The review we did a few weeks ago on the new Firing Line shooting range and gun shop located on the border of Egypt and North Whitehall Township, was a prelim to its official opening that took place today (Sept. 30) after a ribbon cutting by its owner, Gerald Stezelberger.
Stezelberger was accompanied during the grand opening by wife and his large staff of dedicated employees who helped get the new Firing Line ready for the date promised in the shops’ announcements. And that included the move of his original Relic Hunter Firearms & Military shop on MacArthur Road in Egypt.
This completely modernized shop is more than a 12 lane shooting range. It’s a retailer of firearms new, vintage and used and includes probably the largest selection comparable if not close to the size of Cabela’s as far as number of new firearms for sale. It’s a one-stop shop for ammo, ammo magazines and loaders, carrying cases, gun safes, firearm cleaning equipment, even ladies fine leather purses that serve double duty as concealed carry purses.
Firing Line also serves up a classroom for beginning and advanced shooters, huge retail space, the latest in new rental handgun models, a lounge area and accessories not often found at other shops. In fact, I purchased a pack of muzzleloader cleaners I couldn’t find at the big box stores or small gun shops. There’s also Army surplus gear like helmets, clothing and accessories with more to come as these items are how Stezelberger started in the business.
Memberships are available and this first day had a few shooters trying out the new range for the first time. The range is a work of art with its sound deadening foam on all the walls, rubber impregnated back stop and state-of-the-art ventilation and air filtration system that sucks out the bad air and blows fresh air to the shooter from above and behind the shooter.
In case you’re not sure where the Firing Line/Relic Hunter is, the new address 4671 Egypt Road, Coplay, Pa 18037. Their operating hours are Mon-Wed. 10-7; Thursday-Sat. 10-8 and Sunday 10-6.
The statewide archery hunting season kicked off today (Sept. 30) for antlered and antlerless deer for the season that continues until Nov. 11. Then there’s the late archery season that starts up again Dec. 26 and runs until Jan. 13.
For sportsmen who hunt in WMU’s 2B, 5C and 5D, they can hunt both buck and doe from Dec. 26 through Jan. 28.
In surveying local tackle shops as to recent archery success during the early season in WMU 2B, 5C and 5D, it seems many bowhunters didn’t go out because of the heat we had last week. They were afraid the delicious venison meat would spoil before they were able to get it to a meat processor, or before they were able to skin and process it themselves. For tips on warm weather venison care check the PGC’s website under the white-tailed deer page.
With lower temperatures predicted for a good part of this week, and with the statewide opening, we should see more bowhunting activity.
When going afield, the Pennsylvania Game Commission reminds hunters to take only responsible shots at deer and no farther then a sportsman can consistently place arrows or bolts into a pie pan sized target, either broadside or quartering away.
Under a rule change, bowhunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts but transmitter-tracking arrows are still illegal in Pennsylvania. And if you’re hunting on state game lands, state parks or state forests, it’s illegal to build or occupy tree stands that are screwed or nailed to trees and all stands may not damage trees. They must be tagged with the owners’ name, address and CID number that appears on the hunting license. Or, hunters can get a unique identification number issued by the PGC and obtained through the online Outdoor Shop on the agency’s website.
Hunters are also urged to use a fall restraint device to prevent falling from a treestand. Every year a few hunters fall and break limbs or worse, face death after falling from a tree stand. Many times this happens when ascending and descending the tree.
There are also several warnings and precautions from the PGC if hunting in a Disease Management Area (DMA) where deer there may have CWD disease. If you think you have a deer with CWD, the PGC has collector bins where hunters can drop off the heads of the deer to have it tested for free within the sites set-up in affected DMA’s. The backbone and other deer parts may be deposited at high-risk parts dumpsters in the same locations. It’s advisable to check the PGC’s website as to where these collection areas for affected deer parts may be dropped off.
