As we’re in between hunting seasons, now that spring gobbler season ended and the dove season is two months away, there’s another seldom hunted small game species that can allow you to stay on top of your wing shooting prowess.
That small game species is crows. Yes, crows. They’re plentiful, tough to hunt, and do make good table fare.
They’re also nest robbers. For example, I saw a crow fly into an arborvitae tree across the street from my house where I’ve been watching doves feeding their young. This crow snatched a newborn dove and flew to the top of a utility pole where it began tearing off its feathers then eating it.
Hunting crows can be tricky as they are very smart, says the folks at American Gun Association. Because of that, the association offers these crow hunting tips for beginner and seasoned hunters alike.
*Their first tip for crow hunting is to hunt early mornings and late evenings when crows are most active. The remainder of the day they usually just roost or forage.
*Calling crows into range is especially productive and can be performed with a typical mouth crow call or electronic call that is often used for coyote hunting.
*Crows are very visual birds and rely heavily on sight when it comes to danger assessments. Setting up decoys helps draw them in. However, decoys should be set in areas where there are other birds as crows will have more confidence flying into there. Crows aren’t easy to trick so make your decoy spread realistic as possible even using a motion decoy or two.
*Like dove hunting, try to locate a flyway or ask a farmer who normally detest crows because they destroy crops. Attempt to find where they roost, eat, drink and rest. Crows also love to bathe so take note of any puddles and bodies of water as well as holes where water might pool up around the area in a field.
*Since crows are very fast, agile and wary, wear camo clothing and choose a fast, light load shotshell in 12, 20 or 410-gauge.
Keep in mind, Pennsylvania’s crow season runs from July 3 to April 11 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only. And there is no limit.
Lastly, breaded crow breasts make good table fare that can be prepared similar to chicken breasts with a seasoning of two of your choice.
WINCHESTER AMMO RECALL
Olin Winchester is recalling lots of 9mm Luger 115 grain Full Metal Jacket and 115 grain Jacketed Hollow Point pistol ammunition.
If you were fortunate to find and buy 9mm Winchester ammo before March 25, 2021, it is not subject to this recall.
Winchester has determined lots of 9mm 115 grain FMJ and JHP ammo may contain propellant that does not properly ignite and burn when the cartridge is fired. Ammo containing propellant that does not properly ignite and burn may result in a bullet remaining in the barrel (i.e. a bullet-in-bore obstruction). Firing a subsequent bullet into the bore obstruction could cause firearm damage, rendering the firearm inoperable and subjecting the shooter and bystanders to a risk of serious personal injury, says Winchester.
To determine the lot number of the affected ammo, check www.winchester.com or call toll free 844-653-8358. You may also write Winchester at 600 Powder Mill Road, East Alton, ILL 62024. Winchester will pay for the return shipping and re-ship replacement ammo or reimburse customers.
With schools and colleges out for the summer, families are heading to New Jersey shore points. And when they do, saltwater fishing can be the thing to do.
Our saltwater fishing reporters from On the Water Magazine offers these promising places to try your luck for some bigger-than-trout fish.
*Tackle World in Rochelle Park reports the striper bite in the back of Raritan Bay is hot using chunk. Rick Hebert from Tackle World, said his brother and crew caught and released close to 80 stripers last week.
*Giglio’s Bait & Tackle in Sea Bright reports fluke are being caught in the surf with mostly shorts but a few keepers mixed in. Best bet for them is Gulp baits and bucktails. There are also some small bluefish scattered along the beaches with short bass in the surf as well. Giglio’s says fluking has been decent in the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers, however shorts outnumber keepers.
*Tak Waterman B&T in Long Branch, said a new body of bluefin tuna moved in with fish in the 30 to 40- pound range. They’re being taken on the troll with jigs and popping plugs. Mike Gleason at Tak’s said the tuna were feeding on a mix of sand eels and squid and they fell for 60-80-gram streaker jigs. He added that there’s still a good striper bite to the north on Spooks and other top water plugs with fish in the 20-pound range. Fluking is picking up in both rivers and in the surf where striper action keeps getting better in the Ocean Grove/Bradley Beach surf area for anglers using sand crabs, small plugs and epoxy lures.
*Fisherman’s Den, Belmar, NJ, says the offshore seas bass bite has been good while fluke fishing has been productive in the rivers. Bob Matthews at the Den, said the surf bite for striped bass has been good on clams and sand bugs. Linesiders are hitting good at night in the rivers on shads and live eels. Finally, he offers that the offshore folks are enjoying a renewed tuna bite.
