Now that all major hunting seasons are over, there’s still coyotes to pursue and they can be a challenge for even experienced hunters.
Coyotes are notoriously wary and difficult to call in as that’s the popular way to hunt them. The folks at Convergent Hunting, a Texas-based game call manufacturer that makes everything from mouth and hand calls to smartphone-controlled calls and decoys, say that successfully calling-in one of these critters provides an adrenaline rush that can fetch a few dollars for their pelts.
Convergent says that calling in a coyote presents a real challenge to a hunter of any skill level, especially those new to the sport. Convergent offers some tips to help get the most out of your next hunt for these “yotes” as they’re called, and who kill fawns, birds, rabbits and pets among other prey.
My son once related a story to me where his buddy shot a spring gobbler in Berks County and before he could retrieve it, a coyote ran up, grabbed it and ran off with his bird. Seems they’re also opportunists.
Convergent Hunting offers these tips that could help coyote hunters be successful.
First tip, don’t give away a free education. They claim that with many new and inexperienced hunters heading afield, it’s common to see older, cheaper calls getting airtime in the coyote fields. The result is a highly call-literate population making these wary critters even more challenging to call into shooting range. A call with poor sound quality, is a way to give coyotes a free education.
Second tip, stick to the basics. Instead of getting fancy with exotic call patterns and advanced hunting strategies, the best way to improve your coyote hunting game is to drill on the fundamentals. This includes setting up appropriately for wind direction, maintaining concealment and mastering the use of a good electronic call with a few high-quality sounds, A premium electronic call helps newbies, in particular, and hunters of all experience levels to produce the most consistent calls.
Third tip, use better calls to produce better, more realistic sounds. Many older electronic calls typically feature a horn-style speaker sound and run off AA batteries, neither of which is ideal for creating quality sound claim Convergent.
Now may be a good time to try this sport if you haven’t already as litters of from 5-7 coyote pups are born from mid-April to early May and they need to be fed. As such, their parents are out looking for food in daytime hours even though coyotes are mainly nocturnal feeders.
While coyotes have adapted to a wide variety of habitats, including in the city of Allentown where one resident posted a photo of one on a community website walking down the street in the West End. They’ve also been seen in the Stiles, Egypt, Ruchsville, Orefield and Salisbury Township areas. And a buddy used to trap them at the rear of Cedarbrook Nursing Home. But they’re typically found in heavily forested, dairy and cropland areas. Coyotes prefer heavy brushy cover such as clear-cuts (a good place to hunt) and along edges between forest and agricultural areas where prey is abundant.
Most importantly, pay attention to wind direction as yotes have a ultra-keen sense of smell.
Since the inseason trout stockings are over until fall, now may be a good time to head to the Jersey shore for some big fish like stripers and good eating fluke.
According to our fishing reporters from On the Water Magazine, the striper bite in Jersey rivers, bays and surf is good. They report some very big fish are falling for clams on the beaches, especially to the south.
Rick Hebert, at Tackle World in Rochelle Park, said stripers are hitting with regularity in Raritan Bay and anglers are throwing 2 and 3-ounce Mojos, plugs and shads and flutter spoons.
Mike Pinto, at Giglio’s Bait & Tackle in Sea Bright, reports striper fishing remains good in both the Shrewsbury and Naversink Rivers with anglers luring them with bucktails, shads and especially Savage Shads. More bass are showing up on the beaches and hitting clams, worms and paddle tails. He added that fluke are also biting in the rivers but could be a little spotty.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch, said there are lots of bass in Raritan Bay and the rivers, however they are a little more scattered.
Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, reports the opening sea bass season saw some nice fish being caught and there’s good fluking as well in Shark River. The striper bite in local waters has the Belmar Marina bustling with action. He said more stripers are showing up in the local surf with clams, worms and bunker chunks all catching fish.
Pete Kupper, at Charlie’s Bait & Tackle in Normandy Beach, is receiving good striper reports from the surf with bass eating fresh clams, SP Minnows and metal-lipped swimmers. He goes on to say the back bay is holding plenty of bass with the evening into the night offering the best time to fish. Plus, an occasional weakfish is turning up with shads and small plugs luring them to hook.
