If you’re a bird lover, you may know that Dec. 14 was the start of the 118th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count that runs until Jan. 5. The count is one of the longest-running citizen science projects in the country and world. It provides important data for scientists but it’s a great time for folks to participate and collect the number of birds and species in wintering locations in the country.
It’s that time of year when relatives and friends want to treat sportsmen and sportswomen with holiday gifts. These folks are the toughest to buy for as many items are personal be it equipment or clothing. As such, here’s a few universal things to consider that should delight these special folks.
FISHING: A 2018 fishing license would be a welcome gift for anyone. Shoppers who don’t wish to visit a local tackle shop to buy one, merely go to GoneFishingPa.com where a one, three, five or 10-year licenses can be purchased online.
We’ve all heard the phrase “Go West Young Man,” words written back in 1861 by John B.L. Soule. The phrase came to symbolize the idea that agriculture could solve many of the nation’s problems of poverty and unemployment characteristic of the big cities of the East.
But for Jules Fruhwirth of Emmaus and eight of his buddies, the phrase means heading to Nebraska for big white-tailed deer and huge mule deer. The latter duo are predominantly a plains pursuit that differs immensely from hunting in Pennsylvania.
As tradition has it, the days after Thanksgiving have normally seen the opening of local ski areas. Thanks to some below freezing nights of snowmaking, Blue Mountain Resort in Palmerton had its earliest opening in years on Black Friday. They were able to open five slopes serviced by three lifts.
This opening also signals a milestone for this Carbon County resort. Blue Mountain is beginning the season celebrating its 40th anniversary on December 22, 2017. It’s a local ski/boarding area that many learned to ski and board there. Count my family and I as some of them.
The traditional after Thanksgiving firearms deer hunting season opener (Monday, Nov. 27) has, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), the largest turnout of hunters who harvest about a quarter of the season’s bucks. But the agency says this season has the potential of seeing a buck harvest increase for the third straight year.
The reasoning behind this, says PGC Executive Director Bryan Burhans, is due to last year’s massive acorn crop and mild winter that paved the way for big bucks to get bigger and for more young bucks to grow into legal racks.
With colder weather oncoming many boaters and paddlers pack it in for the winter. But there are those who don’t let the cold bother them and continue to fish and paddle throughout the winter months. For those die-hards, BoatUS, the organization representing the boating sports, has these suggestions if going on-water during cold times, or even on warm winter days.
This past Saturday kicked off the fall turkey hunting season in most parts of the state. The exclusion is in local WMUs 5C and 5D which haven’t been opened for fall turkey in some time. And depending on where you hunt, the game commission recommends checking season dates as their lengths are different in some management units and a handful changed this year. This is due to declining population trends and the results of an agency study that showed the longer fall season, the higher the female turkey harvest, which affects spring populations.
Grouse season opened Saturday to little fanfare. Unlike pheasant season, with stocked birds that are essentially a put and take situation, our state bird remains a truly wild game bird and are the toughest to hunt.
Of late, their numbers are diminishing primarily because of a loss of habitat and disease promoted by West Nile virus. They’re not over-hunted because these beautiful birds inhabit rugged terrain that some hunters don’t relish trekking through. And those who do, a good hunting dog can do much of the brush kicking work for these fast flyers.
Upland hunters will experience some changes when the statewide season for pheasants opens Oct. 21.
This past Saturday (Oct. 7) the season opened for junior hunters, giving them first shot at a pheasant before the regular season opens.
The statewide archery hunting season kicked off this past Saturday (Sept. 30) for antlered and antlerless deer for the season that continues until Nov. 11. Then there’s the late archery season that starts up again Dec. 26 and runs until Jan. 13.
For sportsmen who hunt in WMU’s 2B, 5C and 5D, they can hunt both buck and doe from Dec. 26 through Jan. 28.