Since we’re in the midst of a lockdown of sorts because of Covid19, many sportsmen may not be working so this could be a good time to do some house cleaning of your trophy mounts, be it antlered, bear, birds or fish.
If you have deer mounts in particular, there are a few methods to clean their hair. To do it properly and without ruining a shoulder mount, Bob Danenhower of Bob’s Taxidermy in Orefield, recommends the following:
*Danenhower says the first step is to remove dust from hair. This can be done by using either a feather duster, canned air or a small brush that usually comes with most vacuum cleaners, to remove the dust. But he cautions to do it carefully with the brush and not apply too much pressure. Long time accumulation can turn to a mud-like substance.
*Next step is to use a lightly damp, soft cloth and add a touch of Dawn dish washing soap and brush the hair with the grain to remove any remaining dust or dirt. Rinse the cloth often making sure not to saturate it as the deer hair will nap-up. Then lightly go over it with a soft bristle brush in the direction of the hair’s grain.
*After that, spray a cloth (gun patch) or Q-tip with some Windex and clean the eyes. Follow up with a piece of paper towel to remove any excess.
*For antlers or horns, clean off any dust then use some furniture polish to regain their sheen.
*To maintain a deer mounts’ hair, Danenhower uses Cowboy Magic spray that is available from taxidermists.
*For mounts that may have cracking, split ears or jaws, it’s a re-fresh job that requires a taxidermist as they have the equipment to restore the mount.
*As for birds like pheasants, grouse, turkey or waterfowl, be extremely careful and don’t go crazy feather dusting it or wiping it down, Danenhower cautions, as birds are touchy and sometimes the job is better left to a taxidermist.
*For fish mounts, Danenhower recommends also wiping them down with Dawn dish washing detergent. “Sometimes there may be fly or bug droppings on them. The skin could also have oil seepage,” he points out. “Not many taxidermists like to re-work fish because their skin is extremely thin and prone to cracking,” he adds.
So with these suggestions, maintaining trophy mounts now can go a long way to preserving them in the future.
LCF&G ANNUAL FISHING DERBY
It’s with much disappointment that Herb Gottschall, Jr., President of Lehigh County Fish & Game Association, had to announce that this years annual Fishing Derby in Lehigh Parkway had to be cancelled.
Said Gottschall, “After several meetings with representatives with Allentown Police and Parks Department, an agreement was reached to hold this years 87th Fishing Derby on May 16. But that was before the Coronavirus came along. So we had to cancel it.”
Gottschall goes on to say he’s already making plans for next years’ derby which will be the organizations 100th Anniversary, and because of that, it will be a two-day event.
The clubs’ Booster Night was also cancelled because the hall rental went up 500 percent from last year and the organization was already on the verge of bankruptcy until Midgard Plastics stepped in to be LCF&G’s first corporate sponsor.
An exact date will be forthcoming for the next derby.
There will be yelps, clucks, purrs and gobbles emanating from Penn’s Woods when the statewide spring gobbler season gets underway Saturday (May2). And according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), the month-long season that ends May 30 should be a good one.
According to the PGC, the statewide flock, expected to mirror 2019’s estimated spring population of 212,170 turkeys, has been aided by good reproduction last year, declining participation in fall seasons, and a mild winter with abundant natural foods.
Mary Jo Casalena, PGC turkey biologist says, “A strong base of old toms is strutting in our forests and fields in their annual quest for companionship followed by a healthy population of high-spirited jakes. There’s also a good supply of 2-year-olds roaming in some Wildlife Management Units (WMUs). Last spring, hunters took 37,300 turkeys, which was down from 2018’s 40,300. The harvest generated a spring hunter first-turkey success rate of 19 percent and has ranged 19 to 21 percent for the past three years.
A good number of hunters bought second gobbler tags – 22,517 – marking the third consecutive year second-tag sales topped 20,000. Those second tags led to 4,811 harvests, making for a 21 percent success rate for those who purchased a second tag. Interestingly, only 13 percent of spring-turkey hunters bought a second tag.
