This inspirational story comes to us from the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP), which we did a column on a few years back.
Locally, the Swain School in Allentown, Defranco Elementary School in Bangor, Bangor Area Middle School and Bangor Area High School are involved in the program. The sport affords an opportunity for youngsters who don’t care to or can’t participate in ball sports, be a part of the scholastic sports environment.
And in this particular situation, Faith Oakley, a junior at Bethlehem High School in Bardstown, Kentucky, proves that determination and dedication to the sport of archery is possible, and she is creating quite a buzz in the archery world, according to Brittany J. Jones of NASP.
“Oakley, is not your average archer. She began shooting with NASP® in the fifth grade, but actually got her first taste of archery at summer camp the year prior. “At summer camp, my cabin would to go to the archery range once a day. The coach there asked me if I wanted to shoot. I was hesitant at first, but she offered to hold the bow for me while I drew back the string and aimed. When we went to shoot with the team, my first arrow was a bulls-eye.” Oakley says, “I was so proud of myself, that I immediately wanted to shoot again. When I got home, I told my parents I wanted to shoot archery in the fifth grade.”
Oakley’s perseverance, persistence and dedication to this sport over the years has earned her many achievements like attaining ninth place at the 2017 NASP® World Tournament, and she has been named, “One of the World’s Top Teen Archers”, but it has not come without challenges.
Oakley has a birth injury known as ERB Duchenne Palsy. It is a condition that causes nerves to be pulled away from the spine. For Faith Oakley, it makes it impossible for her to use her right arm. Since it is impossible for her to pull the bowstring back with her arm, she uses a rectangular nylon mouthpiece to pull back the string. Oakley does not let her physical challenge define her. Faith’s coach of three years, David Carrico, can also attest to her determination. “Faith is like any other teenager. She has her good days and bad days. When it comes to archery, she has the drive to be the best!” According to Carrico, when Faith was in middle school and when she found time, she would often participate in the high school archery practices. It’s no wonder she has achieved such high honors and titles with her history and continued tenacity for the sport.
When Ms. Oakley was asked if she had any advice for other youth contemplating archery, her response was nothing short of inspiring. “If you are a student who is thinking about starting anything, especially NASP®, but feel like it might be too difficult for whatever reason, I beg of you to take that dream and run with it.” She also added, “I was scared out of my mind to start a sport where the majority of people competing were able-bodied, but I am so glad I did. If I had given into that fear, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am no different than you. If you have a dream, go for it!”
For Faith Oakley, archery is a sport that has “grown it’s roots deep in to her core.” Not only has the sport increased her patience, discipline, strength, and stability, it has given her numerous opportunities for the future. After graduation, she plans on attending a college that has an archery team and possibly trying out for the USA Para-Olympics Archery Team, as well. She also plans on pursuing a degree in Education.”
If you’re a parent of a student who would like to give NASP a try at their school, it’s recommended that interest be conveyed to your school district and to Samantha Pedder at the PGC (717-787-4250 ext. 3327). Pedder will contact the school to assist in selling the program to administrators. You can also check www.facebook.com/PennNASP for more detailed information.
The best part for parents on a tight budget, is that the Pennsylvania Game Commission furnishes all the equipment free of charge. The only requisite is that the school provides a coach. So there’s limited expense and, realistically, there has to be some teachers that are bowhunters or archery shooters in local schools who could give freely of some time for this life-long sport.
The program has local championship tournaments with one being held at Penn State in State College where a record turnout of over 1,100 students from 41 Pennsylvania schools participated in this statewide tournament that had the largest field in history. The top shooters of local tournaments then have a chance to participate in the national NASP tournament.
Want to do and see something different this weekend? Head on up to Blue Mountain Resort for their 2018 Winter Fest being held in celebration of the resorts’ 40th Anniversary.
Says Melissa Yingling, Blue Mountain Marketing Manager, “Winter Fest was designed to get people outdoors in the winter months to have some fun and create memories that will last a lifetime. Free for all ages and full of a variety of events and activities, the festival is perfect for those who don’t ski and snowboard but are looking for something to do to beat the winter blues.”
This year’s festival is on Saturday, January 27th from 11am – 6pm and Sunday, January 28th from 10am – 2pm.
The festival takes place at the Summit Lodge, located on top of PA’s highest vertical and offering the most picturesque views of the Pocono Mountains. Guests looking for something to do with friends and family will find everything they need at Winter Fest, including:
• 40th Anniversary Birthday Bash – Saturday, January 27th at 5pm
• USA Olympic Luge Team – Saturday, 12pm – 5pm & Sunday 10am – 2pm; try out the track, ages 10+!
