 10 acres in Williams Township, Dauphin County. The tract, which is located about 3,000 feet south of State Game Land 264, is being offered by the Estate of Constance Garber. The property is forested with mixed hardwoods. Wiconisco Creek flows along the northern boundary. Access is from Water Street, which parallels the western boundary.

Barren winter woods hide dynamic life force

February 12, 2016


t’s all around us every day, and right now it looks as bleak and barren as the recent full moon. For those reasons, it’s easy to overlook the amazing truths about deciduous forests, the dominant living feature across this part of the planet – Pennsylvania, the Laurel Highlands and Fayette County. Most trees in deciduous forests – also known as broadleaf forest – lose their leaves in winter. That’s such a routine and seasonally expected event that we forget it’s a marvelous adaptation that enables trees to make efficient use of our warm, wet summers while also coping with snowy cold winters. Unlike birds, trees can’t migrate south. So, they had to come up with a way to endure winter’s ravages with their roots sunk into soil. What to us is a beautiful green summer setting is to deciduous trees a powerfully productive food factory, and the basis for all other life. The broad but thin leaves allow maximum capture of solar rays and easy passage of gasses and water by a nearly weightless organ. This sunlight-capture is an efficient way of harnessing energy during the summer yet those same leafy assets are a liability in winter as our recent blizzard affirms. If leaves remained in place all year they would snag the weight of heavy snow and tear the tree apart. Likewise, the moisture within leaves would freeze, expand and rip the leaves themselves to shreds. Deciduous forests even invest in their own future. The millions of leaves they drop every autumn decompose to enrich the soil in which new seedlings will root and grow. Deciduous forests dominate the earth’s land masses at mid-latitudes in regions with moderate climate and abundant precipitation. They occur – or did occur – in three principal zones around the globe – eastern North America, much of Europe, and eastern Asia, principally in China. The deciduous forests of eastern North America are the most extensive and complex in the entire world. Especially diverse are the woodlands of the southern Appalachians where around 90 broadleaf species can be counted. Here in western Pennsylvania we can find somewhere around 40 species of native deciduous trees on any ambitious walk through the woods. Our principal broadleaf trees are about a half-dozen different oaks, a like number of maples, several hickories, plus our tulip poplar, black cherry, black birch, cucumber magnolia, American beech, basswood, black locust and many others encountered less frequently. Sadly, our once dominant broadleaf, the American chestnut, is now absent except for spindly shoots that still thrust up from surviving roots. The American chestnut succumbed to a fungal blight that “hitch-hiked” into North America on Asian chestnut trees imported for landscaping plantings early in the last century. The blight spread west and south from Long Island, New York, and within about 30 years this enormously important tree




was essentially extinct as a functioning forest component. But there’s good news, too, about deciduous forest. Pennsylvania’s forests are primarily this type, and the state boasts far more forest than it did 100 years ago. The most significant land use change across the eastern United States over the past half-century is the return of forest to previously cultivated farmland. In this returning forest, oaks have taken over the role of the now-gone chestnut, dropping acorns for wildlife food and supplying the wood product needs of a nation and beyond. Today, this state is nearly 60 percent forested, just about the same pro-

portion of forest cover that graces Fayette County. Some northern Pennsylvania counties such as Cameron, Warren and Potter exceed 90 percent forest cover. Forests are personally important to outdoor enthusiasts. Around here, all our outdoor recreation – hunting, fishing, hiking, camping – in one way or another depends on deciduous forest. But woodlands aren’t just pretty to look at or a place to play outdoors. According to the U.S. Forest Service surveys, forests rank second behind agriculture alone in their total economic impact on our state’s economy. In Penn’s Woods nearly 75,000 jobs are linked in some way to forests and forest products. Ever wonder how many leaves are on a typical tree like a maple or oak? I don’t know the answer and had never thought about it before beginning this column. Curious, I searched Internet sites that discussed the topic and found a number of creative ways people had devised to estimate this. The simplest and most interesting calculation was made by

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The deciduous forests of eastern North America, like this woodland in Ohiopyle State Park, are the most extensive and complex in the world. The ability to shed leaves in autumn allows trees to exploit our warm wet summers without suffering Photo by Ben Moyer winter damage. a Michigan family raking leaves. The kids asked their dad how many leaves were on the big tree in their yard. He didn’t know but they raked all the leaves into a neat pile, then pulled out a sample occupying roughly one cubic foot. They counted 50 leaves in their sample and then estimated the volume of their raked mound to arrive at somewhere between 40,000 and 60,000 leaves on their

backyard tree. Their results compared favorably with more formally scientific methods I encountered on the web. That solemn woodland across the road or behind the house may seem drab and lifeless at the moment. But it’s a dynamic community of efficiency and power. In a few months, it will prove that once again, green, vibrant and restless on the wind.

Garden State folks make independence bid

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ook no further than two simple words to describe New Jersey saltwater fishermen – they’re different: in the way they drive: “Turn signal? What turn signal?” Talk: “Yo! Tryin’ to get some fresh bunkah here for floundah bait.” And handle adversity: they don’t back down. I’ve never met the past president of the Jersey Coast Angler’s Association, but I like his style when he sees something he doesn’t like. He thinks those who fish the Jersey coast are getting the short end of the boat rod, and he’s got his teeth dug in like an angry pit bull, hanging on dearly, not just for his Garden State brethren, but for you and I, and all the others who come to his state’s waters in search of a summer flounder or two to keep. And eat. Just about this time last year then-association President Paul Haertel tried to rally the forces against a fisheries management plan that merged New York, Connecticut and New Jersey into one regional management unit. If anglers to the north over-


F ishin G


fished the resource in one year, two other states were likely to feel the cutbacks the following year – with shorter seasons and tighter creel limits. New Jersey anglers are different, Haertel argued. They often travel long distances, often from Pennsylvania towns, to fish from ports stretching northward up the coast from Cape May to Sandy Hook. They seek the same fish in Delaware Bay as the boat next to them and yet their fish must be 2 inches longer than those kept by the nearby boys from Delaware. And, they have a special regulation than allows them to keep 16-inch flounder within Island Beach State Park.

February 12, 2016

Regionalization – that is the same regulations and catch limits for three neighboring states – is too broad-based when catch quotas are determined, and state fishery folks are seeking answers to local questions. “State-by-state measures allow the public to have input,” Haertel told his association members in January 2015, “and the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council considers all of this before voting on the compromise they feel meets the needs of the majority of our fishermen. We would lose this flexibility under any regional plan.” A year later and the association board member is even more adamant merging New Jersey with New York and Connecticut to manage and improve summer flounder fishing is not the way to go. Before the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board met in mid-January to chart a future course for flounder and black sea bass management, Haertel urged those fishing Jersey waters to let the

Smaller size limits have been imposed on New Jersey anglers for popular fish species such as flounder. An effort is afoot to change the situation, and the columnist is rooting for it. Contributed photo Haertel also offered some commission know they want interesting observation and autonomy for Garden State comment on the flounder harwaters. vest released in mid-December He supported a change, or for the September-October 2015 addendum to the Interstate period: Fishery Management Plan “The numbers continue to (FMP) for Summer Flounder, show that our state, as well as Scup, and Black Sea Bass – a our region (Connecticut, New not-so-concise look at what was Jersey and New York) along addressed at that session can be with most of the East Coast found at http://bit.ly significantly under-fished their /20cw9WC. Essentially, the association is backing a regional quotas for fluke,” said Haertel. option, Haertel said, that would “As reported previously, this “allow New Jersey to be its own should offset the mandated 29 region. percent cut in the coastwide quota for next year and result in “We would still be required similar regulations as we had in to have the same size and bag 2015 for 2016. limits and same season length as the region to our north “At this point, it seems almost (New York and Connecticut). certain that we will once again However, we would be allowed have an 18-inch size limit, fiveto have special regulations for fish bag limit and a 128-day Delaware Bay,” the board mem- season.” ber said. And, for those who think the “In 2015, people in southern black sea bass rivals founder New Jersey were treated unfair- as table-fare, some bittersweet ly in that fishermen fishing news offered by the association essentially the same waters in spokesman: Delaware Bay from Delaware “The sea bass population had a 16-inch size limit while is increasing so fast and their fishermen from New Jersey had range has been expanding so an 18-inch size limit.” far that our ‘best science’ cannot The proposed option would keep up with it. There are tons allow for a 17-inch size limit in of them out there, and during Delaware Bay for both states. It 2015, New Jersey was restricted also would also allow anglers from keeping any sea bass at all in Jersey to continue its shorefrom Aug. 1 to Oct. 22. based, enhanced fishing oppor“With the poor fluking we tunity at Island Beach State had during the summer, many Park, where two fluke measurfishermen went home fishless ing 16 inches or longer may be when sea bass could have bailed kept in season. out their trips. “ Such a program could be Here’s hoping that Jersey pit expanded to other Jersey areas bull keeps on growling. as well.

Alex Niccolai, of Bethel Park, arrowed this 12-point buck, with a 16-inch spread, Sept. 22, while hunting near Baldwin in Allegheny County.

February 12, 2016


Page 19


Latrobe, Pa. ack in the late to mid-’50s, teens did not possess credit cards. I don’t even recall the subject being mentioned. So, when I received a catalog in the mail concerning outdoor sporting equipment, I eyed a Shakespeare 7-foot fishing rod, dark pink in color. Why I chose that color, God only knows. I do remember, however, having to save for it. Doing odd jobs around the house, my parents would pay me various amount for chores rendered. Every time I accomplished a job, I took the dollars and cents and deposited them in a small box in my bedroom closet for safekeeping. When I scraped up a little over $16, I sent away for my prized possession and received it the mail. I can’t recall if a reel came with it. I felt ready to take on the challenge of my first fishing trip. My mother came up with the idea of inviting some of my friends to accompany us. One summer morning, we journeyed to what was once known as Lake Jo-Anne in Washington County. It was a pay-lake described by many as a “puddle,” but heavily stocked with many species of fish, particularly trout. Then, it was hard to find any lake or stream to wet a line in and around Bethel Borough, the place I first grew up in Pennsylvania. No other surrounding places where people lived had basins to fish, so I knew this as the only place around. I felt proud to join other anglers vying for trophy fish. With new rod in hand, I entered a small cabin-like building and laid some cash on the counter for my admission fee and a container of nightcrawlers. Full of excitement, I then headed for an open spot along the water’s edge. After settling in and winding a crawler on a hook, I proceeded to wail my line out into the depths of the unknown. Surely, I thought, it wouldn’t be long until my new possession would be put to the test. While waiting, off to the right, I spotted an empty dock. Climbing upon it, I thought to myself, why not fish from here. Then I saw it, a circular hole in the wood approximately five inches in diameter. Peering down through the clear water, I saw nothing. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t something there. It was then a new idea occurred to me. Why not take a piece of Velveeta cheese from the sandwich my mother had packed for my lunch and drop it into the hole. Leaning over and peering into it, I did as planned. Out of nowhere came this huge fish and gobbled it up and hastened away. Turning to another part of the sandwich, I found a piece of this light orange food substance sticking out of the corner, tore it off, stuck it on a hook and lowered my line back down through the hole


into the water. Bam! I saw this same fish come out of nowhere and gulp down this morsel, turning and planning to head out of sight. But, it wasn’t to be. Yanking on my line, I felt the tug on the other end. Gripping the monofilament, I slowly pulled upward, eventually getting the fish to the opening, then lifting it through the wooden slats with only the skill a 14year-old could possess. I then grasped it in my hands. What I lay claim to was a 14-inch rainbow trout. One can only imagine how

thrilled my mother was when I lifted the fish out of my bag and laid it on the kitchen counter. I, on the other hand, was in seventh heaven.

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February 12, 2016

GOT THE LIGHT-BITER BLUES? Solid strategies to hook tentative panfish

Whenever the writer is dealing with light-biting or tentative panfish, the first thing he does is downsize everything. And he keeps his baits and lures hardly moving, sometimes stationary, letting the fish hook themselves. Photo by Vic Attardo

By Vic Attardo Contributing Writer


very time I took my hand away from the chemical hand warmer in my thermal-suit’s chest pocket, my fingers would get cold, fast. And with the cold, they’d turn red and with the red, I lost feeling – not serious frostbite-feeling but reactionary feeling – and when I lost this feeling, I couldn’t respond quick enough to the little twitches on the rod tip that signaled the strike of a chilled panfish, 7 feet below my equally cold feet.

I couldn’t do anything about the temperature and not much more for my cold hands, but I figured I could make some adjustments that would prevent the nipping panfish from running away with my bait and not get hooked. The lure I was using was an eighth-ounce jigging spoon with a couple of waxworms threaded around its debarbed treble hook. This was a good bait for trout – which weren’t hitting – but one that the winter bluegills and pumpkinseeds on Lackawanna Lake could kiss all day and not get the point.

You’d think the lure was small enough but in these cold conditions it wasn’t. Whenever I’m dealing with light or tentative panfish biters, the first thing I do is downsize everything. Instead of an eighth-ounce spoon, measuring about an 1.5 inches total, I tied on a 1/32-ounce jig with a plastic tail, total length less than a half inch. And instead of threading the hook with a waxworm or two, I take out my tiny sawdust-filled film canister populated with soft spike larva and thread one over the hook. The larva had been wallowing in sawdust and red food coloring for two days, and had turned a rosy pink, not quite red, but red enough to contrast sharply with the tiny black jig and tiny black plastic tail. The color contrast between live bait and lure is another thing I like for light biters. You might think there should be enough contrast between the black jig and a pale creamy larva if I hadn’t had it bathing in food coloring (or cherry juice), but a black and pale red contrast really seems to spark the interest of panfish in tough February times and the clear water of places like Lackawanna Lake. With my hands only slightly warmer from a recent visit to my pockets, I tied on the smaller jig and stationed the rod in a frame over a bucket. Instead of jigging a cold rod, I decided to go with the tactic

of dead-sticking – keeping the rod absolutely stationary. When dealing with light biters, it is not the time to aggressively jig the rod, giving the bait too much action. Better instead to keep a nearly still lure down below and let the bluegills hook themselves. I say “nearly still” because with underwater currents and line twist, you can not hold a tiny jig absolutely, positively still in the water. It won’t be going up and down but it will spin, or turn, and this is enough action for these conditions. Back to the colored larva: besides providing contrast, the other reason I like a red kicker is that light-biting panfish are directly attracted to it – meaning the larva’s place on the hook – so when the fish puckers up and takes the bait, the fish is so much closer to the hook point. I understand this is a matter of a small degree, but consider the actual space, or mass, a light, or tentative-biting, panfish is taking compared to a more aggressive panfish. Certainly there’s not much of a difference, but enough of one to make any advantage I get one of great importance. If I can direct the light-biter’s attention more to the hook point than the jig head, then I’m going to win. On a cold February day that’s what it’s about.

The fish hole

Anglers know – even though science hasn’t figured out exactly how – that fish are synched to each other in mysterious ways. How, for instance,

do trout that were playing possum on the bottom suddenly turn into hungry tigers? Anglers have seen the bite “turn on” with every fish in the catalog. Even less recognized and understood is how it happens that fish “turn off.” Then, not for anything, can the angler get a recently aggressive fish to strike. One, very inadvertent, way to get fish to stop eating is to return a caught fish to the spot – or the school – from which it was taken. Some folks believe that when you return a caught fish, it sends our warning signal. What I really think happens is that the fish returns to the school and because it now shows no interest in the thing that brought it up to the air and blue skies, the surrounding fish also lose interest. Competition among fishes seems to be the strongest influence to get one to bite. Of course, our modern catch-and-release ethics often require the quick return of a fish but, in ice fishing, there is no way to circumvent the fish’s negative response. To overcome this – especially necessary with light bitters – I create a fish hole away from where I’m fishing – at least 20 feet for most small species. I drill an additional hole. Each time I catch a light bitter that I’m not keeping, I quickly toss it in an insulated waterfilled bucket (to prevent gill freezing) and soon dump it in my fish hole away from the pack. I’ve given this gambit a lot of anecdotal study, placing fish right back from where I got them, then after a couple of returned fish, finding that the bite crashes. On the other hand, I’ve placed my caught fish in a distant fish hole, and these returned fish did disturb the action. At least not for a long time. On a cold February day when I’m working hard to catch light biters, drilling a fish hole is a positive tactic I firmly believe in. When it comes to dealing with tentative biters, there are four things I’m going to try: downsizing my bait; making sure there is a noticeable contrast between live bait and lure; dead-sticking my small offerings, and finally keeping the neighborhood active by creating and using a fish hole. Hey, anything is worth a try.

February 12, 2016


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How bucks and bulls shed their

By Joe Shead Contributing Writer


ntlers are unlike any other structure in the animal kingdom. They are true bones, made mostly of calcium and phosphorus, just like any other bone. Yet they grow rapidly, form outside of the body, and fall off each year, only to regenerate the next. If you think about it, that’s pretty amazing. What’s more amazing is that something so strong can just fall off. How many times have you dragged a buck or hung it by its antlers? Those two antlers can support the entire weight of a deer. Or consider two 1,500-pound prime-aged bull moose engaging in antler-to-antler combat. Think of the force those antlers can endure! Now granted, it’s not uncommon to see bucks that have broken off a tine or two from these fights. If you’ve ever cut a cross section off an antler, you’ve probably observed that, like the cross section of a tree, there’s a wide inner layer and a thin outer layer. The difference is, the outer

White-tailed bucks in Pennsylvania can drop their antlers any time between December and April, but most will drop their antlers from January to March. Blood on the pedicles indicate the antler was shed within a few days. Researchers believe that concave pedicles are an indication of low testosterone.Photos by Joe Shead cambium layer of a tree is soft and spongy, while the inner layer is hard. It’s the opposite with deer. The inner spongy core is designed to act as a shock absorber when racks clash, but antlers can, and do, break at this tremendous force. Now here’s something else to consider: Have you ever heard of someone who shot a buck during muzzleloader or the late archery season and the antler simply popped off when the hunter tried to drag the buck? It happens every year. That antler, which can

endure so much, can also pop off with so little. So what makes a buck lose his antlers? Well, the simple answer is waning testosterone levels. An increase in testosterone triggers the velvet antlers to calcify in late summer, prior to the breeding season. Once the breeding season is over and a buck’s testosterone level drops, the antlers eventually fall off. A few things play a role in bringing this about. The biggest is photo period, or daylight length. As day

length shortens in November and December, the pituitary gland slows its activity. Even though day length begins increasing by late December, and many bucks carry antlers well into the new year, the wheels have been set in motion. Stress also controls antler shedding somewhat. Dominant bucks feed very little during the rut and may lose a significant amount of body weight during the fall. These run-down breeder bucks may drop antlers early after the rigors of the

rut. So may malnourished or injured bucks. Some of these deer will drop their antlers in December, and in some rare cases, even in late November. In contrast, bucks that carry antlers into March or even April are likely in overall (See Antlers Page 27)

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Merger Plan (From Page 1) increase the cost of hunting, furtaking and fishing licenses, along with trout stamps. Perhaps a combined agency could better protect the state’s natural resources, and better serve sportsmen, all in a more efficient manner, Causer said. “People are starting to think, if 49 other states are operating with combined agencies, maybe this is something we should look at,” Causer said. His co-sponsorship memo made that same point. “Given the concerns about financial difficulties frequently expressed by both agencies, and the reality that other states’ wildlife agencies can operate efficiently under one umbrella, I believe now is the time to take a more serious look at combing the two commissions into one more streamlined, efficient agency,” it read. What exactly his legislation would look like was still being determined. Causer sent his memo out for co-sponsors on Jan. 26. Three days later, he said its exact look was still being “tweaked.” Causer was also unable to say exactly how many co-sponsors his idea had attracted, though he added that there was “pretty good interest.” It’s not been attracting the same level of interest from the commissions themselves. Both have opposed a merger before; both are poised to do so again. John Arway, executive director of the Fish & Boat Commission, disputed the

Rep. Martin Causer notion that a merger would save money. A study done at Causer’s urging by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee said it might. It put the annual savings of a combined agency at about $5 million annually, primarily by eliminating duplicate upper management positions. That came with some conditions. The report noted that the two commissions now channel their revenue – by law – into certain funds. Hunting and furtaking license sales dollars have to be spent on wildlife; fish license revenues must likewise be spent on fish. Boat registration fees are to be used mostly for boating, though it can be spent on projects benefitting fishing, too, like boat launches.

