Pennsylvania hunters followed up 2019-20 hunting seasons’ highest overall deer harvest in 15 years by topping it when they took an estimated 435,180 deer in the 2020-21 hunting seasons, which closed in January, the Pennsylvania Game Commission reported today.
The 2020-21 estimated deer harvest topped the previous license year’s harvest of 389,431 by about 12 percent. Since 1993, Pennsylvania hunters have harvested more than 400,000 deer in a license year 10 times. Twice during that period, deer harvests exceeded 500,000, first in 2000 and then again in 2002, when the state’s record overall deer harvest of 517,529 was set.
The statewide buck harvest -- 174,780 – set a new record for buck harvest in the antler restrictions era. The buck harvest also increased 7 percent over the previous license year’s buck harvest of 163,240. In the 2018-19 license year, 147,750 bucks were harvested.
“About a quarter of the state’s deer hunters took a buck in the 2020-21 deer seasons,” noted David Stainbrook, the Game Commission’s Deer and Elk Section supervisor. “It’s a trend that hunters have maintained over the past three license years. The fact that we can maintain such high success rates on bucks year after year demonstrates the sustainability of the deer population in Pennsylvania.”
The antlerless deer harvest for the 2020-21 seasons was 260,400. It exceeded the 2019-20 antlerless deer harvest – 226,191 – by 15 percent. The 2018-19 harvest was 226,940. The last time the antlerless deer harvest exceeded 2020-21’s was in the 2004-05 license year, when 284,910 antlerless deer were taken.
In the 2020-21 deer seasons, the Game Commission set the antlerless allocations at levels to reduce the deer population in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been documented, as part of its ongoing effort to limit the spread of the disease, and the antlerless harvest increased in these WMUs as intended.
“Obtaining an adequate deer harvest is essential in the WMUs in and surrounding the state’s Disease Management Areas (DMAs),” noted Andrea Korman, CWD biologist. “Deer hunters remain the first line of defense in Pennsylvania’s continuing efforts to manage CWD. The harvest illustrates the cooperation we hoped hunters would provide to help where CWD threats are at their greatest in Penn’s Woods.”
Unlike in 2019-20, when antlerless harvests decreased in almost half of the state’s WMUS, in 2020-21, antlerless harvests either increased or were similar to the previous year in all but one WMU – WMU 3B. This decrease was expected as the allocation was reduced in 2020-21.
WMUs posting the largest antlerless deer harvest increases were the western Pennsylvania WMUs of 1A, 1B, and 2B. In WMUs 1A and 1B, the antlered harvest increased substantially as well.
Buck harvest estimates increased by more than 1,000 deer in six WMUs: 2A, 2F, 3A, 3B, 3C, and 4E. The largest increases in antlered deer harvest were in WMU 1A and WMU 1B, where the buck harvest increased by about 3,000 deer in each WMU.
The percentage of older bucks in the 2020-21 deer harvest remained high. About 64 percent of the bucks taken by hunters were at least 2? years old. The remainder were 1? years old.
“The Commonwealth’s antler restrictions have succeeded in providing more older bucks for Pennsylvania’s deer hunters,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “In place since 2002, they have transformed the smaller bucks that once dominated our deer harvests into a buck population that is the envy of deer hunters everywhere.
“Anyone who hunted deer before antler restrictions can see the results. But it’s important to recognize that these bucks are a product of a well-managed deer herd and their existence hinged on the willingness of deer hunters to support antler restrictions.”
About 68 percent of the antlerless deer harvest was adult females; button-bucks comprised 17 percent and doe fawns made up 15 percent. The previous license year’s breakdown is similar.
Bowhunters accounted for over a third of Pennsylvania’s 2020-21 overall deer harvest taking 160,480 deer (80,130 bucks and 80,350 antlerless deer) with either bows or crossbows. The 2019-20 archery harvest was 145,908 (74,190 bucks and 71,718 antlerless deer).
The estimated muzzleloader harvest – 28,260 – was down slightly from the previous year’s harvest of 29,604. The 2020-21 muzzleloader harvest included 1,140 antlered bucks compared to 1,260 bucks in 2019-20.