• Ice Carving
• Ice Thrones & Slides
• Dog Sledding
• Meet the Cast of “Frozen”
• Fire Dancers
• Snowmaking Tours
• Snowtubing with Carver
• Carver’s Coloring Contest
• Live Entertainment at Last Run Lounge
• Fireworks – Saturday at 6pm
Skiing, snowboarding, and tubing will be available at normal weekend rates. Guests do not have to ski, snowboard, or tube to enjoy Winter Fest. Kids in particular will certainly enjoy the ice slide, something they’ve probably never slid down before.
More information about Winter Fest can be found on the Resort’s website at www.skibluemt.com
Mark your calendar for Feb. 3-11, the dates for the largest consumer outdoors show in the world.
The Great American Outdoor Show rolls into the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg and it’s the most comprehensive outdoor show you’ll ever attend. For us folks here in the Southeast, we refer to this extravaganza as “the Harrisburg show” because it’s been well known over the years and there’s none like it or even comes close to it.
The show covers 650,000 square feet of indoor space, has more than 1,100 exhibitors, more than 400 outfitters including fishing charter captains, and draws an attendance of nearly 200,000 folks over its nine-day run.
And since the NRA took over management of the show, it now hosts practically every major firearms manufacturer displaying their latest lines be it handguns, shotguns, rifles and modern sporting arms.
The “Harrisburg” show features a little bit of everything, and a lot of everything. From firearms to trucks, boats, archery gear, RVs, ATVs and a series of contests and kid’s events.
A sampling of this years show features some familiar events such as DockDogs, 3D Bowhunter Challenge, Wall of Guns (where you can buy a chance to win one), Friends of NRA Banquet, arena shows such as Randy Oitker’s World Record Archery Trick Shooting, and NRA’s Country Concert, this year featuring Granger Smith, Nate Hosie, Earl Dibbles Jr. and LOCASH, all popular country music entertainers (show tickets may be purchased in advance online or call 800-514-3849).
If you’re a bowhunter or archer, one nicety of the show is that you can try out a bow, be it compound, crossbow, recurve or PCP, before you buy. The vast archery section will have the gamut of major bowhunting equipment manufacturers offering everything from bows to treestands and then some.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the host of free seminars, celebrity appearances, fundraising dinners and speaking events. All listed on the shows website www.greatamericanoutdoorshow.org.
Some patrons plan vacation days around the show because as customary, the weekdays are less crowded than weekends - although certain weekdays are just as packed.
Kids will be entertained by the Eddie Eagle booth, Kids Casting Contest, BB gun range, paintball range, face painting and live birds of prey display.
If you’re handicapped or have a tough time walking the myriad of displays, scooters and wheelchairs are available for rental.
Food and drink concessions are scattered throughout the show with seating areas reserved for food patrons so you don’t have to stand and eat.
Show hours are Feb. 3, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Feb. 4, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Feb 5-9, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Feb. 10, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.; and Feb. 11, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Here’s a tip for those looking to buy equipment. Attending the show on the last day often brings special discounts as many vendors would rather sell at an attractive discount, than take gear back, some having to ship their products.
Tickets can be ordered online to avoid standing in the ticket purchase lines and prices are Adult $14: Child (6-12) $7: Seniors (65 and older) $12.00: 2-Day passes: $24: Group ticket $12 (10 or more). Join the NRA on-site and you get free admission.
Parking is offered on-site ($10) or several off-site areas that offer shuttle buses to and from the show. Consult the shows’ website for locations and times. The Farm Show Complex is located at 2300 Cameron Street, Harrisburg, Pa 17110. The show is co-sponsored by Cabela’s and Ram Trucks.
Incidentally, the NRA puts its money where it’s mouth is as they’re donating more than $17,000 to Central Pennsylvania Outdoors Organizations. These are organizations that promote the outdoor lifestyle through educational and recreational activities and empower youth participation in the shooting sports. The beneficiaries are as follows:
The Pennsylvania Dutch Council of Boy Scouts of America in Lancaster ($6,547); Wildlife Leadership Academy in Lewisburg ($5,681); Wilkes-Barre Rifle and Pistol Club of Hunlocks Creek ($4,432); and Lebanon Valley Sportsmen Association of Robesonia ($1,050).
How birds survive the winter
With the frigid temperatures we’ve been having and several inches of snow on the ground, plus a wind-chill dipping into the sub-zero range, you may wonder how birds survive the winter. This is especially true with snow covering their food sources be it seeds, buds or berries. Heartier wild game birds such as pheasants, grouse and turkeys, have to scratch deep into the snow to hopefully find food, otherwise brush buds, leftover corn and soybeans are their major diets.