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Unless that changes, the report said, a merged agency could not necessarily “improve efficiency.” Arway said a much more detailed cost-benefit analysis than has ever been done before would have to done to answer those kinds of questions before the wisdom of a merger could even be determined. “We believe, based on our own analyses, that we’d be lucky to break even, and that it would probably cost money to merge,” Arway said. Travis Lau, spokesman for the Game Commission, said officials there predict much the same thing. Field officers would have to be retrained, and more middle managers hired to oversee them, he said. Differences in the benefits awarded to union employees would have to be reconciled, he added. That’s not to mention the “rebranding” that would have to occur in the form of decals on vehicles, patches worn by officers, and letterhead and other literature used by the agencies that would have to be replaced, he said. The report that predicted $5 million in annual savings took none of that into account, Lau said. “We don’t think that it’s fair because of the costs that were not considered,” he added. There’s also the issue of how a combined agency would operate. Arway fears it’s not well. Twenty-one years ago, he said, then-Gov. Tom Ridge split the Department of Environmental Resources into two smaller agencies, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “We don’t see anyone clambering to put them back together,” Arway said. That’s because, he added, splitting them has resulted in two smaller, more nimble agencies better able to serve customers. He suggested going the opposite way in this case, and merging two smaller commissions into one larger one, makes no sense. Causer is not convinced. It may take some time for the largest savings of a merged agency to be realized, he said, though he suspected there would be some right away. “The commissions have a vested interest in staying separate, so they make excuses. But I’m not sure I buy all those excuses,” he said.

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Doe Tags


12, 2016

(From Page 1)

about the old system, and how often. “Was it one call, 10 calls, 100 calls, a thousand? We don’t really understand,” Kline said. Commissioner Tim Layton, of Somerset County, said the call to make it easier for nonresidents to get a doe tag is one of the most common he’s heard every year since joining the board. Those calls get especially loud this past year because so many out-of-state hunters had to do without. Five of the state’s 23 wildlife management units sold out of doe licenses before the application period for nonresidents even opened. Wes Waldron, spokesman for the United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania, said it’s commissioners themselves who are to blame for that. It’s partly why his group opposed the idea of allowing everyone to apply at once. “We must point out that over the past five years, it has been the commissioners’ decisions regarding antlerless license allocations which now limit the prospects of both resident and nonresident antlerless applications,” Waldron said. “And any attempts to level the playing field as is stated in the agenda is only further reducing the chances of resident applicants and that, in our opinion, fails to qualify as equitable.” Those comments made a difference, Layton said. Commissioners didn’t want to fix one problem but

Comm. Tim Layton alienate its partners at the same time. That’s how the move to a one-week difference between applications periods came about, agreed Commissioner Jim Daley, of Butler County. None of the five wildlife management units that sold out in less than two weeks last year sold out in less than one, he said. So, if the number of doe licenses this year is comparable to last – something that won’t be decided until April – everyone should be able to have a reasonable chance at getting one, he said. “So I think it’s a very good compromise,” Daley said. Layton said the board will continue to evaluate the application schedule going forward, too.

Commissioners address wide range of business Staff Report Harrisburg — Pennsylvania game commissioners, at their recent quarterly business meeting here, covered a wide range of topics.

WMU boundary

The boundary between wildlife management units 5C and 5D was shifted last year to better divide the more-developed urban areas surrounding Philadelphia and the less-developed areas farther from the city. And that boundary again could be tweaked this year, based on a measure preliminarily approved commissioners. They voted to expand Unit 5D northeast to provide a more logical boundary. The proposed change would increase Unit 5D by 24,826 acres that now are part of Unit 5C.

Expired license possession

When July rolls around, a new hunting license year will begin and those licenses carried over the previous 12 months no longer are valid. But the wildlife conservation officers working for the Pennsylvania Game Commission from time to time encounter hunters and trappers that still are in possession of expired licenses and tags from the previous year. And in some cases, those in possession of expired licenses and tags are carrying them with the intention to use them unlawfully to tag an animal taken in the current season. But the field possession of such tags soon could be made illegal. Commissioners voted preliminarily to approve a measure that would make it unlawful to possess any hunting license or big-game tag from a previous license year. Licenses and tags that have been fulfilled, revoked or suspended also would be unlawful to possess

in the field. The measure will be up for final adoption in April. Because the license years for hunting and fishing licenses start and end at different times, hunting and fishing licenses for different licenses years are issued at the same time, meaning the color for each must remain consistent, Weaner said.

Rangefinders OK

The use of rangefinders by Pennsylvania hunters soon could be clarified. The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave preliminary approval to a measure that would add electronic rangefinders to the list of electronic devices that can be used in the act of hunting. Both hand-held rangefinders and those contained within a scope or archery sight would be permitted, but those that cast a beam of any sort would continue to be unlawful to use. The state’s Game and Wildlife Code carries a broad prohibition on the use of electronic devices during hunting and trapping, but over the years, several devices have been reviewed - and in some cases - added to a list of devices that are an exception to the broad rule and can be used lawfully. The Game Commission long has considered rangefinders to be lawful to use, but they have not been added to the list. Adding rangefinders to the list would formalize that stance. In reviewing devices and considering whether their use should be considered lawful, the commission considers if and the degree to which the device might negatively impact principles of resource conservation, equal opportunity, fair chase and public safety. A final vote on is set for April.

February 12, 2016


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February 12, 2016


1ST PRIZE: Jennings Miller, of Oil City, arrowed this 10-point buck Nov. 11 near Saw Town in Venango County. The rack had a 16-inch inside spread and green-scored 131⅛.


2ND PRIZE: Holly Dunkle, of Oil City, arrowed this 8-point buck, with a 13-inch spread, Oct. 3 near Coal Hill in Venango County.

4th PRIZE: Dreck Ford, of Rome, arrowed this 8-point buck, with a 14-inch spread, Oct. 10, while hunting near his home in Bradford County.

6th PRIZE: Nick Karo, of Birdsboro, arrowed this 7-point buck, with an inside spread

of 10½ inches, Nov. 11, while hunting near Reading in Berks County.

3rd PRIZE: Richard Price, of Harrisonville, arrowed this 9-point buck Oct. 31 in Bedford County. The rack had a 17½-inch inside spread and green-scored 1422/8.

5th PRIZE: Ray Kosienski, of Erie, arrowed this 11-point buck, with an inside spread

of 192/8 inches, Nov. 11, while hunting near Edinboro in Erie County.

7th PRIZE: Tom Buterbaugh, of West Chester, arrowed this 10-point buck near

Chadds Ford in Chester County. The rack had an inside spread of 17½ and greenscored 1347/8.

February 12, 2016


SEMIFINALIST 1: Donald Baker, of Centerville, shot this 7-point buck Dec. 5 while hunting near his home in Crawford County. The rack had a 15-inch inside spread and green-scored 110.

SEMIFINALIST 3: Mark Holmes, of New Bloomfield,

shot this 8-point buck Dec. 5 while hunting near his home in Perry County. The buck had an inside spread of 18½ and a green score of 126.

Page 25

SEMIFINALIST 2: Olivia Gee, 7, of Tioga, harvested this 7-point buck while hunt-

ing with her father, Mark, on opening day.

SEMIFINALIST 4: Scott Bixler, of East Earl, arrowed

this 8-point buck, with a 15½-inch spread, Oct. 5 while hunting near his home in Lancaster County.

SEMIFINALIST 5: Bill Burns, of Lower Burrell, arrowed this 8-point buck Sept. 23 near Plum in Allegheny County. The rack had a 17¼-inch spread and green-scored 131.


The Annual Outdoor News Best Buck Contest has ended. Each year it gets better! Readers entered more photos than we have space to print. The judging, as in years past, was difficult. Many of the top 20 to 30 entries could have ended up in the top nine. As is customary with this contest, the weight and antler size of the deer were not critical factors – it’s the quality of the photo. That’s where it gets quite subjective. Everyone who entered looked like a winner, and all will have memories of their hunt forever. And you can’t beat that! The grand prize winner is on the front of this edition. S E M I F I N A L I S T 6 : Jacklyn Hajnosz, 10, of

SEMIFINALIST 7: Steve Hetrick, of Renfrew, arrowed this 7-point

SEMIFINALIST 8: Michael Moyer, of Selinsgrove, shot this 9-point buck, with an inside spread of 11 inches, Nov. 30 while hunting near Beavertown in Snyder County.

SEMIFINALIST 9: Tyler Beale, of Fenelton, arrowed this 7-point buck, with a 14½-inch inside spread, Nov. 14, while hunting near his home in Butler County.

Duncansville, shot her first deer, this spike buck, Dec. 5 while hunting in Westmoreland County.

buck Oct. 26 near Templeton in Armstrong County. The rack had a 14-inch inside spread.

Thanks for entering, and see you next season!

SEMIFINALIST 10: Heidi Keefer, of Glencoe, shot this 7-point buck, with an inside spread of 17 inches, Dec. 5, while hunting near her home in Somerset County.

Page 26


February 12, 2016

Thinking Open Water new


What’s the best rig for you? By Dan Durbin Contributing Writer


hile there certainly are plenty of boats available for anglers targeting a specific species of fish, the trend seems to be leaning towards companies providing multispecies rigs that accommodate anything a person who wants to cast for anything. Companies are also unveiling models that are more accommodating on the wallet. They might be a couple of feet shorter than the mega-rigs some people deploy, but they have all the bells and whistles make a full day on the water comfortable. Below are some of the best models you can expect to see on the water for 2016.


Announcing a newcomer to the Crestliner line, the new Discovery series. It’s practical and functional for multispecies fishing. Available in 14-foot and 16-foot tiller and side console configurations, it’s easy to trailer and easy on the wallet. Comes complete with an 11-gallon bow livewell, large bow deck with multiple storage compartments, and a spacious cockpit with in-floor rod locker that can accommodate up to 9-foot rods in the 1650 and 7-foot rods in the 1450. For more bells and whistles and tackling bigger water, the Raptor series has been redesigned from bow to stern. They feature a large bow platform, roomy cockpit, and 17-degree deadrise for maximizing holeshot. The all-new, feature rich helm console has space for two large graphs, power station for portable electronics, storage cubby and lockable storage drawer. High capacity lighted center rod compartment stows 17 rods on the 2100 and 12 rods on the 1750 and 1850. Insulated bow and stern livewells will keep your catch fresh. All Raptors include a built-in 33-inch tournament quality fish ruler and a removable 30-quart cooler. crestliner.com




Each boat has an in-deck three-tier center rod locker and a built-in bump stick mount lies just to the left of the rod locker for taking snap measurements. On the deck our stowing rubberized rod tie-downs keep critical combos within easy reach. lundboats.com


Available in a 185 or 175, the new Edge series is serious about family fun. Whether you spend your mornings fishing seriously, or afternoons pulling the kids on skis, consider this multifunction boat, the new SUV of the water. Loaded with storage, comfortable jump seats, four-speaker stereo, plenty of rod storage, aerated livewells and much more, the new Edge series can please everyone. Max horsepower rating top out at 175 horsepower in the 185 and a massive 95-inch beam keeps things stable on the move. As with all Alumacrafts, they’re among the toughest boats on the market. alumacraft.com


Alumacraft Edge

Crestliner Dicovery

The new 2185 model is for multispecies anglers who need a boat to handle the toughest conditions Mother Nature can dish out while remaining comfortable and equipped for a day’s adventure. With an overall length of 21 feet, 6 inches and a broad 99-inch beam, the 2185 offers a dry, smooth, and comfortable ride. Matching the performance is an smartly designed, spacious interior. The massive center rod locker holds 21 rods up to 10 feet, 4 inches. The 52-inch rear livewell is large enough for reviving the largest of muskies and keeping the tournament walleyes or bass comfortable and lively. All compartments feature locking heavy gauge aluminum lids with gasketed seals to keep the water out and your gear dry. ReconBoats.com

Hewes Sea Runner


It’s been a while since an aluminum boat company got “serious” about building a bass boat that even tournament anglers would consider but then along comes Lund’s Pro-V Bass Boat. It’s built on an IPS2 aluminum hull and has superior framework features, a flat center pad, multiple lift strakes and two reverse chines. The result is lightning quick hole-shot and a fast, stable, drier ride. The boat is perfect for hard-core muskie anglers too and is rated for up to a 200-HP outboard that will help it achieve 60-miles per hour. It comes in two distinct seating configurations – the classic bench-seating or the multi-species pedestal seating version – giving anglers versatile fishing platforms, based on personal preference. The bench-seating version includes recessed bench-seating and also features a patent pending extraordinary gas-assist tackle storage that literally rises vertically out of the back deck for unprecedented tackle access.

The 206 Fishunter spans 20 feet, 5 inches in length and sports a massive 100-inch beam for unparalleled interior room. Paired with outboards from 200 to 250 horsepower, it delivers a rapid hole shot, lightning-fast acceleration and blazing top-end speed. The massive front deck houses two large tackle storage compartments, an aerated baitwell, and a convenient center rod locker capable of organizing 10 of your favorite sticks in elevated protective tubes, with additional bulk rod storage capability below. The bow of the 206 features a bow panel large enough to flushmount a 12-inch graph, along with a drink holder, and tool caddy. The ergonomic driver’s console sports a full compliment of gauges plus a backlit switch panel and an oversized dash for flush-mounting large (up to 12-inch) electronic units and the capability to gimbal mount a second 12-inch unit.

Triton 206 Fishunter

Tuffy 2100

Skeeter WX2060

Tracker Pro Guide V16

(See New Boats 2016 Page 33)

Lund Pro-V

Nitro Z20

Ranger Z522D

Recon 2185

February 12, 2016



Grand Prize

(From Page 21)



12th ANNUAL BEST BUCK CONTEST The twelfth annual Pennsylvania Outdoor News Best Buck Contest offers great prizes and awards to 15 winners! This is a photo contest. Pennsylvania Outdoor News would rather support the notion of sportsmen and women enjoying the experience and creating memories than just concentrating on antler size. The rating system will be on photo quality, including composition and clarity. Check the rules and tips below. A panel of judges representing various interests will be selected in the weeks ahead to assist in the final selection of the winners. The contest is for either archery or firearms. Make sure that everyone in your hunting party carries a camera this deer hunting season. Every buck has a chance to win! GOOD HUNTING! HAVE A SAFE HUNT!

Hard-hitting energy with the consistent ® accuracy you’ve come to expect from Mathews

Bale Blind

First Prize

2016 Halon

Mantis II Trail Camera

2 Folding Tri-pod Chairs

Second Prize

good health. With testosterone levels falling, cells called “osteoclasts” form at the pedicle – the place where the antler attaches to the skull. Osteoclasts are the same cells that cause osteoporosis in humans. These cells begin to reabsorb the calcium from the antler and pull it back into the skull. As more calcium is reabsorbed, the connection between the skull and antler weakens. Eventually, only tiny pin-like “spicules” are left to support the antler. These abundant, tiny spicules are responsible for giving the base of a shed its “sandpapery” feel. When the connection between the antler and skull becomes too weak, the antler falls off. The shedding process happens very quickly. Scientists have noted that you could literally drag a buck by its antlers one day, and that same antler could fall off under its own weight the next. Manmade “shed traps” designed to knock loose an antler while a deer feeds can work. Or, the impact from landing when jumping can help an antler to shed, but the buck must be close to shedding already in order for this to happen. Sometimes both antlers fall off together, but usually they don’t. The second antler typically sheds within three days of the first one, but there have been documented cases of a buck carrying a single antler for a month after dropping the first. This perplexes me. If the shedding process is linked to lower testosterone levels, antler casting should be nearly the same for each antler. Science hasn’t come up with a good answer that I’ve heard to explain this lag. The seal shape at the base of the shed can teach you something about the health of the buck. If the base flares out, the buck is supposed to be in good physical condition. If it is convex, the buck may be in poor condition. I have even found a mule deer shed that was recessed about 3 inches deep at the base. You could stick your finger right in it. I have been told this is from a buck with very low testosterone. Interestingly, a given buck generally sheds his antlers on about the same date each year, barring any unusual stressors. If you find a shed with blood still on the base, you know that it was shed recently, certainly within the last week, and maybe within a couple of days, depending on how prevalent or wet the blood is. It soon washes away. A skin ring stays on the rim of the base and will last several months before it rots away. The presence of a skin ring is a sure sign that the antler was shed that season. Within a few days of shedding, the bloody, exposed pedicle scabs over. Soon, the buck will begin growing a new set of antlers.

Page 27

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Prodigy Fixed Position Tree Stand CR2300

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The Huntsman 16' Ladderstand

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10 Semifinalists

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February 12, 2016

A HARD LESSON Snow goose hunting tough on beginners

Often snow geese appear to hunters as a huge white cloud, according to the writer, magnificent in their pallid tint, Photos by Ron Steffe astonishing in their numbers within a flock.

By Ron Steffe Contributing Writer


you want to be a snow goose hunter. Of course, although you’ve never actually spent a day afield hunting the great white fowl, you’ve watched enough hunting shows and seen how easily snow geese are taken, and in extraordinary numbers too. You’ll buy a few decoys, find a spot where snow geese will come to, and simply enjoy fantastic shooting and fun. Take a clue from a small group of snow goose hunters I’m part of – guys who have hunted the “snows” for many years, thus being experienced enough to recount how most days unfold when hunting the spring migration of these big white waterfowl. It ain’t easy. It always starts with some prior scouting. Usually the birds are seen by a group member as they feed in a huge field, a field that often lies at least a half hour from our homes. A next day hunt is planned for that exact spot, with the scouting member first

securing landowner permission. The decoys are always stored in the huge garage of one the group. You meet at his home at 3 in the morning. Three to four 4X4 pickups are needed, 4X4’s in case a field is soft and muddy. One truck must pull a trailer loaded with full-bodied fakes. The other trucks must haul blinds, motion decoys, speakers that blast recordings of calls, a battery, and if you’ve invested enough, silo socks and a rotary machine. If you’re lucky, you’ve reached the field by 4 a.m. You work in teams and begin placing the assortment of decoys into a calculated spread you hope will be appealing to the geese. You work hard in the darkness of early morning, finishing off the setup by strategically setting the speakers in a four-corner design, hiding the blinds to match the field where you’ll lie – often a grass rake is used to sweep and pull enough cover from the field – making sure the hookups for the rotary machine and remote

for the speakers is functional. Finally, group members drive the trucks a long distance away from the field so as to not influence how the birds will react to your ambush spot. Usually the light of a quickly rising sun peeks over a eastern hill as you crawl into the blinds, because snow geese are early risers, and you certainly do not want to be caught out of the blinds, visible to the peering eyes of snow geese. Then, like magic, virtually out of nowhere, the birds come from their evening roosting spot. Often they appear as a huge white cloud, magnificent in their pallid tint, astonishing in their number within a single flock. The speakers are turned on, the rotary machine engaged. The hunters ready themselves. This time the birds will decoy. This time out our effort will be rewarded. The flock turns towards the spread, then reaches us directly overhead. Unlike Canada geese – that fly low when showing interest – the snow geese are high, well above our set. Then they begin to circle, a huge mass of white with touches of black forming a massive ring of descending waterfowl. It’s an unforgettable sight. The birds continue to circle,

dropping lower with each swing. Our hearts pound, we grip our shotguns tightly, anticipating rapid shooting and falling geese. But when we need just one more circle, when we have to have just an extra 50 feet of descent, they rise up in bulk and quickly leave us while our hearts drop and grips loosen, the echo’s of a thousand voices fading with the sight of flapping wings. And then another flock soon comes. Our anticipation and expectations rise as before, but the story remains the same as the birds descend just out of range, and leave. Flock after flock coming near and then leaving without a shot fired. “Close, but no cigar” is the vernacular, and it fits us perfectly. I can no longer count the times this has been the final story of a day of snow goose hunting I was party to. I cannot even begin to describe the frustration felt when hunting what some friends nickname the “white devils.” This is simply a waterfowl species that is universally believed to be the most challenging variety of migratory bird to hunt. But do not let the above scare you away if you are determined to hunt snow geese, because on rare occasions, there can be success.