Total deer harvest estimates by WMU for 2020-21 (with 2019-20 figures in parentheses) are as follows:
WMU 1A: 9,000 (6,400) antlered, 18,000 (13,200) antlerless;
WMU 1B: 11,700 (8,700) antlered, 17,800 (12,700) antlerless;
WMU 2A: 8,100 (6,900) antlered, 11,800 (9,900) antlerless;
WMU 2B: 6,200 (5,500) antlered, 15,000 (10,400) antlerless;
WMU 2C: 8,400 (9,400) antlered, 15,700 (14,069) antlerless;
WMU 2D: 12,000 (13,000) antlered, 18,700 (18,888) antlerless;
WMU 2E: 6,500 (6,400) antlered, 11,300 (9,473) antlerless;
WMU 2F: 10,700 (9,000) antlered, 10,000 (9,724) antlerless;
WMU 2G: 7,500 (8,100) antlered, 6,800 (6,105) antlerless;
WMU 2H: 2,900 (2,400) antlered, 1,600 (1,100) antlerless;
WMU 3A: 7,000 (5,700) antlered, 6,700 (5,700) antlerless;
WMU 3B: 9,100 (7,600) antlered, 8,500 (10,300) antlerless;
WMU 3C: 10,800 (9,400) antlered, 14,500 (12,800) antlerless;
WMU 3D: 6,200 (6,000) antlered, 6,400 (4,900) antlerless;
WMU 4A: 5,200 (6,000) antlered, 10,800 (7,924) antlerless;
WMU 4B: 5,000 (5,700) antlered, 10,800 (8,285) antlerless;
WMU 4C: 7,000 (7,000) antlered, 8,100 (8,300) antlerless;
WMU 4D: 9,100 (8,700) antlered, 12,300 (10,955) antlerless;
WMU 4E: 8,600 (7,300) antlered, 11,200 (9,500) antlerless;
WMU 5A: 3,500 (3,400) antlered, 6,100 (5,000) antlerless;
WMU 5B: 9,600 (10,200) antlered, 16,400 (15,345) antlerless;
WMU 5C: 8,400 (7,600) antlered, 15,200 (14,427) antlerless;
WMU 5D: 2,200 (2,500) antlered, 6,500 (6,700) antlerless; and
Unknown WMU: 80 (340) antlered, 200 (496) antlerless.
Season-specific 2020-21 deer harvest estimates (with 2019-20 harvest estimates in parentheses) are as follows:
WMU 1A: archery, 4,720 (3,240) antlered, 6,180 (4,320) antlerless; and muzzleloader, 80 (60) antlered, 2,020 (1,680) antlerless.
WMU 1B: archery, 5,160 (3,960) antlered, 4,180 (3,230) antlerless; muzzleloader, 40 (40) antlered, 1,520 (1,170) antlerless.
WMU 2A: archery, 3,540 (3,140) antlered, 3,000 (2,540) antlerless; muzzleloader, 60 (60) antlered, 1,200 (960) antlerless.
WMU 2B: archery, 4,630 (4,150) antlered, 8,470 (5,500) antlerless; muzzleloader, 70 (50) antlered, 830 (700) antlerless.
WMU 2C: archery, 3,860 (4,230) antlered, 3,630 (3,939) antlerless; muzzleloader, 40 (70) antlered, 1,570 (1,854) antlerless.
WMU 2D: archery, 6,080 (5,800) antlered, 3,560 (4,085) antlerless; muzzleloader, 120 (100) antlered, 1,740 (2,701) antlerless.
WMU 2E: archery, 2,660 (2,540) antlered, 2,070 (1,944) antlerless; muzzleloader, 40 (60) antlered, 1,130 (1,252) antlerless.
WMU 2F: archery, 4,100 (3,340) antlered, 2,090 (2,006) antlerless; muzzleloader, 100 (60) antlered, 1,810 (1,534) antlerless.
WMU 2G: archery, 2,470 (2,540) antlered, 1,780 (1,381) antlerless; muzzleloader, 30 (60) antlered, 1,420 (1,321) antlerless.
WMU 2H: archery, 970 (690) antlered, 380 (230) antlerless; muzzleloader, 30 (10) antlered, 220 (170) antlerless.
WMU 3A: archery, 2,470 (2,080) antlered, 1,630 (1,400) antlerless; muzzleloader, 30 (20) antlered, 980 (800) antlerless.
WMU 3B: archery, 3,470 (3,160) antlered, 2,110 (2,590) antlerless; muzzleloader, 30 (40) antlered, 1,190 (1,710) antlerless.
WMU 3C: archery, 3,570 (3,370) antlered, 3,480 (2,860) antlerless; muzzleloader, 30 (30) antlered, 1,820 (1,740) antlerless.
WMU 3D: archery, 2,670 (2,250) antlered, 2,240 (1,470) antlerless; muzzleloader, 30 (50) antlered, 760 (830) antlerless.
WMU 4A: archery, 1,650 (1,610) antlered, 1,880 (1,696) antlerless; muzzleloader, 50 (90) antlered, 1,120 (1,313) antlerless.
WMU 4B: archery, 2,260 (2,350) antlered, 2,870 (2,551) antlerless; muzzleloader, 40 (50) antlered, 1,030 (1,070) antlerless.
WMU 4C: archery, 3,260 (3,550) antlered, 2,890 (2,960) antlerless; muzzleloader, 40 (50) antlered, 1,010 (1,240) antlerless.