If you were a regular user of Bob’s Taxidermys’ Yurin-Luck doe and buck urine, he just got in a fresh supply. As for the doe-in-heat scent, he won’t get that in for another week as he doesn’t like to sell it too early to maintain its freshness as the rut is not yet on. Call his shop at 610-398-7609 to check for availability.
FOUR ELECTRONIC DEVICES APPROVED FOR HUNTING
The Pennsylvania Board of Commissioners gave final approval to legalize four additional electronic devices that will be lawful to use while hunting.
Hunters will be able to use electronic decoys in hunting waterfowl, electronic dove decoys, electronically heated scent or lure dispensers and electronic devices that distribute ozone gas for scent-control purposes. This adds to the electronic crow decoys for crow hunting that were previously legalized.
One point however. These devices won’t be legal to use for about six to eight weeks after being legally advertised.
Well, it’s now official. Bass Pro now owns Cabela’s. A topic many sportsmen and sportsgals have been wondering about since the deal was announced in Spring. Addressing the issue is this statement from Bass Pro and with it comes questions patrons of both stores may have as to the combining of services and products:
Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's, two iconic brands and leaders in the outdoor industry, have officially joined forces with a vision to become North America's premier outdoor and conservation company. The combined company is poised to provide customers with unmatched offerings spanning premier destination retail, outdoor equipment manufacturing, world-class resort destinations and more with a strong commitment to advancing conservation initiatives.
"We are excited to unite these iconic American brands to better serve our loyal customers and fellow outdoor enthusiasts," said noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops Founder and CEO Johnny Morris. "As we move forward, we are committed to retaining everything customers love about both Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's by creating a ‘best-of-the-best' experience that includes the superior products, outstanding customer service and exceptional value our customers have come to expect. We're also deeply motivated by the potential to significantly advance key conservation initiatives."
The combined company offers outdoor enthusiasts superior products, dynamic locations and above all, outstanding customer service. Innovative experiences include Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid, the largest, most dynamic retail destination experience ever created. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, the gigantic 52-million cubic-foot facility also contains the remarkable Big Cypress Lodge. Additional offerings include award-winning hospitality and nature-based attractions like Big Cedar Lodge, the wilderness resort in Missouri's Ozark Mountains recently recognized as the number one resort in the Midwest by Travel + Leisure for the second consecutive year. The company's manufacturing arm, White River Marine Group offers an unsurpassed collection of industry-leading brands including TRACKER®, SUN TRACKER®, NITRO®, TAHOE®, REGENCY®, MAKO®, RANGER®, TRITON®, STRATOS® and ASCEND® among others.
Conservation and introducing new audiences to the outdoors is a key focus of Morris. Last week the conservation-minded visionary opened Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, the largest, most immersive fish and wildlife attraction in the world. Located next to Bass Pro Shops National Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, Wonders of Wildlife is larger than the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. With 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, the 350,000 square-foot complex is a wonder in and of itself. Wonders of Wildlife is a gift to future generations from Johnny Morris, establishing a significant not-for-profit conservation attraction and education center in the heart of America.
Shared love of the outdoors
Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's were each born from a love of the outdoors and share a remarkable heritage and legacy. Avid young angler Johnny Morris founded Bass Pro Shops in 1972 with eight square feet of space in the back of his father's liquor store in Springfield, Missouri, the company's sole location for its first 13 years of business. Cabela's dates back to 1961 when Dick, Mary and Jim Cabela began a mail order service for outdoor products around their kitchen table in Chappell, Nebraska. Both companies went on to become industry leaders. Together the combined company will celebrate both the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's brands while building on the rich history of both companies and looking to the future to best serve customers and outdoor enthusiasts.
As a result of this merger, customers have numerous questions, so Bass Pro issued the following most commonly asked questions.
What are the customer benefits of uniting these companies?
