The Pennsylvania Game Commission has announced that Pennsylvania’s furtakers will play a critical role in a study to determine the extent to which mouse and rat poisons might be affecting the state’s bobcats, fishers and otter populations. As such, hunters and trappers are being asked to participate in the study by submitting carcasses from these species to the PGC.
For those who harvest a bobcat, fisher or otter and who want to submit the carcass for the study are asked to contact the Game Commission by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Game Commission region office serving the county where the animal was taken. The email should note which species was harvested and include the trapper’s: first/last name; CID number; address or pick-up location; phone number; and email address. The most local locations are as follows:
Northeast Region: Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Montour, Northumberland, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties – 570-675-1143.
Southeast Region: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill counties – 610-926-3136.
The study is being conducted by the Game Commission in partnership with PennVet’s “Wildlife Futures ProgramOpens In A NEW Window,” an organization whose mission is to increase disease surveillance, management and research to better protect wildlife across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and beyond.
Those conducting the study hope to collect over 100 carcasses each of bobcats, fishers and otters harvested this season.
Submitted carcasses can be skinned, but must have all organs and the skull intact. Furtakers should freeze the carcass until it can be collected by the Game Commission or Wildlife Futures Program.
Consumption of rodents that have been poisoned, known as secondary exposure, has been shown to negatively impact small- to medium sized mammals with diets primarily consisting of meat. Better understanding the effects on these species is a critical component of monitoring their populations in the Northeast according to the PGC.
Furtakers’ participation in this study will provide valuable data to continue to manage these species appropriately, says the PGC.
PENNSYLVANIA WATERFOWLERS EXPERIENCING FALL MIGRATION DELAY
Pennsylvania waterfowlers are in the same boat as many of their counterparts in other Atlantic Flyway states as mild weather has delayed the progress of fall migration, says the PA Game Commission. Hunters who scout and get access to places where ducks are congregating have enjoyed some success. For others, well, it’s a waiting game as the clock runs down on the final 30 days of the season (except for the South Zone, which s open through Jan 22).
Nate Huck, waterfowl program specialist for the PGC, reports that the Keystone State’s North and South Zones have had decent wood duck numbers as well as a few local mallards. In addition, water levels are at average levels in most areas.
DU Regional Biologist Jim Feaga adds that most of the Mid-Atlantic region has experienced a warm dry fall. Moreover, waterfowl are concentrated on prime habitats that receive light hunting pressure.
“Hunters in all four zones report very slow duck hunting with a few sporadic good hunts mixed in,” Huck says, adding that Pennsylvania’s Northwest Zone did have a fair amount of birds around that have generally become stale.
As for locally, most of the mallards I’ve seen are floating in small streams like the Jordan Creek around the SGLs 205 off Route 100 and in Egypt at the Bridge Street bridge. There are also a few on some New Tripoli farm ponds.
WORLD’S LARGEST OUTDOOR SHOW
With 2021 coming to a close, what better way to start 2022 than planning a trip to the Great American Outdoors Show held historically in the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. And as many call it, “The Harrisburg Outdoor Show,” is scheduled to kick off Feb 5-13.
Coined the World’s Largest Outdoor Show, it showcases most of the major outdoor companies and firearm manufacturer’s with over 1,100 exhibitors.
There will be wild game cooking demonstrations, celebrity appearances, free seminars, DockDogs competition, kid’s activities, fishing boats, RVs, new trucks, NRA Country Music Concert and more.
Tickets are available online and recommended to avoid standing in a ticket line. Go to the “Great American Outdoor Show” to purchase them and for added information, show times and directions both driving and exhibitor locations within the complex.
Snow geese have arrived. I spotted the first flock of the season this past Thursday as they joined a sizable flock of Canada geese in a cornfield at the junction of S. Church St. and Ruchsville Road in Egypt.
These all white geese make a harvested cornfield look like a coating of snow covered a portion of a field. It’s possible these early arrivals put down on a mine hole on the outskirts of Northampton, a place they seem to favor every year they arrive here from the arctic tundra.