Just keep in mind a few simple rules. First, you have to be able to hunt where “snows” will be when in migration mode, and in Pennsylvania that’s typically the southeastern portion. The Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area will hold, by far, the most migrating snow geese, and in itself is a wonder to visit when the birds are there. But there are plenty of other lakes and ponds within the southeast that hold the white fowl during their return trip north. Next would be to secure spots where snow geese will visit close to these watery rest areas, like vast fields of corn stubble, harvested soybean, and short-growth fields of winter wheat and rye. Because snow geese are “jumpers” (birds that quickly move within a field or from field to field) it is best to have many choices to set a spread. Do not be surprised if you have competition from other hunters, too. Before spending a lot on decoys, buy a small number, maybe 50 imitations, a player and a recording of many birds, and some sort of amplification device if the player isn’t loud enough. Snow geese like to see movement within a spread, so have a couple of motion decoys. And since they easily pick out unnatural forms on the ground, you’d better make sure you’re well hidden and movement free. Another choice for beginners is to try and hook up with somebody who already hunts snow geese, and to experience and learn what is really involved in pursuing this bird. Lastly, if you do undertake the challenge that is snow goose hunting, do not become quickly discouraged. There will be many more days when all you have to show for a hunt is a tired butt than days when a pile of white geese lay in front of a group of smiling hunters come picture time. But then that’s why you’ll hunt these birds, for that rare day of success leading to smiling photos.

February 12, 2016


Page 29

HUNTING THE HUNTERS Late winter is prime time for predator control. There’s still time to hit the field in pursuit of a Stock photos wary predator. By Tyler Frantz Contributing Writer


espite winter’s chill bearing down heavily on much of the commonwealth, the ever-present urge to “get out and after it” still burns inside many like the last fiery embers of a wood-burning stove on a cold, blustery evening. Fortunately, there’s still time to hit the field in pursuit of an elusive and cunning quarry. By hunting predators in late winter, Pennsylvania sportsmen can experience some intense, in-your-face action, while collecting winter furs in peak condition. When a fresh dusting of snow blankets farmlands and woodlots, one need not journey far to observe the presence of red or gray foxes in an area. The species, which was heavily targeted during the trapping boom of the ‘70s and ‘80s, has made an impressive rebound in recent decades. These highly adaptable and opportunistic canines, along with their larger cousins, the eastern coyote, are becoming more prolific across the commonwealth. Their elusive nature,

predatory instincts and excellent eyesight all make hunting them an exciting challenge. Surprisingly though, only a fraction of outdoorsmen regularly take advantage of our state’s liberal furbearer seasons. With little more than a remote controlled electronic caller and a light caliber rifle or shotgun, hunters can have a blast pursuing predators at a time of year when they are most susceptible to being lured in close. For those new to fox or coyote hunting, the best chances for a shot occur at dawn, dusk or after dark, since canines tend to be most active at night. In selecting a hunting location, it is helpful to do some scouting in advance to find areas offering scavenging dogs an easy meal. Fresh tracks in snowy terrain or piles of dog-like scat are dead giveaways to predators frequenting an area. Plus, the same trail cameras used to inventory surviving bucks post-deer season can double as scouting tools for the presence of foxes and coyotes. Photographic proof is the best confirmation a hunter can find. Many farmers are eager to have predators removed from

their properties and willingly grant permission to responsible hunters who ask nicely. Public lands also offer ample shot opportunities and should not be overlooked. When setting up, it is important to wear quality camouflage and seek out secluded field corners, fencerows or open timber with good visibility and a concealing backdrop – places where one can blend in easily without being picked off by approaching eyes. Careful attention to scent control is equally important. If possible, stash the call in a location likely to draw predators out into the open for a quality shot before they catch your movement and bust out of the area. A fancy motion decoy will help grab their attention, but a simple turkey feather attached to a stake with string will often do the trick just as well. When running an electronic caller, it is important to ease into the call series, beginning softly at first and slowly increasing the volume as time goes on. Alternate a few minutes of calling with a few minutes of rest. If no predator shows up after 20-30 minutes, it is time to pick up and

try out a new location. Rabbit or bird-in-distress calls are very effective this time of year because they appeal to hungry predators when meals may be scarce, but general canine barks or howls can be equally productive, since foxes are actively looking to breed. Predator season affords sportsmen a chance to hone their skills and refine their marksmanship throughout the off-season, while bringing a whole different aspect of hunting to the table. Few other types of hunting can be legally done when darkness falls, and this unique feature of the sport alone can be especially alluring. It also promotes an ecological benefit by keeping populations in check. It helps local farmers

protect their free-range livestock, and it can even serve as a gateway towards earning private permission during other hunting seasons. Best of all, predator hunting provides a chance to elongate the hunting season during an otherwise slow time of the year, and if the time and place is right, one might still be able to collect a few furs before the season’s end. Pennsylvania’s fox season runs through Feb. 20 and requires a valid furtaker license. Coyotes may be taken year-round with either a furtaker or general hunting license. If you’re not ready to call it quits for the year just yet, bundle up and give hunting the hunters a try.

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Who really owns the moral high ground when it comes to deer hunting? By Tony J. Peterson Contributing Writer

ast Saturday, I ran 80 pounds of venison trim through a meatgrinder in what has become an annual event to ensure my family has enough burger to last the year. While engaged in this tedious task, I started thinking about the division right now, which has split the deer hunters into two factions – meat hunters versus trophy hunters. Meat hunters boast of the purity of their pursuit while proclaiming the procurement of venison is the best – and only – reason to hunt. Trophy hunters say, well, nothing. We don’t hear much out of the pure trophy crowd because it’s not a faction with which most folks would claim association. What I find fascinating about the argument is that for some reason if your singular purpose for whitetail hunting is venison that’s just fine, but if your singular purpose for hunting is the collection of a big rack, that’s bad. To me, both are a bit messed up. For starters, if you’ve got only one reason to hunt, it seems like you’re missing the big picture. There are a lot of compelling reasons to hit the woods,


MEAT versus R O P H Y

Plenty of Keystone State hunters frame the current deer debate as venison lovers versus trophy hunters. In the writer’s experience, while some hunters fit the description for each side, the vast majority fall in the middle. Most of us want to shoot big bucks, but value the venison that comes with filling a tag. Photo courtesy of Tony Peterson with success being just a small part of it. But I digress. I do run into more and more hunters every year who view an unsuccessful hunt as a failure no matter what they saw in the woods, which is sad. As far as the meat-versus-trophy debate, I probably know more pure trophy hunters than most folks and I’ll wrap up my feelings by saying that they are my least favorite kind of hunter. This isn’t because they’ve chosen to hunt solely for heads, but more for the fact that from

the outside looking in, it’s so negative. If a person wants to hunt legally for big critters, who am I to say he is wrong? Where it starts to bother me, however, is when I see such negativity toward that type of hunting from nonhunters. The key to our future rests heavily on the shoulders of the nonhunting, but supportive, crowd. Without them, we become Europe. And we don’t want that. As far as the pure meat hunters, I’m not sure these folks actually exist. I’ve

never met someone yet who passes up a mature 10-pointer to kill a smaller, tastier deer. I talk to a ton of hunters each year, and I can’t recall ever hearing the story about letting a giant go to shoot a doe because the meat will be better. A big buck shows up in front of a hunter and it gets shot at, every time.

February 12, 2016

So who is right? I’d have to say the silent majority of hunters falls into a hybrid category between meat and trophy hunters. I know I do. I love mature bucks and the challenge that goes along with targeting them, but I also love venison. In fact, if you take a look at the average meal in the Peterson household, the protein on the plate will have always originated from a wild animal, with whitetails making up the bulk of the meat. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a trophy room, because I do. Plenty of big bucks (and small bucks for that matter) hang from the walls. More importantly, to me, is simply the fact that I get to hunt whitetails at all. There is nothing I enjoy more than sitting in a treestand with the feeling that I’ll see a few deer. I have to believe most of us feel that way, otherwise we’d quit hunting. After all, success rates are pretty low for all weapons, meaning that at least six or seven out of every 10 of us don’t fill a tag all season. Fortunately, most of us don’t hunt solely because we want to fill a tag. Sure, it’s nice, but it’s far from the only reason to go into the woods, and if singularity of purpose is the reason you lace up your boots for hunting season, perhaps it’s time to sit back and take in all that nature has to offer. There’s more out there than pounds of venison and inches of antler.

February 12, 2016


Page 31

Cabelas Magnum Rod Cases will protect your rods when traveling on airlines or strapping them to the roof rack on your way to the cabin.

Plano Rod Tube Case

Fishing rod storage and transport systems By Dan Johnson Contributing Writer


ishing rods are key allies in the quest to catch more fish, which makes keeping them safe and organized one of the easiest ways to both protect your investments and put more fish in the boat this season. Thankfully, an abundance of options in tubes, cases, racks, slicks, socks and sleeves make it easier than ever to manage and safeguard fishing rods, whether they’re tucked away in off-season storage, in transit or on the boat, awaiting your next cast.

Slicks or sleeves stop the tangles when storing multiple rods in your rod locker or ice bucket. They feature a tangle-free baitwrap material that prevents hook snags.


you’ve ever stored or transported a fistful of fishing rods, you’ve probably suffered the frustrations of hellish tangles and broken tips. Bass fan Scott Bonnema says protective rod sleeves – or slicks – are a great way to protect rods while increasing the number of rods you can store in a rod locker tube. “I use them on all my rods,” he says. “They keep the tips from banging together and cracking the ceramic guides, help prevent tangles and actually double the number of rods I can store in the rod locker.” Slicks or sleeves typically slide on easily yet fit snugly, and are made of a variety of materials. You can make your own out of the same material used to bundle electrical wires, but a number of companies offer fine options. Some, like Clam Outdoors, offer slicks for ice- and open-water rods. Looser-fitting sleeves such as Lindy’s Protective Rod Socks and Berkley Spinning Rod Armor also aid in organization and rod protection. Berkley’s socks feature a tangle-free bait-wrap material that prevents hook snags, while Lindy’s are hewn from ripstop nylon. Rod socks are often secured by Clam Ice adjustable shock Rod Slick cords or Velcro clo-

sures – which, in Lindy’s case, are color-coded to help you quickly identify rod length. Toward that end, slicks are available in a rainbow of colors, though some anglers use their colorations to denote the type or poundage of the fishing line with which the rod and reel are spooled. Rod totes and bags up the ante by increasing the number of rods you can store or carry. They’re especially handy for transport duties. Cabela’s Advanced Anglers Pro Rod Bags, for example, hold eight rod and reel combos up to 7 feet long. Each side of the bag holds four rods. A padded divider prevents frater-

Berkley Fishing Gear Slick

on your tow vehicle’s roof racks or keeping precious rods safe when they’re at the mercy of airline baggage handlers or undergoing other perilous modes of transportation. Tubes come in a variety of sizes. Bazooka-sized models like A.R.E.’s Rod Pods safely cradle up to 25 rods, while smaller versions like Cabela’s Magnum Rod Case lineup hold fewer sticks but are infinitely easier to wrangle by hand. Engendering flexibility, Plano’s Guide Series Adjustable Rod Tube let’s you tailor length up to 8½ feet. Rapala’s Double Barrel 40-inch Ice Rod Bag transports up to eight rods at once. Its tough PVC tubing protects your fishing gear. Two exterior pockets hold accessories, tackle and line. Some tubes aimed at multipiece rods, like Plano’s recently redesigned Guide Rapala Double Barrel 40-inch Ice Series Rod Tubes, offer the protection of a polypropylene tube cloaked in Rod Bag nizing between the opposing sides. This stylish PVC-laminated polyester. This particular lineup includes 64-, 54- and particular bag is a study in top-shelf options, featuring a snag-resistant nylon 43-inch models, all with padded shoulder straps, lockable zippers and ample exterior and padded foam interior lined internal padding. in smooth fabric. Rod racks are available in a host of sizLindy offers a similarly snag-proof es to fit many applications. Roof racks, Elite Rod Bag that swallows six combos, for example, allow you to store rods then keeps them in line with Velcro overhead against the ceiling of your securing straps. An open top accommoSUV, while you can position free-standdates rods of differing lengths. ing floor racks anywhere in a shop, cabHard-sided tubes offer even more in or other storage area. protection and are perfect for mounting



surBOXED UP. Ronald Bernhard got a he when owl ch scree a of form the in prise erty. prop his on box opened a wood duck


oday I’m in California, trekking the foothills in search of the smallest of our wild felines. I’ve been driving for days and staring through binoculars at distant hillsides, searching for the elusive bobcat (Lynx rufus). The bobcat is the most widespread and common of America’s four wild cat species (bobcat, lynx, cougar, and jaguar). In some regions of the country, bobcats can be fairly common, while in others, not at all. In California, they are fairly common, but extremely elusive. Days of searching has produced eight bobcats so far. Spotting them isn’t the hard part. Getting close enough to capture photos is. When approaching these wild cats, you must avoid not only being seen and heard, but also not being smelled. If the wind is in the wrong direction, these cats are gone in a split second. Bobcats are highly adaptable and can live in a wide variety of habitat, from forests to deserts to forest edges and swamps. If there’s enough prey around, they can make a living. These West Coast cats are diverse in their coloration – anywhere from gray to rusty brown. Most are gray to brown with black frosting. They have extra-long fur around their necks that makes them look like they’re wearing collars. They have short, black tufts of hair on the tips of their pointed ears and short, bobbed tails, hence their common name. Completing the look are dozens of black spots. I am amazed at how well they blend into just about any environment, to the point where if they step into the brush they disappear completely. Bobcats hunt small prey such as rabbits and quail, but they’ll eat just about anything they can catch. Here, bobcats really seem to like hunting gophers. They compete with coyotes in California for the rodents. I’ve watched a number of cats creeping across an open field, listening intently for digging gophers. Once they find one, the cat hunkers down a few feet from its prey. Two days ago, I watched this scenario unfold in front of me. Hiding behind logs and other obstacles, I crept close enough to capture some shots. The cat was completely focused onto the unsuspecting gopher. Through my camera’s lens I could see the cat, nearly flat to the ground, ears and eyes locked onto the digging gopher. Occasionally I could see the gopher’s head pop up as it was pushing dirt out of its tunnel. At these moments, the bobcat’s tiny tail twitched and swung uncontrollably back and forth. For several long minutes this went on. It was intense watching this life-anddeath moment through the lens. Then the bobbie’s hind feet and legs coiled up tightly before it sprang into action. The cat rushed and stuck its paw way down the hole, fishing for the gopher. No luck. He came up empty-pawed. Dejected and still hungry, the cat walked off, once again looking and listening for busy gophers. I have another four days of hunting for images of bobcats. Until next time …

February 12, 2016

i Photo courtesy Gary Kraszewsk

Page 32

Nature Parade


ir ead ers hav e bee n sen ding the rd kya Bac the to tos pho nat ure are page for the past 15 years. All . tell to y stor a e welcome, and all hav in e cam that es imag the is One example zewski, as recently from reader Gary Kras ails. e-m his I found when I opened share a Gary and two other families ds, and woo h nort the in large property l camertrai of em syst a ed blish esta he’s of local as that captures a wide variety es of imag sent he’s , past the wildlife. In weaand s grouse drumming, red squirrel ry eve ut abo just sels scampering, and from ine, imag can you ture crea other wild porcupines to deer to coyotes. trove, This latest batch is a treasure iviact e ttim nigh sho win g day and out, set y Gar ass carc deer a ty around might ers read yard Back ght thou we and parade enjoy a selection of the nature e just wer life wild e Som d. it attracte ped to passing through, while others stop ass carc the s drag feast. “The bobcat ld shou “I te. wro y Gar ” bit, a around have tied or wired it down.”

TINY RAPTOR. Ron Gundrum was grouse hunting with his dad when something fluttered up from the ground near them and perched in a spruce. They snapped several photos of this saw-whet owl, a species neither of them had seen before.

in a On another subject, readers sent ks, wee nt rece in os number of owl phot e, thes of n ctio sele a g urin feat so we’re but er, wint too. Few of us see owls in horneds, they’re out there — the great -whet saw and s, eche scre eds, the barr dark. the in s owls hunting on silent wing ce, scar is food and t shor When days are h catc and y luck get just t you migh prey for ing sight of an owl still hunt hunt as the sun rises, or beginning to l. tfal nigh re befo with Bar red owl s are dist inct ive, that ure feat their big brown eyes, a from ) owls barn (and distinguishes them on. the yellow-eyed owls in our regi es inch (8 tiny Northern saw-whets are the in y awa ate migr t long) and mos winfall, but a few remain with us all larg h muc ’t ter. Screech owls aren in e 1 com and tall, es inch 2 er, just 8 ⁄ the either a gray or a red coat, with . area our in grays more common are Bottom line: Nature’s creatures to le visib be not may out there but d of inde rem be to t grea it’s so us, dedtheir presence by trail cams and s. pher ogra icated phot

the hroom known as o of a shelf mus ot ph is th nt se bert Rowe s over time. FINE FUNGI. Ro urple tooth,” whose color fade “p a regular i’s trail cams, over several days, captured A FEAST IN THE FOREST. Gary Kraszewsk out: set he’d ss carca deer a by ng passi parade of wildlife stopping in for a meal or just


1. A bobcat spent some time at the carcass. 2. A bald eagle seems reluctant to share.

looking at?” 3. This coyote seems to ask, “What are you r. 4. An ermine was the smallest night visito might say. 5. “Just passing through,” the wild turkeys


3 2 in winter as they • Barred owls are more visible . ents rod hunt for to keep the hive • Honeybees beat their wings ter. win warm in marks made by • Check shelf fungus for tooth e. hungry mic ines, and others • Rabbits, squirrels, porcup ium. calc for ers antl d she gnaw on sleep• Black bear cubs are born to s. den in s ing mother


Your photos are welcome. Send prints to address below s. and digital images to Val Cunningham’s email addres


valwrites@comcast.net • Stan@naturesmart.com


Pennsylvania Outdoor News: Attn: Backyard and Beyond P.O. Box 1393, Altoona, PA 16603-1393

February 12, 2016

new boats 2016 (From Page 26)

The rear deck offers oversized storage compartments for loads of tackle and gear, plus a horizontal tournament livewell with aeration, recirculation and pumpout that’ll hold a record muskie. tritonboats.com


Whether anglers fish in big waters or just like the comfort and capacity of big boats, the new Ranger Z522D represents the largest bass-fishing platform ever produced by the legendary boat brand. Measuring an expansive 22 feet, 7 inches in length and sporting a 102-inch beam, the new boat revolutionizes big-water performance with what it has below the waterline. Rated for a maximum 300 horsepower, the new Z522D boasts a smooth, dry ride and supremely comfortable driving experience. The deep-V hull is significantly deeper than other comparable bass-fishing models, which afforded Ranger designers the ability to configure the boat for optimum space and performance. The 56-gallon fuel tank is located under the cockpit on the vessel’s centerline making this true Dream Rig even more stable in the water. Because of its depth and extra freeboard, it’s the first bass boat the company has built to accept a 25-inch outboard, and it can transport a combined 2,100 pounds of passengers and gear. The vast front deck is pad-

ded and features a recessed foot pedal and space for large-screen electronics on a panel offset from the centerline to keep it out of the way of the trolling motor. Fishing from the front casting deck gives anglers access to a tool and cupholder at the bow, an insulated cooler and dry storage forward of the driver’s console and dry storage in front of the passenger area. rangerboats.com


More space, more cockpit room, more storage and outstanding performance that’s what you get out up the new WX2060 model from Skeeter. Combined with its larger, deeper hull design, the WX2060’s 250 maximum horsepower rating will take you where you want to go safely. The deeper gunwales ensure your family and friends will be safe and secure in the deep wide cockpit, and spread out in comfort with room to seat up to six people. Enjoy multispecies mastery with the WX2060. It truly delivers some of the best all around performance in its class. The boat comes standard with the following features: Yamaha VMax SHO 250, Lowrance HDS12 Gen 3 Touch on Dash, Minn-Kota 112 Ulterra US2 Trolling Motor, Yamaha T9.9 Kicker Engine, Dry Dock Ventilation System, Hamby’s Keel Protector, Torque Transfer System, and more. skeeterboats.com