This is an opportunity to create a "best of the best" shopping experience for all outdoor enthusiasts. It means more selection as we are bringing together the best in fishing with Bass Pro Shops, the best in Hunting with Cabela's and the best in boating with Tracker Boats and other boating brands. Increased buying power will also help us deliver greater value to our customers. At the same time, it means continuing to provide unmatched expert service. In general, we plan to retain and grow everything customers love about both brands. As a bonus, we also plan to be a powerful, unified voice for conservation and become a stronger advocate for the outdoors and sportsmen's rights.
Will the company's name change?
We will continue celebrating and promoting both the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's brands as we bring our two great companies together.
Will Bass Pro Shops gift cards be honored at Cabela's locations and vice versa?
Customers can exchange a Bass Pro Shops gift card to a Cabela's gift card for an equal amount and vice versa. Gift cards are exchanged at the customer service counter in either store or by contacting our online customer service centers. To exchange a Cabela's gift card that you would like to use at Bass Pro Shops, call 1-800-211-6440 to have it exchanged. To exchange a Bass Pro Shops gift card that you would like to use at Cabela's, call 1-800-237-4444 to have it exchanged. We are working to improve this process moving forward.
Will I be able to return Cabela's purchases to Bass Pro Shops locations and vice versa?
Yes, Cabela's purchases can be returned to our customer service counters at Bass Pro Shops and vice versa or by contacting our online customer service centers.
Will existing exclusive brands and products still be available at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's?
Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's have strong national proprietary brands in several categories. Our goal is to continue developing and growing our brands to ensure we provide the same exceptional quality, service and value that customers have come to know and trust from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's exclusive products.
Will Cabela's CLUB Visa cardholders earn points at Bass Pro Shops locations?
Yes, Cabela's CLUB Visa holders will earn 1% back on all purchases made at Bass Pro Shops and all locations that accept Visa. In addition, Cabela's CLUB Visa members will still earn 2%, 3% or 5% back on qualifying purchases at all Cabela's locations, earning points for free gear and incredible outdoor experiences. We are working on solutions to better connect the programs.
Will Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards Mastercard cardholders earn points at Cabela's locations?
Yes, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards Mastercard holders will earn 1% back on all purchases made at Cabela's and all locations that accept Mastercard. In addition, you will still earn 3% or 5% back on qualifying purchases at all Bass Pro Shops locations, earning points for free gear and unique experiences. We are working on solutions to better connect the programs.
This past weekend provided perfect weather for the East Coast Steel Challenge Championship shoot-out held at Ontelaunee Fish & Game Associations’ firearms ranges.
The four-day event in New Tripoli drew 310 shooters from 25 states with one coming as far as California. Shooters ranged in age from 7 to 70 and had pro’s like Smith & Wesson pro shooter and Hamburg resident Doug Koenig who was one of the competitors.
The purse of $13,000 was delved out to the top shooters over the timed eight stages of fire with such names as Accelerator, Pendulum, Roundabout, Smoke & Hope, Showdown, Outer Limits and Speed Option. There were also two Outlaw stages one of which was the Falling Plates where the shooter has to knock down the four, in-line steel plates in the fastest time possible.
Target distances varied up to 25 yards and shooters are timed with the quickest to hit all the plates of the eight stages is considered the top-gun per class. And because of the great numbers of shooters, competition was broken down into morning and afternoon sessions.
There are different categories of shooters depending on their firearms of choice such as those using revolvers, pistols and rifles. And with the younger set, there’s a junior class that this year featured several tweens plus 7-year old Venice Oliver from Georgia who said she’s been shooting, along with her father Tom Oliver, since she was five. She was an inspiration to adult shooters as she shot her Smith & Wesson .22LR pistol with red dot sight, extremely accurately. Of this young group was Bradley Koenig, seventh grader at Hamburg Elementary School and the son of pro shooter Doug Koenig. The elder Koenig offered his son shooting tips for the specific steel targets such as which ones to shoot first then swing to the second and so on.