*Side Job Charters’ Capt. Jay Richardella, based in Belmar, has been getting into bluefins as he and crew placed second in the Manasquan River Marlin and Tuna Club Bluefin Open last week. They weighed a 47 pounder and managed to go 12 for 13 on bluefins.
*Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick, reported the overall offshore bite is picking up with excellent reports of shark fishing on the reefs. (If you’ve never eaten shark, the Paddock Restaurant off Walbert Avenue in Allentown occasional offers “shark bites” appetizers when shark is in season). Frank Gabriel at Gabriel’s, said the bluefin bite is improving daily while the surf is yielding stripers and blues on bait and there are plenty of both in the Manasquan River.
*Charlie’s Bait & Tackle in Normandy Beach, reports stripers and blues are being caught in Barnegat Bay by the Mantoloking Bridge on plastics, plugs and metal. On the beach, Bill at Charlie’s said Kettle Creeks and small plugs have been working for stripers and bluefish right at the lip in the wash. He hinted that teasers improve your chances.
While on the subject of stripers, there have been several Facebook postings of huge stripers coming out of Pike County’s Lake Wallenpaupack at night.
If you’re wondering where all the ammo is, and heard all the stories and rumors, ammunition makers say they are running at capacity and never, ever experienced this much of an increase in ammo sales.
It’s attributed in a large part they say, to first time gun buyers who crave ammo for range shooting and that number reached over 8 million in gun sales in 2020 and to date. And because of unrest in parts of the country and the current government administration pushing for gun control and the crazy defund police movement, gun buyers are hoarding ammo in case they may need it. Then there are those who buy as much as they can to re-sell it at ridiculous prices (price gouging).
So, what does the future of ammo look like for the remainder of 2021? The following was released by Southwick Associates who do annual surveys and extensive research on topics related to the fishing, shooting, outdoor retailer industry. The following is their outlook as to what the next months may bring.
Southwick says, 2020’s uncertainties boosted ammunition demand to record levels. Going forward, the question within the trade is “how long is current demand sustainable?”. To help provide insights, Southwick Associates polled the market.
In April 2021, Southwick surveyed hunters, recreational shooters, and firearm owners and found 72% had purchased ammunition within the past 12 months. Based on more than 1,800 responses, their feedback includes:
* Out of stock issues in 2020 and continuing into 2021 have caused 50% of hunters and target shooters to cancel or reduce the amount of target shooting and hunting activities they normally would have engaged in:
In 2020, four out of five encountered out of stock issues when trying to purchase ammunition.
o Three-fourths tried to purchase ammunition during the first quarter of 2021 but encountered out of stock situations.
* Expect ammunition demand to remain high: Nearly 2/3 indicate their current ammunition inventory is lower than they would prefer (64%).
o When asked how much more ammunition they would like to have on hand, 43% reported much more while 38% reported a little more. 17% were satisfied with the amounts they had on hand.
* When asked why they desire more ammunition, responses include: Uncertainty about future ammunition supplies (72%). This is especially true among consumers 45+ years of age.
o Uncertainty about future restrictions on ammunition purchases (70%)
o Uncertainty about future economic conditions (54%)
o Wanting to participate in hunting and target shooting more often (26%). This was more common among younger consumers.
When will demand soften? Certainly, at some point it will. However, the frenzied purchasing often feeds further increases in demand. Considering ammunition manufacturers still have significant backorders, and considering Southwick does not see demand softening at least through the second quarter of 2021, the ammunition shortages should at least continue through the second quarter of 2021 and for most of the year.
Second only to trout, black bass are the most popular sportfish in Pennsylvania. And the season for them kickes off this Saturday - minus the crowds of the trout opener.
The bass season opened with a creel limit of six and a minimum size limit of 12 inches. Despite this, most bass anglers wisely practice catch-and-release. It’s not because largemouth and smallmouth bass aren’t good eating, because they are. It’s because they’re more fun to catch-and-release as they can be caught again another day, especially when using lures as compared to live bait which could be swallowed and injuring the fish.
While smallmouth bass are predominately a river and stream fish, they can be caught in any one of Pennsylvania’s 4,000 lakes and reservoirs, most of which contain both bass species says the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PF&BC).
Of that number and for those new to the area, here are the more popular local waters that hold bass.
Blue Marsh Lake is the largest lake in the county where motorboats with unlimited horsepower can be used. It’s located off Route 222 northwest of Reading and in the area of Bernville.
Then there’s Ontelaunee Reservoir, also located off Route 222 in Maiden Creek Township. This impoundment has to be fished from shore (or wading) as no boats or watercraft are allowed. This lake probably holds the largest bass of any lake around this and other counties mainly because access is limited. Incidentally, you may latch onto a snakehead fish. If you do, it’s recommended it be dispatched as it’s an invasive species that no one seems to know how they got in the lake.
