PenBlogs

Big-money outdoor sports contests and the polygraph

During my writing career, I have covered many hunting and fishing contests.  The events are certainly exciting and draw large crowds. However, without fail, grumblings and accusations about some type of foul play are heard at every contest. The organizers must attempt to prevent and deal with suspected cheating. It is not an easy job.Take something as traditional and sporting…

CWD in PA: a question of when, not if

A prediction made by two Pennsylvania Game Commission officials recently is extremely alarming. One official – PGC wildlife veterinarian Dr. Walter Cottrell – said in a story that appeared in Pennsylvania Outdoors News that it's probable that chronic wasting disease is either already in the state or it's only a matter of time before it arrives. Cottrell's remark was made…

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania

I don’t think the Sunday-hunting ban will be lifted here, no matter how much money and resources national groups such as the National Shooting Sports Foundation or the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance pour into our state. And they say their campaign is starting now. Because right or wrong, Sunday hunting looks like it has become a partisan issue in Pennsylvania. Republicans…

Misplaced Anger

One month ago, in a 22-page decision, Commonwealth Court dismissed the lawsuit filed against the Pennsylvania Game Commission by the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania.  The lawsuit had claimed that the agency was using fraudulent science to manage deer. It also alleged that the deer herd was not being managed in the best interests of hunters or the deer themselves. This…

John Arway is right: Pa. should charge for use of water

I heard a story this week related to the Marcellus natural-gas play that is disturbing. Not illegal or perhaps even unethical, mind you, but troubling all the same. And it illustrates a problem our commonwealth is ignoring.It seems a long-ago established and successful central Pennsylvania trucking company, which is located on the bank of a well-known creek — that is…

Winter Trout

Since New Year’s Day, I have been anxious to do some winter trout fishing, but central Pennsylvania has had a colder than average winter. Any remotely possible weather day just never suited my schedule. Finally, on Feb. 16, we had a day with great potential for winter trout fishing.Freestone or limestone stream  — there wasn’t really a choice. Bald Eagle…

On Sunday Hunting and Mixed Signals from NRA

It makes me leery that the National Rifle Association is among a group of national organizations pushing for the implementation of Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania and the 10 other states where it is either prohibited or limited.  Why?Because this is the same organization that so vehemently opposed state Rep. Ed Staback’s anti-poaching bill – the one that is currently sending…

Doe Season Length & Structure

One oft-debated “Deer Wars” topic here in Pennsylvania is the length and timing of antlerless deer season. Hunter views run the gamut from supporting 12 days of concurrent buck and doe season, favoring 7 or fewer days of concurrent, to 1 to 3 days following buck season or just being against doe season entirely.  I began hunting during the era of…

Boop’s Pain

Hunting, fishing and just getting out is the fun part of this job, but unfortunately many of the decisions that greatly affect our favorite sports are made in meetings. One such event was the Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 PA Game Commission meeting in Harrisburg. The official news releases tell everyone what happened – a longer bear season, altered turkey seasons,…

Not everyone loves no-kill bass regs on troubled Susquehanna River

Maybe it's just me. For the last several years I have been thinking a lot about the implications of anglers hooking and temporarily removing spawning bass from beds and making their eggs and fry vulnerable to predators such as bluegills. My son is currently conducting research with largemouth bass at the University of Illinois on the question, involving bass and…

New 2011 Hunting Regs Worth Looking Forward To

I’m looking forward to hunting turkeys in the fall again.  Not that I don’t look forward to the fall turkey season every year, but after experiencing the new split season that was in place for 2010, it was hard to get excited for a repeat in 2011.Why?Two reasons: The fact that the season started a week later and a Saturday…

Are coyotes keeping deer numbers low in state?

As deer numbers continue to be low on the vast public lands in the state‘s northern tier, and even in many places south of Interstate 80, hunters search for reasons why. They keep coming back to coyotes. Even though the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s deer biologists have consistently claimed that coyote predation on fawns is not increasing, according to their data,…

Game Laws Need Even Bigger Teeth

When an Allegheny County man was sentenced to jail last week for poaching, the case set an important precedent. And it also exposed a serious shortcoming in the law. According to a Pennsylvania Game Commission release, Anthony Mark Marasco was sentenced to two 90-day concurrent prison sentences and ordered to pay more than $4,750 in fines after being convicted of…

Fish Consumption Advisories: Sign of the Times

Every time the state issues the list, I cringe.The latest one came out earlier this month – an updated fish consumption advisory for 2011, and it tells us which waterways are basically contaminated to the point that we have to limit how often, and how much, we can eat fish from those waters.It’s a sad reflection on just how much…

Dismantling the PGC deer program – piece by piece

We are only about a week away from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Board of Commissioner’s meeting, which will be held in Harrisburg, Jan. 30 – Feb. 1. This is the meeting where commissioners will give preliminary approval to the seasons & bag limits for the coming hunting seasons.  As always, the big topic will be deer. Last year at this…

Chesapeake Bay nutrient imbalance must be addressed

The problem plaguing the Chesapeake Bay is widely known and obvious, according to a crops and soils expert in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. But after decades of trying to save the famous estuary by spending billions of dollars on pollution-control measures, we have made a lot of progress but still have a long way to go to solve…

Christmas 2010 Bird Count

Some hunters and anglers miss the boat when they are unwilling to participate in other non-hunting or non-fishing outdoor activities.  In early January, my daughter, her husband, and I were part of the Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count.  The Pennsylvania Game Commission encourages participation. It was our third year. We have an assigned territory within the Bald Eagle State Park…

Famous Benezette town bull dead

One of the most famous residents in Pennsylvania’s northcentral region died Jan. 7, but you may not have seen an obituary. That’s because he was an elk. Nicknamed “Freddy” by local residents and wearing Game Commission research collar #36, the big bull has hung out in and around the Elk County village of Benezette for 18 years… You read that…

Watching the deer and wondering

I recently had the opportunity to observe a group of deer feeding undisturbed through the forest.  I watched these deer for nearly an hour as they meandered here and there. I’m always interested in what the deer are eating, and as a hunter, you should be, too.Our acorns are long gone. As I observed with binoculars, the deer reached high…