As a pro shooter and 17 time Bianchi Cup Champ, Koenig was the only shooter who was noticeably stretching and practicing his draw prior to shooting the course. Evidently that’s what makes him a champion shooter over the years.
For those unfamiliar with steel plate shooting, the plates are exactly what their name implies. A round steel plate with a few few rectangular plates mixed in that get sprayed with white marking paint prior to each contestant shooting at them. Plate shots are seen and heard as the bullet puts a black mark on the target to show it has been hit and the sound of the bullet hitting the targets sound like someone banging a steel pan with a metal spoon.
In addition to the prize money, firearm manufacturers donate gear, accessories and promotional items to entrants so even the slowest shooters get to take home a prize of sorts. And the list includes major donors such as Colt, Glock, Smith & Wesson, Sig, Cabela’s, Crimson Trace and many others.
To see the scores and winners of the Challenge go to firstname.lastname@example.org, and from there click on the organizations Facebook page and look for Practiscope Results where you can peruse the winners and their scores.
The archery deer hunting season for antlered and antlerless deer kicks off tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 16, in Wildlife Management Units 2B and local 5C and 5D. The season statewide gets underway Sept. 30 and runs until Nov. 11.
In their deer population report, the Pennsylvania Game Commission said deer numbers in WMU 5C and 5D is stable. As such, the agency allocated 79,000 antlerless hunting permits for 5C and 24,000 for 5D. Perhaps the reason for the wide spread between the two, wherein 5D used to encompasses much of deer rich Bucks County and where allocations were always highest, is because of a redistricting of some of that area to 5C.
It’s nice to know 5C has a stable herd. And it’s interesting to note all the places deer now call home in Lehigh County.
Aside from the large tracts (and deer) that encompass the properties of the former Trojan Powder Company (Jeris Corp.) as it was once known and still referred to it by us old timers, there are loads of small woodlots that hold deer in Lehigh alone. To begin, there’s the Tercha property off old Route 22 outside Fogelsville where a herd of deer are almost always seen feeding at dusk in the fields there. I’ve also spotted a few deer in the small brushy area behind South Mall in Salisbury Township, Lehigh Country Club property, the woods behind Walmart in Whitehall Township (it was called the West Catty woods when I was growing up there), around the quarries in Egypt, Ormrod, and Ironton, the Twin Lakes Golf Course, the entire South Mountain parcel, the former Apple Hill Ski Area on Kernsville Road in Orefield, along the Lehigh River, even heavily used Trexler Park where a lame deer has taken up refuge according to several reports. But these places don’t help hunters as most are off-limits to hunting. So that leaves asking permission to hunt at suburban farms in Lehigh and Northampton counties or the game lands of #205 off Route 309 in Lowhill Township and #217 along the Blue Mountain in Washington Township Lehigh County. In Northampton County, it’s predominately SGL #168 along the Blue Mountain.
Also in Lehigh County, there are small open areas for archery-only around the Trexler Zoo (formerly Trexler Game Preserve) and a small tract of farm/wooded area on Lehnert Road in Scheresville off Mauch Chunk Road in Whitehall Township. The latter deer are also hold-up in the wooded parcel behind the old grist mill on Mickley Road and the apartment complex bordering Route 22 in Whitehall.
It’s amazing how deer have adapted so well to these places that offer some cover and provide many of their needs in spite of their populous locations.
Last archery season, bowhunters in WMU 5C took 12,290 deer of which 5,300 where antlered and 6,990 antlerless. In local 5D, 6,460 deer were harvested comprising 2,280 antlered and 4,180 antlerless.
As with every archery season there’s usually treestand injuries and fatalities. It behooves all bowhunters to wear a safety harness while climbing and in their treestands. And with warm weather predicted for the week, it’s wise to quickly field dress your deer and get it cooled or to a meat processor. If you don’t want the delightful venison, donate it to Hunters Sharing the Harvest program that several butcher shops participate in. In Lehigh County it’s Hartman’s Butcher Shop, New Tripoli (610-298-8232), and in Northampton County it’s Nello’s Specialty Meats, Nazareth (610-759-0628). Or your local food bank.