As for crows, they're opportunists. They're converge on trash dumpsters and pick open garbage bags or they'll feast on road kills.
Thankfully for avid birders who put out bird feeders filled with peanut hearts, sunflower seeds and suet, birds will flock to these food sources and survive. But for those who don’t have these considerate, well meaning hand-outs, here’s how a good many can make it through the winter.
To find out how the hardy ones do it, Charles Eldermire, the Bird Cams Project Leader at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, writes in the Birding Wire, have a basic rule of survival: Feathers + Food Equals Warmth.
Eldermire offers a five-step survival guide that comes down to this:
*Hang around with others when possible. When you see birds in the wintertime, they’re generally flocked. He says there are several reasons for that. First, when you’re in a group, you have more eyes looking around - and that means fewer chances of something (hawks and feral cats) looking for food eating you. Flocking also means more birds foraging, saving energy in the search for food.
*If you find a feeder, park in front of it and chow down. From feeders to seedy plants, you want to find all you can, eat all you can, and keep eating. Birds want the heaviest, fattiest foods possible (like black-oil sunflower and suet if you’re looking for something good to offer them) but there’s also a downside. Eat too-much and you’ll be slower. In the world of the bird, the slower you are, the more the likelihood you’ll wind up as someone else’s dinner.
*If you can’t eat more, just get puffy and rest. Their fluffy down feathers serve the same purpose as the ones in your puffy down winter coat. You can use your own metabolism to generate heat. Feathers do a great job of keeping body heat in while keeping cold air out. Eldermire says we should take pity on the woodpeckers of the world because they lack down feathers.
*Stay out of the wind. Doesn’t take much explanation. If the wind is howling from the east, get on the other side of the tree, shrub or feeder. Less wind is better.
*If you find shelter, get in it. The warmest our feathered friends can get is snugged into a small cavity where their down feathers can do their job at keeping in warmth and the small cavity will help keep any heat that does escape around their bodies. Bird boxes help here.
In an ideal world, combine all the prior ideas together. Eat, stay puffy, rest and conserve energy. The rules of survival in the birding world.
Seventeen time Bianchi Cup competitive shooting champ Doug Koenig, former Alburtis and now Hamburg resident, has just jumped ship. Yes, the long time Smith & Wesson sponsored professional competition shooter has left Smith & Wesson to captain Ruger Firearms sponsored first professional shooting team.
The announcement first made news earlier this week when fellow outdoor writer Jim Shepard in his Outdoor Wire/Shooting Wire columns, interviewed Koenig at the current Archery Trade Association dealer show in Indiana. His breaking news prompted a formal Ruger media announcement of Koenig joining their company.
Said Ruger President and CEO Chris Killoy, “We are very excited to introduce Team Ruger, and particularly with a shooter of Doug Koenig’s caliber at the helm. Doug is an outstanding addition to the Ruger team, bringing both a winning attitude and a true passion for growing the shooting and outdoor sports to the team.”
The media release goes on to say that besides serving as Team Ruger Captain, Doug will also represent the company as an official Brand Ambassador.
Doug, a friend and fellow Topton F&G Association member, is a lifelong hunter, world champion shooter and has an outdoors TV show on the Sportsmen’s Channel. He began shooting competitively at the age of 17, winning both regional and national competitions. Since turning pro in 1990, he has shot a consistent perfect score of 1920, an unprecedented 17 times, at the prestigious NRA Bianchi Cup. Koenig has also won more than 70 national and 10 world competitive shooting titles.
“I’m thrilled to join Team Ruger and partner with such an iconic brand in the industry. Ruger’s depth and breadth of products is a perfect fit for both my competitive shooting and hunting endeavors,” said Koenig in a prepared release.
In his interview with Shepard, Koenig said, “I’ve been with Smith & Wesson for a very long time and I want to make it really clear – they’ve always been good to me.”
In Shepard’s report, Koenig said he sensed that over the past few years the culture at S&W had shifted.
It appears this could be due to the fact S&W was taken over by American Outdoor Brands Corp., a holding company who owns several outdoors related businesses including such popular brands as Thompson Center, Crimson Trace, Bog Pod, Caldwell Shooting Supplies, Uncle Henry, Schrade Knives and more. And as typical when a holding company takes over, the atmosphere changes - not always for the good.
Koenig continued in his interview by adding, “We were going in different directions and I had already told S&W I wasn’t re-signing this year.”
Shepard, a seasoned journalist who was one of the founders of the Golf Channel, managed to press for more information since this was a shocker in the industry for which Koenig added, “Ruger products cover any type of competition, so I’ll be shooting their 1911, their polymer pistols and the Ruger Precision Rifle.”