Lake Nockamixon, located between routes 313 and 412 outside of Quakertown, this expansive lake has a 10-hp limit on outboard motors. It has an extensive shoreline that contains good fish structure. It’s the premier lake in this county as it contains hybrid striped bass as well.
Beltzville Lake is an elongated lake that has no power limit for boats and is a popular bass water with Preachers Camp area being one of the hotspots. It’s located off the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike outside Lehighton.
Mauch Chunk Lake is much smaller in size (330 acres) as are the bass there. While there are some lunkers, many of the fish are on the stunted size but still fun to catch and release. Chunk is located on Lentz Trail Road west of Jim Thorpe.
Leaser Lake is producing some lunker bass but must be immediately released as only trout may be kept. Huge muskies too are being caught and they must also be released.
Locust and Tuscarora lakes, located west of Barnesville near Route 52, offer 52 acres of fishing at Locust Lake and 100 at Tuscarora. Both hold good populations of largemouths, albeit small ones with an occasional keeper.
If you don’t mind driving a little farther, Shohola Lake is prime bassin’ waters in that it’s shallow and loaded with above water structure. It holds some 8-pound largemouths. This is an electric motor-only lake that’s located off Route 6 between Milford and Lake Wallenpaupak. When bass fishing there many moons ago, I caught/released a huge snapping turtle that hit my white spinner bait.
This is but a fingernail summary of some of the local favored bass fishing waters. But don’t overlook farm ponds. You may be surprised as to the size of bass in these small waters.
For the 19th time, competitive shooting superstar Doug Koenig, a former Alburtis resident now living in Hamburg, Pa, has won the prestigious and competitive Bianchi Cup National Action Pistol Championship held May 24–28 at the Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club in Hallsville, Mo. After firing all four events, Koenig ended the match with a score of 1920-182X.
This is the 19th Bianchi Cup Championship victory for Koenig, which is the most of any competitor in the history of the match.
"I just finished the 42nd Bianchi Cup and proud to have won my 19th Cup. Congrats to all the winners for a great match in some tough conditions. Thank you as well to Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club for running a great championship and to all the match sponsors. I’d also like to thank my sponsors Ruger and Hornady for their support. I could not do what I do without them."
Bruce Piatt, the 2019 Bianchi Cup Champion, also finished this year's match with a perfect 1920 score, but he was down from Koenig in the X-count, and finished second.
Becky Yackley won the 2021 Bianchi Women's Cup with a final score of 1908-139X. Her score placed her 13th among all the competitors. In addition, her son Andrew Yackley secured the Bianchi Cup Junior Championship with a score of 1882-134X.
The Bianchi Cup is a championship match for the shooting sport now known as NRA Action Pistol. Action Pistol encompasses a number of set stages that are somewhat confusingly called “matches” or “events”, with the aggregate score of several being combined into one “course of fire” to determine winners and placement. Classically, the Bianchi Cup events are the Falling Plates, the Moving Target, the Barricade, and the Practical.
One of the defining features of Action Pistol is that each event is shot on a par time. Instead of scoring based on how fast competitors can shoot the required targets or number of rounds, competitors have limited time, counted in seconds, and limited number of rounds to shoot the best score possible. With most events being composed of strings of six rounds or less, revolvers have a special home in Action Pistol where they can compete on equal ground with semi-automatic pistols.
Except for the Falling Plates, Action Pistol events are shot on cardboard “tombstone” targets. The best Action Pistol shooters are able to shoot the 8-inch circle of the 10-ring and the black 4-inch X-ring inside of it consistently at distances out to 50 yards and under time pressure. Bianchi Cup champions in the open division, using optical sights, regularly score a perfect 1920 points, though the perfect 192x to go with it has been elusive.
As for Koenig’s experience, it spans nearly three decades of professional shooting. He attributes his success by incorporating a strong work ethic into his practice sessions mostly at Topton Fish & Game Association’s ranges where he does the majority of his practicing.
Koenig was born and raised in Pennsylvania and began shooting competitively at the age of 17 winning both regional and national competitions. In 1990, Doug turned pro as a competitive shooter. Since that day, his list of accomplishments and championship wins continues and may never be surpassed. He holds more than 70 National and 10 World titles including an unprecedented 19 times as a Bianchi Cup Champ. He’s also a lifelong hunter and hosts his own TV Show, “Doug Koenig’s Championship Season” on a cable channel.
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.