With deer hunting season about to get underway in Pennsylvania, its interesting to note that 88 percent of hunters believe scent control products are effective for their intended purpose, according to Southwick Associates, the leading market research and economics firm in the outdoor industry. Among those hunters, 51 percent use them.
Scent control has to be one of the most debated topics in the hunting world. Hunters wonder whether or not products that are geared to hide or mask human scent while hunting are effective. A recent HunterSurvey.com poll sheds new light on the topic. Southwick Associates broke the topic into several products. So, which of these are used the most?
Scent control sprays, applied just prior to going to a stand or into the field, are the overwhelming favorite choice of today’s scent-conscious sportsmen with 85 percent using them. Following directly applied sprays, the survey found these other products to be quite popular:
• Scent-Control Detergent and Dryer Sheets, 71 percent
• Scent-Control Hygiene Products, 54 percent
• Scent-Control Hair Products, 47 percent
• Scent-Control Clothing, 28 percent
• Scent-Control Bags or Containers, 27 percent
Field wipes (20 percent), ozone products while hunting (4 percent), ozone products while stored (3%), and unspecified “other” items (2 percent) rounded out the survey results.
Among those hunters who don’t use scent control products, the top reasons for taking a pass on them include: the belief that they do not work (42 percent), cost (21 percent), prefer the challenge of hunting without them (10 percent) and lack of product awareness (4 percent). More than 32 percent of respondents cited “other reasons,” including not needing scent control for species, such as waterfowl and wild turkeys.
“This survey may not settle the debate on the effectiveness of these products in managing scents, but it does show the majority of sportsmen do believe in them and in fact use them to gain an edge in the field,” says Cody Larimore, research analyst at Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com.
To help improve, protect and advance hunting, shooting and other outdoor recreational activities, all sportsmen and sportswomen are encouraged to participate in the bi-monthly surveys at HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and/or AnglerSurvey.com. Participants who complete the surveys are entered into a drawing for one of five $100 gift certificates to the sporting goods retailer of their choice.
FISHING & FUN IN THE PARK
The Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living (LVCIL) is hosting Fishing & Fun in the Park for folks with disabilities. LVCIL is an Allentown non-profit that helps people with disabilities achieve their independence and is sponsoring the free event on Sept. 23 in the Little Lehigh Creek. The section of creek between the steel and Robin Hood bridges in Lehigh Parkway will get stocked with between 300-400 trout will be stocked. The event will be manned by volunteers from local sportsmen’s clubs who will stock the fish plus help participants with baiting their hooks, casting and landing their fish.
The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission loaned 85 fishing poles for the participants while local sporting goods stores donated bait and food which last year had more than 500 people attending.
Fishing will kick off at 9 a.m. and continue until 2 p.m. To register for the free event go to www.lvcil.org/fishing.
2017-18 HUNTING LICENSES
If you haven’t purchased your hunting license or applied for an antlerless tag, you’re may not aware that the Pa Hunting/Trapping Digest will now cost you $6, or you can get a free online version if you have access to a computer. If you do, go to www.pgc.pa.gov and click on the Digest to read and print out anything that you want.
Since the Pennsylvania Game Commission is cutting corners, this is another saver for them as well as the new pheasant hunting permit that you’ll need if you want to hunt long-tails.
With all the rain we had, productive fishing came to a halt as fishermen had to wait for local streams to clear and recede. When that happens most die-hard anglers hit the lakes as they’re generally not as affected by rain.