The 2016 Pro Guide V-16 is an affordable rig with lots of features. You get three folding, movable fishing seats with six seat pedestal bases and six storage compartments for rods and gear. A 20-degree deadrise, all-welded Deep V hull for a drier ride and smooth handling in big water, is standard. An exclusive Versatrack accessory mounting channel in the gunwale is handy for accessories and a welded-in longitudinal stringer system takes a beating in confidence. It’s a serious Deep V aluminum fishing boat that’s sized right for all types of fish and equipped for fishing in just about any type of water. trackerboats.com

Hewes Craft

With more legroom, more storage, and more fishing space than the previous model, the 210 Sea Runner will provide a safe experience for you and at least seven other people. It has a deadrise of up to 35 degrees and is built to take the abuse from thousands of fishing trips with a bottom thickness of .190 inches. If you want a hard top, soft top, or no top the Sea Runner has the ability to take you out and bring you home safely. Each new boat comes with an unprecedented lifetime warranty on the hull and all welds. hewescraft.com


The new Tuffy 2100 multi-


species boat is designed for that musky/walleye fisherman on a budget or one looking to scale down to a smaller rig with a lot of the same features. It’s 17 feet, 4 inches long with an ample 93-inch beam with a 150-horsepower rating. Highlights include, 9- to 10-foot center rod storage, a 50-inch reviving live well and second live well/bait well. Also standard are two Lakewood Products tackle storage boxes, “Mirro” track gunwales that accept Ram products, two rear jump seats, fiberglass console and a double skinned hull. tuffyboats.com

Cypress Cay

Believe it or not, a 21-foot pontoon boat, also can be a very user-friendly fishing rig. The Seabreeze 210 can carry up to 115 horsepower on its standard two pontoons, but that number rises to 150 horsepower if you add the exciting performance package with its center pontoon, partial aluminum skin kit, lifting strakes and rough-water abilities. Add several fishing-friendly options like: a tackle station upgrade, a vertical fishing rod storage system, or a built-in tackle system. Now the entire family and a few close friends can enjoy a day on the water and still

Page 33

catch a limit, too. cypresscaypontoons.com


The Z20 has a New NVT (Nitro Vortex Technology) hull with Rapid Planing System coupled with a Unitized hull, foam-filled stringer system and deck for superior durability and flotation. Anglers who spend long days on the water will enjoy the improved cooler with more insulation, a trash receptacle and snap-in sandwich tray Lots of rods are no problem thanks to an oversized, lockable port and starboard bow rod lockers with lid assists for rods up to eight feet long. Large lockable center bow storage locker with Tackle Management System. Two aft 19-gallon Guardian aerated, divided livewells with timers are great for keeping fish healthy. Other improvements include lower profile gunwales to maximize deck space, an improved, heavily-insulated cooler and room at the bow and console for a 12-inch fishfinder. And it rides proudly on a custom-matched, tandem-axle trailer with Galvashield corrosion protection, tongue step, boarding handle and swing-away tongue. nitro.com


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February 12, 2016

Eric Kish, of Clover, arrowed this 10-point buck Nov. 11 while hunting in Ohio. Kody Dise, of Whitehall, arrowed this 7-point buck, with a 14-inch spread, Nov. 13 while hunting with his dad near LeRaysville. Brian Palmiter, of Factoryville, shot this 8-point buck with, a 13-inch spread, while hunting Dec. 5 near Apolocon.

Haylee Wilson, of Marysville, shot this 9-point buck Nov. 30 while hunting near Germania in Potter County. The buck had a green score of 130 and an inside spread of 18 inches.

Jay Trego, 77, of Phoenixville, arrowed this 6-point buck Nov. 3 while hunting near East Vincent Township, Chester County.

Logan Royer, of Myerstown, shot his first deer, this 5-point buck, Nov. 30 while hunting in Tulpehocken Township.

Naiomi Avellanet, of Derry, shot her first buck, a 7-point buck, Nov. 30 while hunting near her home.

Ivan Koehle, of Altoona, shot this 8-point buck, with a 16-inch spread, Dec. 5 while hunting near Spruce Creek in Huntingdon County. Joe Sczypta, of Royal, shot this 12-point buck Nov. 13 while hunting in Saskatchewan, Canada. The buck had a 15½-inch spread.

Rachel Loose, of Myerstown, arrowed her first deer, this 5-point buck, Nov. 14 while hunting near Mount Aetna in Tulpehocken Township.

Bob Grecco, of Clarington, shot this 9-point buck with a 17½-inch spread while hunting earlier this season.

Patrick Brannan, of Kempton, arrowed this 8-point buck with a 16-inch spread Oct. 31 while hunting near Kempton in Lehigh County.

Maria Slezak, of Blairsville, shot this 8-point buck, Dec. 10 near Derry Township while on her first hunting trip.

Bill Saalbach, of Coatesville, arrowed this 10-point buck with a 19¾-inch spread Nov. 12 while hunting in the southeastern part of the state.

Gus Arinsberg, 12, of York, shot his first deer, this 8-point buck Nov. 30 while hunting near Pine Grove.

Jordan Adams, of Denver, arrowed this 8-point buck, with a 16-inch spread, while hunting Nov. 7 in Tioga County.

PHOTO GUIDELINES We appreciate receiving your photos. At times the photo department gets swamped, and as a result there may be a considerable delay before you see your photo in the paper. Please be patient. We will do our best to print your photo as quickly as possible.

Todd Saalbach, of Coatesville, arrowed this 7-point buck, with a 17-inch spread, Nov. 9 while hunting in the southeastern part of the state.

Mason Lansenderfer, 14, of Mertztown, arrowed this 7-point buck Nov. 2 while hunting near Longswamp Township in Berks County.

Milton Eberly, of Lititz, shot this 7-point buck, with a 15¼-inch spread, while hunting Nov. 30 near Snow Shoe.

Send your photos to Pennsylvania Outdoor News P.O. Box 1393, Altoona, PA 16603-1393

TIPS FOR PUBLICATION: • Use the photo form found in the last few pages of the paper. • Send only one photo per envelope. • List all individuals in the photo in the order that they appear. • Include the who, what, where, when and how pertaining to the Thank you! photo. 

Brittany Chippie, of Windber, shot this 7-point buck Nov. 30 while hunting near her home.

Fill out photo form on Page 43

February 12, 2016


By Bob “Greenie” Grewell Contributing Writer


here are often things we don’t understand within the whitetail world. Such as: We’ve watched bucks walking across open fields or lying down in a soybean field, seemingly unafraid of anything. But the majority of the time, deer are secretive and hide. They prefer dense cover. And, if they are harassed by hunters, they often turn nocturnal. Fortunately, during the rut bucks will travel anywhere, anytime, often exposing themselves to hunting opportunities. Now it’s your turn to deal with your next buck. Will you hunt him with bow, shotgun, or muzzleloading rifle? Will you hunt private lands, or select public acreage where there’s an abundance of other hunters? Will you use liquid luring scents to attract him to your hunting stand? Will you try using rattling racks and grunt tubes and hope to fool him into believing you’re another deer? Why not try commercial deer decoys? They can be deadly while hunting, too. You’re either thinking about or hunting deer right now. So, if you’re objectively curious, you will improve your deer hunting results because the more we learn about whitetails, the more successes we achieve. Such as: Fawn creation begins during the optimum breeding months from late October through the tag end of November. Occasionally, does are still being bred throughout December. The reproductive process of deer is an annual affair. The eventual results are fawns born and dropped to the ground usually between May and midJune in Pennsylvania. That’s when and where your next trophy buck will come from. Fortunately, this sequence is a never-ending natural process. I’ve often wondered about the distinctive transition a buck fawn experiences on its way to becoming a wary, magnificent, one-of-a-kind buck that has natural abilities that can turn hunters into fools. What transpires after a buck fawn is born until it graduates into a unique, evasive, unpredictable mammal? Why does he appear to be so smart? (Age, daily experiences, negative encounters he survives, all are lessons learned, as well as familiarity with his home grounds.) What’s a living itinerary for a whitetail buck before he becomes your objective? His first six months are crucial for his survival. He has much to learn if he is to become a trophy buck. At birth, he instantly imprints on his mother doe, as well as other resident deer, so he can learn predator avoidance, food sources, and prime habitat locations. Remember that spring is a learning time. Summer is a time for deer to relax. These are their body-building months. Then, fall is the prelude to their breeding intentions, which includes intense feeding and pre-breeding interactive determinations. Above all else, priority No. 1 for any buck is reproduction. Throughout most of any year, your next buck has no reason to battle with others. They will

After the opening shots have been fired, most deer go into hiding, preferring dense cover to wide open expanses. Photo by Bob “Greenie” Grewell physically intimidate each other with body postures, vocals, and body-bumping. These herd interactions establish each deer’s social pecking order. Hardcore fighting doesn’t play a role until mating is on the menu. Social dominance is always an issue buck-to-buck and doeto-doe. Physical confrontations are a constant that establish a pecking order among both sexes. Does, especially, force themselves upon lower level does so they can develop a hierarchy in the their breeding status. And, bucks spar to ensure they are the “top dog” when it comes to dominating estrus does. The whitetails’ diet is extremely diverse, at any time of the year. Although primarily vegetarian, there are documented cases of deer eating beetles buried under the snow during the winter. This is one reason deer are so prolific – they are very adaptable at survival. Humans have learned that genetic purity is an avenue of prolific life. This is a major factor in the development of a trophy buck. Aside from food intake, reduced stresses, and adequate habitat, bucks become BIG bucks through genetics. How does a buck become so big – body and rack? Of all the physical features bucks possess, their racks instill hunter excitement. Every hunter is curious about the annual shed and growth of a buck’s rack. Genetics are the science of the hereditary and evolutionary similarities and differences of related organisms. Major contributors are their genetic background, avoidance of disease, outwitting of predators, learning how to use concealing cover, and capitalizing on every available food source. Naturalist Len Rue explains that rack size, and possibly shape, is based upon food intake, age, and heredity. A diet composed of high protein and the proper amount of fats and carbohydrates, as well as adequate calcium and phosphorus, helps produce exceptional racks. Aside from all this chemical jargon, heredity has an impact. Studies indicate that the shapes of buck racks probably depend upon heredity. But, the rack size is usually influenced by diet. Rack loss is annual, normally late December through January, importantly, after existing

estrus does have been bred. During their rack loss, bucks become very reclusive and usually join into male-only bachelor groups, away from does. Regrowth begins normally about the time does are giving birth to their fawns. How many does can a buck breed? It might be four? It might be 20? In reality, bucks will breed any and all does that reek of estrus odors. A buck’s main role in life is to reproduce. Therefore, they will each pursue does with intensity and mate with any doe that will accept them. During the rut, this is his instinctive objective. But, this is also a perfect time for the hunter to capitalize on any buck’s goofy activities. One other reminder: Some hunters have long labeled a buck’s age in single digits. Consider that deer are born during the spring months. When they reach hunting season, they are at six months. Therefore, as they become more shootable they are actually aged 2½, 3½, etc. This is simply just another fallacy hunters have long described. And, successful trophy hunters learn to self-manage deer and not take small bucks. Allow every buck to grow into a 3½- to 5½-year-old trophy. This decision, beyond all else, is where trophy bucks come from – hunter concern and control. If a buck hasn’t aged to the point where his body can’t stand the weather, limited

nourishment, and hungry predators, he will normally survive on plain “luck.” It doesn’t take a mature buck

Page 35

long to learn how to avoid hunters. Every experience a buck encounters improves its survival skills and adaptability. A buck uses its nose, ears, and eyes, as well as its sixth sense, and its familiarity with its home ground’s landscape. A few weeks of high-energy activities are intended solely for the purpose of breeding. Not much else is on a breeder buck’s agenda. This includes sleep. Hunters can counter by using estrus does to attract bucks. Leave little or no human scent. Be totally camouflaged. There’s an old saying, “Man’s best laid plans often go awry.” I disagree. In reality, the best laid plans of hunters create future opportunities. It’s a fact! Perhaps this is why hunters focus upon their future trophies throughout the year. Successful hunters study deer habits and their habitats yearround for a better understanding of who and what a buck is, or will become just before you tag your next deer.

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Page 36


Deer Urine

(From Page 1) hunter deer urine use. But the Game Commission is not ready yet. “Other states are doing it, but people will argue that there has never been a case that urine has been demonstrated to have created an infection of CWD,” said Wayne Laroche, director of the commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Management. “But at the same time, we are banning deer parts from states that have CWD, and there has never been a case that I’m aware of that deer parts have been directly related to an infection, either. That’s not to say that neither of those have ever occurred, that’s just to say that it has not been documented.” Despite the risk, Laroche was not ready to urge commissioners to implement a ban. Although that may well be coming. Related to CWD, there are only a few factors the commission can control, he pointed out. “But before I can come forth with a recommendation, I really

think we should go to Ag (state Department of Agriculture) and have a discussion with them, then after we have taken a comprehensive look at the situation, we should act.” Commissioner Timothy Layton said he will support a ban if he is convinced it is needed. Right now, for him, the jury is still out. “I don’t think that anything is off the table, as far as CWD is concerned,” Layton said. “We see reports saying urine is not an issue and we see reports saying that urine is an issue. As commissioners and staff we have a lot to digest.“ But CWD is a huge concern in Pennsylvania because of its deer-hunting heritage, he added, and it would be irresponsible for the commissioners not to take needed action. Commissioner Brian Hoover, as he has for months on this issue, again argued against a hunter deer urine use ban. “I don’t want to see us take a step that is not proven in

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creating economic hardship for an industry that’s viable in the state,” he said. “I just want proof that this disease can be transmitted by urine – and then I will support a urine use ban in the state.” Hoover said that he wanted to see the commission work with deer urine manufacturers through the Archery Trade Association – better known as ATA – to develop safeguards to prevent urine being collected from sick deer. “Can they come up with a way to screen deer urine for CWD prions?” he asked. “We don’t know, but we will give them a chance to find out.” Maybe, but Commissioner Dave Putnam, of Centre County, signaled he is growing impatient with the continuing jeopardy that hunter deer urine use may be subjecting the deer herd to. “The deer urine industry may be a multimillion dollar industry, but deer hunting is a billion-dollar industry,” he said. “So when we start comparing the two, if we have to make sacrifices, we will look to the deer urine manufacturers. “ One of the largest such operations in the state, Nationwide Scents, located near Millersburg, is an ATA member that is involved in a nationwide initiative with the trade group to develop procedures to keep deer infected with CWD out of the urine-production stream. The family owned business, which has been regulated under the Department of Agriculture for years, has 20 years’ experience caring for whitetails. Currently the farm’s more than 300 deer are involved only in urine collection and breeding, according to manager Elam Lapp. Although state law does not require double fences around deer farms, Nationwide Scents maintains double fences. And it maintains a “closed herd,” meaning no animals are bought or sold. “Our farm has been certified CWD-free for the past 12 years,” Lapp said. “I think the message that is not clearly put out there is how well regulated we actually are. You know, the rumor mill says that deer farms traffic deer from farm to farm, but that is not the case. “We would not jeopardize our license for anything like that. We are required to test every deer that dies over 12 months old, their brainstem and lymph nodes, and sending them to the Harrisburg Department of Ag lab where they do a CWD test.” Lapp said ATA-affiliated deer-urine collectors have met with various state wildlife agencies, including the Pennsylvania Game Commission, about how to maintain healthy deer herds. The ATA and its scent-manufacturing members, according to Lapp, have worked with the state agencies and key CWD and wildlife disease experts to create an industry initiative – the ATA Deer Protection Program – that is intended to help minimize the spread of CWD through the use of cervid urine based products. Rick Lowe of Lowe’s Whitetail Deer Scents, Landisburg, has also been in the deer urine collection business for over 20 years. While he admits a ban on urine-based scents would be detrimental to his company, he understands the need to protect Pennsylvania’s deer herd. “They’re just trying to do what

The question is, can the deer urine collection industry develop a test to find CWD-causing prions in the fluid, or develop procedures to accurately screen out infected animals. Stock photo they can to ensure our kids get a chance to experience deer hunting the way we have,” Lowe said of the Game Commission’s fact-finding mission. “I’m not going to be selfish and say I only want to sell scents; I want what’s best for the future of our sport.” Lowe worries that a ban will hurt a lot of people in his industry, but he’s glad the commissioners are not ignoring the problem. It’s good that they’re looking for answers, I just hope they base their findings on some clear, hard facts without making any hasty decisions,” Lowe said. “I don’t think it’s really fair to say, ‘Hey, you can’t use urine at all’ without having some reasonable facts behind it.” Lowe said the discovery of CWD in the state’s deer herd has already affected his business to some extent. He is currently at the point where he could expand and

add another building to meet customer demand. However, he is reluctant to invest any more money in his company with such an uncertain future in the industry. “I’m kind of at a standstill,” he said. “But we’ve already begun the process of preparing for what may come down the line.” Lowe’s company already offers a generic synthetic deer lure that is made without urine, as well as several different types of cover scents that include deer bedding scents using body odor, but not urine. “I’m truly glad they are looking into it and trying to solve this problem,” Lowe said. “At the end of the day, we all need to work together and do what’s best for our deer herd.” (Writer Tyler Frantz contributed to this report.)

Kalen Sharrah, of Biglerville, shot this 9-point buck, with an 17-inch inside spread, Oct. 4, while hunting near his home in Adams County.

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February 12, 2016


By Joel Nelson Contributing Writer


rad Hawthorne has amassed more time on the water in the past decade than almost any ice-fishing guide. He has left no stones unturned in terms of ice presentations for walleyes, especially during tough bites. I’ve come to appreciate that need to produce results, as new ideas spring forth from difficult bites. No matter how much we love fishing, there are days when most of us would prefer not to fish. But even when there’s a blistering wind on the heels of a snowstorm, guys like Hawthorne are out there, putting clients on fish. Perhaps more importantly, they’re devising new ways of thinking about old tactics that produce results when the originals fall short. This enviable creel of tweaks, then, has evolved on heavily pressured walleye waters, thus requiring them to be proven and re-proven each and every season, no matter which forage walleyes are keying in on. Spoons are a staple in any walleye angler’s box, and constitute the bulk of ice-walleye baits on the market. Hawthorne’s primary focus is on manipulating all aspects of the way they fish. “At first, I started tinkering with creating some separation in my baits, mostly on account of seeing certain bites where walleyes focus so heavily on whatever you tip your spoon with,” he said. “At that point, your lure is like a dumb waiter that drops food below the ice – a bait-delivery method.” Dropper chains work well in certain situations, but often are overkill and present their own problems, Hawthorne noted. He disvovered early on that by adding just one more split ring between the existing split ring and hook on most spoons, he could dramatically increase the number of

fish he’d convert on his flasher when walleyes were heavily keying in on bait. The action was just incredible, and the freedom that extra split ring gives the business end of your lure and bait are well worth the price of admission, he says. With stamped metal spoons that flutter or wobble on the drop, the effect can be even more impressive, he pointed out. “Most of these spoon types have a bend in them, creating that wiggle,” Hawthorne said. “Add another split ring to these baits, and you can still get that motion, but dropping on a tighter line causes the same bait to coast off past the edges of the hole, gliding like a manta ray and enticing fish that aren’t directly below you.” He really likes these baits when fishing new areas or scouting. Just multiply the extra couple of feet you cover off to the sides by the number of holes you cut in a day, and you’re really getting at more fish in the same water, he said. Even neutral to aggressive fish can be targeted more effectively with some spoon hacks. A simple one is just a treble hook with a single drop of glow epoxy where each hook bend meets the hook body.

By switching out factory hooks with some of these new glow-resin trebles out there, you can help to prevent fish from eating your spoon and not your hooks, a problem more prevalent than you might think. Ever check out your spoons on an underwater camera and notice how difficult it is to see the hooks in certain water clarity and conditions, especially without bait? Ever see fish on camera swing for the top of the bait (where the eye usually is painted) and miss? Ever hook them on the outside of the face or miss a sure bite altogether? Hawthorne explained that aggressive fish coming in for the kill often focus on the eyes of the bait, and, especially if you’ve jigged your hook clean of bait, this happens more than you might think. “I used to get these in Canada before they were available in the states, and have long since made use of them,” Hawthorne said. “Everyone knows that gold is a great color, however, it’s far less visible, and just isn’t as good early and then again late in the day,” he added. “Adding a glow-resin treble to that same bait extends your bite window, making that same bait more effective for longer. Especially on the lakes with a bit of stain

Page 37

Spoons are among the most popular of all ice-fishing lures, but anglers can tweak them to make them even more effective. Photo courtesy of Brad Hawthorne or poorer water clarity, I’m fish. convinced that these visual They also offer us the aids put more fish on the ice chance to fish with somefor my clients.” thing that you just can’t Novel approaches like buy straight out of the box, these have earned Brad a liv- which may be just the look ing as an ice-fishing guide, you need to impress walland for you, they present an eyes that have already seen opportunity to get the most it all. out of the days you do get to

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Letters (From Page 3)

ier than raising the cost of everything. In future years, the cost of a basic hunting license will also have to increase as well because our hunting license sales will continue to decline. If the hunters of Pennsylvania continue to slaughter the does, they should pay dearly to do so. I also support a pheasant stamp to help pay for this costly stocking program.