Hunting hours begin one-half hour before sunrise and end at noon for the first two weeks of the statewide season (May 2 through May 16). Hunters are asked to be out of the woods by 1 p.m. when hunting hours end at noon. This is to minimize disturbance of nesting hens, says the PGC. Hunting hours during the youth hunt end at noon. Junior hunters and mentored youth also may participate in the statewide spring gobbler season. From May 18 through through May 30, hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset. The all-day season allows more opportunity at the point in the season when hunting pressure is lower and nesting hens are less likely to abandon nests.
Here are a few hunting reminders from the PGC:
*Only bearded birds may be harvested, and hunting is permitted by calling only.
* Hunters should refrain from knowingly harvesting bearded hens.
* There is no requirement for hunters to wear fluorescent orange during the spring turkey season, though it is recommended that orange be worn while moving.
* Blinds used while turkey hunting must be manufactured with manmade materials. It’s unlawful to hunt turkeys from blinds made of natural materials such as logs, tree branches and piled rocks. Added to that, blinds representing the fanned tail of a gobbler do not hide all hunter movement, and therefore are unlawful to use in Pennsylvania.
* Pennsylvania resident hunters can purchase a license ($21.90) to harvest a second gobbler in the spring season, but only one gobbler may be taken per day. This license must be purchased no later than May 1.
* Successful turkey hunters must immediately and properly tag the bird before moving it from the harvest site, and are required by law to report the harvest to the Game Commission.
Casalena pointed out that this past winter the PGC leg-banded over 300 turkeys statewide. If lucky enough to harvest a leg-banded turkey, or find one dead, she asks hunters to please contact the PGC through either the toll-free telephone number or email address printed on the band. In return, Casalena will provide details of when and where the bird was tagged. From these reports, the agency can estimate spring harvest rate and annual survival rate by wildlife management unit, which are critical elements of our turkey population model.”
TURKEY HARVEST PHOTO CONTEST
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is sponsoring its fourth annual Turkey Harvest Photo Contest, and hunters submitting the photos of themselves with their 2020 Pennsylvania gobblers are eligible to win one of two personalized, engraved box calls. Entries will be narrowed to a field of finalists in each the adult hunter and youth hunter category, with one winner in each category then selected by voters on the PGC’s Facebook page.
But you must enter to win. Hunters should be sure to submit photos of their 2020 Pennsylvania spring turkey harvests by email to email@example.com. Submissions should include the first and last name of anyone in the photo, the hunter’s hometown and the county in which the turkey was harvested. The contest will run from youth season April 25 through Monday, June 1, with the winners selected shortly thereafter.
The Pennsylvania Game Commissioners gave final approval for the 2020-21 hunting/trapping seasons and bag limits with some significant changes. They are as follows:
Expanding Sunday hunting on three days – Sunday, Nov. 15 for archery deer hunting, Sunday, Nov. 22 for bear hunting during the bear firearms season, and Sunday, Nov. 29 for deer hunting during the firearms deer season.
Adopted a 14-day concurrent firearms deer season for antlered and antlerless deer in 10 WMUs and retaining a split-season in the remaining 13 WMUs.
Extended the statewide archery deer season to end Nov. 20, giving bowhunters the opportunity to take advantage of peak and post rut activity.
Opened squirrel season statewide on Sept. 12 to create more opportunities for younger hunters to get afield.
Shifted the statewide general bear season to run from Saturday through Tuesday – adding an additional Sunday opportunity for bear hunters.
Brought back a three-day Thanksgiving turkey season, running
Wednesday through Friday in select WMUs; removing the Thanksgiving turkey season in WMUs 1A, 2A, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E, but making the regular season two weeks (Oct. 31-Nov. 14) instead of one.
Increased the bear hunting opportunities for archers by adding a week to the archery bear season and creating an overlap in the first week with the muzzleloader deer and bear seasons.