Ray Kerico, at Grump’s Bait & Tackle in Seaside Park, said the beach fishing for stripers is outstanding with big fish being caught almost entirely on clams. He happily adds that anglers are having difficulty finding slot fish as many of the bass are now over 40 inches. Fluking too has been good in Barnegat Bay as is blue fishing that are in the 10-pound range.
Jason Szabo at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach, reports stripers are in the Manasquan River at the Route 35 and 70 bridges and in Point Pleasant Canal. Fluking there is also on the uptick for anglers using light jig heads tipped with Gulp bait and squid strips. A few weakfish and blues have also arrived.
WHITEHALL FREE KIDS FISHING DERBY SET
As a reminder, the annual Whitehall Township Fishing Derby for youngsters is scheduled for Saturday, May 28, at Hokey Park on Lehigh Street in Hokendauqua. Registration is from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. prior to the contest casting off at 9 a.m. The contest runs until 12 noon.
According to Michele Dragovits, Whitehall Township Secretary, over 100 trout will be stocked in the Hokey Creek the morning of the contest. First, second and third place prizes will be awarded in four age groups of 6 and under, 7-8, 10-12 and 13-15. Plus, there will be a special prize for the overall largest fish.
Due to the pandemic and other factors, the Lehigh County Fish & Game Associations’ (LCF&GA) annual Fishing Derby in Lehigh Parkway was cancelled over the past two years. But this year it’s on and set for Saturday, May 7 for the children’s derby, and Sunday, May 8 for the adult derby.
Children ages 15 and under may fish on May 7 for a registration fee of $5, while adults 16 and older require a $10 registration fee.
According to Herb Gottschall Jr., president of LCF&GA, 2,300 brown and brook trout will be stocked for the two-day tournament. This supplements the trout that the state stocked last Friday plus the trophy golden rainbows LCF&GA stocked two weeks ago that were donated by Cabela’s in Hamburg.
Gottschall added that several tagged and trophy trout will be included in the 2,300 for which kids can get a prize for tagged and the largest fish.
Entrants must bring their own tackle and preferred baits or baits may be purchased on site at Archery at the Glenn’s booth.
Trout for the children’s derby will be stocked from the foot-bridge in the parkway, downstream to the Robin Hood bridge. And for the adult derby, from the police academy road downstream to Robin Hood.
Both derbies begin at 8 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. But early arriving anglers should note that the 12th Street parkway entrance road will be closed until 5:30 a.m.
On Saturday, there will be entertainment by the Barn Burners orchestra.
This year’s Fishing Derby also celebrates the associations 100th birthday. Gottschall said he is waiting to receive a proclamation from the City of Allentown and the state to commemorate the association’s birthday. Questions can be emailed to Gottschall at hgottshall&Verizon.net.
PFBC URGES ANGLERS/BOATERS TO HELP PREVENT SPREAD OF MUDSNAILS
As the trout season is in high gear, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission reminds anglers to check their clothes and gear after fishing for the invasive New Zealand Mudsnails.
According to the agency, New Zealand Mudsnails can be found on rocks and vegetation and are easily spread to new waters by attaching to waders, fishing gear and boats.
Said Sean Hartzell, PFBC Invasive Species Coordinator, “Because these snails are so small, they can be hard to notice. It takes but one small snail to start a new population. It’s vital for anglers and boaters to disinfect their gear after every fishing or boating trip.”
Mudsnails have been found in numerous lakes and streams in Pennsylvania and more locally they’re found in the Little Lehigh Creek, Jordan Creek, Trout Creek, Bushkill Creek, Saucon Creek, Monocacy Creek, Pohopoco Creek in Carbon County, Lehigh River and Schuylkill River in Berks/Montgomery counties.
The PFBC recommends cleaning waders and gear by freezing gear for at least six hours, soaking gear in hot water greater than 120 degrees for at least five minutes, or soaking gear for five minutes in a one-one solution of water and Formula 409 Cleaner/Degreaser disinfectant.
