Kayak fishing has grown in popularity so much so that there’s even competitive kayak fishing tournaments just like the various high-powered bass boat bass fishing tournaments where big bucks are at stake for the winners with the heaviest amount of bass in their boats live-wells.
The advantages of kayak fishing is that allows anglers to fish from a boat that costs less than most bass boats and allows anglers to fish shallow waters where bigger boats can’t reach. And since kayaks are quiet running, they also spook less fish.
Avid kayak angler Derek Sigler from Outdoor Hub site, says probably the first question prospective kayak anglers ask how do I cast from a shaky kayak. “When you try to cast for the first time you’re most likely to feel like the craft is going to tip over on you and it may just freak you out. When it gets wobbly just try to remember that the kayak was designed for this. It will get a little squirrely but you’ll be fine,’’ he admits.
He goes on to say “If you want to build up your trust factor, take the kayak and get in on some calm water. This can serve as a practice run. Start wiggling your hips so the boat starts bouncing from side to side, just like when you’re going to cast. Feel how the boat reacts to the motion. That should help build your confidence in the boat’s ability to stay upright. Remember to just flow with the boat. And when you decide to take a standing cast, and if you have a wide enough fishing kayak to do so, the same principle applies. Practice your standing balance and learn to move with the kayak before you try it when having all your gear onboard too.”
As for landing a fish, Sigler says this is the tricky part. “The best practice is to get the fish close to the kayak and then place your rod in the hand opposite of the side the fish is on. Use the rod hand to pull the fish toward the kayak, while also helping to balance the kayak while you land the fish. It’ll feel awkward at first, but will get better with practice.”
If you’re still nervous about standing in a kayak while fishing, there’s one company who make a set of clamp-on outrigger-type pontoons that add stability.
Even more effective is Freedom Kayak company’s Hawk model where the stern splits open by pulling a cord thereby adding substantial stability.
Some months ago, in an issue of On the Water Magazine, I recall reading where a saltwater angler fishing from a saltwater-type kayak managed to catch a sizable striper that pulled him around for about an hour until it tired and he could eventually land it.
Today’s kayaks come in several forms and lengths and some are offered with paddles to propel them instead of paddling. The latter gives more versatility when fishing, but because of the fins underneath the kayak, they can’t quite reach the very shallowest of water.
All in all, kayak fishing is a relaxing way to fish large or small bodies of water. Just don’t forget to wear a life jacket, at least one of the suspender type models that are less cumbersome.
Many homeowners in the suburbs of the Lehigh Valley, even in the city of Allentown, are reporting seeing white-tailed deer fawns feeding on their ornamental bushes and trees in their yards. They’ve become acclimated to living in populated areas since warehouses and housing developments have been driving them out of their normal woodlands. And to their benefit, they won’t be hunted here and will only meet their fate when hit by a vehicle as they cross heavily traveled roadways.
Since most fawns are born during May and June in northern environments, fawns born later than this are at a distinct disadvantage because they will not have adequate time to grow and develop before winter arrives again. Fawns in the South, however, are born over a much wider time frame since they aren’t as accountable to Old Man Winter, according to Kip Adams of the National Deer Association (NDA), a conservation group.
“The arrival of fawns is cued to align with the flush of spring vegetation because “green-up” provides does with the high-quality vegetation necessary for the final trimester of gestation and for the demands of lactation. Green-up also provides the low-growing vegetation that helps conceal fawns from predators,” said Adams. Healthy fawns say NDA, average 4 to 8 pounds at birth, and they will double that weight in approximately 2 weeks — a period during which they survive entirely on their mothers’ milk. However, by 2 weeks of age rumination begins in their stomach, and they begin to supplement their milk diet with forage. They will triple their birth weight within a month of age. And this change to greenery is being advocated for human diets as we should be following suit by eating more greens and vegetables.
NDA goes on to explain that weaning is not an instant switch but a gradual process in which the fawn consumes less milk over time while eating more green forage. Fawns can be completely weaned and survive without milk by 10 weeks of age (2? months), but does often wean them at 12 to 16 weeks (3 to 4 months). It’s not uncommon for hunters to see a May or June born fawn still nursing, or attempting to, in October (20-plus weeks). These fawns do not need the small amount of milk they receive at this time of year, if they get any, and it's believed it’s simply a bonding exercise for the fawn and its mother.
While we’re on this topic, did you know newborn fawns lack the ability to urinate or defecate? While nursing, the doe will lick their rectal and genital regions to stimulate them to release their wastes. The doe will then consume the urine and feces so their odors do not attract predators. Now that’s a responsible mother! The doe will continue this behavior for at least 2 to 3 weeks. A newborn’s inability to expel these wastes, coupled with the mother’s protective behavior of consuming them, undoubtedly saves countless fawns from predation.
Whitetail fawns are hiders rather than followers like moose calves or climbers like black bear cubs. Their spotted reddish-brown coat, as you may know, is designed to blend flawlessly into a range of forested and open environments. Even as newborns, fawns will nurse and then move away from the doe to bed, that’s typically when good meaning folks think the fawn was abandoned. This behavior removes the doe’s scent from the fawn’s bedding site and is an anti-predation strategy. Twin fawns will also hide separately for their first three to six weeks to reduce the likelihood a predator will find both of them.
All of this information underscores the importance of quality habitat and diverse cover types. An abundance and diversity of natural plants in the understory ensures adequate milk and quality forage for fawns, as well as excellent cover to hide them from predators. All of this improves fawn survival, the health of the population, and, ultimately, the quality of your hunting experiences.