Moved the start of the extended bear seasons to Monday of the first week of firearms deer season in all WMUs with extended bear seasons.
Permitted either-sex pheasant hunting statewide, outside of Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas.
The commissioners also set the number of antlerless deer licenses to be allocated, as well as the number of elk licenses to be allocated for the coming license year as follows:
The board voted to allocate 932,000 antlerless deer licenses statewide, which is up from the 903,000 licenses allocated for 2019-20. Some Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) increases were tempered by the addition of a 14-day seasons to WMU’s containing Disease Management Areas. Allocations by WMU are as follows, with the allocation from the previous license year appearing in parentheses: WMU 1A – 49,000 (49,000); WMU 1B – 41,000 (35,000); WMU 2A – 46,000 (46,000); WMU 2B – 49,000 (54,000); WMU 2C – 58,000 (52,000); WMU 2D – 60,000 (66,000); WMU 2E – 39,000 (32,000); WMU 2F – 36,000 (31,000); WMU 2G – 27,000 (26,000); WMU 2H – 7,000 (6,000); WMU 3A – 21,000 (20,000); WMU 3B – 33,000 (38,000); WMU 3C – 49,000 (46,000); WMU 3D – 36,000 (25,000); WMU 4A – 49,000 (41,000); WMU 4B – 33,000 (32,000); WMU 4C – 32,000 (36,000); WMU 4D – 45,000 (46,000); WMU 4E – 37,000 (34,000); WMU 5A – 26,000 (22,000); WMU 5B – 60,000 (67,000); WMU 5C – 70,000 (70,000); and WMU 5D – 29,000 (29,000).
The board also voted to issue 164 elk licenses (36 antlered, 128 antlerless) across three 2020-21 seasons. For the one-week general season to run Nov. 2-7, 26 antlered and 78 antlerless tags have been allocated. In the archery season open only in select Elk Hunt Zones, to run from Sept. 12-26, 10 antlered and 16 antlerless licenses are available. And there are 34 licenses available for a late antlerless-only elk season to run from Jan. 2-9.
All elk licenses will be awarded by lottery, and hunters must apply separately for all seasons they wish to be eligible to hunt. Each application costs $11.90, meaning a hunter can enter all three drawings for $35.70. Individuals can be drawn for a maximum of one elk license per license year.
While carrying firearms generally is prohibited while bowhunting, archery deer hunters long have been permitted to carry muzzleloaders to hunt deer during times when the archery and muzzleloader deer seasons overlap. But a change approved by the PGC Commissioners will allow properly licensed hunters to carry both a bow and muzzleloader afield when an archery deer season overlaps with a muzzleloader bear season, as well. The rule also applies to an archery bear season that overlaps with a muzzleloader deer or bear season.
A muzzleloader bear season that overlaps with the October muzzleloader deer season and archery deer season was adopted as part of 2020-21 hunting seasons, so a properly licensed hunter will be able to carry a muzzleloader to hunt bears and antlerless deer, as well as a bow to hunt antlered or antlerless deer.
DEER TAGGING CHANGES
Hunters with multiple deer tags must no longer tag the first deer they harvest before attempting to harvest a second. The board adopted a measure that makes effective statewide the tagging requirements that long have applied in the state’s Special Regulations Areas, where hunters possessing multiple tags may attempt to fill them without first tagging a harvested deer. The PGC said lifting the restriction benefits deer hunters with multiple tags, who no longer are forced to pass up opportunities to harvest additional deer.
MENTORED YOUTH HUNTER CHANGES
Initially open only to youth under 12, Pennsylvania’s mentored hunting program has expanded incrementally in recent years to offer opportunities to unlicensed hunters of all ages. The PGC says that because the program is a tool to recruit new hunters, it only made sense to open it to everybody. But phasing-in program eligibility for hunters of different ages brought about a mix of different rules that many found confusing to follow – potentially undermining the goal of hunter recruitment. As such, the PGC Board adopted new standards that simplify the program and make it more uniform for hunters of all ages.