There will be lots of clucks, purrs, yelps and gobbles emanating from Penn’s Woods beginning April 23 when the one-day junior and mentored youth spring gobbler hunting season kicks off. That will be followed by the statewide turkey season that runs April 30 until May 31.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission says more than 150,000 hunters will take to the fields and forests to lure in a spring gobbler. According to May Jo Casalena, PGC turkey biologist, there’s plenty of opportunity awaiting hunters as the statewide flock is among the largest anywhere in the East, and is likely bigger right now than at any time in the last few years.
Casalena attributes this healthy population to a good recruitment as dry, warm weather last spring, and in some places, lots of cicadas to eat, produced 3.1 poults per hen on average statewide.
She goes on to explain, “That was our highest ratio since we began monitoring recruitment and a smaller than usual spring 2021 harvest plus shorter fall turkey season in some Wildlife Management Units coupled to a statewide elimination of rifles for fall turkey hunting, all of which boosted flocks.”
Casalena added, “This should translate into a lot of high-spirited jakes and hunters should find a larger than-normal percentage of older, 3-year-old turkeys out there.
The PGC points out that these birds won’t necessarily be easy to harvest; neither jakes no older birds typically are as vocal as 2-year-olds, but hunters can up their odds by preparing before opening day by scouting. Casalena suggests looking for actual birds, turkey sign such as droppings, feathers, scratching’s and tracks. And above all, practice calling.
As for the latter, and if you’re in the market for a new turkey call, 4-Play Turkey Calls is a local company based in Bangor, PA that makes several unique box calls. They’re handmade by owner Brian Benolken and used by several pro turkey callers/hunters. Check out their fine line at 4PlayTurkeyCall.com or call them at 610-984-4099.
It’s important to note that the PGC admits success isn’t always guaranteed as only about 15 percent of hunters harvested one gobbler last spring. And about 18 percent of the near-record 25,210 hunters who bought a special turkey license or second gobbler tag, took a second bird.
As a reminder, hunting hours during the youth hunt end at noon while hours are one-half before sunrise and end at noon for the first two weeks of the statewide season (April 30 through May 14). From May 16 through May 31, hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.
Other reminders are that harvested birds must be tagged before moving them and hunters must report harvests within 10 days either by visiting www.pgc.pa.gov and clicking on “Report a Harvest,” by calling 800-838-4431, or sending in the harvest report card in the Hunting/Trapping Digest that came with the hunting license. Leg banded birds feature a toll-free number along with an email address to report it.
Two more reminders. Ticks. Yes, they’ll be abundant so hunters should spray their clothing before going afield. And be conscious of any Avian influenza infected birds that could look unhealthy such as stumbling, circling, exhibiting tremors, with a twisted neck or unable to fly.
With the flocks of robins we’ve been seeing in the Lehigh Valley, these as well as doves and phoebes will begin searching for a place to make nests for their egg laying.
But unlike many birds that commonly use nest or bird boxes, these three species in particular don’t use nest boxes like, for example, bluebirds use to lay and hatch their eggs. Robins, in particular, use a nesting shelf that could consist of a flat spot under a patio deck, under a porch roof, door wreaths even hanging baskets.
For birders who maintain bird feeders, building or buying a nesting box could supplement your backyard avian of sorts.
Nesting shelves are designed to as an airy nesting platform with inward curving side walls that provide an even more open view. The roof should slope downward with an overhang to keep the interior dry and to protect eggs and nestlings.
If you’re inclined to build a nesting shelf, three-quarter inch pine wood is recommended with the outer diameter being at least 10 inches wide, 10 inches deep and nine inches high. The shelf opening should be at least 7.5 inches wide and 3.5 inches high. Once completed, it can be mounted on a tree, wall or post.
Other cavity nesting birds such as barn swallows and catbirds may also use the nesting box.
If opting to buy one instead, they’re available at BestNest.com and labeled as a Prime Retreat. According to their site, they sell for $29.99 plus shipping.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is once again livestreaming two eagle cams on their site. To view them go to Pennsylvania Game Commission then click on the Bald Eagle Watching link. There you’ll find Farm Country Eagle Livestream and Hanover (Pa) Eagle Livestream. The Farm County camera shows three eaglets while the Hanover camera appears to have one eaglet. They’re interesting and enjoyable to watch.
