Foods for wildlife look promising across Pennsylvania
Took a hike with a friend of mine the other day to scout some managed dove fields the Pennsylvania Game Commission had readied for the opening of dove season.
We headed to spacious State Game Land 280, which surrounds much of Blue Marsh Lake in Berks County. Along with my friend’s springer spaniel, the two of us slung our shotguns over our shoulders and started walking toward some of the prepared spots the Game Commission had outlined on the map they have listed on the Internet.
A mostly uphill walk took us to great dove-loving areas of thick pines for roosting, foxtail and sunflower fields and ample strips of chisel-chopped ground that provided all the grit a dove could ever want.
The springer certainly enjoyed the trek as she able to head in and out of standing corn, thick grassy underbrush and low-hanging limbs of hedgerow shrubs, seeking scent of any wild bird. Unfortunately, she only had one opportunity to retrieve a dove as only a handful of birds were spotted with a single shot fired.
That was a bit disappointing, but the walk of a couple miles was the needed exercise that was beneficial for the three of us. That, and the additional observations we were able to make.
We were capable to make note of ample deer sign most places we walked. We also saw the presence of an abundance of food wildlife living in the game land will have access to through fall and winter. The photo included here is of the acorn drop from one huge red oak that sits along a dirt lane deep in the game land.
I can’t begin to describe the amount of full, ripe acorns that are spilled by that tree along this spot, but the rather small area in the photo full of these nuts is representative of a large area where the limbs of the tree are able to reach and deposit their fruit.
Of course on just about every game land across Pennsylvania there are many other foods that the creatures living there have available for gathering nourishment to see them through the hard times of coming cold, ice and snow. Besides the standing corn and fields of grasses, there are plentiful berries, walnuts, other nuts and various leaves and underbrush available. Since many game lands cover areas that were once old farms, apple and some pear trees still produce fruit.
This past spring when turkey hunting in Tioga County, I traveled through vast areas of state game lands and state forest, and everywhere I went were apple trees just loaded with blooming flowers, certain to now have apples for wild things.
Talking with friends from across the state, I hear that there seems to be an abundance of acorns in hunting places they visit near their homes. This speaks well for deer and turkeys if they’re not required to visit spotty food sources, being free to roam from area to area. In large areas of wooded public hunting land, this will make hunting a bit more difficult because patterning food spots will not be easy.
Friends have also told me of other foods they have seen such as witch-hazel, forbs, other nuts and various berries that look abundant right now, and will be in the near future.
Considering wild animals beyond hunting for them, good cover and abundant food where they live always brings a smile to my face. It should be to any true hunter.