There are a few things you may not know about these overwintering birds as they arrive in Pennsylvania annually around this time of year where early snowfalls in Canada and the tundra push them down to our state and beyond.
For starters, snow geese are good swimmers but they normally don’t dive to find food. But they can submerge to evade predators. They walk readily on land and can run swiftly. They sleep floating on the water, or on land, sitting down or standing on one leg.
As strong fliers, snow geese can reach air speeds of 50 miles per hour. And they’re extremely vocal giving off a whouk or kowk sound repeatedly while in flight and on the ground. Their sound when flying differs from Canada geese somewhat and may take on the sound of a barking dog.
When feeding, snow geese make quieter gah notes while parent birds utter uh-uh-uh sounds to their goslings. They feed on aquatic grasses, sedges, berries, corn, wheat, barley and other grains gleaned from harvested fields, pastures and leafy stems of crops such as winter wheat where they can decimate a complete newly planted field in a day or two.
In winter, snows feed from two to seven hours a day. In spring, when building up fat reserves for their migration trip back to the arctic tundra, they may feed more than 12 hours a day.
Males and females mate for life but will find a new mate if theirs is lost or dies. Most snows choose mates having the same color as the family in which they themselves were reared. Individuals pair up during their second winter or their second northward migration, when they’re almost two years old. Generally, they first breed successfully at age three.
During migration, snow geese fly both day and night and usually migrate along fairly narrow corridors. They take advantage of winds, good visibility and periods of no precipitation and can be seen in long diagonal lines and V-formations reaching altitudes of up to 7,500 feet.
Snow geese can live for more than 26 years and can perish from avian cholera, hitting power lines in flight, hunting, predation by coyotes, foxes and eagles.
As winter progresses, expect to see more snow geese feeding in harvested corn and newly planted winter wheat fields. Hunting them takes patience, work and large amounts of decoys.
POST CHRISTMAS HUNTING SEASONS
By traditions, deer hunting season re-opens for antlered and antlerless deer on Dec. 27- Jan. 17 for flintlock hunters. In WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, the season runs from Dec. 27-Jan. 29. The extended firearms season for antlerless only runs from Dec. 27-Jan. 29 in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D.
There’s also the late elk season running from Jan. 1-8, 2022 and small game that includes squirrels, pheasant, rabbits, quail from Dec. 27-Feb. 28. Because of their limited numbers, a short snowshoe hare season runs Dec. 27-Jan. 1.
During these times, hunters will have the woodlands almost to themselves so it’s
an opportune time to be afield instead of watching re-runs on TV.
Judging from what I saw during a recent visit to Bob Danenhower’s Wildlife Taxidermy Shop in Orefield, it appears the minimum antlered deer point regulation that former Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) bear, then deer biologist Gary Alt put in place some years ago, is working.
What I saw was proof that the point regulation has resulted in the overwhelming majority of deer antlers Danenhower got it to mount were 8s and 10s. Just a year or two ago, most of the racks brought in were 6s and 8s. And Danenhower says he’s receiving substantially more deer to mount than previous years. It appears avid deer hunters are hunting smarter and being selective.
But the more interesting and unique pre-mounts I saw were the pelts of two cinnamon bears. One taken with a crossbow in the Kempton area while the other was shot in the Leaser Lake area during the bear hunting seasons. Both had approximate live weights of 150 pounds and Danenhower thinks they could have been brothers since the Blue Mountain ridge runs from Berks to Lehigh County.
Said Danenhower, “In my 35 years in the taxidermy business, I never got in a Pennsylvania cinnamon bear. And now, I got two, one of which has a nice and pronounced white “V” on its neck.” Both are going to be full mounts, so the lucky sportsmen will have trophies to admire year-round, and ones that are somewhat rare in Pennsylvania.