LEHIGH RIVER TROUT STOCKING
It’s been common for the Lehigh River Stocking Association (LRSA) to stock a portion of the Lehigh River the week after the state trout opener. But because of the heavy rains we had, the Lehigh River is high, muddy and ripping. So stocking has been postponed for five days according to the association’s website.
If you’re not a member, you may want to consider joining as the Lehigh is an uncrowded fishery and the trout LRSA stocks, are sizable and generally larger than the fish commission puts in local streams. The association uses membership money and donations to buy trout they stock.
Pennsylvania’s 2021-22 deer harvest figures are in and they show a 13 percent decrease over the 2020-21 seasons.
Hunters took an estimated 376,810 whitetails of which 145,320 were bucks and 231,490 were antlerless deer. This is in comparison to 2020-21 seasons when a total of 435,180 deer were harvested.
The decrease is no cause for concern according to David Stainbrook, PGC deer and elk section supervisor. “The 2020-21 was above average and the 2021-22 season is back on track with previous years.” He added that 22 percent of hunters took an antlered deer which is right in line with the previous four-year average and better than in years past.
Said Stainbrook, “The harvest also points to how antlerless allocations – and not length of seasons – drive deer harvests. The 2021 firearms deer season featured two weeks of concurrent buck and doe hunting for the first time statewide in more than a decade, yet with the number of antlerless tags available down compared to the year before, the overall harvest was lower.”
Of the deer harvested, many of the bucks were older. Sixty-two percent of antlered deer taken by hunters were 2.5 years or older while only 38 percent were 1.5 years old. “That’s an almost complete reversal of how things were even two decades ago, opines PGC Executive Director Bryan Burhans who credited how hunters embraced antler restrictions in place since 2002.” That’s when Gary Alt, then PGC deer biologist, took lots of heat from sportsmen for implementing those restrictions that now has proven beneficial.
Among antlerless deer harvested, 69 percent were adult females, 16 percent were button bucks and 15 percent were doe fawns. All of those figures said Stainbrook are consistent with long-term averages.
As in years past, bowhunters accounted for a little over one-third of the total deer harvested taking 130,650 deer of which 68,580 were bucks and 62,070 were antlerless deer. And they were taken with either bows or crossbows. During the 2020-21 seasons, bowhunters tallied 160,480 deer of which 80,130 were bucks and 80,350 were antlerless.
The 2021-22 estimated muzzleloader harvest was 21,060 of which 1,020 were bucks and 20,040 were antlerless deer. The 2020-21 muzzleloader tally was 28,260 (1,140 bucks, 27,120 antlerless).
Within three local Wildlife Management Areas, the firearms tallies are as follows with the 2020-21 totals in parentheses and antlered deer will be represented as A and antlerless as AL:
WMU 3D: 4,700 A (6,200), and 6,300 AL (6.400).
WMU 4C: 5,700 A (7,000) and 6,400 AL (8,100).
WMU 5C: 6,600 A (8,400) and 14,700 AL (15,200).
For archery and muzzleloader specific seasons, their totals are as follows for three local WMUs:
WMU 3D: archery, 1980 A (2,670) and 1,500 AL (2,240); muzzleloader, 20 A (30) and 500 AL (760).
WMU 4C: archery, 2,870 A (3,260) and 1,750 AL (2,890); muzzleloader, 30 A (40), and 550 AL (1,010); WMU 5C: archery, 4,730 A (5,810) and 6,890 AL (7,410); muzzleloader, 70 A (90) and 810 AL (990).
Although the numbers were slightly down, Stainbrook contends that hunters were able to replicate a level of harvest that speaks to just how sustainable our deer population is here in Pennsylvania.
Beginning Saturday, April 2, anglers will be casting everything from spinners, minnows, worms, PowerBaits, marshmallows even bread, to some of the thousands of trout that have been stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission for the statewide trout season opener. The season kicks off at 8 a.m. with a creel limit of five and a minimum fish length of seven inches.
