As this is Fourth of July week, boaters and paddle craft enthusiasts will be out in force. And if you’re of the latter, whether kayak fishing or just out for a quiet day on the water, proper and efficient kayak paddling will help increase speed and momentum so you can travel farther with less fatigue, say the folks at YakGear, a Houston, Texas company that markets a variety of paddle craft gear.
The pro’s at YakGear offer these general tips for new and seasoned paddlers to make the most of the day on the water.
Efficient paddling, they say, begins with proper sitting posture. An upright sitting position is key to getting the most from your paddle blades and allows for easier dipping and removal of the blade from the water. Paddlers should be sitting upright or slightly forward and not lean on the backrest. Feet should be anchored to the footrests or foot molds with knees slightly bent.
Don’t overlook hand grip. To determine the optimal grip placement, YakGear says to position the middle of the paddle on your head and grab the shaft with elbows at 90 degrees. This will be the ideal gripping spot for each hand. Most paddlers will tend to over grip the paddle. A light grip will prevent hands from growing tired and give you a better feeling for the balance of the paddle. Using paddle grips, such as HOLDFast Kayak Paddle Grips, will help keep hands fresh and provide a consistent, tactile point of contact.
A smooth and consistent paddle stroke too is perhaps the most important aspect of efficient paddling. According to YakGear, most new paddlers hold the paddle too close to their bodies with their elbows bent – more commonly known as paddle hugging. Instead, keep the paddle as far in front of your chest as possible, with elbows slightly bent. This will allow you to reach farther forward when you begin your stroke.
And lastly, Yak says some folks may be using the wrong length paddle. The general rule of thumb for finding the correct length of paddle is to stand straight and position the paddle vertically alongside your body. If you can reach up and just hook your first finger joint over the blade, it will be the correct length. For kayaks wider than 30 inches, you will need to add those extra inches to the overall paddle length. Paddles are measured in centimeters instead of inches, so a conversion will be needed. One inch equals 2.54 centimeters. For most kayaks and adults, a 230 cm or 240 cm paddle will do the trick.
For kayakers that straddle standard paddle lengths or may have several different sizes of kayaks, YakGear’s Backwater Assassin Carbon Fiber Hybrid Paddle, for example, provides added versatility with an extra 10 centimeters of adjustment to fill the gap. The kayak paddle is available in lengths of 230-240 cm and 250-260 cm.
With these tips in mind, be careful out there this week as the waters will be crowded, especially at places like Beltzville Lake in Carbon County, Blue Marsh in Berks and Lake Wallenpaupack in Pike County.
If you happed to be a golfer and avid bird watcher, you may want to get a tee time at Jack Frost National Golf Course in the Pocono’s. A buddy played there recently and said there’s an active bald eagle nest on the 10th hole.
The free National Wild Turkey Federations' JAKES program for youngsters offers great outdoors learning sessions
Now that school is out and you have youngsters that may be into ball sports or addicted to video games, their smartphones and iPads, it may be a good idea to give them a more rounded, different experience by enrolling them in the upcoming National Wild Turkey Federations (NWTF), JAKES Youth Field Day set for August 3.
The event, held at Ontelaunee Rod & Gun Club in New Tripoli, educates approximately 150 children, ages 8-12 and 12-16.
The JAKES program (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) has 10 learning stations that include archery, canoeing, fishing, NWTF’s take aim, safety, 22 shooting, trapping and more.
The more advanced Xtreme’s sessions are tailored for those in the 12-16 age class. This class is limited to 50 youngsters and includes several additional learning stations such as blood trailing, tree stand safety and shooting .223 rifles instead of smaller caliber .22s.
According to Lee Creyer, NWTF volunteer, the child must have at least one year in the JAKES program before enrolling in the advanced Xtreme’s sessions.
The program is free to all participants and each child will receive a complimentary T-shirt with lunch being included.
If interested in enrolling your youngster(s), email Creyer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the children’s name, age, address, phone number, T-shirt size, chaperone name (Mandatory unless in the same family), names of preferred other youth groups in same group and number of years of prior attendance, if any.
After registration, Creyer said you will receive a release form that needs to be signed and returned. Once received, registration on the day of the event begins at 7 a.m. with the day’s activities beginning at 8 a.m. and concluding at approximately at 5 p.m.
