With spring fishing season upcoming, anglers may be interested in some statistics gathered by AnglerSurvey.com who do bi-monthly and yearly surveys of anglers and hunters and their various mediums. The surveys also help equipment manufacturer’s tailor and market their products to sportsmen’s trends and needs.
This report presents the results of the bi-monthly AnglerSurvey.com© online consumer panel survey. The panel, composed of anglers across the U.S. who volunteer to participate, tracks angler participation and expenditures. Every other month AnglerSurvey asks panelists about their participation and purchases during the prior two months.
To overcome biases common to online surveys, the survey respondents are weighted to reflect the true population of U.S. anglers. The weighting process is conducted dynamically with each survey to reflect the general angler population as accurately as possible. Currently, AnglerSurvey data is weighted on age, geographic region, income, and average days spent fishing within a given year. The information in this report is based on responses from a nationwide sample of anglers who complete the surveys. They are as follows:
*Did you buy a fishing license this year? 60.2 percent said yes; 17.4 no; 7.3 percent said they plan to; and 15 percent said they have a lifetime license.
*Where did you purchase your license? 46.9 said Internet; 44.9 a retailer; 6.5 said a government office.
*Did you plan or buy a fishing license as a gift? 22.9 said yes; 39.6 no; 37.4 not sure.
*How much did you spend on fishing equipment to use as gifts? $1.00-$49.99, 12.7 percent; $50-$99.99, 18.6; $100-$149.99, 26.1; $150-$199.99, 6.7; $200-$299.99, 13.4; $300-$399.99, 4.5 percent; $400-$499.99, 2.1; $500-$1000, 7.9; Over $1000, 6.3; Not sure, 1.9 percent.
The graphs accompanying these numbers show the percentage of fresh versus saltwater angling while the other shows places where freshwater anglers fished. The latter’s 58.5 percent shows land and shore angling is no big surprise in that most shore fishing is probably for trout and panfish and not every angler has a boat to fish from. But if it was asked what the most popular freshwater fish pursued, it would likely be largemouth bass.
Since most sportsmen have, up until now, been deer hunting, fishing action has been virtually nil. But On the Water magazine offers this local report of some die-hard anglers who braced the cold wet weather to catch brown trout in the Stocked Trout Waters section of the Martins Creek and the lower section of Monocacy Creek. Avid fly anglers, they report, have been nymphing while bait anglers used butter worms to land and release these wild brown trout.
Anglers have also been fishing for Muskies in the Lehigh River below the Rte. 33 access, using various streamers and jigs. The next pursuit will be ice fishing when colder temperatures will allow safe ice.
Every year around this time the 1983 classic movie “A Christmas Story” will be shown multiple times on a cable TV channel. It tells the story of Ralphie Parker (born in NYC on April 16, 1971) who wants a Daisy “Red Ryder” BB gun for Christmas. Every time he asked for one, he’d get the same famous reply: “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
Does that bring back memories? I had the same situation some 73 years ago when I was 10. My mother didn’t like guns, even a BB gun, and didn’t want one in our house. But her brother, my uncle, who lived in Auburn, New York, took me to a department store there during a pre-Christmas visit with him and his family, and bought me my first Daisy Red Ryder BB gun (Daisy.com). A rifle I still have today albeit with a wooden stock rather than a plastic stock that it came with. The reason for that was after so many rounds of BB’s going through it, the firing spring got so weak BB’s would merely dribble out the barrel. When it was sent to Daisy for repair, they put in a new spring and replaced my cracked plastic stock (I presume they no longer made plastic stocks) with a better wooden stock. And they replaced both free of charge.
I hate to admit but during my formative years that Red Ryder popped a lot of starlings, often considered nuisance birds. My one grandfather would pay me a nickel for every one I shot out of his beloved backyard black cherry tree. I even took it small game hunting with my uncle George and other grandfather, but only to walk along to learn safe gun handling and how to hunt pheasants and rabbits.