After the initial in-season stockings, there will be more trout upcoming. The fleet of white commission stocking trucks will add even more trout to area waters. The stocking schedule for Lehigh County is as follows, but keep in mind not all sections of streams will be stocked on a given day:
4/4: Switzer Creek, Jordan Creek; 4/6: Jordan Creek; 4/9: Jordan Creek; 4/10: Jordan Creek; 4/12: Jordan Creek, Coplay Creek; 4/13: Swabia Creek, Little Lehigh Creek; 4/18: Little Lehigh Creek, Cedar Creek; 4/18: Little Lehigh, Cedar Creek; 4/21: Maiden Creek, Ontelaunee Creek, Pine Creek; 4/22: Coplay Creek, Trout Creek; 4/25: Jordan Creek; 4/28: Jordan Creek; 4/29: Swabia Creek, Little Lehigh Creek, Cedar Creek.
Herb Gottschall, president of Lehigh Fish & Game Association, said the club stocked 64 palomino (golden rainbow) trout in the Little Lehigh and will stock another 60 there on May 1. The trout were donated by Cabela’s in Hamburg. Gottschall also said the association will hold their 100th year anniversary and trout derby on May 7 and 8 on the Little Lehigh. Further details on this will be forthcoming.
Over in Northampton County, the in-season stocking schedule is as follows:
4/4: Monocacy Creek; 4/5: Lehigh Canal; 4/7: Hokendauqua, Indian Creek; 4/11: Lehigh Canal; 4/14: Jacoby Creek, Martins Creek; 4/15: Bushkill Creek, Little Bushkill Creek; 4/19: Hokendauqua Creek; 4/20: Monocacy Creek, Saucon Creek; 4/26: Bushkill Creek; Little Bushkill Creek; 4/28: Minsi Lake; 10/13: Minsi Lake.
For mentored youth under 16, the fish commission stocked a total of 3,100 brown and rainbow trout in a three-tenth of a mile stretch of the upper Jordan Creek within the Trexler Zoo. The area runs from the ford crossing upstream to the small bridge. Again, this is for kids-only until May.
The fish commission will again include in this year’s stocking the Keystone Select Stocked Trout Waters, a program where sections of 24 streams across the state are stocked with large 14-20-inch trout that are managed under Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only or Miscellaneous Special Regulations. Under this program, approximately 10,000 large trout will be distributed among these streams at a rate of 175-225 per mile of stream. Veteran anglers may want to seek out these waters for exceptional size trout.
In addition to trout, there have been several reports of shad being caught in the Delaware River. As the old saying goes, when Forsythia start to bloom (which they are) and river water temperature is right, shad start their spawning trip up the Delaware and beyond.
Appearing on the Delaware River Fishing Reports Facebook page, one angler reported catching his first shad on March 20 compared to last year when he caught his first one on March 26. On the 20th, he went two for four in an hour. He caught all of them on John Augustine shad flutter spoons.
So anglers can try for trout in the morning and shad in the afternoon when Delaware River water temperatures rise.
With two weeks before the opening of trout season on April 2, and before the Mentored Youth Trout Day March 26, many anglers are itching to wet a line. Until then, you may want to try the New Jersey shore points for stripers.
According to fishing reports from On the Water Magazine, New Jersey back bays are heating up with large bass arriving around the rivers and will soon be moving into open water within the bays. The best weekend bet will be to soak bloodworms along the bay areas and there are plenty of spots so a boat is not always needed, especially during the early part of the season.
The reports indicate bloodworms were getting it done up north in the Raritan with more stripers coming in towards the end of the month. The bridges, of Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties have an excellent number of stripers being caught. In addition, it’s reported that some of the sedges and marshes have good access to channels or points that typically hold striped bass during this time of year. A few jumbo bloodworms or a bloodworm ball on an inline circle hook will do the trick.
More specifically, The Reek Seat in Brielle reports their backwaters are full of schoolies with some bass up to 35 inches being caught on artificials such as the Yo-Zuri Ma dater, Yo-Zuri twitch bait and soft plastics like paddletail shads. And fishing these in the back bays and rivers should be productive.
Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports lots of stripers in the bays and rivers with most fish falling for soft plastics and bloodworms. Stripers are also being caught in the open water of back bays with boat anglers trolling SP minnows to help locate fish before casting for them.