Ron Feits New Brighton, Pa.

Forest fences are a fraudulent joke I dispute the article – “DCNR: State forest fences important, often misunderstood,” in the Jan. 1 issue. I spend considerable time in the Northern Tier just driving around enjoying the scenery and the outdoors. I have stopped and looked at the habitat around those fences. In some instances, I do not see any difference inside or outside those fences. The areas where I do see differences you can tell they timbered the area and possibly fertilized the area inside the fence, letting their desired trees grow.

It is another lie by the Game Commission and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, covering up their mismanagement of our deer herd. They are wasting our tax dollars fencing out deer that do not exist.

Blaine Toy Kittanning, Pa.

Doesn’t like new tag treestand regulation I am writing in response to the treestand controversy. My problem with the Game Commission’s position is I have had my treestand in the same area for eight years. This year is the first that a garbage hunter decided to use my stand. He left me a bunch of trash in my stand that I had to clean up. Garbage hunters, please clean up after yourself if you can‘t afford to buy your own treestand. Now, my problem with leaving my information on my stand is that there is a lot of information people can get by just putting your license number on your stand. Why don’t you just ask me to put my banking account numbers on there also? Another problem is the garbage hunters. What’s to say a game warden

February 12, 2016

finds my stand and all the garbage someone else left? Who gets the littering fine? There are too many things that can go wrong with this idea.

Dwight Mundis York, Pa.

Resident hunters about to get shafted The agenda for the Feb. 2 meeting of the Game Commissioners showed that they will discuss discontinuing the preference given to resident license holders (over non-resident hunters) for doe licenses. They say this is being done to “level the playing field.” I believe the real reason is simply this: Non-resident adult hunting license – $101.70; resident adult hunting license – $20.70. It’s just another attempt by the board to negate the impact of the past, fiscal mismanagement of the commission – this time at the expense of us resident hunters.

Jack Fisher Lewisburg, Pa.

Planting food plots not same as baiting Responding to a recent letter,

the truth is that bait is spread at certain times expressly for the purpose of attracting a desired species of wildlife for various activities, such as hunting or photography.

passed a regulation the first week of November that outlawed bringing deer in from New York and Ohio without first removing brain and spine, etc. for fear of CWD.

Planted food plots are there 24/7/365 for any and all wildlife. It is called habitat enhancement. Yes, I have food plots. Just for the letter writer’s information, it is not as easy as you may think it is.

New York deer season started two weeks later, so the PGC didn’t give a whole lot warning on this new rule.

Most of the mature deer come out only during the hours of darkness. I probably get a deer every three or four years. I enjoy watching the younger ones, which will readily use the fields during daytime hours. I plant my fields for the wildlife and if I happen to benefit by getting a deer, so be it. It is small compensation for the expense and time that I have put into my property.

Brent Bacon Lewisburg, Pa.

Needed more notice on new CWD rules When I got back from a week of deer hunting at my camp in New York, I read my late November issue of this newspaper and was shocked to find out the Game Commission

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How are deer parts (brain spine, etc.) to be properly disposed of? I bring all camp garbage back home with me. Thanks for your heads up on this issue. Pennsylvania Outdoor News is always right on top of reporting new laws and changes. Good job! Also, I like your new fishing report format.

David Buchold Easton, Pa.

Give us something for license fee hike If they wanna increase hunting license fees, then what’s fair is fair. Give hunters more opportunities, such as maybe an extra week of archery in November, or Sunday hunting. Or how about let us have the choice to use a flintlock or inline muzzleloader for late season like a lot of states do. And drop the number of doe licenses down some more as well, to try to bring the deer population back up to decent numbers on public lands. Hunters may disagree with some ideas here because of tradition, but if you ask me, tradition has been thrown out the window. We need to all get over the tradition thing and just hunt. My point here is we hunters should get more privileges for an increase in hunting license fees.

Michael Thielges Smethport, Pa.

Mineral blocks are CWD-spread danger No one is sure deer urine is spreading CWD, it is just a guess. Maybe there should be a scientific study of CWD being spread through urine, vs. CWD disease being spread through the use of liquid deer attractants and mineral blocks. Deer urine could be pasteurized like milk, or bacteria killed with a UV light that water plants use. End of story. Deer attractants, on the other hand, are a different animal. Sick animals are all feeding in the same location, eating feces and saliva as they feed. Attractants are sold every where, feed stores retail outlets. They do far more damage than deer urine. Poachers and deer watchers are slowly poisoning the deer herd. Attractants should be outlawed in Pennsylvania, and should not be allowed to be sold. If they want to use an attractant for hunting, they should develop one to use for coyote hunting. That would be a management tool, coyotes are at the top of the list for herd destruction. Deer hunters should remove them.

Dave McGinnis Gap Pa.

February 12, 2016


Page 39

What we think we know can hurt us when it comes to recovering wounded deer By Tony J. Peterson Contributing Writer


fter a successful evening sit in south-central Nebraska, I washed the blood from my hands and turned on my phone. It sounded like I had just won the jackpot on a Vegas slot machine as text message after text message popped onto the screen. Three different buddies had shot bucks that evening, and all were worried sick about the outcomes. I spoke with all three – two bowhunters and one shotgun hunter – and then waited the following morning to see how the recoveries went. I was well into an epic meltdown involving several Nebraska longbeards and very poor bow shooting when the first picture appeared on my screen. The buck, a heavy Missouri 9-pointer, had been recovered after a liver hit, meaning at least one of my buddies was breathing a sigh of relief. The second showed up not long after, another great bow buck shot by a good friend in Colorado. His shot had been nearly perfect, but had broken his arrow on the far shoulder and produced some spoor that left him second-guessing himself. The third, the shotgun buck, wasn’t quite as cut and dried. The deer, a southeastern Minnesota brute of an 8-pointer, had caught a slug low through his liver. He covered a lot of ground, crossed a few fences, and ended up being found by a gracious neighbor who quickly called my friend to come get it. The common thread throughout the three recoveries was not only that they all ended up in the beds of pickups, but that each hunter was unsure of what had happened. This is common when shots don’t go perfectly, and recovery is far from a sure thing. We tend to let doubt creep in, and that colors the entire process of blood trailing. It’s important to remember that like snowflakes or buck racks, no two blood trails are identical. This is especially true when we miss the heart or both lungs, and have to carefully decide how to proceed. There are some rules about timing and when to let wounded deer be so they can expire, but none are concrete, in my experience. The best way to approach any questionable blood trail is with plenty of patience. I’ve hunted with a few folks over the years who didn’t devote much time to scouring the woods for sign, instead walking quickly ahead on every trail in the hope of spotting a white belly. This is a bad idea. Patience is your friend on a blood trail, as is the ability to ignore what you think you know and learn from the sign. We often are sure we hit the deer well, or maybe just a little back, or at a certain angle, and that information provides the cornerstone of our recovery process. A problem occurs when the spoor tells us otherwise and we get somewhat confused or

Whether you’re bowhunting or hitting the woods with a firearm, bad hits can happen. What you do after a bad hit will make all the difference in recovery. Take note of your initial impressions after the shot, such as deer body language and shot angle, but also keep an open mind to the fact that you might not be sure how it all went down.  Photos courtesy of Tony Peterson start to fight the facts. This, too, is quite common. Deer encounters tend to kick our brains into overdrive and, with all of that adrenaline and such a fluid situation, we see things that didn’t happen – or we don’t see everything that did happen. Either way, anything other

than a truly good shot demands an open mind and a willingness to use the facts like spoor or the deer’s post-shot reaction to help us in the recovery process. Initial impressions are awfully important after the shot, but not quite as important as what kind of blood is found in the leaves

often false idea that a deer will probably live, simply because it hasn’t been recovered yet. I’ve found an awful lot of skeletons in the woods after the season is over that make me believe otherwise.

or snow on your deer’s exit route. Lastly, it’s always a good idea to stay positive. If you believe the deer will be found, you’ll give it more time. Too many hunters talk themselves into the


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NORTHWEST REGION From the Game Commission • Clarion County WCO Jesse N. Bish reports many individuals were cited in rifle deer season for having a loaded firearm on or against a motor vehicle. This safety violation carries a fine of $100 to $200 if the vehicle is not in motion, and can be $150 to $300 if the vehicle is in motion. • Erie County WCO Michael J. Stutts Jr. filed charges after completing an investigation of an unlawfully killed antlerless deer in the Fairview area. The evidence found at the scene showed that the deer was killed with a shotgun during the flintlock deer season. The man also was charged for not having the proper license. • Jefferson County WCO Roger A. Hartless reports that a number of individuals have not responded to citations issued for offenses that took place during the recent rifle deer season. Arrest warrants will be issued for these individuals in the near future. Individuals who fail to respond to a citation within 60 days have their hunting and furtaking privileges automatically suspended. • Venango County WCO Ronda J. Bimber reports that two individuals were cited for killing seven deer at night through use of a light. A penalty of up to $10,000 in fines and up to 18 months in jail can be assessed for each deer. The defendants also were charged with several other offenses that will add to their penalties. Their cases currently are working their way through the court system. • Venango County WCO Ronda J. Bimber reports that many hunters were cited for not carrying their licenses with them while hunting, and a few were cited for not purchasing a license at all. SOUTHWEST REGION From the Game Commission • Allegheny County WCO Doug Bergman reports that charges for furtaking violations were filed against an individual from North Huntington. Charges included bait visible from the air and trap-tagging violations. • Allegheny County WCO Doug Bergman reports that charges were filed against a North Versailles woman for acquiring a hunting license without having the required Hunter-Trapper Education certification. All first-time license buyers, regardless of age, are required to become certified through completion of a basic course. • Allegheny County WCO Dan Puhala reports that, on the last day of the extended firearms antlerless deer season, several individuals were cited for various license and device violations. The violations included hunting for antlerless deer without a WMU 2B license, possessing a WMU 2B license belonging to another, hunting antlered deer with an inline muzzleloader during flintlock season, and hunting for coyotes during firearms deer season without a furtaker license. • Armstrong County WCO Rod Burns reports that incidents involving hunters not having purchased their hunting licenses increased this year in his district. Eight hunters checked in deer season had not purchased a hunting license. Also, several hunters checked in archery and muzzleloader season had not purchased the required license for that season. • Armstrong County WCO Rod Burns reports that a joint investigation with officers from Jefferson County led to charges being filed against a poacher who killed five bucks. Three of the bucks were killed in Jefferson County and left to rot, and two – including a trophy class buck that scored 131 1/8 – were killed in Armstrong County. • Armstrong and Indiana counties GLMGS Art Hamley reports that illegal activity and vandalism at the State Game Land 248 shooting range in Indiana County has been reduced significantly since users have been required to possess either a shooting-range permit or valid hunting license. All users now have a vested financial interest in the range. • Fayette and Westmoreland counties WCO Andrew Harvey reports that charges have been filed against numerous individuals for multiple shooting range violations. • Indiana County WCO Chris Reidmiller reports two individuals recently were cited for possessing an antlered deer head unlawfully. The pair had found a deer that a hunter had lawfully harvested and removed the head without the hunter’s knowledge. • Somerset County WCO Brian Witherite reports that two individuals pleaded guilty to spotlighting with a firearm. These individuals were spotlighting during the two-week rifle deer season when spotlighting is prohibited. The information was provided.. • Somerset County WCO Brian Witherite reports that, with the recent snow accumu-

Cuffs & Collars

Field reports from Wildlife and Waterways Conservation Officers lation, snowmobile activity has increased. Complaints have been generated on properties enrolled in the public access program. As to operation of snowmobiles on state game lands, only certain tracts of land and designated trails are open to travel.

This symbol denotes reports that Outdoor News editors find of special interest. reports that one person from a poaching ring has pleaded guilty to shooting five deer at night this summer. Total fines for those violation are $8,650.

• Washington County WCO Dan Sitler reports that several individuals have been stopped and cited on Hunter Access cooperator properties. The activity is occurring at night with a variety of violations occurring. • Washington and Allegheny counties WCO Chris Bergman reports that investigations and increased patrols are underway for individuals responsible for driving through the fields of farmers enrolled in the Hunter Access program. • Washington and Allegheny counties WCO Chris Bergman reports that a McKeesport man pleaded guilty to killing a protected buck during the firearms deer season. The man dropped the deer off at a processor during closed hours. He cut the head off of the deer and took it home with him, then left an antlerless tag along with his order for steaks, chops, and roasts. • Westmoreland County WCO Matthew Lucas reports an investigation on the Sunday following the regular deer season led to charges being filed against a North Huntingdon man. The man killed an antlered deer from his kitchen window with a compound bow over a pile of corn at 7 p.m. Sunday. • Westmoreland County WCO Matthew Lucas reports a Connellsville man pleaded guilty to shooting at antlerless deer after alighting from the vehicle in South Huntingdon Township. “I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I heard a gunshot, crested a hill and found the man leaning on a fence post with the truck parked halfway on the road with the door hanging open. He had a look of disbelief when he turned and saw my truck approaching,” he said. • Westmoreland County WCO Brian Singer reports that, on the last day of regular rifle deer season, officers responded to a safety-zone complaint in the last few hours of daylight. “To our surprise, we discovered two antlerless deer that were not properly tagged or taken by someone without a tag for that management unit. The deer were discovered after finding an adult hunter hiding in an enclosed treestand a mere 20 feet from the ATV and unlawful deer,” he said. • Westmoreland County WCO Brian Singer reports a motorist reported a group of hunters that looked as if they were under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. At the conclusion of the investigation, officers arrested two individuals for hunting under the influence of marijuana and oxycodone. One individual was a felon not to possess firearms, and had shot and killed two protected deer with an AR-15 rifle and full metal jacket ammunition. Officers also discovered a marijuana grow site 30 yards from where the pair was arrested. • Westmoreland County WCO Brian Singer reports that, during regular rifle deer season, officers responded to a complaint about an individual who fired six rounds from a 9mm handgun at a group of deer that just crossed the road in front of the vehicle. Before officers arrived, the owner of a nearby home already had confronted the hunter. “The suspect shot directly at a residence while striking and eventually killing one of the deer. During the confrontation, the homeowner demanded the suspect’s driver’s license and hunting license,” he said. “The driver fled the area, but not before the woman was able to get a good driver, vehicle and license plate description. Subsequent interviews with the suspect revealed that he was scared of the irate woman and fled because he had a “few beers” prior to the incident. Criminal charges are pending.” SOUTHCENTRAL REGION From the Game Commission • Adams County WCO Cory M. Ammerman reports an individual pleaded guilty after multiple charges were filed pertaining to an unlawfully taken deer. Additional charges stemming from the same incident included hunting without orange, trespass while hunting, and failure to tag a big-game animal. The individual received $1,400 in fines. • Blair County WCO William Brehun reports that an Altoona resident was cited for the unlawful attempt to take big game, hunting through the use of bait, feeding deer inside Disease Management Area 2, and failure to produce his hunting license and identification while hunting in the late archery season.


Bedford County WCO Jeremy Coughenour reports that charges are pending against a Hyndman area man for unlawfully possessing a large rack buck that was hit by a car. The buck was still alive and unlawfully shot after dark. The man admitted to then filling out a deer tag that belonged to his relative to make the deer look as though it was lawfully taken. • Bedford County WCO Jeremy Coughenour reports that charges are pending against a Hyndman area man for unlawfully possessing a large rack buck that was hit by a car. The buck was still alive and unlawfully shot after dark. The man admitted to then filling out a deer tag that belonged to his relative to make the deer look as though it was lawfully taken. • Cumberland County WCO John Fetchkan reports that many violations involving illegal deer have been addressed this past deer season, and a few are still being investigated. Also a person who shot a bullet into a house is being sought. • Perry County WCO Kevin Anderson reported that a 51-year-old male and a 16-yearold juvenile have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a road-hunting incident that occurred on Nov. 14, 2015. The intoxicated adult shot at a deer after legal hunting hours through the use of a spotlight. The juvenile operated the vehicle and drove away from the scene with the vehicle lights turned off. “Upon stopping the vehicle, it was found that the adult had thrown the loaded rifle out of the vehicle’s window when he observed the emergency lights of my patrol vehicle,” Anderson said. • York County WCO Steve Knickel reports that tips he received led to the arrest of a person not to possess firearms, who also was hunting without first securing the proper license. He did not realize an officer was watching him for some time prior to attempting to make contact. The individual ran off when he noticed the officer. Upon being contacted at his home, he claimed that he was profusely sweating because he had been hanging Christmas lights. • Snyder County WCO Harold Malehorn filed one citation for a person killing an antlerless deer over the limit. Another citation was filed and that person was convicted in court of tampering with the trap of another. He filed an additional citation against another individual for tampering with the trap of another and possessing a red fox illegally.

• Blair and Huntingdon counties LMO Chris Skipper reminds hunters that courtesy CWD dumpsters are for the disposal of high-risk parts and not garbage, some of which has been showing up in the dumpsters. • Cumberland County WCO Tim Wenrich advises the Game Commission’s enforcement is not limited to wildlife violations, even at the peak of hunting seasons. He and his deputies handled eight separate drug-related violations on Nov. 27 and 28. NORTHEAST REGION From the Game Commission • Columbia County WCO John Morack reports that two Northumberland County men were cited for two separate and unrelated dumping cases along wooded areas open to public hunting and trapping along Snake Road in Conyngham Township. The individuals face fines and costs totaling over $500 each and are required to clean up the dump sites and properly dispose of the trash that was deposited. From the Fish & Boat Commission • Lackawanna County Waterways Conservation Officer Kadin Thompson is currently investigating encroachments upon Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission property. Fish & Boat Commission properties are held in trust for the citizens of the commonwealth focusing on fishing and boating. Nonpublic uses are prohibited. The placing and/ or storage of personal property, cutting of trees and vegetation, and removing of commonwealth property by individuals or other entities without permission or license are prohibited. In this case the violations occurring on commission property were that the property was being used for the storage of personal property and the cutting of trees and vegetation. • Luzerne County Waterways Conservation Officer John Cummings is currently investigating a “Disturbance of Watershed and Waterways” violation where a streambed has been excavated, moved, and a levy was built from the streambed materials without a permit or any erosion controls in place. This occurred in an area where wild trout are present involving a listed “Exceptional Value” wild trout stream. Remedies and penalties are pending. SOUTHEAST REGION From the Game Commission • Berks County WCO Matt Teehan reports an increasing number of high-profile cases over recent years. These cases might involve multiple big-game violations, harvests well over the bag limit, execution of search warrants large-scale marijuana cultivation on game lands or extensive damage to property. “This may seem to be the norm for the newer officers, but officers with a couple of decades under their belts have seen a major increase in the threat to our natural resources, and to officer safety,” he said. • Buck County WCO Shawna Burkett reports investigating several dumping complaints over the course of the hunting seasons. One instance involved someone leaving several striped bass carcasses in a Game Commission parking lot. Another included a hunter who disposed of three antlerless deer carcasses on private property. “Hunters

February 12, 2016

are reminded that such waste is able to be disposed of with their household trash,” she said. • Chester County WCO Matthew Johnson reports that charges were filed against multiple hunters this season for transporting the highrisk parts of harvested deer out of Disease Management Area 2. The deer parts were found at multiple butchers in Chester County by officers and other Game Commission employees. • Chester County WCO Keith Mullin reports that the eagles in the Homeville area have built two new nests to replace the nest that fell last season. The pair has not yet decided on which nest it will use this year. There are also reports of a new eagle nest at the Maryland line. Mullin has found what appears to be a nest but cannot yet confirm if eagles are using it. • Dauphin County WCO Scott Frederick of cited two individuals on the Susquehanna River for waterfowl violations that included not having Federal Duck Stamps and not carrying identification or their current, valid hunting licenses with them. “Even if one has purchased their hunting license and fails to have it with them while they are engaged in a hunting activity in the field, it can result in a citation equal to that for not buying a hunting license at all,” he said. • Delaware County WCO Justin Ritter reports that an individual has been charged for the unlawful taking of an antlerless deer on Christmas eve. The individual did not possess any antlerless tags and the deer season was not open. The individual was caught after a concerned citizen called Radnor Police Department; which in return called a deputy wildlife conservation officer to assist. • Delaware County WCO Justin Ritter reports that a five waterfowl hunters have been cited for various violations. The violations include unplugged shotguns, possessing lead or toxic shot, not having a Federal Duck Stamp and unsigned stamps. Other violations included not reporting harvested deer and an unsigned license. Pennsylvania State Police made the initial stop of the hunters. • Lebanon County WCO Brian Sheetz reports that eagle nests in the district all seem to have nesting activity. He has been able to see the pair working on most of the nests. • Lebanon County WCO Brian Sheetz reports that all Hunter-Trapper Education classes have been scheduled for Lebanon County. The first two classes are almost full. • Lehigh and Northampton counties WCO Tyler Kreider reports that a Freemansburg man who was charged for shooting an arrow into a local resident’s back patio door has pleaded guilty and will pay fines and restitution totaling $1,450. • Montgomery County WCO Raymond Madden reports that he is working on multiple ongoing relating to unlawful killing of deer. • Northampton County WCO Brad Kreider reports that high concentrations of snow and Canada geese are drawing waterfowl hunters from across the state, and a few nonresident hunters were field checked, too. “Some hunters are traveling several hours just to hunt snows, with some groups coming in the day prior to set up 1,000 plus decoys,” he said. • Schuylkill County WCO Joel Gibble reports that charges have been filed against an individual who shot a doe over bait after the close of the season and also shot a deer in the fall and did not tag it.