First off, mentored hunters of all ages now are eligible to hunt the same species. This expands opportunities in each age class and eliminates confusion about which species different-aged hunters may hunt.
Secondly, while mentored hunters under the age of 7 will continue to be issued permits that do not contain deer or turkey harvest tags – meaning the deer and turkey tags they use will continue to be provided through transfer from their adult mentors – mentored hunters of all other ages will be issued their own tags.
Finally, mentored hunters ages 7 and older now can apply for their own antlerless deer licenses and Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits, as well as migratory bird licenses and pheasant permits.
With the changes, all mentored hunters may hunt the following species: rabbit, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse, mourning doves, bobwhite quail, pheasants, crows, squirrels, porcupines, woodchucks, coyotes, deer and wild turkeys.
Safety requirements that prohibit mentored hunters under 17 from carrying a firearm while moving, limit mentors to accompanying one youngster at a time, and require the mentor and mentored hunter under 17 to possess no more than one sporting arm between them, remain unchanged.
There may have been some skepticism regarding the abbreviated trout stocking that I heard about and mentioned in my previous column.
In case you missed it, I was informed that certain streams in Lehigh County will only get one in-season stocking that took place within the last two weeks. Some anglers couldn’t believe it, so I was able to contact Mike Parker, PF&BC Communications Director, who issued the following statement:
“We continue to stock trout every day across the state, 7 days a week. Due to the accelerated stocking schedule we are operating under, many waters will only receive pre-season stockings this year. That means that all of the fish that were allocated for a water, both pre-season and in-season, will be combined into a single stocking or two. The same amount of fish will be stocked, just not spread out over the season. I cannot provide any information about specific waters, but overall, this is our approach. Since March 17, we have been operating under the accelerated schedule, without volunteer assistance, in an effort to get our fish stocked before any of our employees became sick or further restrictions were placed on fishing. At this time, we have stocked about 2.25 million trout across the state. That is compared to 1.7-1.8 we stocked by the statewide opening day of trout season last year. There are plenty of fish to catch.”
So that official announcement should put the so-called rumor to rest.
LEHIGH RIVER TROUT STOCKING
In past years, the Lehigh River Stocking Association (LRSA) would stock trout in portions of the Lehigh River the week after the state trout season opener. If tradition holds true for this year, considering the early state opener, LRSA could stock next Sunday (April 12).
STRIPED BASS FISHING CHANGES
For anglers who pursue the hard fighting stripers in the Delaware River, Delaware Estuary and West Branch Delaware River, be aware there has been some significant changes.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) announced changes to Striped Bass fishing regulations within the aforementioned waters. And the reason for the new rules is because harvest and delayed mortality of caught and released striped bass have reduced the coastal population below levels needed to sustain recreational angling experiences. Due to the negative impact on the fishery, harvest and terminal tackle restrictions are needed to help rebuild the coastal stock.
In accordance with a fisheries management plan adopted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC), the Striped Bass Management Board intended to reduce fishing mortality by 18 percent. As such, PFBC will change minimum size requirements and slot limits for harvesting Striped Bass in the Delaware Estuary, Delaware River, and West Branch Delaware River, and have enacted a mandatory circle hook requirement for anglers using bait while fishing for all species within the Delaware Estuary. These changes are effective beginning April 1, 2020.
These regulation changes, tackle and registration requirements do not apply to inland populations of Striped Bass or Hybrid Striped Bass.
Under the new minimum size limits, anglers will be permitted to harvest one coastal striped bass per day that measures at least 28 inches but less than 35 inches in the Delaware Estuary (from the Pennsylvania line upstream to Calhoun Street Bridge) during the periods January 1 through March 31 and June 1 through December 31. During the period from April 1 through May 31, anglers may harvest two Striped Bass daily that measure at least 21 inches but less than 24 inches. In the Delaware River (from the Calhoun Street Bridge upstream) anglers will be permitted to harvest one Striped Bass per day that measures at least 28 inches but less than 35 inches year-round.
