Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Notes off a soiled cuff with Jeff Mulhollem

Looking back over a career, if one is honest, there are things that are cringe-worthy, and our story about the comeback of Nine Mile Run in Pittsburgh reminds me of one.

A young reporter for the Altoona Mirror accompanied an electro-fishing team looking for signs of life in the headwaters of the terribly polluted Juniata River in the very early 1980s, and the federal scientist who allowed him to be there made an “off the record” comment.

“There are more shopping carts than living organisms in this stream,” he said. “But don’t quote me on that.”

When I wrote the story, I included his quote – “it was just too good to leave out,” I reasoned at
the time – and besides, I didn’t think I’d ever have to deal with anyone
at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency again. So I burned him.
Shame on me – seriously!

To this day, it remains my worst journalistic transgression.

The brave new world of hunting came into focus for me recently during
the third period of a Penn State hockey game. The young guy sitting
beside me – who had spent most of that day in the Clinton County woods
without seeing a deer – was staring at his phone.

Time was winding down in a tense tie game against despised Ohio State, we go
on a power play … and he’s not watching the puck! He’s engrossed in
his phone, shaking his head and cursing quietly.

I couldn’t stand it. “What are you looking at?”

His trailcam was sending him messages with images taken of bigracked bucks
walking by his deer stand in the dark. The last one – a 12-point –
almost sent him over the edge.

Turns out he didn’t see any shooter bucks in daylight during the season.
Maybe he’ll run into one after Christmas with his crossbow.

From bucks to does … proof that good mothers are important … A study
at Auburn University with 13 years of data found that 47% of does in
the herd at its research facility produced 75% of all fawns that
survived to six months of age. The findings suggest that a small
percentage of does are naturally gifted mothers responsible for the
majority of fawn recruitment.

But they can’t be helicopter mothers, hovering over their offspring at
night. A Clemson University study found that fawns that survived their
first 21 days tended to have mothers that didn’t visit them at night,
when coyotes are more active. If the does visited after dark, it
dramatically increased their fawns’ chances of dying.

From deer to guns and ammunition, Southwick Associates recently released
its assessment of the gun industry outlook for 2023, and it is
predicting firearms and accessories sales will drop back to near 2017
levels next year.

that one factor influencing sales will be whether a recession occurs,
because personal safety concerns grow with rising crime commonly
associated with recessions. Crime is already high and growing; the jury
is still out on the economy.

Last spring when U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists discovered
invasive silver carp eDNA in Presque Isle Bay, a Pennsylvania Fish &
Boat Commission source likened the finding to an ultra-expensive
chemistry project.

Now that the bay was retested and no more signs of invasive carp were
detected, it does seem a bit silly (see story, Page 1). If it was not a
false positive, it was likely from the poop of a bird passing through.
But the feds paid for the tests, as they do for tests all over the Great
Lakes region, and it certainly would not be a joke if silver or other
invasive Asian carp became established in Lake Erie.

Our state gained a bit of power in the recent changeover in control of
the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Republican Steering
Committee elected Cong. Glenn “GT” Thompson, Pennsylvania, 15th
District, as chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture for the
118th Congress.

Thompson will be the first chairman from Pennsylvania in nearly 170 years, and
as such he will preside over development of the federal Farm Bill. Its
Conservation Title has a huge impact on the outdoors.

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