For all birders who maintain bird feeders, the Pennsylvania Game Commission requests you stop feeding the birds for now. And here’s why.
According to wildlife experts at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine and officials from the PGC, there are reports of songbirds becoming sick and dying due to a health condition.
Most recently, the PGC has recently received multiple reports from Chester County of nestling and fledging songbirds who have developed ocular or neurologic issues, and in some cases these birds have been found dead in large numbers.
Reports have also been received from 27 other counties that include Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Schuylkill and York. Nationally, cases have been reported in TN, KY, VA, WV, MD, DE, IN, OH and FL.
So far, 12 species have been affected. They are: Blue Jay, European Starling, Common Grackle, American Robin, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, House Sparrow, Eastern Bluebird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee and Carolina Wren.
Until this songbird mortality event it resolved, the PGC is asking folks to please stop feeding the birds because congregating birds could potentially transmit the disease.
As of July 1, 2021, there have been reports from public observations of both adult and young birds exhibiting signs of the condition. The most common clinical symptoms include discharge and/or crusting around the eyes, eye lesions, and/or neurologic signs such as falling over or head tremors.
Experts are encouraging the public to follow five precautionary measures until more is known:
*Cease feeding birds and providing water in bird baths to prevent the spread of this disease to other birds and wildlife.
*Clean feeders and bird baths with 10 percent bleach solution.
*Avoid handing dead or injured birds and wear disposable gloves if it’s necessary to handle or move a bird.
*Keep pets away from sick or dead birds.
*To dispose of dead birds, place them in sealable plastic bag and discard it with your household trash.
The game commission asks to report any occurrences of these sick birds online at https://bit.ly/3htNiaJ.
JUNIOR GAME WARDEN CAMP OFFERED
The PGC’s Southeast Region will be hosting a Junior Game Warden Camp on July 30, 2021 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area Visitor Center located at 100 Museum Road, in Stevens, Pa. (Lancaster County).
This one-day camp is offered to youths ages 11-15 and is a structured, fun-filled day learning about the career of a Pennsylvania Game Warden.
Participants will learn about wildlife crime forensics, methods wardens use to catch poachers, how to solve wildlife related crimes, wildlife capturing techniques, handling wildlife nuisance complaints, wildlife research, woodland tracking and outdoor survivor skills in addition to some light physical fitness.
Juniors will take home a JGWC t-shirt, JGWC patch, water bottle, backpack and survival kit. Bottled water and bag lunch will be provided.
Registration is limited to 30 campers so call Middle Creek Wildlife Center (717-733-1512) for details.
Antlerless deer hunting licenses are on sale, albeit at a slightly higher price
Although deer hunting season is a few months away, the Pennsylvania Game Commission reminds hunters that antlerless deer licenses went on sale July 12. For nonresidents, it’s July 19.
Hunters should note that there are a few changes this year as antlerless licenses have increased slightly in price.
According to the PGC, antlerless license fees haven’t increased since 1999. However, since vendors operating the licensing system increased their fee from 90 to 97 cents, that resulted in an antlerless license increase that will now cost $6.97 for residents and $26.97 for nonresidents.
The PGC points out that it’s imperative hunters use the 2021-22 application and envelope that reflects the price increase not an older one as your application will be rejected.
As a reminder, up to three applications can be submitted in the same envelope for a total reflecting the new price of $20.91. Checks and money orders must be payable to “County Treasurer” with a list of participating county treasurer’s and their addresses found in the 2021-22 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, or, viewed online at the agency’s website.
According to the PGC, if any Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) have remaining resident and nonresident licenses, hunters may apply for a second license beginning Aug. 2 and a third license Aug. 16. Those applications are accepted by mail only, not over-the-counter. And the proper remittance mailed in the pink PGC envelope.
Of course, hunters must first purchase a general hunting to be eligible for an antlerless deer license. For hunters who purchased their general license online, but haven’t received it, they can obtain an antlerless deer license application through the white-tailed deer page at www.pgc.pa.gov.
Hunters should note the total number of antlerless deer licenses have been reduced from 932,000 to 925,000 for the 2021-22 hunting seasons. This is attributed to the move to allow concurrent hunting of antlered and antlerless deer statewide during the 14-day regular firearms season. As such, the PGC says antlerless licenses could sell out at a faster pace this year. In WMU’s closest to the Lehigh Valley, only WMU 4C saw a decrease from last season going from 32,000 to 29,000. Otherwise, local 5C remained the same at 70,000; 5D stayed at 29,000; 3D remained at 36,000 and 4E increased from 37,000 to 42,000.
Hunters now can hold up to six unfilled antlerless licenses at a time and can apply for additional licenses as they harvest deer and report them.
Over-the-counter sales of antlerless tags for an WMU where they remain will begin Sept. 13. During this time, licenses for any WMU may be purchased from any county treasurer, either in person or through the mail.
Back again this year, participants in Pennsylvania’s mentored hunting program who are at least 7 years old, can apply for their own antlerless deer licenses and Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits. DMAP permits are used to harvest antlerless deer on specific properties.
In past years, mentored hunters could harvest antlerless deer only if their hunting mentor held a valid antlerless license or DMAP permit and transferred the permit to the mentored hunter following a harvest.
Additionally, and with hunting licenses, mentored hunters over 7 must have valid mentored hunting permits before applying for antlerless licenses or DMAP permits. Qualifying mentored hunters may purchase no more than one antlerless deer license.
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.