This brings in a local connection. Randy Hollowbush, owner of The Handgunner in Topton, and a long-time close friend of Koenig who does gunsmith work for him, will be taking delivery of Koenig’s new competition firearms from Ruger, according to a phone interview with Hollowbush.
And coincidentally to Koenig’s S&W departure, is that Paul Pluff, Ruger’s Marketing Director, held the same position at S&W for many years before joining Ruger.
Ruger has come on strong in the firearms business, especially with their line of fine handguns. Koenig can only make the company’s products become more visible, and their business grow.
Our last fishing report was void of any news from the Pocono area where, because of colder temperatures there, safe ice fishing gets a jump on other southerly areas. As such, avid sportsman Jules Fruhwirth, of Emmaus, sent in a report from his ice efforts last weekend on Lake Minisink in Pike County. His report is as follows:
“We went to Lake Minisink where there was 8 inches of ice and caught some nice Perch and a 20-inch pickerel on rods with jigs tipped with minnows. I used my new Aqua-Vue under water camera to try to locate weed lines, structure and most of all, fish. The fish were curious about the camera and would swim up to it, but only for a few seconds.
We then drilled a lot of holes with my auger attached to a Clam cordless drill mount. This setup is lite and fast and I can drill about 30 holes through 8 inches of ice on one battery charge. But the action was slow.”
Fruhwirth said his cordless drill set-up was comprised of using his cordless drill, and for the auger, took the handle off a manual auger and just used the auger portion. Then he purchased the Clam handle, mount and auger adapter to complete the system.
“My cousin and I then went to a local farm pond to target pan fish. There was 8 inches of ice and 2 inches of snow. Again I drilled holes to find green weeds (as dead weeds have no oxygen) and fish. The pond was loaded with big 10-inch blue gills, and a lot of 12-inch bass.
The wind picked up so we set up my hunting ground blind and anchored it to the ice using my new Ice Angel Anchors. They worked great.”
Fruhwirth said these anchors can also be used in the ground but for ice, he drilled a partial hole.
“I then drilled an extra hole for the camera to be able to watch our two baits while we fished. It was interesting to see how the fish reacted to different styles and presentation of lures and baits. We were able to zero in on what works best rather quickly. No more sitting around waiting and guessing.”
In a follow-up phone call, Fruhwirth said they used mostly minnows and shiners and did better jigging a “Rattle Jig” tipped with a minnow than waiting for tip-up action. And most fish were caught off the bottom in four feet of water at Minisink, and in 10 feet at the farm pond.
With cold temperatures predicted for the remainder of this week and beyond, ice fishing should continue to be productive for those who can brave the cold and like to walk on water.
According to Chris Mohry, owner of Chris’s Outdoor Sports Shop in Mertztown, this is the best early ice fishing season he’s seen in many years.
Said Mohry, “I cannot remember any year that has been better than this, thanks to the early frigid temps we’ve had.” And his ice fishing report is enthusiastic.
Mohry says the ice at Ontelaunee Reservoir in upper Berks County located off Route 222 in Evansville, was loaded with ice anglers, despite the freezing temperatures we had. The ice there he reports is running 6-8 inches and anglers are catching pickerel, bass and crappies, predominately on minnows. And since he’s the only tackle shop in the area selling suckers, he’s been selling them to anglers who are after muskies both at Ontelaunee and at Leaser Lake in upper Lehigh County that has 4-6 inches of ice.
Speaking of Leaser, Mohry said the guys buying suckers are hitting big muskies there, one reportedly was 43 inches. Of course the toothy critters have to be released plus other fish other than trout. Unfortunately, no one is catching trout as it’s thought the muskies devoured them.
Willie Marx from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon has similar reports from both waters but adds one customer came back from Ontelaunee and said he caught 16 white perch plus some panfish and one Leaser angler pulled up a 32-inch musky.
Willie also reported a couple regular customers went to Mauch Chunk Lake and pulled panfish, a few pickerel and some nice bass from there. He thinks ice fishing will get even better after Friday’s rain and warm temps as another cold front is oncoming.
But he’s puzzled because he hasn’t received one report from Shohola, Promised Land lakes or Pecks Pond in the Pocono’s.
As for bait, Marx said he’s sold 7,000 wax worms so far as that’s seems the bait of choice with minnows second and mousies third in ice angler preference.
I visited Leaser and Ontelaunee last Sunday and counted 20 ice anglers far off the shore of Leaser. The dam area, where the fishing pier and kayak launch ramp is located, only had seven anglers.