• York County WCO Shawn Musser reports that an individual has been cited for killing a white-tailed deer out of season. The individual was a Maryland resident who has a camp in York County. He decided that while he was out riding on his ATV with his crossbow, he was going to kill a deer. He and several other men in the camp continued to deny anyone having killed or being in possession of a deer. It wasn’t until a small girl of about 8 years old stepped out, overhearing the conversation, stated “my uncle just killed a deer tonight,” then the stories began to change. Several citations were filed and the main violator pleaded guilty and paid over $1,300 in fines • Huntingdon County WCO Amy Nabozny reports that, with the unusually warm weather seen during much of the winter numerous people have been reporting encounters with bears. She also had been informed that at least one individual encountered a rattlesnake while lining up to start a deer drive during the rifle deer season. • Bedford County WCO Brandon Pfister

Julian Landis, of Clymer, dropped this 9-point Indiana County buck, with a 16-inch inside spread, while hunting on Dec. 4.

February 12, 2016

About the chef:


John Hennessy is a passionate denizen of the outdoors and is the author of the food blog “Braising the Wild”. Follow John on Twitter: @WildGameJack Facebook: facebook.com/ braisingthewild/

Taste of the Wild

Taking a cue from the Cajuns in Louisiana who tapped into the idea of using the proteins at hand coupled with ample amounts of spices over 300 years ago, any gumbo is the triangulation of flavors that come from the air, land, and water. In this wild game variation made famous in the Pacific Northwest by The Elk Public House in Spokane, WA, you’ll combine wildfowl (air), big game (land) and fish (water) that are likely taking up space in your freezer right now. This spicy slop is guaranteed to stick to your ribs and may cause your brow to sweat, but it will keep you warm during cold winter nights. Expect to invest several hours prepping and monitoring the cooking of this recipe. Feel free to up the ante and double the recipe, freeze half. If you’re going to spend half a day in the kitchen, it never hurts to make leftovers for months to come.

from Outdoor News

Wild game


To make roux:

Thoroughly mix flour and oil in a large pot. Heat on low atop stove, stirring often (anywhere from every 7 to 15 minutes) while cutting vegetables. Monitor roux closely, especially at first, so no parts burn. Any black bits will ruin entire batch, as a bitter taste will permeate gumbo. Meanwhile, heat liquids on low until temperature reaches 140 to 160 degrees. Cook and stir roux for at least an hour, until mixture is dark brown. When finished, add spices, cook for another 5 minutes. Add heated liquids, stir until roux activates and thickens. To cook vegetables: Dice onions, bell peppers, poblanos and tomatoes into medium-sized pieces. Add to large pot. Slice Anaheim peppers and celery, add to pot. Lightly salt and pepper all. Cover with lid, cook on low atop stove, stirring frequently, until soft. Once finished, leave covered and add to gumbo once liquids and roux have thickened. To cook proteins: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly dust all proteins with salt and pepper—granulated garlic and cayenne optional. Roast all meats whole until internal temperatures reach 160 degrees. Remove and shred fowl, slice red meats and dice fish or shrimp. Add cooked meats to gumbo after stirring in vegetables. To finish: Let all ingredients simmer on very low for one hour. Stir often and be careful not to burn. Remove from heat. For best flavor, let gumbo sit in refrigerator overnight and heat and serve for dinner 24 hours later.

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Page 41


Photo by John Hennessy

Makes 12 servings


4 cups flour 2 cups canola oil Add following spices once browned: 2 tablespoons gumbo file (powdered sassafras leaves), if available 2 tablespoons paprika 2 tablespoons chili powder 2 tablespoons thyme 2 tablespoons oregano 2 tablespoons chili flakes 2 tablespoons kosher salt


2 tablespoons black pepper 2 tablespoons onion powder 1 tablespoon cayenne 1/4 cup freshly minced garlic

⁄2 stalk celery, sliced 4 yellow onions, rough diced 4 roma tomatoes, diced 2 red bell peppers, diced 2 poblano peppers, diced 7 anaheim peppers, sliced 1

Meats: 11⁄2 pounds wild fowl (pheasant, duck, grouse, turkey, etc.) 1 pound fish (walleye, perch, bass or walleye), or bay shrimp 1 pound wild red meat (venison, elk or bear) or assorted sausage or bratwurst

Liquids: 10 cups chicken stock 11⁄2 cups tomato juice 11⁄2 cups clam juice

Find us on at www.facebook.com/OutdoorNewsTasteOfTheWild Find more recipes and share yours today! Visit the COOKING tab online at www.outdoornews.com

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February 12, 2016


Trendy Soft Bait Options for 2016 By Louie Stout Contributing Writer


ay what you want about the fish-catching ability of hard baits, but it’s the versatility of soft plastic creations that underscores their popularity with anglers. So what are the soft bait presentations you need to include in your 2016 arsenal? Here are some of the trendy applications that the nation’s bass pros are utilizing:



here’s nothing new about wacky rigging as a means to coax fussy, clear-water bass into biting. It’s really effective when the fish are suspended around docks or along weedlines. It’s also become the top choice in rigging for many anglers who drop shot small plastic worm-style baits. Wacky rigs embody a soft plastic worm rigged in the middle on a hook or small jig head so that the lure’s two ends dangle. You can use anything from a small finesse style drop-shot worm to a Senko-style stick worm.

However, a wrinkle pros like to add is to poke the shank of a nail into the head of the worm so that it plummets vertically and a little faster instead of fluttering horizontally. When the bait hits bottom, they will shake it to emit unique vibrations and action from the dangling ends of the worm. “It’s particularly effective when the bass grow accustomed to seeing more traditional wacky presentations or if they are holding in deeper water and in short grass along the bottom,” said Michigan pro Kevin VanDam.



rop-shotting with small plastics is a standard presentation for finessing open-water bass. However, Chris Zaldain has discovered it’s a nifty way to catch bass from deep weeds with a little heavier tackle. At Lake Cayuga, N.Y., he worked a dropshot worm through deep flats with scattered weeds. “I went behind other anglers with my heavy drop-shot and was picking up fish they missed, or fish that ignored their presentations,” he said. The grass patches were growing from a foot to 3 feet off the bottom. He cast his Texas-rigged Dream Shot lure – rigged with an 18- to 20-inch leader – along the flat and worked it into small openings of the grass. A cylinder-style weight, verses a round style, is preferred because it doesn’t clog in the vegetation. Standard drop-shot rods are too light for this technique; use more of a medium-action and fish it with 20-pound braid ahead of a 10-pound fluorocarbon line. This allows you to set the hook and move the fish away from the grass better than lighter tackle.

Artwork by Don Dittberner



NED RIG: Though it doesn’t sizzle with pizzazz, the simple Ned Rig requires just a few pauses and shakes on the bottom to entice finicky bass.

hen swim baits were introduced by California anglers, Midwesterners had to chuckle. The baits were huge and alien looking – many the size tennis shoes – seemingly far too big for our bass. But as the technique evolved, manufacturers began scaling down the soft bait versions, providing a viable option for those of us who aren’t fishing for 10-pound-plus bass. Even national bass pros took a liking to these smaller morsels that best match our forage yet are big enough to attract a hungry lunker bass. In fact, one of the most productive techniques utilized at Lake St. Clair, Mich., in the Bassmaster Elite Series and at Sturgeon Bay, Wis., during last year’s Toyota Angler of Year Championship, was the finesse swim bait.



es it looks dumb and unattractive. But the little ol’ Ned Rig is one of the best fish catchers for those days when bites are tough and the water is cold. The bait is a very short, stubby plastic worm fashioned on the back of a mushroom-style jighead. Most Ned Rig aficionados say the lighter the head the better, rarely exceeding 1⁄16-ounce, preferring 1⁄32-ounce sizes. Z-Man plastics offers its version with the “T.R.D.” (The Real Deal) lure body, a blunt

The rig consists of a 4- or 5-inch boot tail swim bait threaded onto an open jig head. Two of the most popular baits in this category are the Keitech Swing Impact soft plastic or the Strike King KVD Swimmin’ Shiner. The technique is simple enough for even the most novice angler. Just make long casts (especially in clear water), let the bait sink, and slowly wind it so the boot tail waggles just off the bottom. When the bass are big and ultra-aggressive, you can fish it on baitcast gear. However, northern anglers have discovered that 10-pound or less fluorocarbon line fished on spinning outfits enhances the kicking action of the tail and get more bites. The bait is good year-round, but an excellent choice for cold-water periods and in clear water.

ended, 2¾-inch soft worm. However, you can also recycle those tattered Senkos lying on the boat floor by cutting them in half and creating two baits. After all, that’s all the bait is – one half of a stick worm glued onto the small mushroom head. You simply cast it out and crawl it back along the bottom, pausing periodically with a few shakes of the rod tip during the pause. The key is to work it slowly and keep it on or near the bottom. Inexplicably, even the most finicky bass will bite it.

DROP SHOT: Traditionally a classic open-water tactic, dropshotting has gained traction for bass in deep weeds via heavier rods and lines.

February 12, 2016


Commentary (From Page 3)

attempt to halt the movement of farmed deer won’t stop the natural wanderings of free-ranging deer or the oftentimes illicit movement of animal carcasses – deer that are more genetically susceptible to the disease will die off at higher rates than those that are less genetically susceptible. The net long-range result will be a hardier population of deer that is more resistant to CWD. With farmed deer, there’s the potential to select for this resistance faster than nature herself could. The Iowa herd didn’t only provide a boost to genetics research. The samples collected from the animals also contributed to efforts to develop an antemortem, or live-animal, test. Currently, CWD can only be detected by using the tissue of deceased animals, making it difficult to monitor. A breakthrough here would make managing CWD much easier and more precise. Elsewhere, new research has looked at alternate routes of CWD spread. A study published last year found that CWD could be transmitted by plant matter. Researchers demonstrated that wheat grass roots and leaves could take up prions (infected proteins that make up CWD and similar diseases) if exposed to bodily waste from infected animals. When this same plant matter was fed to hamsters, the animals became infected. If CWD can be transmitted

Outdoor Market

by plants, then that raises a whole host of questions about the transportation of hay and other animal feed. In fact, the data in this study suggests an exponentially greater risk that CWD may be transmitted via plant matter than has ever been directly identified in urine, to say nothing of urine collected from healthy deer on USDA-accredited farms with biosecurity measures in place

to prevent the introduction of CWD or other wildlife diseases. Taken together, what does this all mean for hunters? It means CWD will continue to march across North America, and there’s not much that knee-jerk responses will do to halt it. Political efforts to restrict or ban deer and elk farming fail to address

READERSHOT PHOTO FORM Please include this form with your photo. Photos with this form included will receive first consideration to be published. PLEASE INCLUDE SELF-ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE IF YOU WANT YOUR PHOTO RETURNED. (PLEASE PRINT ALL INFO.)

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Address:__________________________________________ City/State/Zip:________________________________________________ Phone:___________________________________________ Was fish released?

the more pertinent issue: the certain presence of CWD in free-ranging deer and the environment in Pennsylvania. On the contrary, farmed cervids may represent controlled populations where, as we’ve shown, advancements in CWD detection and prevention can be made quickly. The farms they’re raised in could, in the future, conceivably represent sanctuaries – in fact, safe havens from CWD.

Page 43

are working to develop better tests, and improve our understanding of CWD resistance where it’s most practical. Just as the news stories about CWD popping up here and there won’t stop, neither will the research.

These advancements not only benefit farmed deer and elk, but wild populations as well. So while CWD may be spreading, we as researchers

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Date of kill/catch:_____________________________________ Type of game/fish:____________________________________

Method used:_______________________________________ (Rifle, bow, spinner bait etc.)

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Gear & Gadgets

MAG TACK SYSTEM FROM ICE RIGS – MAGNETIC, VERTICAL TACKLE STORAGE SYSTEM The new Mag Tack Lure Board consists of double sided, extremely powerful rare earth magnets that organize up to 54 lures putting them at your fingertips for quick, tangle free selection and is vertical and visual allowing fishermen to instantly spot their desired lure. The Complete Mag Tack System comes with a custom frame that can be easily attached to any hard-sided fish house wall. This allows fishermen to view lures at all times during fishing, making it simple to locate a desired lure. No more digging through boxes of cluttered and tangled tackle looking for that spoon or jig that you know the fish desire. The Mag Tack System also comes with a Plano plastic carrying case. This makes it portable allowing fishermen to grab and go on those run and gun outings, or when heading out in a portable house. It is recommended that the Mag Tack Lure Sheet be stored in the carrying case during travel or transit. How does it work? By attaching the shank of each lure hook to an individual powerful rare earth magnet. The Mag Tack System controls the hook of each lure placed on it, keeping them from becoming tangled with other lures. The Mag Tack Lure Board holds 27 lures on each side. That equals 54 lures total! For more information visit www.goicerigs.com.

TIP-UP MATE TURNS ANY TIP-UP INTO A HEATED TIP-UP The Tip-up Mate from Productive Alternatives helps keep ice fishing holes from freezing. Using standard, easy-to-find hand warmers as its heat source, the Tip-up Mate works with all tip-up styles on holes up to 10-inches in diameter. It’s made of durable material that will not be breaking, even in the coldest temperatures. It is sized to allow multiple Tip-up Mates to fit into a standard pail for easy carying. The Tip-up Mate does not interfere with the operation of your favorite tip-up setup or make the retrieval of a fish any more difficult. It comes with complete easy to follow instructions. A tip-up is not included — you simply use it with your favorite tip-up. The Tip-up Mate and all other products made by Productive Alternatives can be found in most of your favoriet retail sporting goods stores. For more information call 1-800-4777246 or go to www.paiff.org.

THE NEWEST IN GLOVES AND MITTS FROM ICEARMOR BY CLAM Keeping hands warm is one of the most important parts of enjoying winter comfortably, and Clam is the leader in providing a wide assortment of mitts and gloves in the IceArmor line. Several new products join the family this year: Dry Skinz Gloves, Edge Mitts, Extreme Mitts, Ultra Gloves and Ultra Mitts. Each have their own story to tell about what makes them the right fit at the right time and place, but all will help anglers battle the toughest elements Mother Nature has to offer. Dry Skinz Gloves are a seamless, waterproof glove that boasts superb dexterity exlusive to Clam. Constructed with a waterproof, breathable Dexshell membrane, these gloves offer a snug fit with an extra long cuff for complete protection and performance. Perfect for many different outdoor activities, not limited to fishing of course, folks will love how warm and dry the Dry Skinz Gloves perform. The thermal performance inner lining is 90% acrylic and 10% nylon. The outer layer is 88% nylon with 2% spandex and 10% elastic for a stay-inplace fit. Waterproof and highly breathable, the Dry Skinz Gloves come in medium to 2XL sizes. For more information on Clam Outdoors and all their outdoor clothing and accessories go to www.clamoutdoors.com.

THE BASS BOAT RE-IMAGINED Lund recently unveiled a radical new 1875 Pro-V Bass boat – a progressive boat blueprint that sets out to redefine the concept of the modern day bass and musky fishing vessel. Designed and destined to tame waves from Lake Erie all the way to Florida’s Okeechobee, the Pro-V Bass reflects far-reaching research, development and pro-angler input. Infused with exceptional engineering, the original Pro-V Bass is built on Lund’s benchmark IPS2 aluminum hull. This superior framework features a flat center pad, multiple lift strakes and two reverse chines. The result is lightning quick hole-shot and a fast, stable, drier ride. Rated for up to a 200-HP outboard, the 1875 Pro-V Bass is quick to plane and has impressive top end speed. With a lighter load, the 200-HP Optimax easily hit speeds in excess of 60-mph, yet travels over rough seas with a remarkably soft ride. This boat comes in two distinct seating configurations — the classic bench-seating or the multi-species pedestal seating version — giving anglers versatile fishing platforms, based on personal preference. Each boat has an in-deck 3-tier center rod locker, with individual tubes for five 9-foot rods, five rods up to 8’ 8” and five more to 8’ 4”. A built-in bump stick mount lies just to the left of the rod locker for taking snap measurements. Meanwhile, on the deck, four stowing rubberized rod tie-downs keep critical combos within easy reach. For more information, visit www.lundboats.com.

EAGLE CLAW FEATURES NEW ICE ROD CASE This ice season anglers can carry their rods and gear safely and securely to and onto the ice with the Eagle Claw Ice Rod Case. Designed with strength in mind, the hard outer casing is made of strong polypropylene and has durable double-hinge latches at four locking points. The inside of the case is lined with thick adjustable foam padding so anglers can feel confident knowing their gear will arrive in one piece, making this the perfect case for car travel, hand-held transportation, or strapping to the back of a snowmobile or ATV. This case can hold six ice rods and combos up to 42’’ in length and leaves extra room for gear and tackle. Eagle Claw Ice Rod Case Features: • Adjustable foam padding • Hard outer polypropylene casing • Durable double-hinge latches • Four locking points • Holds up to six rods and combos with extra space • Rods can be up to 42’’ in length • 43’’ x 12’’ x 7’’ This and other 2015 Eagle Claw ice products are available in your favorite sporting goods store. For more information about Eagle Claw visit www.eagleclaw.com, find us on Facebook, or call 720-941-8700.