To further meet the requirements, the PFBC will require anglers who use bait to fish in the tidal Delaware Estuary, including tributaries from the mouths of the tributaries upstream to the limit of tidal influence, to use non-offset (in-line) circle hooks. The use of non-offset (in-line) circle hooks is required over offset circle hooks because of their proven ability to hook fish in the mouth, simplify hook removal, and reduce injury to the released fish. Therefore, to address targeted and non-targeted Striped Bass release mortality, the circle hook requirement will apply to anglers targeting any fish species with bait in the tidal Delaware Estuary. This measure offers added protection to adult Striped Bass on the spawning grounds during spring and year-round protections to resident juvenile Striped Bass caught by anglers targeting other species in the tidal reach. For the non-tidal Delaware River, non-offset (in-line) circle hooks are strongly recommended when anglers target any species with bait.
The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission pulled a fast one on trout anglers. Instead of the consolidated Apr. 18 trout opener that was scheduled, a last minute decision from the PF&BC said trout season opened today, Tuesday, April 7.
According to Tim Schaeffer, PF&BC Executive Director, “We realize this change is a disruption to tradition.” He goes on to say that anglers still need to follow social distancing (6 feet apart and wear masks) and that trout that have been stocked have had time to spread out and so should anglers.
The decision to open trout season immediately is intended to discourage concentrated gatherings of people that may have occurred on the traditional opening day, to minimize intrastate and interstate travel, and to reduce the threat of illegal poaching in waters that have already been stocked, says the PF&BC. And it was approved in conjunction with Gov. Wolf, Pennsylvania Department of Health and Pa’s DCNR.
Mike Parker, PF&BC Media Relations Director said, “Agency staff will continue to stock trout throughout spring, but not all waters have been stocked at this time. To further discourage public gatherings, a stocking schedule and list of waters that have been stocked will not be provided to the public this season.
In regards to this statement, a source said that the entire seasons allocation in Lehigh County streams had already been done last week. Meaning, if fact, there will not be any inseason stockings. However, it isn’t known if this was true for other Pennsylvania streams and lakes.
The DCNR will permit fishing and boating in state parks and forests but social distancing must be followed, but noted that restrooms at state park facilities may be closed. The agency is encouraging anglers to conduct outdoor activities within 15 minutes of their homes.
Also, the Mentored Youth Day will not take place this season, but the PF&BC will honor all Voluntary Youth Fishing Licenses purchased in 2020 for all mentored youth fishing during the 2021 season.
I did a quick check at 10 a.m., April 7, on the Little Lehigh Creek in the area of the covered bridge in Lehigh Parkway, and saw seven anglers fishing that stretch so some anglers got the word on the revised, surprise opener. Also checked the Egypt section of the Coplay Creek and there were about 10 anglers there. One group did not adhere to the six-foot spacing rule as they were hopefully a nuclear family.
Some local bait and tackle shops were also taken by surprise of this revised trout opener. Bob Danenhower, from Bob’s Taxidermy and Tackle Shop in Orefield said he scrambled to get items priced and live bait containers ready after his phone began ringing early in the morning to inform him of the last minute announcement.
Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon, had a phone message informing anglers to call and make an appointment to come in for bait and tackle as only a limited number of people were allowed in the shop at one time. The message said the shop was closed Tuesday’s so it’s unknown if that changed upon Willie learning of the new opener.
When I was a kid and wanted to go fishing, I’d get out a pitchfork and start digging in our vegetable garden for worms because at the time, there were no bait shops around the Whitehall Township area where we lived.
As savvy anglers know, garden worms can catch a lot of different freshwater fish be it trout, suckers, catfish, bass, sunnies even an occasional hungry crappie.