But with cooling temperatures, fishing picked up over the weekend and may continue barring any hurricane remnants. Our fishing reporters have this to say:
Willie from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon says in light of all the rain, the Lehigh River cleared quickly but is still on the high side. Despite this, trout, smallmouth bass and rockfish are being caught at the Cementon/Northampton dam area. And they’re being caught mostly on worms. One customer fished the Lehigh near Bowmanstown where Lizard Creek enters and caught over 20 trout, mainly rainbows. And believe it or not, he was using Chinook salmon eggs.
Then there’s the fisherman who came in the shop for bait and said he was catching loads of fallfish by wading the lower section of the Lehigh near Hokendauqua. In between fallfish bites, he had what he estimated to be a 30-inch musky on, but lost it.
A few lucky anglers discovered that Trout Creek in Slatington has been producing leftover trout from the deep holes in this small stream.
As for lake fishing, Leaser Lake seems to continually produce Muskie, panfish and small largemouth bass. But no trout. Speculation has it the stocked trout there became a dining delight for the muskies. Maybe that’s why they’re getting so large so quick.
Willie added that Mauch Chunk Lake was fishing fairly good for largemouths and panfish and a few local anglers have been hitting Pocono lakes like Shohola for anything that bites during local high water times.
Mike from Mike’s Bait & Tackle in Nazareth said, once the Delaware River cleared, locals were picking up good numbers of smallmouths and a few walleyes, all on medium shiners. Seems they want meat.
Mike was getting good trout reports from the Big Bushkill Creek where guys have been picking off leftovers from spring-summer stockings.
One customer, who primarily fishes small lakes in the Poconos, said he was catching 12-15 inch crappies up there, but wouldn’t divulge what lake.
And for those who heard Shohola was weed-choked earlier in the season, Mike said the lake has reportedly cleared-up somewhat and is more fishable now that the weeds died-off.
Bill Brinkman of Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle in Philadelphia, says Kevin, a regular customer, evening-fished the Water Gap on the Delaware River for four hours with Zara Spooks, Tiny Torpedo’s, 3 and 4-inch Fin-S and Senko worms and caught 20-30 smallies. Another angler fished from Long Eddy to Callicoon and picked up 47 smallmouths, one striper, four bluegills and a bunch of river chubs.
On the saltwater scene, Brinkman said several surf fishermen hooked-up some kingfish and croakers from Cape May and Wildwood with bloodworms and Fish Bites. Up at Atlantic City in the Back Bay, one customer hooked a few blackfish and sea bass on squid and clams along the rocks. Off the jetties at Island State Park, a few smaller bluefish where being caught with mullet and metal spoons.
From The Fisherman magazine comes reports that ocean swells of 4-7 feet are building to 6-10 feet, so forget offshore. But inshore striper action has come alive with live eels scoring fish in the northern region as well as to the Mullica River. Big Blues, they say, are on the prowl down into Cape May County. And coastal party boats are mixing it up with catches of bluefish, ling, bonito and porgies.
Anglers should keep their fingers crossed that hurricane remnants are minor, as fish generally go on-the-feed once water temperatures dip.
CABELA’S LADIES DAY OUT EVENT
Cabela’s is celebrating female outdoor enthusiasts and helping them enjoy the great outdoors this fall by offering educational activities, discounts and more during its Ladies’ Day Out event, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017.
The event will offer free, hands-on activities hosted by local experts that inform and instruct customers on a wide variety of outdoor equipment, while also preparing them to enjoy time pursuing their interests in the great outdoors.
“We want to support our female customers and help them find or build their passion for outdoor recreation. Whether they are looking to branch out and explore a new activity, or they are an experienced outdoor enthusiast, Cabela’s is here for them and wants to help in any way we can,” said Ron Leh, Retail Marketing Manager.
Free activities and seminars offered between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday will include:
* Archery fitting and testing in the Archery Range
* Flip and pitch casting and fishing
* NRA’s Self Defense: Refuse to Be a Victim class
Additional activities throughout the event will include:
* Dutch Oven Cooking
* Intro to Archery
In addition to seminars and product displays, Cabela’s will offer an in-store discount to all customers, female and male, who attend seminars throughout the weekend. Every attendee will receive a “VIP Badge” to present at checkout that earns them employee pricing on all in-store purchases made during the Ladies’ Day Out event.