WMU 4D: archery, 3,550 (3,120) antlered, 3,020 (3,287) antlerless; muzzleloader, 50 (80) antlered, 1,280 (1,618) antlerless.
WMU 4E: archery, 3,850 (3,420) antlered, 3,420 (2,750) antlerless; muzzleloader, 50 (80) antlered, 1,280 (1,250) antlerless.
WMU 5A: archery, 1,680 (1,580) antlered, 1,920 (1,880) antlerless; muzzleloader, 20 (20) antlered, 480 (620) antlerless.
WMU 5B: archery, 5,840 (6,420) antlered, 7,730 (7,400) antlerless; muzzleloader, 60 (80) antlered, 1,470 (1,438) antlerless.
WMU 5C: archery, 5,810 (5,330) antlered, 7,410 (7,075) antlerless; muzzleloader, 90 (70) antlered, 990 (1,042) antlerless.
WMU 5D: archery, 1,790 (2,180) antlered, 4,310 (4,460) antlerless; muzzleloader, 10 (20) antlered, 190 (240) antlerless.
Unknown WMU: archery, 70 (140) antlered, 100 (164) antlerless; muzzleloader, 0 (10) antlered, 60 (94) antlerless.
The much-awaited trout season kicks off April 3. This statewide weekend opener has seen a change from past years regional openers. Perhaps it may be for the better in that local streams may be less crowded as some anxious anglers from the northeast would travel down here to fish in the southeast. Then when the northeast opened, some southeast anglers would travel to the northeast to fish for that season opener.
According to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, they will have stocked a total of 4,220,945 trout in streams and lakes. That breaks down as 293,420 brook, 686,080 brown, 2,214,700 rainbow trout. Within that, 11,943 trophy (golden rainbow) trout, weighing an average of 1.5 pounds, will also be stocked in streams and 1,930 in lakes.
You may have noticed the smaller number of brook trout stocked. The PF&BC says it’s because that they found over time that in 300 streams statewide, brookies were leaving and/or dying at a high rate in some streams prior to opening day, while rainbow trout were more likely to survive and remain in the streams after stocking. As was the case, brookies could be stocked in waters that were more acidic plus the commission feared that introgression of hatchery genes and the possibility if disease into wild fish, would reduce the fitness and negatively impact wild brook trout populations over time. Added to that,
the PFBC says rainbows often perform better in a hatchery environment as they have better growth rates and are less susceptible to some pathogens and parasites than brook trout.
Fisheries managers often would use more rainbows during preseason and a mix of rainbow and brown trout during inseason stocking. The idea is that rainbows are often easier to catch in colder spring water temperatures than brown trout.
If you have children and want to introduce them to fishing, you may want to head up to the Trexler Zoo (formerly Trexler Game Preserve). In the Jordan Creek there, behind the zoo and upstream above the ford, the commission heavily stocked a long portion of stream intended for children. It’s a great place as kids will most likely catch a trout or two. And while there they can also pay a visit to the zoo.
Another good place is Leaser Lake at the dam area and parking lot where there’s a dock to fish from that allows fishing slightly deeper water and extends casting distance. And if no kayakers or canoers are using the handicap loading ramp nearby, you may want to try there as that too extends casting distance a bit. And if you need bait enroute there, you can get it and terminal tackle at Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy located a block off Route 100 at 4642 Kernsville Road, Orefield.
Keep in mind the Lehigh River will likely be stocked the week after the trout opener. Stocking customarily starts around the pavilion on Canal Street on the Northampton side, and goes upriver to the falls and beyond.
For three hours on April 17, South Whitehall Township Parks and Recreation is hosting a Youth Fishing Derby beginning at 9 a.m. at Covered Bridge Park, 2465 Wehr Mill Road, Allentown. The derby is for youths ages 15 and under with registration beginning at 8 a.m. This event is for youths only as no adults are allowed to fish for some of the 1,000 trout to be stocked in that portion of Jordan Creek. Prizes will be awarded for each age group of under 4, 5-8, 9-12 and 13-15. Check South Whitehall Township’s website for further rules and regulations.
If you get your limit of trout and want to continue fishing, there are reports from the Delaware River Shad Fishing site that shad have started their way upriver as Delaware River water temperature this week was a somewhat favorable 47.8 degrees. Two anglers posted that they boated three shad and another boat beside them boated two. So, they started their upriver spawning run.
Sig Sauer’s hottest selling P365, 9mm pistol has been upgraded with newer features including a red dot sight.
Sig’s new P365X ROMEOZero combines the 3.1-inch barrel of the original P365 with the P365XL XSERIES grip module, featuring a 12-round flush fit magazine, with a factory installed ROMEOZero red dot sight, bringing a new level of performance to everyday carry.