Since that time airguns, as they’re appropriately called, have come a long way. When my young son was growing up I bought him a Daisy Powerline Model 880 BB/pellet pump-up rifle that I still have. And I most recently acquired a high-powered Gamo Adult Precision Airgun (gamousa.com).
Since airguns are illegal to use for hunting in Pennsylvania, many other states allow them. The Gamo was strictly for inexpensive target shooting practice in my basement, although at 1250 fps, the Gamo is capable of taking down a variety of varmints and small game like squirrels, rabbits, crows even groundhogs with well placed shots. In fact champion pro handgun shooter and friend Doug Koenig from Hamburg, recently took down a 250-pound hog with a 15 yard head shot from a Gamo Whisper rifle shooting a 1.77 Gamo PBA pellet for one of his Sportsman’s Channel TV outdoor shows.
When selecting an air gun for a youngster, there’s no need to buy an expensive pneumatic rifle as Daisy and Crossman offer starter air rifles for under $50. And along with them, special metal target housings for indoor shooting in a basement or garage.
My old Red Ryder carbine (current model is a 105 Buck for $29.99) single-stroke, single shot, cocks by pulling a lever, similar to that on a lever action centerfire deer carbine.
On the newer Daisy Powerline Model 880 (which are still being sold at $49.99), it’s a multi-stroke pump-up rifle that takes from 2-10 pumps to force compressed air into an onboard cylinder. More pumps mean more air for faster BB/pellet speed.
As for the spring piston pumps that Gamo and Daisy sell, they’re extremely powerful, accurate but more expensive and typically use the barrel as a lever to cock an internal spring. The cocking effort on these is very high (sometimes up to 60 pounds), and may be too much for a youngster to cock.
Right now, Bass Pro Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Tractor Supply have Red Ryder’s in stock. Or, you can order direcr from Daisy through their website (www.Daisy.com).
Most importantly, firearm safety must be taught to the youngster immediately (if not before) upon receiving their first BB rifle on Christmas day. I never shot my eye out because I had good training and respect for a firearm.
For those of you who struck out on getting a buck or doe over the past archery, muzzleloader and rifle deer seasons, you get another chance when the season re-opens for archery and flintlock muzzleloader statewide on the traditional post Christmas seasons. Those seasons run Dec. 26 – Jan. 12. If you hunt in WMU’s 2B, 5C and 5D, that season runs from Dec. 26 – Jan. 26, 2019.
The Extended Firearms season also kicks off Dec. 26 and runs until Jan. 26, 2019 but only for antlerless deer and in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
But that’s not all.
If you’re a small game hunter, Squirrel, rabbit and pheasant season re-opens Dec. 26 and continues until Feb. 28, 2019.
Snowshoe hare season also opens but to a much shorter season because of their limited numbers. Their season runs Dec. 26 – Jan. 1, 2019.
The snowshoe is a neat looking rabbit in that it’s coat is grey-brown similar to a cottontail rabbit over the summer months, but turns white when winters lessen daylight occurs.
Snowshoes also differ in that their ears are longer and feet are larger and its four toes and soles are covered with coarse hair that grows long in winter hence making its feet “snowshoes” that support the hare in deep snow while adding extra traction on ice crusts.
Chuck Fergas, of the PGC, says snowshoes, also known as Varying Hares,” can when threatened burst from a sitting position and race up to 30 miles per hour over ground or snow. They can leap 10 feet in one bound, dodge and swim if forced into water. And like cottontails, snowshoes circle when chased making a large circle as they’re reluctant to leave their home range. And its home range can be from 5-30 acres.
For sportsmen hunting them, especially without a good hunting dog, Fergus goes on to say that during the day, snowshoes stay in a “form,” a small, natural depression in leaf litter or ground or one made by its body resting there. A “form,” he explains, is often on a slight rise that provides drainage to keep it dry and see its surroundings in case of danger and can be under overhanging branches, in a clump of shrubs, tall weeds or at the base of a tree or stump. As they don’t build nests, they’ll take shelter from hard rain or snow in a hollow log.