Sept. 1 kicked off the first of the split dove season and early goose seasons in parts of Pennsylvania. As such, dove hunters get their first shots at these fast flyers. And fast they are. Of all the gamebirds, doves are probably the hardest to hit as hunters can expect incoming, outgoing, crossing and overhead passing shots at times. And when the shot pellets start flying, doves turn on the afterburners and fly even faster.
The trouble with doves is where to locally hunt them. Thanks to ever sprawling warehouses and housing developments on fertile farmlands, those once hunt-able lands have disappeared. This leaves a few suburban farmlands or local state game lands like that off Route 100 in upper Lehigh County to hunt. There’s also SGL’s in Berks County and private farmlands in the northern tier where there is considerably more acreage and more farmlands (thanks to Mennonite farmers who rarely, if ever, sell their lands) than what’s remaining in Lehigh and Northampton counties. You can find many of these farms on the outskirts of Topton, Dryville, Maxatawny and Fleetwood.
So where should aspiring dove hunters look for these whistling fast birds? Dove’s have three favorite hangouts of food, water and flyways. If you can find a rare sunflower field, whether standing or harvested, you’ve hit pay dirt as dove love sunflower seeds.
After doves feed, they usually pick grit then head to water. As such, farm ponds or small creeks are good bets. And the best time to hit these places is midmorning and late afternoon, hunting hours permitting during this split season.
And lastly, flyways are good spots for pass shooting. The best ones are located between roosting and feeding areas and can often be found by seeing several doves sitting on utility wires within the flyway. To find them, drive rural farm roads and look for them perched on the lines.
To entice doves to stop enroute to these spots, try setting out some decoys to draw them in closer or in the least, slow them down for a quick look as they fly overhead. Decoys can be placed on a branch of a dead tree, on a fence or on a makeshift decoy pole (aluminum or PVC) with sticks or wire coat hangers hung from it in tree fashion. Or, a commercially made one that gets stuck in the ground or stands on splayed legs.
If you’re an impatient hunter who can’t sit and wait for birds to come to you, walking the edges of standing cornfields is another technique of jump shooting them as they pick grit and flush from among the cornrows. But if downing one, mark it quickly as you don’t want to lose a tasty bird because you can’t find it. Losing it in a dense soybean field or tall standing cornfield is wasteful and unsportsmanlike. Here, a good hunting dog is vital in retrieving it with no crop damage.
A point here to note is that local farmers have had a good hay and alfafa growing season, and as such many have cut and bailed it, according to Lisa Lapeta, local Department of Agricultural agent. So it’s here where you should try to down doves as they’re easier to find as opposed to looking for them in a soybean or standing corn. In respect for the farmer, you don’t want to traipse through their soybean or cornfields and knock any down.
As for cornfields, Ms. Lapeta said although corn stalks are tall because of all the rain we’ve had, their yields are off because of too much rain. She points out that single stalks are averaging two cobs whereas there should be four cobs. So if you must enter standing corn, take extra care not to knock down any stalks or trample soybean fields as the harvest will suffer as is.
Some hunters also call doves. Yes they, like waterfowl, can be called I’ve been told. Commercial calls like Primos’ Model 362 that is similar to a whistle, or Haydel’s D-90 that resembles a flute-style call, imitate a doves’ cooing. Maybe they’re work, maybe they don’t. But they’re worth a try and could surprise you to their effectiveness.
Best of all, dove breasts wrapped in bacon and grilled are a dinner delight. Just be careful you don’t bite an unseen #6 pellet.
As for the early goose season, we’ll cover that in a separate column as they could be even more difficult to hunt at this time of year.