“The SIG SAUER P365 series of pistols is the leader in the industry for everyday carry and continues to set the standard for delivering unprecedented capacity in a micro-compact size,” said Tom Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President, Commercial Sales, SIG SAUER, Inc. “The introduction of the P365X ROMEOZero further redefines everyday carry by combining the XSERIES features first introduced with the popular P365XL - including the larger grip module and XSERIES trigger - with the shorter 3.1-inch barrel of the original P365, making it an all-around more comfortable concealed carry pistol.”
The SIG SAUER P365X ROMEOZero is a 9mm striker-fired pistol, featuring the XSERIES P365 grip module with an integrated carry magwell and extended beavertail, with the standard 3.1 inch P365 barrel and slide with XSERIES markings, a factory installed ROMEOZero micro-open reflex sight, X-RAY3 day/night front sight, and the XSERIES flat trigger with a 90-degree break. The P365X ROMEOZero ships with two 12-round magazines (15-round magazines available separately).
The SIG SAUER Electro-Optics ROMEZero micro-open reflex sight optimized for everyday concealed carry, and for pistols with slim slides. The sight features a ruggedized, weapons grade, textured polymer body, Spectracoat™ Polymer lens system, 8 vivid, user configurable daytime illumination levels, MOTAC™ (motion activated illumination system), a highly efficient point source LED emitter for a crisp dot that’s 8 times more efficient than conventional red dots, and an integrated rear sight notch for co-witness with a standard height P365 front sight.
P365X ROMEOZero Specs:
Overall Length: 6 inches
Overall Height: 5.5 inches
Overall Width: 1.1 inches
Barrel Length: 3.1 inches
Sight Radius: 4.9 inches
Weight (w/ magazine): 18 oz.
ROMEOZero Micro Open Reflex Sight Specs:
Overall Height: .93 inches
Overall Length: 1.6 inches
Overall Width: .93 inches
Sight Window: .72 inches x .61 inches
Brightness Adjustment: Manual Push-Button
Brightness Settings: 8 daytime settings
Weight: 0.4 ounces
The P365 XSERIES include the P365X ROMEOZero, P365XL, and P365XL ROMEOZero. To learn more about the entire P365 XSERIES including the P365X ROMEOZero or watch the product video with Phil Strader visit sigsauer.com.
The P365, even without these upgrades, is one fine compact handgun, but the problem with them is trying to find one. Upon its debut it won many awards. And as soon as local gun shops get one in, they quickly go out the door. In canvassing a couple dealers, some even hold deposits for the P365, and when any are shipped they’re already pre-sold. I got to handle one that was waiting for the depositor to pick up, and fell in love with it.
This handgun was so successful that Springfield Armory and Ruger were forced to debut similar type compact 9mm’s. But none have the overall handling of the P365.
Aspiring artists in elementary, middle school and high school have an opportunity to enter their fish art in the 2021 Fish Art Contest Sponsored by Bass Pro Shops.
The 2021 Art of Conservation Fish Art Contest is free and is open to students in Kindergarten to 12th grade. The contest is accepting entries until March 31st, 2021 and you must enter to win.
To compete, young artists create an original illustration of any species from the Official Fish List, found at www.FishArt.org. A one-page creative writing piece answering the question “Why do you think it is important to protect our lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastlines,” is also required and awarded for contestants in grades 4-12.
“The Johnny Morris Foundation is committed to introducing a new generation to the wonders of the natural world. With children spending more time in front of screens, programs such as the Fish Art Contest are vital to inspire the next generation of anglers and conservation stewards,” said Misty Mitchell, Director of Conservation Programs.
“Many kids just can’t access fishing opportunities. The Fish Art Contest breaks down barriers and is an innovative solution to connect youth to fish and aquatic conservation, teaching them the value of nature and the outdoors,” said Pat Conzemius, President & CEO, Wildlife Forever.
Young artists from around the world have the opportunity to win prizes and international recognition while learning about fish, habitat and the great outdoors. The Art of Conservation® ignites a new passion for fish and fishing and helps to create the next generation of stewards.
Winners will be honored in four grade categories K-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12. National judging for the Fish Art Contest will be held in April and winners will be announced at the beginning of May.
Students can win prizes from our sponsors Bass Pro Shops, the USDA Forest Service, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, National Fish Habitat Partnership, Western Native Trout Initiative, World Fish Migration Foundation and more. Full details are at www.FishArt.org
About the Fish Art Contest: The award-winning Wildlife Forever Fish Art™ Contest, with support from Title Sponsor Bass Pro Shops, the USDA Forest Service and Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, brings children, art and aquatic conservation together! The annual contest reaches thousands of youth each year. New distance learning resources allow students to participate from home or classroom and complement a wide array of educational programming. To enter, young artists create an original illustration of any fish from the Official Fish list and written words detailing its habitat, and efforts to conserve it. Educators nationwide utilize Fish On, the full-color Fish Art Lesson Plan, integrating the disciplines of science and art. Entries are due postmarked or emailed by March 31st each year and for more information go to www.fishart.org.
