Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fall Turkey in Pa


Fall season begins Nov. 2 in most parts of state, season lengths vary by WMU.
Turkey hunters preparing to head afield during Pennsylvania’s annual fall season are urged to review the opening and closing dates that apply within the Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) they hunt.

The fall season has been lengthened by a week in some WMUs, and shortened by a week in others. Additionally, a WMU might have a later opening date, a weeklong or shorter season, or could be closed to fall turkey hunting altogether.
“Different sets of rules apply to different areas, and in a lot of areas, season lengths have changed this year,” said Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe. “Now is the time for hunters to check and make sure the season lengths in areas they hunt haven’t changed.”
In most of the state, the fall turkey season opens Saturday, Nov. 2. There are exceptions, however.  In WMU 5A, a three-day season begins Tuesday, Nov. 5.  Meanwhile, WMUs 5B, 5C and 5D remain closed to fall turkey hunting.
The fall turkey season dates are outlined on page 35 of the 2013-14 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest that is issued at the time hunters by their licenses. Those seasons are as follows: WMU 1BNov. 2 to 9, and Nov. 28 to 30; WMU 2B (shotgun and archery only) – Nov. 2 to 22, and Nov. 28 to 30; WMUs 1A, 2A, 2D, 2F, 2G and 2HNov. 2 to 16, and Nov. 28 to 30; WMUs 2C, 2E, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4ENov. 2 to 22, and Nov. 28 to 30; and WMU 5ANov. 5 to 7.

In all, the season length is changing in nine WMUs this year.  The changes in eight of those WMUs are due to an ongoing study to determine how the length of the fall season affects the female turkey harvest. The Game Commission in the past two years has monitored two separate study areas, and with that data now collected, the study requires the season length in both study areas be changed.
In WMUs 2F, 2G and 2H, that means shortening the season from three weeks to two weeks. Meanwhile, the season will be lengthened from two weeks to three weeks in WMUs 2C, 2E, 4A, 4B and 4D.  Game Commission wild turkey biologist Mary Jo Casalena explained the changes.
“By switching season lengths between study areas, we can attempt to answer the question of whether the harvest gained by adding an extra week to a two-week season exceeds a sustainable level of harvest,” Casalena said. “Ultimately, results from this study will allow us to provide the longest fall seasons without overharvesting hen wild turkeys.”
This season marks the third year of the four-year study, and hunters can expect season length within the study areas this year to remain the same during the study’s final year in 2014.
Aside from the changes within study areas, the fall turkey season also is being shortened from two weeks to one week in WMU 1B due to a precipitous decline in the turkey population locally. The three-day Thanksgiving season remains in place there, as it does in most other parts of the state.
Fall turkey forecast

Casalena said turkey hunters are likely to see more turkeys afield this fall due to two factors.  There was above-average nest success this summer, which produced more young turkeys statewide, additionally, acorn crops are spotty this year, and turkey flocks tend to concentrate around available food sources, she said.
The above-average summer reproduction mainly was due to dry and warm weather conditions during the peak of hatching in early June. Casalena said this nest success was a welcome relief for wild turkey populations, since summer reproduction had been below-average for the previous four years.  Still, summer populations varied considerably by WMU, as is typical for wild turkey reproduction.
Although springtime wild turkey populations were still lower than their record highs in 2001, when the state population was about 280,000 turkeys, this spring’s population of about 186,000 birds was similar to the last two years, rebounding from its low in 2010 of 182,000.
Casalena said locating a flock is only part of the hunt. Properly setting up and bringing a turkey within range is another challenge that makes turkey hunting both tricky and enjoyable.
Overall, Casalena said she anticipates turkey hunters to enjoy success rates similar to or even higher than last year, when 12 percent of fall turkey hunters harvested turkeys. That success rate was a slight improvement from the previous three years, when the success rate was 11 percent.
The final 2012 fall harvest was 14,704, similar to 2011 but 5 percent lower than the previous three-year average.  Hunter success has been as high as 21 percent (2001, a year with excellent recruitment), and as low as 4 percent (1979).
Casalena said spring season harvests (not including harvests from the special turkey license that allows hunters to harvest a second bird) totaled 32,602, slightly down from 33,597 in 2012, but 12 percent lower than the previous 10-year average (37,229). Hunter success, 15 percent, was similar to last year due to a small decrease in the number of spring turkey hunters, and was slightly lower than the previous 10-year average, 16 percent.
Even though spring harvests were down from the record 49,200 in 2001, Pennsylvania hunters have consistently maintained spring harvests above 30,000 bearded turkeys since 1995, exceeding most other states in the nation.
Leg-banded turkeys
Casalena also reminds hunters to report any leg-banded or radio-transmittered turkeys they harvest or find. Leg bands and transmitters are stamped with a toll-free number to call, and provide important information for the research project being conducted in partnership with the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State University, with funding from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Pennsylvania Chapter of NWTF, she said.
“These turkeys are legal to harvest and the information provided will help determine turkey survival and harvest rates, Casalena said.  Rewards for reporting marked turkeys are made possible by donations from the National Wild Turkey Federation, she said.
Fluorescent orange requirements
In most parts of the state, hunters participating in the fall turkey season are required, while moving, to wear at least 250 inches of fluorescent orange on the head, chest and back combined. Orange must be visible from 360 degrees.
Hunters may remove their orange once in a stationary location, providing that a minimum of 100 square inches of fluorescent orange is posted within 15 feet of the location and is visible from 360 degrees.
In WMU 2B, which is open to shotgun and archery hunting only during the fall turkey season, turkey hunters, while moving, must wear a hat containing at least 100 square inches of solid fluorescent orange material, visible from 360 degrees. While fluorescent orange is not required at stationary locations in WMU 2B, it is strongly recommended.
Archery hunters who are hunting either deer or bear during the overlap with fall turkey season also must wear a fluorescent orange hat at all times when moving. The hat must contain at least 100 square inches of solid, fluorescent orange, visible from 360 degrees, and may be removed once in a stationary location.
Illustrations and a chart listing fluorescent orange requirements for different hunting seasons can be found on pages 68 to 70 of the 2013-14 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Steelhead Fishing