Fisherman’s Supply Co., in Point Pleasant Beach, reports most anglers are hooking stripers in bays but close to the tidal rivers. They say the tide doesn’t seem to matter whether incoming or outgoing, anglers are still catching fish. Some small bass are moving into Point Pleasant Canal but the majority are in the rivers around bridges. Bass are biting during the day and night with most fish coming on 4-5-inch plugs such as Rapala X-Raps or small Yo-Zuri Mag Darters or by jigging Bass Assassins and ZMan soft plastics. Bloodworms are also working, but more fish are being taken on artificials.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to get your trout gear ready. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to spool on some fresh line and check rod guides for any burrs. Reels too could use a shot of lube. And don’t forget to check hip boots and waders for cracks or holes that may have developed over winter storage.
As for bait and tackle, especially if heading to Leaser Lake or the upper Jordan Creek to fish, Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy in Orefield has expanded their bait shop with large coolers for meal worms, crawlers and nightcrawlers along with tanks for Rosie reds and fathead minnows plus shiners. Bob’s also has an array of terminal tackle, Power Bait, Power Worms and spinners.
Deer hunters in the U.S. harvested an estimated 6.3 million white-tailed deer in the 2020-21 seasons
Pennsylvania deer hunters will be interested to know that there have been 6.3 million white-tailed deer harvested in the United States in the 2020-21 hunting season. This figure comes from the latest Deer Report from the National Deer Association (NDA).
The NDA’s report shows that harvests of both antlered bucks and antlerless deer were up over the 2019 season, and the estimated buck harvest of 3,041,544 was the most in 21 years.
According to kip Adams, NDA’s Chief Conservation Officer, “2020 saw the highest buck harvest in the new century and amazingly, we estimate that we set another new record for the percentage of these bucks that were 3-5 years old or older. U.S. hunters are taking fewer yearling bucks and harvesting more of them as mature deer, but this doesn’t mean fewer bucks taken overall. We’re taking older bucks and more bucks than ever in America.”
The NDA report says the steadily climbing percentage of 3-5-year-old and older bucks in the harvest is the result of declining pressure nationwide on yearling bucks (1-5 years old). Only 26 percent of the 2020 antlered buck harvest were yearlings, another new record low in modern history. The total buck harvest of 3,041,544 was up 5.3 percent from the previous season. It’s estimated 41 percent of them were 3-5 years old and older, or 1.2 million.
While hunters took slightly more bucks in total in the record 1999 season, the national harvest at that time was more than 50 percent yearlings. Therefore the 2020 season likely saw the greatest number of mature bucks killed by American hunters in modern history.
Nationally, the antlerless harvest (which includes does and buck fawns) jumped 12 percent from the previous season to 3,207,937, reversing a three-year decline and putting the number back above 3 million for the first time since 2013, says the NDA.
The antlerless harvest estimates also climbed above the antlered buck harvest for the first time since 2016. Modern antlerless harvests first surpassed the buck harvest in the 1999 season and remained there until it dipped slightly below the buck harvest in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“We know 2020 hunting licenses sales increased by about 5 percent over 2019, and those license buyers took home half a million more whitetails than previous season, or an increase of almost 9 percent,” said Adams. “They helped increase the antlerless harvest back above the buck harvest where it needs to be, but they also saw more mature bucks in the woods than ever before. Hunters are clearly reaping the benefits of more naturally balanced age structures in herds across the whitetails range.”
Other interesting facts found in the new Deer Report are as follows:
*65 percent of deer taken in the 2020-21 season were killed with a firearm compared to 26 percent with archery equipment and nine percent with a muzzleloader.
*Texas had the highest total buck harvest of any state in the nation at 449,933, but Alabama had the greatest increase in buck harvest from the previous season of any state, climbing more than 27,000. Pennsylvania had the highest buck harvest in the Northeast at 174,780, while Michigan killed the most in the Midwest at 219,387.
*Delaware increased its buck harvest by the greatest percentage of any state with 57 percent, and Delaware also took over the top spot in the buck harvest per square mile, at 3.9 percent.
*Mississippi killed the most bucks per 100 hunters at 74.
More information from the NDA’s report can be found at www.deerassociation.com/2022-deer-report/.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.