In a phone interview, Creyer remarked that over half of his current entrants have never attended a JAKES program. An encouraging sign.
With seemingly constant rain, this has been a bad stream and river fishing season. Best bets are lakes and ponds. And with bass season now open, you should concentrate your efforts on big waters like Ontelaunee Reservoir and Blue Marsh Lake in Berks County, Beltzville and Mauch Chunk lakes in Carbon, Lake Nockamixon in Bucks and Lake Wallenpaupack in Pike County. There’s also Lehigh County’s own Leaser Lake that is strictly catch-and-release on all species except for trout.
Incidentally, the hot trout bait right now is Berkley’s PowerBait worms in Bubblegum flavor. According to Willie Marx at Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon, they also work well on Lehigh River smallmouth bass.
On the saltwater scene, northern New Jersey stripers are still being caught on the beaches, with a blitz occurring in the Deal surf for anglers using peanut bunker. Blue fish, in the 5-10-pound range, are popping up around the point at Sandy Hook and Keansburg Pier. Around Sea Bright, small bass and blues are falling for worms, sand crabs and bunker chunks. There’s also some black drum showing up in the surf.
Big blues are lingering in the Shrewsbury and Neversink rivers and fluke fishing is improving in both waters.
In Long Branch, keeper fluke are being hooked in the surf on bucktails tipped with Gulp teasers, SP minnows, Shads and Red Fin lures.
If you want really big fish, On the Water magazine reports offshore anglers are catching good eating bluefin and yellowfin tuna along with some sizable mahi-mahi.
Our 12-year old grandson shocked our son when he said he’d like to go hunting. A shocker because the boy is very active in basketball and baseball and up to this point never hinted he’d be interested in hunting. Perhaps the incentive was that two of his best buddies hunt with their dads.
So when my son asked how to get him started, I strongly suggested they attend a mandatory upcoming hunter safety course, as we did many moons ago.
And since I spent 43 years in law enforcement, it was thought my experience should help in regards to gun safety and safe handling prior to taking an upcoming hunter safety course.
I asked my grandson if he’d like to initially start off learning about firearms with a handgun or rifle. He chose the former as it appears to be the easiest to hold. With that, I introduced him to the simple, gas piston-powered Gamo break-barrel, single shot pellet pistol that has a manufacturer rated speed of 508 fps.
While there are a myriad of BB and pellet pistols on the market, most are C02 powered and the cartridges are somewhat expensive for someone in training. Plus, if the cartridge isn’t used up during a training session, it’s unsafe to keep it in the handgun and not good for the O-rings that maintain a seal to prevent leakage.
I chose the Gamo as the company has been manufacturing air guns for over 120 years. They are also the largest manufacturer of airgun pellets in the world and one of the most recognized air gun manufacturers in Europe. They can be found in more than 50 countries where they’re commonly used for hunting and plinking.
Upon rehearsing the safety requirements of wearing eye protection, keeping the finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, not pointing the muzzle at anything but the target, and holding it at the low-ready position in-between shots, I was surprised that without prompting, my grandson kept his finger alongside the receiver of the Gamo P-900 when I handed it to him, and he checked to make sure the trigger safety was engaged.
After reviewing safe handling of the Gamo P-900, then subsequent sight alignment of the fiber optic front sight and adjustable rear sight, plus trigger squeeze, a pellet was loaded and he took a stance. His first shot from the light 1.3-pound, 12.5-inch long Gamo P-900 was low left at 10 yards. I advised him to pull the stout 4.5-pound trigger (pull weight), as straight back as he could. The next shot was closer to the center of the target. Surprising me again, he said he was going to try the next shot in a kneeling position, one of three we previously reviewed. Bingo. This one hit a tad low left in the orange center of the ping pong ball-size dot on the paper target. He was all smiles and appeared hooked on target shooting.
The next progression would be grand pop’s hefty Gamo break-barrel, scoped, pneumatic pellet rifle that could now be used for squirrel hunting in Pennsylvania since the rules were changed last year.