About Wildlife Forever: Our mission is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage through conservation education, preservation of habitat and management of fish and wildlife. Wildlife Forever is a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to investing resources on the ground. Recent audits reveal that 94% of every dollar supports our award-winning conservation programs.
NWTF UPCOMING BANQUET
Due to continuing Covid concerns, this year’s Jerry Zimmerman Memorial Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s annual banquet will be held virtually.
According to Bruce Dietrich, this year the organization will have in lieu of the banquet, a Membership/Door Prize Ticket system that includes a year’s membership and a Virtual Door Prize ticket that includes a long list of top-notch firearms. There are also several raffles that even includes a “Gun Safe Raffle Guns” where the winner takes the safe and guns.
There will be 15 door prizes with only 300 tickets to sold so your chances of winning are very good. This is but one opportunity with a long list of other chances and raffles.
All winners will be drawn via Facebook live at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 19, 2021. Winners will also be notified.
To participate plus purchase tickets and sponsorships, go to https://events.nwtf.org/38032110-2021.
With the consolidated statewide opening of trout season kicking off April 3, now’s a good time to get your fishing gear in order, including waders and hip boots that may have sprung a leak. Added to that, and if you have a mentored youth, their special early trout opener is March 27.
Local bait shops get deluged with anglers purchasing licenses and getting line wound on reels much too close to the opener. Tackle shops would appreciate it if you’d inventory your tackle needs now during a lull in the action.
With most of the local streams and creeks now stocked with pre-season trout, the remainders are Leaser Lake and a portion of Jordan Creek. Leaser (and Pine Creek) gets a single stocking on March 26. By that time most of Leaser’s skim ice should be gone. As of last Friday, the lake was still skimmed over with about six feet of open shore line plus some open pockets farther out.
Cedar Creek in Allentown was stocked on Thursday and in speaking to one of the five stocking volunteers there, he noted that because of deep snow, they were not able to stock all the holes and fast waters that are commonly stocked in area streams and creeks. So, anglers may not have the action they customarily have at their favorite spot.
If you’re looking for more casting room, keep in mind the Lehigh River historically gets stocked by the Lehigh River Stocking Association the day or week after the state trout opener. The association is a noteworthy group that gets its money to buy trout for stocking from member dues and donations. If you enjoy fishing bigger, less congested waters like the Lehigh, join the association as it can only improve the trout action.
The inseason trout stocking dates for Lehigh and Northampton counties are as follows:
Lake Muhlenberg: 4-14, 5-16
Coplay Creek: 4-6, 5-5
Jordan Creek: 4-6, 4-7, 4-8, 4-12, 4-27, 5-7 (not all portions are stocked on these dates)
Little Lehigh Creek: 4-14, 4-21, 5-6, 10-18
Monocacy Creek: 4-22
Ontelaunee Creek: 4-22
Swabia Creek: 4-12, 5-5
Trout Creek: 4-14
Bushkill Creek: 4-16, 4-27
Hokendauqua Creek: 4-8, 4-20
Indian Creek: 4-8
Jacoby Creek: 4-12
Lehigh Canal: 4-6, 4-13
Little Bushkill Creek: 4-16, 4-27
Martins Creek: 4-12
Minsi Lake: 4-29, 10-14
Monocacy Creek: 4-5, 4-22
Saucon Creek: 4-5, 4-22
First time anglers should not forget that in addition to a general fishing license (16-64 years of age, $22.97), you’ll also need a trout/salmon permit ($9.97). Youths 16 and under need either a Mentored Youth Permit (free), or Voluntary Youth Fishing License ($2.97). All can be obtained at a licensing agent, online at huntfish.pa.gov, or by calling 877-707-4085 during normal business hours.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is joining fish and wildlife agencies nationwide to alert consumers about aquarium products that may be infested with invasive zebra mussels.
These products, known as “moss balls,” are a popular type of living aquarium plant sold in several states, including Pennsylvania. It was recently discovered that a batch of these products, which are marketed under popular brand names such as “Betta Buddy” or “Mini Marimo Moss Balls,” was contaminated with invasive Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and distributed to pet stores across the country.
While several major pet product retailers, including Petco and PetSmart, have proactively removed these products from their shelves, PFBC Waterways Conservation Officers in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, have confirmed the presence of these contaminated products in at least one Pennsylvania store.
“Zebra Mussels are one of the most troublesome invasive species in the United States and can cause major ecological and economic damage such as clogging water intake pipes, damaging boats, or damaging fisheries by impacting aquatic food webs,” said Shawn Hartzel, PFBC Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator. “Zebra Mussels are small and can produce microscopic larvae, so any water containing contaminated moss balls may contain larval Zebra Mussels. The potential spread of this invasive species is a major concern for our aquatic resources in Pennsylvania."