Congratulations to my brother John on two nice steelhead !  Way to go brother, fish and deer fear you.  Good luck turkey hunting Saturday with your crossbow.

Pa Hunters Sharing the Harvest

If you are looking to donate your harvest this year, you can find out where here at Hunters Sharing the harvest .  It's always good to share with others

Monday, October 28, 2013

Steel Trigger Finger

My friend Ed made this steel trigger pull for a trap shooter he knows.  The shooter is a quadriplegic with good arm movement and this should make it  easier for him to pull the trigger on his shotgun.

The steel trigger will be tapped onto his finger and he should be good to go.  Ed is a true inventor and I am so thankful for all he does for hunters with disabilities! 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

State Senate Approves Bills to Provide Reduced-Fee Hunting & Fishing Licenses to Disabled Veterans

October 22, 2013
HARRISBURG – The State Senate has unanimously approved legislation to offer disabled Pennsylvania veterans reduced-fee hunting & fishing licenses, according to Senators Joe Scarnati (R-25) and Lisa Baker (R-20).

Senate Bill 1102, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, would reduce the cost of fishing licenses for disabled veterans to $1 for an annual license.

Senate Bill 1090, authored by Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee Chairwoman Lisa Baker, would reduce the cost of hunting licenses for disabled veterans to $1 for an annual license.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Shoot Fast or Shoot Last

The Reaper Crew has the right idea and I hear they make great duck calls.  I'm hoping to introduce the Grim Reaper to a monster Buck very soon...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Colder Weather Archery

Colder weather is moving into the area and hopefully that translates into big Bucks moving early.  I have been seeing small groups of Doe's but not many Bucks.

Hunters are the ultimate optimists.  We're always hoping for a mature whitetail buck to stop by our tree stand or ground blind and present a shot.

It's time to break out the heavy duty clothing from last season and start gearing up for the rut....

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Zippo Rugged Lantern

I recently received the Rugged Lantern from Zippo and love it.  It's a rechargeable LED Lantern that I can operate myself and that's unusual for a quadriplegic. 

You can read my full review over at Wild Jaeger .  If you are a person with a disability or know someone with dexterity issues, this light would be a great choice for the home emergency kit.  It's not just a great camping light.

It's simple, durable and very bright. and thanks to the strap handle, my service dog Misty can retrieve it for me.  Thank you Zippo for making a product that works for everyone, its well thought out and easy to operate.  The next time my power goes out I will not be sitting in my wheelchair in the dark, all I have to do is push one button.


I usually have my facemask off for pictures but it is very important to wear it while hunting.  Deer will spot you every time on the ground without a facemask.  A human head and shoulder profile will spook a game animal quickly.  If you can wear gloves as well, I recommend that too.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Clean Miss

I was hunting on Saturday and missed a doe around 3PM.  It was a clean miss, I shot behind her.  The Lumenok bolts make it easy to see my mistake.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Making Plans

I am making plans to hunt this ground blind this weekend.  The last time I was in it, I had this buck at 20 yards but it was doe season only.  Lets see if he or one of his big brother's gives me a shot.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Great Morning Hunting

It was a beautiful morning on Saturday, sitting in the Darkwoods Ground Blind.  I watched the sun come up on the first day of the Pennsylvania archery season opener on my birthday.
I was hoping for a buck to walk by nice and slow as a birthday present, but it was not to be.  

 Instead I had three turkeys in front of the blind for at least 15 minutes.  Hopefully these turkeys bring friends (Gobblers) along with them in November when I can tag them.
This hen was at 25 yards, in my scope for 20 seconds!  I swear they can read the hunting regulations and know when fall turkey season starts.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fairbank R & G, Wounded Warrior, Pheasant Hunt 9/28/2013


On Saturday, September 28th, I was hunting with the Western Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors and the members of Fairbank rod and gun club.  This is the third consecutive year for the pheasant hunt and it was a beautiful day.

I was lucky to harvest a pheasant who flew across my shooting zone.  I took several shots at birds and missed.  I can't begin to tell you how exciting it is for me to take a rooster. Please watch the video

The pheasants were moving very fast, I was not the only shooter who missed a few birds.  It's not about being successful on every shot, its about hunting again with friends and family.

I was using a new bite trigger system that my friend Ed designed specifically for this pheasant hunt.  It worked out extremely well and was easy to use.  It always amazes me what he can manufacture at his workbench in his basement.

Thank you to all the volunteers who came out and made this day possible.  I really appreciate all the work and planning that takes place to make this event enjoyable and safe for hunters with disabilities.  A big thank you goes out to Rambo the retriever for finding my bird and bringing it to me!