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February 12, 2016

Warm weather triggers hatches, trout action Although ice fishing was in full swing in some parts of the state by mid-January, many fisheries became snow-covered after a major storm the weekend of Jan. 23. Mild temperatures Jan. 30 caused ice to deteriorate. Anglers are reminded that ice thickness and other conditions can vary across a single fishery, and from one lake to another. They are advised to exercise extreme caution while venturing onto frozen surfaces, to wear a life jacket, and to carry ice awls and other safety gear. For more, visit http://fishandboat.com/ safety.htm

Report from the Dock A forecast and summary

of Jan. 23 put the kibosh major snowstorm the weekend n and eastern part of on most fishing in the souther sive snowfalls in the state for a week or so. Mas Blair County (31 in ing Spr some areas – such as Roaring nty (37) inches, Cou phin Dau in inches), Mechanicsburg (32 inches) – discouraged and Allentown in Lehigh County waters. The northern part of anglers on open and iced-over umulation from the storm acc the state, however, received no tures made for safe ice on and accompanying low tempera some. The weather abruptly most lakes and hot fishing in bringing out fishermen for a got warmer in late January, s melted snow and blew out week or so before torrential rain tribuSteelhead fishing on Erie-area rivers and streams on Feb. 3. most on ice said 4 . Reports on Feb taries held up through Feb. 2. kly. quic g rioratin lakes across the state was dete



Walnut Creek, Elk Creek, Crooked Creek, Upper Gravel Pit — As of Jan. 26, most tribs were frozen over, although a few stretches of open water remained. There was also bank ice. Some anglers were targeting steelhead through the ice at the Walnut Creek Marina Basin. Presque Isle Bay, Misery Bay — Ice anglers were doing well on panfish as of Jan. 26, with numbers of nice-sized bluegills, crappies, and yellow perch reported. One angler reported catching 40 perch including 11 keepers in 20 feet of water in front of the new hotel. Allegheny River (Venango County) — Boaters are advised that the ice control device spanning the entire width of the river upstream of the State Street (Veteran’s) Bridge in Oil City, is now in place, and to use caution when boating in this area. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission advises using the provided opening situated nearest the north shore for passage. Pymatuning Reservoir (Crawford County) — Edge ice had deteriorated to an unsafe point by Jan. 30. Preceding the change, Robinson’s tackle shop reported ice fishing on the north end from Tuttle Point to Wilson’s Landing and at Red Cross and Alcatraz. Perch and crappies were hitting. Alcatraz and Red Cross were also yielding bluegills.. Lake Arthur (Butler County) — Ice anglers were still crowding the lake as of Jan. 29, in advance of a forecast that predicted balmy weather. Nice crappies, bluegills, bass and northern pike were hitting. Panfish, including a 15-inch crappie, were biting live bait on jigs, while the bass and pike were hitting tip-ups. Shenango Reservoir (Mercer County) — Ice anglers reported nice catches of crappies through Jan. 28.


Brady’s Run Lake (Beaver County) — Ice anglers were catching trout on paste bait. Panfish, mostly small bluegills, were biting on jigs tipped with waxworms. Highpoint Lake (Somerset County) — Ice anglers caught northern pike, chain pickerel, largemouth bass, and yellow perch on this mountaintop fishery through late January. Quemahoning Reservoir (Somerset County) — Northern pike were hitting smelt during open-water conditions. Youghiogheny River (Somerset County) — Trout were hitting live bait, streamers, and artificials in the tailrace as conditions allowed. Rainbows were hitting more than brown trout.


Beechwood Lake (Tioga County) — Trout were reported on paste baits and live minnows under tipups as of January 20, with the areas near the boat launches productive. Panfish were hitting small jigs tipped with waxworms, mousies, or maggots. Hills Creek Lake (Tioga County) — Fish were reported in six to 12 feet as of Jan. 20. Yellow perch were hitting live minnows under tip-ups and waxworms on jigs, while bluegills were reported on waxworms or maggots on small jigs, partic-

of hunting and fishing

Sunrise Sunset Table +20 +16 +12 ERIE


















































ularly those in white, chartreuse, silver, or gold, and spoons. Glow jigs tipped with waxworms were working after dark. Pickerel were active and hitting live shiners and fathead minnows. Hamilton Lake (Tioga County) — Anglers were catching a few panfish on waxworms toward the dam as of Jan. 20, but action was overall slow. Rose Valley Lake (Lycoming County) — Dozens of ice anglers were fishing as of Jan. 16, and reporting largemouth bass, chain pickerel and yellow perch on medium shiners under tip-ups in eight to 13 feet. One angler caught a largemouth about 16 inches. Foster Joseph Sayers Lake (Centre County) — The Hunter Run Cut portion was iced over by Jan. 16 and anglers were catching yellow perch and bluegills. Spring Creek (Centre County) — Anglers were catching trout by targeting banks and slack water with streamers, nymphs, and egg patterns in late January the banks and slack water. Effective flies included peach or pink egg patterns, Walt’s Worms, black and brown Slumpbusters, and BeadHead Pheasant Tails. Penns Creek (Centre County) — Slightly high, off color conditions and temperatures around 40 degrees prevailed in late January, and anglers were catching fish on nymphs and streamers in the early to late afternoon hours. Getting flies close to the bottom was key. With streamers, fishing close to banks and other structure was productive. Productive patterns included Hares Ear nymphs (1416); Bead-Head Prince Nymphs (8-12); and olive, brown, or black scuplin patterns (4-10). Fishing Creek (Clinton County) — Trout were taking peach or pink egg patterns and pin or red crawler patterns.


Lake Marburg (York County) — B & B Lures tackle shop reported Jan. 30 that thin ice and snow cover made this Codorus State Park lake unfishable, but previously, in open water, anglers were making nice catches of bass, muskies, and panfish. Anglers were doing especially well on crappies, bluegills, and



Feb. 12: 6:58 am /5:33 pm Feb. 13: 6:57 am /5:34 pm Feb. 14: 6:55 am /5:35 pm Feb. 15: 6:54 am /5:36 pm Feb. 16: 6:53 am /5:37 pm Feb. 17: 6:52 am /5:38 pm Feb. 18: 6:50 am /5:40 pm Feb. 19: 6:49 am /5:41 pm Feb. 20: 6:48 am /5:42 pm Feb. 21: 6:46 am /5:43 pm Feb. 22: 6:45 am /5:44 pm Feb. 23: 6:43 am /5:45 pm Feb. 24: 6:42 am /5:46 pm Feb. 25: 6:41 am /5:48 pm

yellow perch fishing small jigs with soft plastic minnows or live fatheads.

Each daily graph starts with midnight on the left. The Vector Fish & Game Activity Tables are computer-generated timetables indicating when fish, game and other species will tend to be in daily feeding and migration patterns. The tables, which indicate peak times, are based on the combined positions of the sun and the moon. Major periods can run from an hour before to an hour after the peak time; minor periods peak a half-hour either way.

Shepherd Myers Reservoir (York County) — Ice was fishable as of Jan. 30. Shawnee Lake (Bedford County) — Crappies were being iced as of Jan. 27. Juniata River (Huntingdon, Mifflin counties) — One angler released a large tiger muskie on a crankbait between Mount Union and Newton Hamilton.


Lackawanna Lake (Lackawanna County) As of Jan. 27, anglers were

catching bluegills and largemouth bass, primarily on jigs, in the main part of the lake and in Bullhead Bay. Nice-sized crappies also were reported. Frances Slocum Lake, (Luzerne County) — Nice catches of panfish were reported, although many were running small. White Oak Pond (Wayne County) — Ice anglers were catching panfish and perch on jigs tipped with waxworms as of Jan. 27. Largemouth bass and chain pickerel were reported on shiners and tip-ups.

Bait Shop Profile

Owner Glenn McConnell and his staff believe in old-fashioned customer service.

Staff Report McConnell’s Country Store and Fly Shop in Waterville, Lycoming County blends old-time charm with the latest equipment in fly-fishing. Located at the confluence of Big Pine and Little Pine creeks – at the gateway to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and Pennsylvania Wilds – McConnell’s outfits anglers heading to some of the best fishing the region has to offer, whether on freestone streams of the north or limestone-influenced waters in the central part of the state. An authorized pro shop for rods, reels, line and other tackle by Sage, Winston, G. Loomis, Hardy, Cortland, and Reddington, McConnell’s also carries Fishpond, Frogg Togg, and Simms

vests and wading gear, as well as hand-tied flies. Anglers will find a full inventory of fly-tying materials and tools, including Regal and Cortland vises. Because proprietor Glenn McConnell and his staff believe in old-fashioned customer service, they are always happy to assist customers with rigging their equipment, whether it is assembling a rod or tying a perfect nail knot. They monitor hatches so folks will have success on local streams, including wild trout waters like Slate and Cedar runs. Free classes and seminars are occasionally offered, and McConnell’s maintains a guide service. Glenn McConnell annually hosts fishing adventures out West. Although angling is the shop’s focus, McConnell can point visitors to a range of outdoors activities, including hunting, camping, and hiking. The scenic Pine Creek Rail Trail through the Grand Canyon (recognized as a National Natural Landmark in 1968), adjoins McConnell’s parking area. There are thousands of acres of state forest and state game lands within walking distance of the store, and camping and boating opportunities three miles away in Little Pine State Park. In keeping with its country-store ambience, the general-store section of the shop is wellstocked with ice cream, sandwiches and sundries. McConnell’s Country Store & Fly Shop Located at 10853 Rt. 44N, McConnell’s also can be visited on-line at www.mcconnellscountrystore.com

February 12, 2016


Pro Tip of the Week Always use the lightest line possible David A. Rose Years guiding: 30 Specialties: Inland lake fishing, ice fishing smaller lakes and river channels. “It’s important to use the lightest line you can. For instance, if you’re crappie fishing use 2- or 4-pound-test line rather than, say, the 8- or David A. Rose 10-pound you might use for walleyes. “The reason is that the lighter line gives more life-like action to your offering,” Rose says. “You have to consider the species you’re after. Obviously you wouldn’t want to use 4-pound test for pike or muskies – you wouldn’t even be able to set the hook without breaking off.” Contact Rose via his website: www.wildfishing.com

Bill’s Sports Shop in Lewe’s, Del., reported a 43.55-pound striped bass was caught on a Mojo lure in recent weeks at the mouth of the Delaware Bay; otherwise, fishing was quiet.


Tobyhanna Lake (Monroe County) — Trout and some bass were hitting live bait Jan. 30. Mauch Chunk (Carbon County) — Wacky Worm tackle shop reported Jan. 29 that anglers were catching sunfish, perch, some bass and a few walleyes on tipups with lie bait. Some anglers were jigging for the sunfish and perch. Significant snow cover made ice-fishing difficult. Beltzville Lake (Carbon County) — Wacky Worm tackle shop reported a little bit of ice in the arms of the lake, but the main lake was primarily open water as of Jan. 30. Boaters were catching walleyes and bass on spoons jigged in 25 to 45 feet. Pecks Pond (Pike County) — Ice anglers were catching some bass, but mostly perch and sunfish Jan. 29. Lake Wallenpaupack (Pike County) — The lake was mostly open water Jan. 30, although there was some ice in the coves. Anglers were catching perch, sunfish, crappies, some bass, and some very nice trout. Delaware River — As of Jan. 30, water was open and walleyes were hitting.


Stoevers Dam (Lebanon County) — Coble’s Bait Shop reported Jan. 29 that ice anglers were catching panfish on jigs and fathead minnows. Panfish sizes were better than numbers. Brown trout also

were reported with mealworms out-producing waxworms. Memorial Lake (Lebanon County) — As of Jan. 29, ice anglers were catching chain pickerel on tipups. Sweet Arrow Lake (Schuylkill County) — This county-owned lake was yielding panfish, including some nice-sized ones, to jigs and minnows and tip-ups through Jan. 30. Some yellow perch were in the mix.


The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission recently announced that the 2016 adult trout stocking schedules are now available online at fishandboat.com and on the agency’s “FishBoatPA” mobile app. Anglers can easily search the trout stocking schedules for locations and dates of interest. To view the list, simply go to fishandboat.com, click on the link for Trout Stocking Schedules, select a county and enter start and end dates from the calendars at the top of the page. Then press “Go.” Included in this year’s stocking lists are the Keystone Select Stocked Trout Waters, a new program where one water in each of the eight commissioner districts will be stocked with large 14-inch to 20-inch trout. The 2016 season will open March 26 for the Mentored Youth Trout Day program in 18 southeastern counties, including: Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh,

Photo Week OF THE


Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York. A majority of the trout waters will be stocked in advance of the mentored youth days. But some of the waters may not be stocked in time due to weather, water conditions and scheduling logistics. Also, special regulation areas, like catch-and-release, fly-fishing-only or delayed-harvest, artificial-lures-only, are not included in the mentored youth program. April 2 kicks off the Regional Opening Day of trout season in the same 18 southeastern counties. A second Mentored Youth Day will be held on April 9. To participate, adult anglers (16 years or older) must have a valid fishing license and trout/salmon permit and be accompanied by a youth. Changes for the 2016 season include new waters, waters restored to the stocking program, and the removal of waters from the stocking program. Roaring Brook, Lackawanna County — Adult trout stocking will be reinstated on the 2.0-mile section of stream extending from Elmhurst Reservoir downstream the confluence with Rock Bottom Creek. Wolf Creek, Mercer County — A classification change stemming from an increase in human population density and a 0.5-mile extension of the stocking limits will lead to an increase in the number of trout allocated to this stream. The revised stocking limits will extend for a distance 3.01 miles from East Pine Street in Grove City downstream to 300 feet downstream of the Airport Road Bridge. Brown trout and rainbow trout will be stocked during the preseason and inseason stocking periods.


Beginning in the fall of 2012 adult trout stocking was discontinued in favor of fingerling trout stocking on five stream sections managed under catch-and-release, fly-fishing-only regulations. Fingerling trout were stocked during the fall on an annual basis in these stream sections from 2012-14. The survival of fingerling trout was monitored through the 2015 field season to determine if a fishery could be supported by stocking fingerling trout in these sections of stream. Results revealed that fingerling trout survival was consistently poor on each of the stream sections. Therefore, fingerling trout stocking has been discontinued, and the fol-

Anastasia Bowersox, of Mechanicsburg, caught and released this 11-pound, 29-inch channel catfish while fishing the Susquehanna River on July 10. lowing stream sections will be stocked with adult trout this spring. Caldwell Creek, Warren County —1.5 miles, from the Selkirk Bridge (SR 3004) downstream to Stony Hollow Run located 0.5 miles upstream of Dotyville Bridge. Donegal Creek, Lancaster County — 2.2 miles, from 0.2 miles downstream from the SR 0772 Bridge downstream to the T-334 Bridge. Green Spring Creek, Cumberland County — 1.2 miles, from 0.4 miles upstream from the Bullshead Road Bridge (T-398) downstream to the mouth. Little Sandy Creek, Venango County — 1.3 miles, from the old Bridge at Polk Center Pump House downstream to the Savannah Road Bridge (SR 3024). White Deer Creek, Union County — 3.2 miles, from the Centre/Union County line downstream to the Cooper Mill Road Bridge.


Blymire Hollow Run, York County — Based on the presence of a Class A wild brown trout population, adult trout stocking will be terminated on a 1.4-mile section of stream extending from the Mont Road (T-580) Bridge downstream to the mouth. Chapman Dam Reservoir, Warren County — This 68-acre impoundment will be removed from the adult trout-stocking program in 2016 due to a dewatering of the dam to allow for maintenance repairs to the dam. Cold Stream Dam, Centre County

Jeremy Yohe

of impacts to the waters. The worst violation was an inadvertent return of bentonite (a benign clay material) into a wild trout stream. The bentonite essentially suffocated the streambed, resulting in an impact to the macroinvertebrates and fish life there.” Born in Pennsylvania, the 36-year-old officer says the least favorite part of his job is missing holidays with family, especially during the summer months. “You know going into the career that the major holidays (Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day) are required work days, but it is not possible to comprehend that impact.”

He says that having served in the Marine Corps and having been away from home, missing holidays doesn’t have the same impact now. Advice for those interested in pursuing a law enforcement career with the Fish & Boat Commission: Become knowledgeable. “Contact your local waterways conservation officer and ask lots of questions about the application process, the training requirements and the day-today duties,” he added. He encourages perspective candidates to get familiar with the duties of a waterways officer. “Check your local trout stocking schedule and accompany the WCO on various trout stocking assignments.” Lastly, speak with various officers or the sergeants or captain of the region. “The more you know, the better you will be equipped as you enter the training program and ultimately start patrolling in your district.”

— This 9.9-acre Philipsburg impoundment will be removed from the adult trout-stocking program in 2016 due to a drawdown for dam repairs. Double Run, Sullivan County — Based on the presence of a Class A wild brook trout population, adult trout stocking will be terminated on the 2.0-mile section of stream extending from the Shrewsbury and Forks township line downstream to the mouth. French Creek, Chester County — Landowner posting has resulted in a substantial loss of angler access to an 8.4-mile section of stream extending from Hollow Road (SR 1033) downstream to SR 0023. Therefore, stocking limits will be revised in 2016 to the sections of stream that remain open to angling. The revised sections will extend for 1.46 miles from SR 1033 (Hollow Road) downstream to the T-481 Bridge (Hoffecker Road) and for 3.1 miles, from the unnamed tributary upstream of West Seven Stars Road (T-522) downstream to SR 0023. George B. Stevenson Reservoir, Cameron County — This 142-acre impoundment will be removed from the adult trout-stocking program due to a drawdown to allow for maintenance repairs to the dam. Slate Lick Run, Cambria County — Access limitations stemming from an increase in landowner posting and documented low angler use has led to the removal of the 1.90-mile section of stream extending from Marra Road downstream to the confluence with Burgoon Run. Compiled by Deborah Weisberg

Ice Safety Spotlight

Conservation Officer Profile For five-year waterways conservation officer Jeremy Yohe, a passion for being in the outdoors lead him to his career. He is the total outdoors package, whether Alpine skiing, camping, backpacking or hunting and fishing, he truly loves being in nature. He began his law enforcement career working as a municipal police officer. It was then that he became interested in a deputy position with the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. “I inquired about a deputy position with the Fish & Boat Commission, but was told that a full-time WCO (waterways conservation officer) class was being put together and testing would open.” He tested through the Civil Service Commission, and here he is. His district covers West Bradford and Sullivan counties. Yohe recalls one particularly toublesome case. “Having some pristine trout streams in my district, I am very aware

Page 45

In a year when the ice is slow to form, it’s especially important to remind anglers about ice safety. Head out with a partner this time of year, and go prepared. It’s wise for everybody in your party to bring their own whistle and a pair of ice picks. Be especially cautious venturing out this time of the year. 

Image courtesy of DNR

Almanac Calendar of Events

February 12, 2016

Banquets/Fundraisers. Feb. 20: Cascade Thunderin Toms NWTF Banquet, 5:30 p.m., Shanango Firehall, New Castle. For more info call Dave Boston, 724968-8549.

4:30 p.m., Genetti Manor, Dickson City. For more info call Carl Mozeleski, 570-587-2662. April 9: NE Pennsylvania WTU Banquet, 4:30 p.m., Shadowbrook Inn & Resort, Tunkhannock. For more info call Randy Storrs, 570-690-7514. April 9: PA Trappers Assn Banquet, Lewistown Moose Lodge #143. For more info call Nelson Hosler, 570-658-3904.

Feb. 20: St. Marys RMEF Banquet, 4 p.m., Red Fern Banquet Hall. For more info call Carol Lux, 814-687-3911.

April 9: Pennsylvania Trappers Assoc. Banquet, Moose Family Center Lodge #143, Lewistown. For more info call Nelson Hosler, 570-658-3904.

Feb. 13: Harrisburg RMEF Banquet, 4:30 p.m., Best Western, Harrisburg. For more info call Gene Odato, 717-789-9206.

Feb. 20: Harrisburg Beagle Club Rabbit Hunt/ Banquet, Marysville Lions Club Park. For more info call James Kiser, 717-761-0190.

April 9: Greater Allegheny PF Banquet, 5 p.m., Alpine Hunting & Fishing Club. For more info call Mark Rozum, 412-216-5786.

Feb. 20: Pymatuning Delta Waterfowl Banquet, 5 p.m., St. Phillip’s Church Social Hall. For more info call Howard Simmerman, 814-795-5031.

April 9: Clarion Co. RMEF Banquet, 4 p.m., Antler Club, Lucinda. For more info call Eugene Lander, 814-226-6474.

Feb. 20: Honey Hole NWTF Banquet, 4 p.m., Lobitz Hall, Hazleton. For more info call Kevin Titus, 570-688-5903

April 10: Dushore Area Banquet, 4 p.m., Ally Bells, Dushore. For more info call Ron Reeder, 724-467-0701.

Feb. 27: Pennsylvania Pocono WTU Banquet, 5 p.m., The Woodlands, Wilkes-Barre. For more info call John Hunter, 607-426-8292. Feb. 27: Three Rivers RMEF Banquet, 3:30 p.m., Doubletree by Hilton, Mars. For more info call James Abbott, 724-579-8949.

April 16: Grand Canyon PA RMEF Banquet, 3 p.m., Whitneyville Fairgrounds, Wellsboro. For more info call Charlie Newlin, 570-724-7583.

Feb. 27: Pittsburgh RMEF Banquet, 3:30 p.m., Double Tree by Hilton, Mars. For more info call Dorothy Martz, 724-668-7722.