Zebra Mussels are small black and white striped, “D-Shaped” bivalves about the size of a thumbnail or smaller.
The PFBC urges anyone who has purchased a moss ball within the past several weeks to follow U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) guidance on how to properly disinfect moss balls and clean aquarium systems. This guidance can be found on the USFWS website: https://www.fws.gov/fisheries/ANS/zebra-mussel-disposal.html.
“Because Zebra Mussel larvae may not be visible to the naked eye, it is important that everyone who recently purchased a moss ball follow this strict disinfection protocol,” added Hartzell. “Just because you can’t see the mussels in your tank doesn’t mean they’re not there. Don’t take any chances.”
The transportation or release of Zebra Mussels or their larvae into Commonwealth waters is considered unlawful (58 Pa. Code § 73.1). Pennsylvanians who observe suspected Zebra Mussels or other aquatic invasive species can report them to the PFBC through the “Report AIS” portal of the Agency’s web page (https://pfbc.pa.gov/forms/reportAIS.htm).
We recently did a column on the influx of red foxes residing in populated areas, particularly in the city of Allentown. Well, they’re not alone. It seems coyotes too are finding their way into suburban areas including the city of Allentown.
A lady in the west end of Allentown, who lives in the area of 28th & Highland Streets, posted a security camera shot on West Watch of a coyote in her yard at night. Others have been seen in the Allentown Lehigh Parkway wooded tracts and I know of an outdoorsman who used to trap them behind Cedarbrook Nursing Home.
They’ve also been reported in the Stiles area where they’re probably living in the wooded tracts around LaFarge’s quarry operation located off South Church Street. In fact, several months ago, one was struck by a vehicle on Church in Whitehall.
Of course, you’d expect to find coyotes in the wooded tracts of northern Lehigh and Northampton counties, particularly around Leaser and Minsi lakes and the Blue Mountain.
A friend who lives on the outskirts of Northampton said he often hears them howl at night, but has never seen them. Same goes for friends who lived across from Woodstone Golf Course in Danielsville.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, coyotes entered northern Pennsylvania in the 60s from the Catskill Mountains in New York. From there they spread south and west across the state. Now, coyotes are found in all 67 Pennsylvania counties with the highest concentrations in the Pocono Mountains.
Adult male coyotes weigh 45-55 pounds whereas females are smaller averaging from 35-40 pounds. The heaviest known male caught was 62 pounds while the heaviest female weighed 42 pounds.
According to Coyote Hunting in PA’s Facebook page, hunters have been taking them in the 30-pound class and mostly at night when “yotes,” as they call them, are most active. Some will be seen during daylight hours but that’s mainly in spring when the females seek food for their young pups.
February is the prime mating month when females come into heat for a period of 4-5 days.
As for hunting them, their pelts have been fetching an average of $10.65 according to a February posting by Pennsylvania Trappers Association. And yes, some folks eat them. I tasted a piece of cooked coyote and it had a metallic taste. Not exactly haute cuisine.
A good many hunters detest coyotes because of their propensity to kill fawns, stocked pheasants and rabbits. But their main food habits are in the form of small mice, voles, road-killed deer, woodchucks, birds and plant material mainly in winter. In farm areas, coyotes will go after sheep, chickens, ducks, goats and geese. And in the populated suburbs, pet dogs and cats especially feral cats.
Coyotes den-up under overturned trees, tree stump piles, rock dens and dug out fox dens that face a southerly exposure. Pups are born in the dens from mid-April to early May with litter sizes ranging from 5-7 pups. The young will stay with their mother until October when they’ll disperse from 30-50 miles away with some traveling 100 miles away from their dens.
As said, many folks may never see a coyote but may hear their barks, yips and howls as they communicate with others or to periodically join larger packs. Other times, they’ll prefer to hunt alone or with another coyote or two.
A coyotes’ sense of smell, hearing and alertness are particularly keen and that’s what makes them tough to hunt. With snow on the ground, hunters may have to wear snow camo to blend in. Calling, be it electronically or mouth calls, is the prominent way to lure “yotes” into shooting range. And then it’s a quick shot. With the PGC now allowing night vision optics for predator hunting, hunters can trim the odds a bit.
With appreciable snow covering Penn’s Woods, it limits what can be done outdoors.
If you’re a cross-country skier, the snow makes a good platform to traverse places like the Rose Garden land in Allentown, Allentown Municipal Golf Course, Trexler Park, Upper Macungie Park areas, Macungie Park, Camp Olympic land in Emmaus, and other flat, accessible terrain.
If you’d rather stay home, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) offers an alternative to being outdoors. They are hosting constant live-streaming of wildlife in the comforts of your home.
For example, there’s the Eagle Cam located in a giant sycamore tree overlooking scenic farmland in Hanover, Pa. According to the PGC, the nest has one eaglet so far and is one of the agencies most popular viewing site.