Since their lifespans can be between 8-10 years, only an estimated 30 percent live on year, with 15 percent living to age two. Aside from hunters, snowshoes fall to disease, parasites, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, weasels and some hawks and owls.
Their population numbers are on the decline, hence the short season. Other factors are less food as they compete with deer for the same food sources and loss of habitat, the latter also contributing to other small game species.
Hunters should concentrate on hunting big woods counties as hares prefer deciduous forests with conifers and escape cover such as rhododendron and mountain laurel. Snowshoes live in swamps where cedar, spruce or tamarack grow. The PGC says dense stands of aspen or poplar, interspersed with pines may also support hares. Ridgetops mountains, high swamps and plateaus harbor most snowshoes.
With their small population numbers and tough hunting conditions, it’s understandable why the harvest limit on them is one per day.
Hunters will have a bit more woodlands to hunt since Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, The Conservation Fund, Berks Nature, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission have partnered to conserve vital acreage for migratory birds, announcing plans to protect and improve more than 77 acres of farmland located in the shadow of the Kittatinny Ridge in Berks County. These lands, according to this press release, are being conserved, in part, by funding from Williams in connection with the construction and operation of the company’s Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline project.
“Cooperation is the keystone of smart conservation, especially when it comes to land,” says Bryan Burhans, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission. “This project will protect habitat for declining species such as the northern harrier, American kestrel, Eastern Meadowlark, bobolink, grasshopper sparrow and more.”
With assistance from Berks Nature and support from Williams through a grant provided by The Conservation Fund, the Sanctuary purchased the tract, which was under threat from developers. Working with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the conservation partners developed a land improvement plan to convert the former fields into native grasslands and meadows. In turn, this work will support migratory birds and other wildlife and expand wildlife diversity and recreational opportunities.
“The Sanctuary is a significant economic driver, and partnering with the Game Commission provides more land for birdwatching, hunting, and hiking,” says Hawk Mountain President Sean Grace.
The Property has long been identified by state and local planning organizations as a top priority for protection due to its location at the base of the Kittatinny Ridge, a mega greenway and migration superhighway, as well as its adjacency to the Appalachian Trail and State Game Lands. To ensure public access, the property was transferred at signing to the Game Commission, as an addition to the adjacent State Game Lands106. Future plans include planting of grasses and other native species and addition of a parking area along Hawk Mountain Road.
“This is public-private partnership at its best,” said Williams Chief Operating Officer Micheal Dunn. “The Commonwealth identified the protection of this property as a top priority, so we are glad to have the opportunity to coordinate with our partners in the preservation of this important wildlife habitat.” “Protecting this property is a win-win, both for the birds and for the people who enjoy wild places,” said Kyle Shenk, Pennsylvania Director for The Conservation Fund.
During spring and fall, more than 150 species of raptors and songbirds follow the Kittatinny Ridge or “Blue Mountain,” using habitats along its slope and base to rest and feed. The 2,500 acres at Hawk Mountain and the 9,000 acres of adjoining State Game Lands offer healthy habitats for forest wildlife, but field, riparian, and wetland species have declined.
Conservation of this property addresses a critical need for bird habitat locally and along the entire Ridge, says the PGC, as grassland and wetland birds are some of the fastest declining groups in Pennsylvania due to habitat loss. Insectivorous birds such as warblers, vireos, and flycatchers that depend upon the riparian areas or field edges will also benefit, and new foraging habitat will become available for bats, mammals, and migrating birds along with breeding areas for many amphibians.
SNOW GEESE UPDATE
At 9:15 this morning (12-11-18), a large flock of snowgeese were mixed in with Canada’s in a harvested cornfield on Willow Street in Ruchsville across from the Ormrod macadam plant. Surprisingly, they were right next to the roadway, not deep in the field like they usually are.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) is once again livestreaming a bald eagle nest near Codorus State Park in Hanover, Pa. This is the fifth season it has launched an EagleCam, with Hawk Mountain Sanctuary joining HDOnTap and Comcast Business as a partner in the project.
