Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Notes off a soiled cuff: Thoughts on poachers, license sales and deer opener

– We could have labeled this “The Special Poaching Edition,” because we have inside two of the most troubling stories about alleged serial poachers we have ever published.

One seemingly specialized in illegally killing deer; the other turkeys. Makes you wonder how many guys like this are out there …

– One of the continuing realities of life in our state the last few years is that businesses can’t attract enough workers to provide full service and in some cases even survive.

That reason isn’t mentioned in our Page 1 story about deer processors
struggling to handle their business. But that has to be part of the
problem. Butchering is hard work and few want to do it.

If you are interested, read “‘A Dying Art’: Pennsylvania Deer Processors Face Marathon Days as Hunting Season Heats Up,” at

– Writing this at the end of the opening weekend of rifle deer season,
just heard from a third friend about their hunting in different parts of
the state. For what it’s worth, each of them – all very experienced
hunters – said about the same thing:

“Yesterday was the least amount of shooting I’ve ever heard for the first day of
rifle,” one wrote. “Friends of mine think lower number of hunters,
combined with crossbow and vertical bow kills increasing, equate with
less shooting. It has been a steady decrease in shots heard for many
years now.”

– There has been a lot of talk nationally about fishing license sales benefiting
from the “pandemic effect.” So I asked Mike Parker, Fish & Boat
Commission communications director, to describe Pennsylvania’s license
sales picture. Here is what he said:

“While 2021 sales were lower than 2020, they were higher than any year from
2009 to 2019. Excluding 2020, the last time we sold more than in 2021
was in 2009.”

According to Parker, sales in 2020 were up more than 20% compared to 2019
(157,000). Sales in 2021 were down 7.3% compared to 2020, however 2021
sales were up 11.4% compared to 2019 (89,000 licenses). And 2021 sales
are higher than in 2018.

“The year 2020 was an anomaly, and while some gains made in 2020 were lost
in 2021, sales in 2021 and 2022 to date are greater than 2019,” Parker
said. “We are not below 2019, and have to go back to 2009 to find a year
when we sold more.”

– Outdoors writer Paul Volkmann, of Latrobe, tells us when he received
word of dead trout in Keystone State Park Lake back in October after
they were first stocked, he contacted the Fish & Boat Commission to
find out why. He was told the fish were dying from spawning stress

Volkmann reports that Dave Miko, chief of the commission’s division fisheries
management, confided that the die-off is a yearly ritual at Keystone
State Park Lake.

– The idea that we can vaccinate goshawks in the wild against a deadly
disease is kinda mind-boggling, isn’t it? (See story on Page 1). But
knowing the reason is that there are so few of the birds left in
Pennsylvania is sobering.

Mass vaccinations with bait in the wild have been tried with some success to
slow the spread of rabies in raccoons, but otherwise are seen as

– A reader noted that he learned a lot from Charlie Burchfield’s elk history
article in the last issue, but pointed out an important omission.

“The story didn’t mention that Centre County is part of the elk range – over
10% of the herd lives in Centre County, with elk spotted as far south
as Yarnell in Marsh Creek Valley.”

– The online dictionary Merriam-Webster chose “gaslighting” – which it
defines as “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially
for one’s own advantage” – as its top word of 2022 because it has
become the “favored word for the perception of deception.” … We would
never try to gaslight you here!

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