Bald eagles typically lay eggs in mid-February and if viable, will hatch in mid-late March with the young fledging in June.
There’s also a Snow Goose Cam set up at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lebanon County. Here, viewers can watch the thousands of snows that congregate there during their winter migration through Pennsylvania.
Perhaps the most dramatic though is the Black Bear Cam set up under a cabin deck in Monroe County. This location isn’t unusual says the PGC as it has happened before. Sometimes they even den in the open with only a few twigs overhead, the hollow of a tree, rock crevice, beneath the roots of a fallen tree, and if they can find one, a cavity of a large rock.
Several years ago, I accompanied then PGC bear biologist Gary Alt to such a den in Pike County. The bear was radio collared so Alt knew where the female bear was located deep in the woods.
After darting and putting the female to sleep, he and a game warden pulled the female out. Alt then allowed me to crawl inside the rock den (it was tight) to photograph two new bear cubs after which he pulled them out to weigh and measure them for his research. It was an unforgettable experience.
In this deck den, the camera uses night vision as light levels are low and the camera can pan, tilt and zoom. Residents in the cabin don’t seem to bother the bear and the bears are generally not a threat to them, says the PGC. This den appears to have two cubs as they’re normally born in January with their eyes opening in about six weeks.
Since there is limited room under this particularly deck, the bear sow must lay on her side to nurse the cubs. Their milk, that Alt had analyzed, has an extreme fat and protein content more so than any other animal. This allows the cubs to grow quickly.
The sow will also adjust with the cubs and when not nursing she may lapse into a deep sleep. Body temperatures drop 10-12 degrees during hibernation and she won’t eat or drink anything, or urinate or defecate during this dormancy.
Her cubs will begin walking in about eight weeks and will leave the den when they’re three months old.
PRE-SEASON TROUT STOCKING
The Pennsylvania Fish Commission is scheduled to start stocking trout on Thursday, Feb. 18, weather permitting. But deep snow along stream banks is going to make stocking especially difficult.
Pennsylvania’s final bear harvest figures are in and the results show it was the sixth best bear season since the state-maintained harvest records.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), hunters took 3,608 bears during the recent bear seasons. That reflects a 20 percent decrease over last year’s record harvest of 4,653.
The 2020 season breaks down as follows. During the archery bear season, that benefited from a one-week longer season, bowhunters set a new harvest record of 948 that broke the former record of 561 set in 2019.
As for the two-year old muzzleloader/special firearms season, that harvest slipped from 1,340 to 1,038, while the general firearms season harvest went from 1,629 to 1,170. The extended season, which the PGC points out is typically inconsistent, went from 1,117 to 432.
This recent harvest decline, often influenced by fall food availability, weather and hunter turnout, marks the second time in 20 years the bear harvest in back-back years has decreased by 1,000 or more bears, says the PGC.
More specifically, bears were taken in 59 of 67 counties and 22 of Pennsylvania’s 23 Wildlife Management Units in the 2020 season. Within that, the largest bear was a 719-pound male taken with a crossbow on Nov. 7 in Ayr Township, Fulton County by Abby Strayer of McConnelsburg. In comparison, the heaviest bear ever taken in Pennsylvania was an 875-pounder in 2010 in Middle Smithfield Township, Pike County. Since 1992, seven bears weighing at least 800 pounds have been harvested in Pennsylvania.
Other large bears taken in the 2020 bear seasons include: a 657-pound male taken with a muzzleloader in Lehman Township, Pike County, by Zachary Seip, of Schnecksville; a 656-pound male taken with a shotgun in Penn Forest Township, Carbon County, by Stephen Strzelecki, of Albrightville; a 633-pound male taken with a muzzleloader in Cooper Township, Clearfield County, by Mark Gritzer, of Clearfield; a 633-pound male taken with a muzzleloader in Stewardson Township, Potter County, by Conrad Miller, of Hanover; a 621-pound male taken with a rifle in Shrewsberry Township, Sullivan County, by Jeffrey C. Kratz, of Collegeville; a 610-pound male taken in Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe County, by Keith Davis, of Harrisburg; a 607-pound male taken with a rifle in Lake Township, Wayne County, by Seth A. Curtis, of Waymart; a 607-pound male taken with a rifle in Abbott Township, Potter County, by Robin Levengood, of Fleetwood; and a 607-pound male taken in Lehigh Township, Wayne County, by Joseph Sledzinski, of Lake Ariel.
Potter County finished with 188 bears to take the top county bear harvest. It was followed by Lycoming County, with 185. Other top counties for bear harvests in 2020 were: Tioga, 184; Clearfield, 157; Monroe, 152; Clinton, 149; Elk, 140; Luzerne, 125; and Carbon, 117.