In November, the PGC awarded a permit to HDOnTap to manage the cameras at the nest and livestream the action.
In the livestream’s first four seasons, the Game Commission had secured permission for audio and video equipment and components to be installed at the Hanover, Pa. nest, and the 24-7 livestream was made possible through services donated by HDOnTap and Comcast Business This year, HDOnTap secured the permit after the Game Commission decided it would explore a new livestream opportunity envisioned to launch early next year.
It’s the second time a Game Commission livestream from a bald-eagle nest was adopted by a private partnership.
The Game Commission’s first EagleCam in Pittsburgh was continued in its second and subsequent years by PixController and the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.
In the inaugural run of the Pittsburgh livestream and the first four seasons of the Hanover, Pa. livestream, the Game Commission had provided the project’s primary educational component, with the agency working to explain wildlife behavior viewers see while watching, and answer their questions. This season, Hawk Mountain has taken over that role.
Hawk Mountain and HDOnTap will work together to help educate livestream viewers through a blog to be updated and posted bi-weekly during peak nesting season.
“HDOnTap is thrilled to be partnering with Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, leaders in raptor conservation science and education, on the new Hanover Bald Eagle Blog,” said HDOnTap Co-Founder Tiffany Sears. “We hope this adds to the live cam viewing experience.”
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary shares that excitement. “When you can show close-up footage of nesting bald eagles and their young, you’re going to get people hooked on raptors,” said Hawk Mountain President Sean Grace. “That’s exactly what we’re doing: HDonTap provides the footage and Hawk Mountain shares the science and expertise behind what the eagles are doing and why. “This is yet another wonderful partnership,” Grace said.
The Hanover, Pa. livestream can be found on HDOnTap’s website.
Meanwhile, the Game Commission still is finalizing plans for its next livestream, which it hopes to announce in the coming weeks.
If you’re an avid bird watcher, you may enjoy participating in this years Dec. 14 through Jan. 5 Christmas Bird Count. If so, register now.
The annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is conducted within an established 15-mile wide circle, and is organized by a count compiler. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear throughout the day. It's not just a species tally; all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. Because it is a 24-hour event, some CBC birders will attempt to call owls and other night birds for a count.
If your home is within the boundaries of a CBC circle, and you prefer to be a feeder watcher, you can stay at home and report the birds that visit your feeder on count day as long as you make an advanced arrangement with the count compiler.
To register go to the sign-up link (Audubon GBBC) for information about how to contact the local CBC compiler in a count circle. And Audubon answers these primary questions you may have:
What is the Christmas Bird Count? The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society, with over 100 years of community science involvement. It is an early-winter bird census, where thousands of volunteers across the U.S., Canada, and many countries in the Western Hemisphere go out over a 24-hour period on one calendar day to count birds.
Can I just do my own CBC and send you my data? No. Since each CBC is a real census, and since the 15-mile diameter circle contains a lot of area to be covered, single-observer counts (except in unusual circumstances) cannot be allowed. To participate in the CBC, you will need to join an existing CBC circle by contacting the compiler in advance of the count day.
Why do some Christmas Bird Count circles not allow online registration? Accepting online registrations of participants is the individual decision of each circle compiler and is based on a number of factors, including the number of participants already committed to the count, the amount of area already covered, and the compiler's available time.
If you can’t participate in the Christmas Bird Count, you may be interested in getting involved in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) organized by the Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It takes place President's Day weekend each February, and you can count the birds each day in your backyard/community and then enter the results online. For more information on the GBBC, visit the Audubon GBBC page.
The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a free and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org. Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world.
Each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share. Last year, more than 160,000 participants submitted their bird observations online, creating the largest instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded.
The 21st annual GBBC will be held Friday, February 16, through Monday, February 19, 2018. Visit the official website at birdcount.org for more information.
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.