If you can’t find any doves or early season geese to hunt, you may want to drive on out to Cabela’s Hamburg instead, and enjoy their NRA Weekend that offers up giveaways, free seminars, free lunch and Eddie Eagle will be on hand with hand-outs for the kids along a photo op with him.
Cabela’s is teaming up with the National Rifle Association to host an in-store NRA Weekend event at all its U.S. stores, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 9-10. The annual event features giveaways, an NRA membership drive, educational workshops, in-store product demonstrations and more.
On Saturday, the first 50 customers in the store will receive a free trigger lock donated by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. In addition, free hot dogs will be served from noon to 1 p.m.
Everyone who joins or renews an annual NRA membership at Cabela’s during the event, both Saturday and Sunday, will receive a $25 Cabela’s gift card. Cabela’s also will host free workshops and in-store demonstrations led by NRA instructors, Cabela’s staff and local experts.
In-store seminars offered on Saturday, Sept. 9 will include:
* New Shooter Guide, 11 a.m.
o An introduction to firearm safety, including proper handling, storage, care and cleaning
* Shotgun Cleaning Tips, 1 p.m.
o Learn about techniques and equipment for cleaning and caring for shotguns
* Meet Lance Thompson
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Sat. & Sun.
Stop by and meet Lance Thompson. Lance is a 10th grade Honor Roll Student and Olympic Trap Shooter from Carlisle, PA. He’s training to reach his dream of representing the U.S.A. in the 2020 Summer Olympics in the sport of Olympic Trap in Tokyo Japan. Lance started shooting at the age of 9 and since then has compiled an impressive resume of medals and titles which he has won both within the U.S.A. and Europe.
* Meet Bobby Hart
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Sat. & Sun.
Bob Hart was born in to a family tradition of custom gun builders and gunsmiths. He now has taken over the lead role from his father, Wally Hart, at Robert W. Hart and Son Inc. as a 4th generation custom rifle builder. Located in Nescopeck, Pennsylvania, this small, family run business is known world wide to the hunting, shooting, military and law enforcement industries. Some of Bob’s credits include:
* 5 Time Jr. Bench Rest Champion
* 1986 300YD Heavy Varmint Champ
* 2000 1000YD World Open Championship Light Gun
* 2001 IBS 1000YD International Championships High Score
* A member of the Varmint Hunters 1500 Yard Club
* Bob has shot over 13 groundhogs at over 1000 yards. His longest hit was an Elk at 1900 Yards.
He has also filmed a number of shots, including African trips with 60” Kudu at over 500 yards. He has shot with and is involved with industry names like Allen Treadwell, Pat Reeves, Keith Powell (Sportsmen of North America), Bob Foulkrod, Jerry Martin, Brenda Valentine, and Bob Walker, just to name a few.
He now works with several television programs including Sportsman of North America, Northwood Adventures, Driven TV, Bass Pro Outdoor World, Bull’s-eye Adventures and Southern Woods Adventures.
Bob specializes in Long Range Shooting and Hunting, Custom Rifle Building, and Reloading. He also offers an ‘accuracy package’ that has been proven to greatly increase the reliability of many ‘factory’ rifles. This combined with a Hart designed muzzle brake, are a few of the general gunsmith procedures done in-house. He currently has a couple Long Range Hunting Videos and is involved in holding long range shooting seminars. Bob is extremely passionate about the hunting and shooting industry. His goal is to promote and excel in the industry. Bob’s motto is “Take a Hart on the Hunt!”, as he puts his heart into making it possible for the customer to make the “shot of their lives!”.
In addition, customers 18 years and older can enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win a prize package that includes a SIG Sauer P320 X-Five Pistol, ammo, and multiple accessories.
For more information about Cabela’s NRA Weekend, call 610-929-7000 or visit www.cabelas.com/hamburg. Cabela’s is located at 100 Cabela Drive, Hamburg, PA.
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.