At Ontelaunee, there were at Least 30 anglers on the ice at Evansville and Peters Creek Cove. The cove, incidentally, has some open water. I could also see a few anglers far off in the distant where they may have entered the lake from the other side. Ice there was a solid seven inches and several anglers were using ice fishing tents to cut the frigid wind at the time to make conditions more tolerable.
For those who want to try make larger ice holes, Fish’s Folding Ice Saw takes the place of an auger or spud bar to cut holes in the ice. This novel tool can cut round or square holes and big holes for two anglers to fish at. And if you’re after big muskies, a larger hole the saw can make would insure not losing it by trying to pull it through a small auger hole.
The saw, designed and built by Wayne Benbo (aka “Fish”) of Winger, MN, measures 42 inches folded and 80 inches long unfolded. The saw has a pointed tip to start an ice hole and the large toothed saw does the cutting. It’s a manual operation but effective and the exercise it gives could warm the angler in the process.
To see a demonstration of his saw visit the company’s (Fish’s Sporting Toys) Facebook page “Fish’s Folding Ice Saw” or check firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pennsylvania has a new record book bow buck. The 13-point typical buck was arrowed on Oct. 24, 2017 by Ron Shaulis of West Newton, Pa., on public land in Westmoreland County.
The new record buck had a net score of 185-4/8 that surpassed the previous record holder that scored 178-2/8, which was taken in Allegheny County in 2004.
According to Bob D’Angelo, PGC Big-Game Record Scorer and B&C official scorer, the rack was symmetrical and lost only 7 7/8-inches in side-to-side deductions, which included and inch-and-a-half abnormal points off the right side G-2 point. “That’s not much in deductions on a set of antlers this size,” D’Angelo claims.
The rack has 25 and 26-inch main beams, more than 11-inch G-2 and G-3 points, a 20-inch inside spread and 4.5-inch or better circumferences at the four locations where the latter is measured.
Shaulis said he put in considerable amount of time scouting and monitoring trail cameras to get this trophy with a compound bow.
“I didn’t know what I had until I took the rack to the taxidermist,” said Shaulis. “He told me I should definitely get it scored, as it might be a new record. That’s when I knew I wanted to take it to Harrisburg to get it officially scored.”
Last year, the PGC said a buck taken in Clearfield County scored 228-6/8 and was the new No. 1 Non-Typical Archery buck category.
Seems antler restrictions, started by retired Gary Alt, former PGC bear biologist turned deer manager, and for which he was severely criticized by sportsmen for doing so, is now showing results such as Shaulis’ buck and others.
While it has been frosty and snowy outside, it may be difficult to think of camping season. Well the 57th Annual Lehigh Valley RV & Campgrounds Show rolls into town and may get you in the mood for the upcoming camping season.
This annual event gets underway Jan. 12-14 at the Agri-Plex within the Allentown Fairgrounds at 302 N. 17th St., Allentown.
At least 13 local dealers will display everything from “pop-ups” to Class A Motor Homes will be available for your inspection inside the Agri-Plex’s 60,000 square feet and up to 30,000 square feet outside the building.
In addition to a myriad of RV’s and campers, representatives from a variety of campgrounds will be on hand to explain what they have to offer plus Anderson’s Campgrounds Directory will have information on over 100 campgrounds on the East Coast.
The Lehigh Valley RV and Campground Show is the oldest RV show in the country. Admission is $7 for adults, children under 12 free and of course parking is free.
For more information on who is displaying check www.allentowntradeshows.com or call the Fairgrounds office at 610-433-7541.
CABELA’S HOSTS FREE RELOADING/SNOWSHOEING CLASSES
During this same weekend, Cabela’s in Hamburg is hosting to free seminars that should interest sportsmen and snow lovers.
On Jan. 13 and 14, the outfitter will present Reloading 101 for those who would like to save money by loading their own ammo. This seminar will be repeated on Sunday, Jan. 14 with both getting underway at 12-noon within the store’s Reloading area of the Hunting Department.
On Sunday, Jan. 14, Snowshoeing for Beginners seminar will be offered in the store’s Footwear Department. The seminar will cover the types of snowshoes, trekking poles, footwear and clothing that will keep you comfy when participating in this outdoor activity that is also a fitness sport.
After the indoor session, Ron Leh, Cabela’s marketing manager, said the indoor session will then relocate to the nearby Kernsville Dam Recreation Area to put these newfound skills to use. If the area is void of snow, Leh says the group will go for a short hike. Cabela’s asks that interested participants should register by calling 610-374-2944, ext. 2611. The event is co-sponsored by Cabela’s and Blue Mountain Wildlife.
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.