May 20: Bucks County WTU Banquet, 4 p.m., New Hope Eagle Fire company, New Hope. For more info call East Coast Tannery & Taxidermy, 215-799-1900.

Feb. 27: Lancaster County Friends of the NRA Banquet, 4-11 p.m., Spooky Nook Sports. For more info call Donna Gerz, 717-203-2592. Feb. 27: Community conservation Mixer PF Chapter #803, 6-9 p.m. For more info call Chris Traver Sr., 570-477-4668. March 4: Shade Mountain NWTF Banquet, 7 p.m., Prot Royal Community Bldg. For more info call Don Geedey, 717-436-6433. March 5: Greensburg RMEF Banquet, 5 p.m., Ferrante’s Lakeview Banquet Hall. For more info call Steve Kowatch, 724-537-2618. March 5: Red Rock NWTF Banquet, 5 p.m., Appletree Terrace Newberry Estates, Dallas. For more info call 570-825-9744. March 5: Terrace Mountain NWTF Banquet, 5 p.m., Smithfield Fire Co. Huntingdon. For more info call Dennis Horn, 814-447-3058. March 11-12: Lehigh Valley SCI Banquet, Holiday Inn & Conference Center, Fogelsville. For more info call Michael Walters, 267-3373294. March 12: Sharon RMEF Banquet, 3 p.m., Yankee Ballroom, Yankee Lake. For more info call Aronie, Tulip, 724-854-9690. March 12: Outdoorsman Group Christian Life Center Banquet, 5 p.m., Christian Life Center. For more info call Steve Shuster, 610-274-0478. March 12: Perkiomen Valley DU Banquet, 5:30 p.m., Sunnybrook Ballroom, Pottstown. For more info call Rich Fanaro, 610-656-9468. March 12: Washington Co. Friends of NRA Banquet, 4 p.m., Pepsi Roadhouse, Burgettstown. For more info call Jack Dalbo, 412-583-1583. March 18-19: Mount Zion United Methodist Church, Sportsman’s Banquet, Carlisle. For more info call Amy, 717-486-4280. March 19: Susquehanna Valley WTU Banquet, 6 p.m., Holiday Inn, Grantville. For more info call Ron Reeder, 724-467-0701. March 19: NW PA RMEF Banquet, 2 p.m., Cross Creek Resort, Titusville. For more info call Mary Thompson, 814-758-3178.. March 19: Uniontown Izaak Walton League, 5:30 p.m., Uniontown Polish Club, Uniontown. For more info call Dr. Dave Anderson, 724984-3458. March 19: Yellow Creek WTU Banquet, 5 p.m., Chestnut Ridge Resort, Blairsville. For more info call Stick Lawson, 724-479-2754. March 19: NW PA RMEF Banquet, 2 p.m., Cross Creek Resort, Titusville. For more info call Mary Thompson, 814-758-3178. April 2: Northeastern PA Friends of NRA Banquet,

April 17: Finger Lakes Friends of NRA Banquet, 4 p.m., Harbor Hotel, Watlkins Glen, NY. For more info call Toni Dragotta, 607-738-9509.

May 21: Locust Valley WTU Banquet, 4 p.m., Ryan Township Fire Hall, Barnesville. For more info all Dave Morgan, 570-205-2253.


Now-Feb. 27: Hokendauqua TU 8 Week Fly Tying Class, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Sat. Northampton Middle School. For more info call Dale Ott, 610-262-7598. March 4: Hemlock rod & Gun Club, 6 p.m., Eagles Hall, Fairless Hills. For more info call Cal Marshall, 215-946-0113. *** Pennsylvania Game Commission, Hunter-Trapper Ed Classes. Held at Northern Jefferson County District 1-33-1. www.pgc.state.pa.us for more info. March 13: Sigel Sportsmen’s Club, 12:30-4:30 p.m. April 2, June 25: Heritage House, 9-4 p.m. Aug. 13: Sigel Sportsmen’s Club, 9-4 p.m. Aug. 27: Brockway Sportsmen’s Club, 9-4 p.m. Sept. 10: Warsaw Sportsmen’s Club, 9-4 pm. Oct. 23: Heritage House, 9-4 p.m.


Now-Feb. 16: Great American Outdoor Show, Sat. 9-7 p.m., Sun. 10-5 p.m., Mon-Fri. 10-7 p.m., Sat. 9-7 p.m., Sun. 10-5 p.m., PA Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg. www.greatamerican outdoorshow.org for more info. Feb. 17-21: Allegheny Sport Show, Wed. & Thurs. 3-9 p.m., Fri. noon-9 p.m., Sat. 10-9 p.m., Sun. 10-6 p.m., Monroeville Convention Center. Stop by the Outdoor News Booth. www.sportandtravel. com for more info. Feb. 25-28: Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Sport Show, Thurs. & Fri. noon-8 p.m., Sat. 10-7 p.m., Sun. 10-5 p.m., Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, Oaks. Stop by the Outdoor News Booth. www. sportshows.com for more info. Feb. 25-28: Jaffa Sports Show, Thurs. & Fri. noon9 p.m., Sat. 10-9 p.m., Sun. 10-5 p.m., Jaffa Shrine Center. Stop by the Outdoor News Booth. For more info www.jaffashrine.com Feb. 27-28: Gun & Knife Show, Sat. 9-4 p.m., Sun. 9-3 p.m., Sellersville Forrest Lodge VFW. For more info call Jim Davis, 570-640-0144. Feb. 27-28: Heidlersburg Fire Co., Fishing Show & Flea Market. For more info call Earl Wilkinson, 717-253-4175. March 5-6: Hanover Fishing & Hunting Outdoor Show, Sat. 8-3 p.m., Sun. 9-2 p.m., Midway Emergency Services, Hanover. For more info call Robert Casto, 717-515-3274. March 4-6: Erie Outdoor Sport & Travel Expo,

Sun.: HP Rifle, 9 a.m., 1 Sunday a month. Tues. : Air Rifle, 6-8 p.m. Starts second Tuesday in September through last Tuesday in July.

Pennsylvania Outdoor News would like to list your upcoming banquet or event in our Calendar. We need the date, time, place, organization name and a phone number where the public can call for more information and your name and address. E-mail information to paoutdoornews@atlanticbb.net, online:

www.outdoornews.com/pennsylvania or mail to the address below.

Outdoor News will contribute newspapers for distribution at your banquet and free subscriptions to give as door prizes. Mail the information listed above plus the number of newspapers you would like to give out at least four weeks prior to your event to: Pennsylvania Outdoor News, Subscription Services, Attn: Calendar, P.O. Box 1393, Altoona, PA 16603-1393 or fax: (763) 546-5913. Fri. noon-8 p.m., Sat. 10-8 p.m., Sun. 10-5 p.m., Bayfront Convention Center. Stop by the Outdoor News Booth. www.eriepromotions.com for more info. March 5: Lancaster Hunting & Fishing Show & Sale, 9-1 p.m., Lancaster Farm & Home Center. For more info call 717-687-8101 evenings. March 6: Alburtis Boy Scout Troop 86 Spring Sportsman’s Flea Market, 8-2 p.m., Alburtis Area Community Ctr. For more info call 610-966-2195, 6-9 p.m. March 11-13: East Brady Revitalization Assoc. SCC Sport & Outdoor Show, Fri. 4-9 p.m., Sat. 10-6 p.m., Sun. 10-2 p.m., East Brady Community Center. For more info call Brent Saylor, 814-2273784. March 18-20: Central PA Outdoor Show, Clearfield Cty. Fairgrounds, Clearfield. For more info www. centralpaoutdoorshow.com March 19: J&B Sportsmen Hunting & Fishing Shoe & Sale, 9-2 p.m., Clarks Summit United Methodist Church. For more info call 570-587-1302. May 6: North American Trap Collectors Assoc. Antique Trap Show, 7-6 p.m., North Orwell PA Community Hall. For more info call Bruce McCormick, 607-426-6276.

Special Events

Feb. 14: Gilbertsville Fire company Sportsman’s Flea Market, 8-2 p.m., Gilbertsville Fire Co. For more info call Matt Moyer, 610-473-2979. Feb. 28: Delaware River Shad Fisherman’s Assoc., Fishing & Hunting Flea Market. For more info call Bert Kromer, 610-691-8518.

Season Dates Feb. 20: Raccoon and fox season closes. Feb. 21: Fox, coyote, opossum, raccoon, skunk, & weasel trapping season closes. Feb. 21: Coyote & fox cable restraint season closes. Feb. 29: Pheasant season closes in select WMU’s. Feb. 29: Squirrel and rabbit season closes.


April 17: Finger Lakes Friends of NRA Tournament, 4 p.m., Harbor Hotel, Watkins Glen, NY. For more info call Toni Dragotta, 607-738-9509.


1st Sunday: Every Month 3D Shoots 7-noon. *** Irwin Sportsmen Assoc. 995 Oakside Dr. N, Huntingdon, PA. For more info call Mike McCauley, 724-527-3055. April 14, 2016: 2nd & 4th Thurs Pin Shoot. * * * South Birdsboro Archery Rod & Gun Club, 470 Geigertown Rd, Douglassville, PA. For more info call Larry Barr, 610-582-5026. Feb. 27-28, March 26-27: 3D Archery, 7-12:30 p.m. April 3, May 1, June 5, July 3, Aug. 7: 3D Archery, 7-noon. * * * Seltzer Gun Club Shoots. Seltzer Road. For more info call Brian Murray, 570-527-5207. March 13, April 17, May 15, June 26, July 31, Aug. 28, Sept. 18: 3D Archery Shoot, 7-1 p.m. * * * York Archers Inc, 550 Gun Club Rd, York, PA, 17405. For more info call Robin DeVono, 717-8188001 or www.yourkarchersinc@gmail.com Now-March 29: 450 Round Weekly Shoot, 7 p.m. Now-March 31: 600 Round Weekly Shoot, 7 p.m. March 4-6: York Archers Invitational, Fri. 7 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 9-noon. March 36, April 10, May 1, 29, June 26, July 24, Aug. 7, Sept. 11, 25: 3D Shoot, 7-2 p.m. April 23-24: 3D & IBO Qualifier 7-2 p.m. May 15: 900 Round, 9 a.m. June 5, July 17: Field Hunter Round 9-11 a.m. June 12: Target Regional 8 a.m. & 2 p.m. Aug. 27-28: BowHunter Weekend, 7-2 p.m. Nov. 15-Dec. 20: 450 Round Weekly Shoot, 7 p.m. Nov. 17-Dec. 22: 600 Round Weekly Shoot, 7 p.m. Dec. 9-11: Snowball Shoot, Fri. 7 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 9-noon.

Feb. 17: Hokendauqua TU Meeting on What’s New in Fly Fishing Gear, 6:30 p.m., Catasauqua High School Rm C219. For more info call 610262-7598. Stony Creek Anglers meet 2nd Tues. of the Month, Norristown Manner-Chor Club, 7:30 p.m. For more info call Bruce Hexter, 610-420-0219. Pittsburgh Downriggers meets 4th Tues. of each month, 7:30 p.m., Coraopolis Sportsmen’s Club. For more info call Jon Brogley, 412-335-1095. Izaak Walton League of America Greene Co. Chapter meets 3rd Wed. of each month, Greene Co. Country Club Restaurant, 6 p.m. For more info call Ken Dufalla, 724-377-0901. Red Rock Chapter NWTF meets the 3rd Monday of each month, 7 p.m,. Farmers Inn, Shavertown. For more info call 570-825-9744. Blue Mountain Rod & Gun Club, Inc. meets every 3rd Monday night, 7:30 p.m., 105 Rutt Rd, Bangor. Eastern PA. For more info call Bill Goodman, 484-241-6176. Izaak Walton League of America York Chapter #67 meets every 3rd Tues. of each month, 7 p.m. For more info call Don Robertson, 717-873-4171. North Central PA Branch QDMA meets every 2nd Tues. of every month, 7 p.m., Gander Mountain. For more info call Doug Garrison, 570658-4646. Yellow Breeches Anglers & Conservation Assoc. General Meeting, 1st Tues of each month, except Dec., 7th. Directors Meeting 3rd Tues. of the month. For more info call 717-843-4311 ext. 117. SE Montg. Cty TU Chapter meets the 2nd Tues. of each month, 7:30 p.m., Pennypack Visitors Ctr, Huntingdon Valley. For more info call Rich Terry 215-675-1536.

March 6: Stockertown Rod & Gun Swap Meet, 8-noon. For more info call Ron, 610-657-0673. March 20: Bechtelsville Fire Company, Sportsman Flea Market, 8-2 p.m., Bechtelsville Fire Company. For more info call Matt Moyer, 610-473-2979. March 20: Whitney Point Sportsmen’s Assoc. Black Powder Shoot & Flea Market, NY. 8 a.m. For more info call George, 607-692-4843.


April 10, May 8, June 12, July 10, Aug. 14, Sept. 11: Lower Pottsgrove Sportsman’s Assoc. 3D Archery Shoot, reg. 7-11:30 a.m. For more info call Ron Schmoll, 610-326-4575. June 16-19: MRC Sportsman’s Club, MEC Great Northern Side-by-Side Classic, 8 a.m., Medford, WI. For more info call Gary Kapfhamer, 715-965-7613. * * * West Shore Sportsmen’s Association 2013 schedule of Firearms training & other shooting events. 500 Ridge Rd., Lewisberry, PA. For more info, www.shoresportsmen.org or call 717-932-2780.

21 Allow 22 Distress cry 23 Animal or bird limb 24 Bunting or sparrow 26 Where the Ducks play, abbr. 28 Leave 29 Roe (2 words)

10 Internet laughter 11 Glacier formed lakes 13 Escape from a hunter 16 Everglades creature, for short 17 Racks for a buck 20 Girl referred to

* * * Swatara Archers 2015 Schedule of Events. Pine Grove, PA. For more info call 570-345-6254. 3rd Sun. of every month: Archery Shoots, 7-1 p.m. * * * Falls Township Rifle & Pistol Assoc. Shoots. 354 Newbold Road, Morrisville. For more info call Peter Olivieri, 215-584-0015. Sundays: 1st Sunday of every month, 7-11 a.m. * * * Limerick Bowmen, 65 Bragg Road, Schwenksville, PA. For more info call 610-287-8850.

Page 46

March 6: Alburtis Sportsmen’s Flea Market, 8-2 p.m., Alburtis Area Community Center. For more info call 610-966-2195 6-9 p.m.


Across 1 Silently pursue an animal 4 Pond buildup 7 Sea eagle 8 _____- orange tree 9 Stand of trees


Down 1 Sound made by a deer to alarm others 2 Auto insurer with roadside service 3 Boat bottoms 4 They fish with rods and reels 5 Treasure hunting using a GPS 6 Check out 12 They’re used on the inside of lures to create sound 14 Seagrams __ whisky 15 Ground 16 Shout 17 Hard to get close to 18 Compass point, for short 19 Top scout 24 It reduces visibility 25 Atlantic fish 25 Atlantic fish 27 Newport’s state See Answers on Page 43

These city visitors came into town to help themselves to Raoul Rapneth’s bird feeder. His trail cam caught these two in the act just inches from the front porch.

Trail Crossing Photos

Pennsylvania Outdoor News is looking for weird and unusual sightings from our readers. Send it to Trail Camera Photos, c/o Pennsylvania Outdoor News, P.O. Box 1393 • Altoona, PA 16603-1393. *Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you would like your photo returned.


(L to R) Jeff Artman, Bob Artman (father), Sam Artman, Ed Howell (Bob’s nephew), Ed Kruse (neighbor), Bill Artman, all share the memory of an incredible turkey hunt. Photo courtesy of Chad Umbaugh

Share Your Memories

Got a hunting or fishing photo from before 1960? Send it to Remembering, c/o Pennsylvania Outdoor News, P.O. Box 1393 • Altoona, PA 16603-1393. *Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you would like your photo returned.

February 12, 2016


Page 47




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Nearest town�����������������Reading Size���������������������������������� 17 acres Gamefish species present: Stocked trout, bluegills, perch. Features: – A large parking lot is located at the lake’s upper end. – Has plenty of perch, but they run small. – Berks County acquired what amounted to a 20-year agreement on the lake, so it is open to public fishing. – Perhaps because of a lack of cover and structure, trout tend to circulate either around the lake bottom or higher in the water column. For more information: Contact the Fish & Boat Commission’s Southeast Region office in Lancaster at 717-626-0228. How to get there: Lake is east of Reading. From the Boyertown area take Route 73 to Pricetown Road, then take Antietam Road to curve around the lake.







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Tiny Lake Antietam offers big ice fishing for trout By Vic Attardo Contributing Writer

Of all the southeast Pennsylvania lakes I fish, Antietam Lake near Reading has the strangest in-lake man-made structure I’ve ever encountered. Near the end of the lake, close to the dam which sends water down a tall falls into rocky Antietam Creek, is a circular tower rising above the water surface, or ice top, by some two stories. The tower, about the diameter of two parking spaces, is a building which someone can climb down, if they have the mind to, and it is connected to shore by a narrow catwalk elevated to near the top of the tower. We call it, “the wheel house.” While I have always been fascinated by this structure, so apparently are Antietam’s fish, particularly during ice times, as anglers often catch the lake’s stocked trout not far from its rounded bricks. Antietam, in Berks County, is only 17 acres but it still fishes big. I’ve seen as many

as 25 ice anglers on its near circular waters on a Saturday or Sunday, and still there is enough tip-up room. Basically that’s because Antietam is a large bowl with only the upper end, near the parking lot, being too shallow for good ice fishing. Yet there’s not one spot on the lake that’s really more advantageous than another, not even the tower area. Looking at the high rock that surrounds much of Antietam, you’d think that the lake’s sidewall construction and bottom would be rocky, but that’s not the case. The bottom of this bowl consists of sand and silt, very little structure down below. What this all means is that the fish inhabiting Antietam don’t have real hiding places. Instead they tend to circulate either around the lake bottom or higher in the water column. This holds particularly true for the real ice star of Antietam, its stocked trout. Antietam is generously stocked throughout the

year and then again in winter. The result is that the lake holds a good number of trout for the ice angler. Indeed, this is what attracts most of the anglers who fish the frozen water. The lake also has an array of panfish, mostly bluegills and yellow perch, but they are not particularly large or plentiful enough to make them an exciting target. The trout are the real story. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Last winter I talked on the ice to Tom Bradley, of Landisville. When we spoke, he already had a nice pair of stockies which he had taken in about 20 feet of water with waxworms. Bradley has fished Antietam for some 10 years. “This is a consistently good lake,” he said joyfully. “They are plenty of perch, though there’re small, and there’s good trout.” The fact that Bradley caught his trout in 20 feet of water should not sway you into always fishing deepwater baits at Antietam.

Indeed, because the trout circulate around the bowl, and at different water levels, I like to stagger my bait depths between 7 feet and a foot above the bottom, whatever that bottom might be. I usually put out four tipups, or stationary jigging sticks, at 7, 12, 15 feet and lower, then work one jigging stick through all those depths until some cooperative trout hopefully shows me at what level I should really be fishing. On bright days, I actually tend to come up shallower particularly in the midafternoon when the lake is coming to life. On cloudier days, I will hang more baits on the lower levels because the trout often aren’t as active. Yet, I’ve seen complete reversals of this scenario on Antietam, and these flipflops are what make this lake a real challenge. February can be brutally cold near Reading, but another reason I like ice fishing Antietam Lake is that it’s somewhat sheltered. The

high rocks and trees tend to block some of the wind. There have been days when I’ve left nearby Lake Ontelaunee because I couldn’t stand the chill and found a few hours of respite and good fishing at Antietam. Then again, with the sun sinking behind the steeper hills, the day can end early here. Plan accordingly. Antietam Lake is located east of Reading. From the Boyertown area take Route 73 to Pricetown Road, then take Antietam Road to curve around the lake. A large parking lot is located at the upper end. Don’t be put off by all the cars in the lot, this is a good hiking area and many of the folks stopping there are just out for a stroll with their dogs and not ice fishing. There had been talk that Antietam would go private but Berks County acquired what amounted to a 20-year agreement on the property, so public fishing is open for now, and hopefully will always remain that way.

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Pennsylvania Outdoor News - February 12th, 2016  

Pennsylvania Outdoor News - February 12th, 2016