You may ask what is a cinnamon bear? According to the PGC, a cinnamon bear is not a subspecies of a black bear but merely that it has a reddish-brown coat from which its name is derived. In other parts of its range, bears may be brown, whitish, or bluish-gray, but the majority are black. The various color morphs can be frequently intermixed in the same family; hence, seeing either a black-colored female with brown or red cubs, a brown-colored female with black or red-brown cubs, or a female of any of the three colors with a black cub, a brown cub and a red-brown cub.
Cinnamon bears have the same diet as black bears and includes fruit, vegetation, nuts, honey, and occasionally insects and meat. They are said to be excellent climbers, good runners and powerful swimmers. And like their fellow black bears, they hibernate from late October or November to March or April, depending on the weather. They are just a color phase.
LATE PHEASANT STOCKING
The PGC will stock over 41,000 pheasants statewide for the late small game season that got underway Dec. 13-24 and which reopens again Dec. 27-Feb. 28.
Here in the Southeast Region, there will be 5,590 male and 2,050 females stocked, mostly on state game lands and state parks. The PGC says that despite the dates, there is a two-four day window within the counties to be stocked. The agency says putting out the approximate dates takes some of the guesswork out of deciding when to go hunting and offers insurance that hunters will have improved opportunities.
If you thought New Jersey striped bass fishing was good three weeks ago as we reported, well it was phenomenal last week says On the Water Magazine’s fishing reports.
On the Water says Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park, NJ reported striper fishing in the surf was just phenomenal as bass were packed in the surf and chowing down on loads of peanut bunker. The fish, they said, ranged in size from schoolies to 43 inches. There was also big bluefish mixed in with the bass. There were blitzes up and down the coast from Sandy Hook down to Island Beach State Park. And there’s no reason to believe the fall run is over. Grumpy’s suggests bringing shads, swimmers, poppers and bucktails for stripes.
The boats fishing for stripers also did well in Raritan Bay and just off the beaches of Monmouth and Ocean counties throwing shads, flutter spoons and by trolling.
Reported too was that the blackfish bite showed some good action on local reefs and bluefin tuna have reappeared offshore.
Capt. Phil Sciortino, at the Tackle Box in Hazlet, continues to be astounded by the incredible striper fishing. “People are catching them everywhere on just about anything,” he said. It’s the best striper fishing he has ever seen.
Rick Hebert, at Tackle World in Rochelle Park, reported excellent bass bites along the coast. He fished off Sandy Hook and on the Hyper Striper boat and quickly got his limits of stripers on shads, diamond jigs, flutter spoons and topwater plugs. Then he moved to his tog grounds for blackfishing and stripers were there as well.
Mike Gleason, at Tak Waterman in Long Branch, reported bass action on the beach was dynamite over the weekend. Stripers have been falling for the gamut of peanut bunker and shads, bucktails, swimmers and poppers. Gleason went on to say the night bite on the beach has also been pretty good and bluefin tuna are back in mid-shore waters where Madd Mantis poppers were taking fish in the 50-plus pound range.
Linesiders have made appearances in Asbury Park, Ocean Grove and Bradley Beach surf over the weekend with shads and swimmers luring them to hook.
Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, reported to On the Water that the striper bite is still hot on the party boats with the Golden Eagle and Miss Belmar returning to the dock last Wednesday with a mix of keepers and bonus fish. The boats sailed south to fish off Seaside and Island Beach State Park with some big blues among the bass. Matthews opined that at this time of year timing is everything. “If you’re on the beach at the right time, it’s the best fishing you’ll ever see.” Barring any winter storms, he thinks the good fishing should hold up for a while.
FRESH WATER ANGLING
Local action has been slow to non-existent. But a few avid anglers are braving the cold and wind and catching trout according to Willie from Willie’s Bait and Tackle in Cementon. Willie reports a couple customers were fishing Trout Creek in Slatington that was stocked by volunteers from nearby Spring Side Trout Nursery. One customer creeled an 18-inch tiger trout and recounted that he lost a sizable rainbow trout that spit the hook of his chartreuse Rapala. Another customer, using a Spinning Minnie, also managed some nice trout from there. One angler was seen with a pair of palomino’s in his creel from the same area.
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.