Who knows. Our grandson may eventually forego ball sports and take an interest in competitive BB gun shooting and perhaps be a member of the 64 top BB gun teams at the Daisy Nationals, a national championship shoot wherein youngsters ages 8-15 will compete on July 3-6 in Rogers, Ark, according to Lawrence Taylor, Daisy/Gamo Director of Public Relations.
Taylor describes the Daisy Nationals as competitive shooting that teaches mental focus, bolsters self-esteem and improves coordination. “Every year we hear stories of how competitors have raised grades and became happier since thy started the program. This is especially true for those who are dealing with a learning disability or other issue that can make excelling as a youth more difficult,” said Taylor.
Daisy Nationals’ youth competitors shoot four positions – Standing, Kneeling, Sitting and Prone – at targets placed at a distance of 5 meters using Daisy Model 499B Champion BB guns that are billed as the most accurate 5-meter BB gun in the world according to Taylor. “It’s not your old Red Ryder – this muzzle-loading BB gun will dot the “i” every time, Taylor explains.
He goes on to say that teams from 17 states will compete in this year’s event and most locally, the Rangers and Shrewsbury (Pa) Sharpshooters will compete. The event covers gun safety, technique, match rules extensive written test and an extension of Daisy’s youth gun initiative.
If our grandson continues in the sport, he could possibly go on to be a member of the USA Shooting Team and compete in future international Pan American games, the Olympics of the shooting sports wherein shotguns and other firearms are used.
For more information on Gamo products go to www.gamousa.com.
While the deer hunting season closed in January, it doesn’t have to end if you take to the woods and fields in search of antler sheds.
According to Pennsylvania resident Bob Foulkrod, a RedHead Pro Hunting Team member, outdoor TV personality and outdoor writer, “From a practical standpoint, hunting sheds is a tremendous aid in hunting the deer that grew them. Finding shed antlers in your hunting area in late January and into February and March, can tell you a great deal about the number and quality of bucks you are likely to see during next hunting season.”
Shedding can start to occur in late December as famed wildlife photographer and author Dr. Lenny Rue III indicates in his new book, Whitetail Savvy (a sensational encyclopedia on whitetails available from Rue at www.ruewildlifephotos.com). Says Rue, “With the ever increasing amount of daylight after December 21st, the melatonin is suppressed by the end of March and the luteinizing hormone allows enough testosterone to be produced to start the growth of the buck’s new antlers.”
In his chapter on sheds, Rue writes that finding cast antlers may help hunters to be more successful in locating a good buck the following deer season. Sheds, he contends, also make good knife handles, door pulls and chandeliers.
Rue goes on to say that even more important, cast antlers give definite proof which bucks made it through the hunting season, how large the bucks are and where they might be found next season.
He adds that although bucks may not live in the same area in which they spend their winter, hunters who live in an area where deer do not yard up, can find sheds that indicate home range.
And as many shed hunters know, if you find one antler you may or may not find the other one. Rue says that most of the time a buck will lose one antler and not drop the second for another hour, day or week. And if not found a short time after they’re cast, they’ll be consumed by rodents and other animals desperate for minerals.
Trying to spot antlers in a forest littered with leaves and sticks could be tough, as they don’t stand out. He writes about an Indiana farmer who had two of his tractor tires punctured by a shed as he was driving in his hayfield. “That cost him $600 to have the tires replaced.”
But for shed hunters, finding large ones could bring big bucks of the monetary kind. Rue points out that if finding a large 150-195-inch B&C class shed could bring the hunter upwards of $2,500 or more.
As for locally in the Lehigh Valley area, Bob Danenhower, of Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy in Orefield and an avid shed hunter since he was a kid, says shed hunters should check hillsides and ridge-tops with a southern exposure as bucks like to warm themselves during past cold and bright winter days. He also suggests checking winter deer bedding areas.
Danenhower contends, as does Rue, that bucks may drop an antler then keep shaking its head to drop the other that may or may not fall at that time.
For novice shed hunters looking for a public spot to hunt, Danenhower suggests walking the Lehigh Valley Zoo (the Trexler Game Preserve to us old timers) lands as he did and as he used to find many sheds there. And if you’re shed hunting takes you to an unplowed field, you may not only an antler, but an Indian arrow head as a bonus.
So to lengthen your deer-hunting season, give shed hunting a try. It may pay off handsomely.
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.