Final local county harvests by region (with 2019 figures in parentheses) are: Northeast – 987 (1,228): Monroe, 152 (130); Luzerne, 125 (163); Pike, 105 (161); Wayne, 99 (131); Carbon, 97 (88); Bradford, 82 (128); Sullivan, 71 (87); Lackawanna, 56 (79); Susquehanna, 54 (82); Columbia, 53 (64); Wyoming, 42 (82); Northumberland, 22 (26); and Montour, 3 (7). Southeast – 170 (185): Schuylkill, 78 (79); Dauphin, 37 (67); Berks, 15 (17); Northampton, 23 (16); Lehigh, 7 (4); and Lebanon, 9 (2).
The final bear harvests by local Wildlife Management Units (with final 2019 figures in parentheses) were: WMU 3D, 408 (493); WMU 4A, 175 (308); WMU 4B, 112 (192); WMU 4C, 228 (254); WMU 4D, 234 (370); WMU 4E, 135 (139); WMU 5A, 13 (25); WMU 5B, 0 (1); WMU 5C, 22 (14); and WMU 5D, 1 (0).
STREAMLIGHT DEBUTS A DANDY SPORTSMEN’S FLASHLIGHT
For anglers and hunters, Streamlights’ new, slim and rechargeable Wedge flashlight is a must-have as it has many uses for sportsmen going afield and stream.
This mere 5.46-inch long, 3.3-ounce LED light with a 50K hour lifetime, 1200 candela peak beam intensity and 110-meter beam distance, or in THRO Mode, 3,000 candela beam intensity, 110-meter beam distance, gets its grunt from a Lithium Polymer cell battery.
Wedge comes with a removeable, reversible pocket clip that can also be clipped to a ball cap visor that’s handy when tying lures on a fishing line or field dressing a deer in low-light.
The high-performance light is encased in tough machined aluminum alloy with a tempered glass lens. It fully charges in 3 hours and is offered in Black or Coyote colors with a Mil Spec anodized finish. It’s offered with a limited lifetime warranty and best of all, their made locally in Norristown, PA.
For more information, pricing and ordering information check www.streamlight.com.
The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission has announced a major change in the upcoming trout season. The two regional opening days have now been consolidated into a single Saturday, April 3, statewide trout season opener.
If you recall, up to 2006 the statewide trout season opener was always on one date. In 2007, the PF&BC decided to change the trout opener to two different dates with the explanation being that southeastern creeks and streams got warmer earlier than those in the northern tiers of the state. Warm waters, they said, were not healthy for stocked trout, hence the earlier opener.
In addition to this change, the statewide Mentored Youth Trout Day will now occur on Saturday, March 27. The PF&FC said that because the mentored youth day was cancelled in 2020, all Voluntary Youth Fishing Licenses purchased last season, will remain valid during the 2021 season.
According to Tim Schaeffer, PF&BC Executive Director, “The move back to a statewide single opening day is to insure that we can preserve our cherished fishing traditions, while reducing the amount of travel across multiple opening days. We wanted to give anglers as much time and information as possible to plan ahead, and we think they will especially like having stocking dates and locations at their fingertips again this year on our FishBoatPA mobile app and website (www.fishandboat.com).
Because of this change, the PF&BC will begin pre-season trout stocking operations on February 15, which is two weeks earlier than previous seasons.
Although the Extended Trout season is published to run until Feb. 29, all streams that are designated as Stocked Trout Waters will be closed to angling beginning Feb. 15. Anglers should keep this in mind.
While many anglers customarily assist the PF&BC in the pre and in-season trout stockings, the agency is reinstating a limited number of volunteer stocking opportunities due to Covid-19. A source said that local Waterways Conservation Officers will only use a select number of volunteers that have faithfully served over the past several years.
The agency also announced that a stocking schedule will be provided on the PF&BC’s website and FishBoatPA mobile app beginning Feb. 1. These dates are subject to change due to weather and other factors, but new dates will be posted on both sites.
PGC/PF&BC INTRODUCE HUNTFISHPA SITE
The Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission have partnered with digital government solutions company NIC Inc. to manage the new HuntFishPA licensing and secure payment system at www.HuntFish.pa.gov.
Anglers, hunters and boaters will now be able to buy their respective licenses and associated stamps online plus submit harvest reports and access 24/7 call center support.
Customers who prefer to purchase these licenses and stamps in person, may continue to do so at 750 licensing agent locations including bait shops, convenience and sporting goods stores and Walmart. When doing so, licenses/stamps will be printed at time of purchase on durable green paper instead of the previous yellow license color.
ICE FISHING REPORT
All ice fishing action still remains in the Pocono Mountain lakes and ponds. Because of the high winds this week, neither famed Ontelaunee Reservoir in Berks County or Lehigh Lake in Lehigh County have any safe ice. But Chris, from Chris' Bait & Tackle in Mertztown, believes both lakes could have safe ice by Monday, Feb. 1.
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.