The Arkansas Fish & Wildlife recently refreshed my childhood memory on “worming” in a press release they released on worm fiddling, worm charming or worm grunting. All of these refer to a method practiced by anglers of old to get earth worms to come to the surface and show themselves on the ground or in the grass so they can be grabbed for fishing
I now recall my one grandfather telling me how he did it and his method sounded familiar to what the folks at Arkansas F&G have described.
It goes like this: Simply take a stick that has notches cut along its length and push it into the ground. Then rub another stick along its length to create vibrations. The vibrations will bring worms to the surface (it’s said they’re attempting to avoid predators) where you can grab them fast before they slip back into the ground.
The famed geneticist Charles Darwin theorized, “If the ground is beaten or otherwise made to tremble, worms will believe that they are pursued by a mole and leave their burrows.”
A study conducted by Vanderbilt University University biological sciences professor Ken Catania in 2008, confirmed Darwin’s theory. The study was held in northern Florida where the practice of worm grunting was extremely popular. He recorded the sounds of real moles digging versus worm grunters and compared their effects on the earthworms’ habit of springing from their burrows when in danger.
The town of Sopchoppy in northern Florida adopted the practice as its calling card by hosting an annual Worm Gruntin’ Festival where young earthworm harvesters compete to see who can coax the most earthworms from the ground with various techniques.
The folks at Arkansas F&G say it doesn’t have to be two sticks making the vibrations. An old broom handle driven into the ground rubbed with a hand saw can produce the low vibrations needed to draw the worms to the surface. Or, two lengths of rebar also can be used to charm up some night crawlers for bait.
When doing this, be sure to keep an eye on the ground for several feet around the fiddling tools and be ready to grab the worms before they retreat.
This process won’t work if the ground it extremely hard or the soil is sandy. It’s recommended to try under trees in areas where the ground is fertile with lots of deteriorating vegetation.
After a heavy rain, worms can often be seen laying on pavements and driveways where they can be picked up. And I remember an uncle, who was a die-hard angler, who used to check farm fields as they were being plowed for worms. A buddy of his would call him and tell him if he spotted a farmer plowing so he’d hurry on over there.
Worm Gruntin’ can also be a fun way for kids to gather worms for fishing, perhaps making it a contest to see who could gather the most.
Without a doubt, worming is an old but inexpensive way to get bait for the opening day of trout fishing. There’s bedding material sold to keep them alive or just cut-up some wet newspaper and put it in a container to keep them alive or just keep them in some ground from where you harvested them.
During the current Covid-19 outbreak, many businesses were forced to close because they are considered “non-life-sustaining.” Up until yesterday, Governor Tom Wolf considered gun stores, and by extension the Second Amendment, “non-life-sustaining” as well. With customers lined up out the doors attempting to exercise their Second Amendment rights, gun stores were forced to close.
Following a dissenting opinion from Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice David Wecht and two other Justices, Governor Tom Wolf quietly removed gun shops from that list yesterday. The opinion made it clear that Governor Wolf’s shuttering of gun shops amounted to “an absolute and indefinite prohibition upon the acquisition of firearms by the citizens of this commonwealth - a result in clear tension with the Second Amendment.”
Gun stores are now able to reopen and sell their wares on a limited basis. All transactions must be done by individual appointment during limited hours according to a press release from NRA/ILA.
CLEANING CORK HANDLED FISHING RODS
If your cork handled fishing rod handle is starting to look quite funky, there is a way to clean them according to the folks at Fishing Retailer.
There is a simple and inexpensive way to clean cork handled fishing rods and you may even have the necessary cleaning materials.
It’s suggested using baby wipes, wet towelettes or moist bath tissues that work well for removing stains on the cork handles. Many of these stains are probably from mud, fish slime, bait and sweat.
The method is to take a wipe and begin rubbing it gently over the cork handle. It’s not necessary to rub aggressively. Let the wipe work its magic and use different parts of the wipe or towelette to remove grime until the handle looks as good as new.
You can also use the wipe over the entire rod blank to remove residue and to restore its condition.
As a final step use a clean rag to dry the cork, reel seat and rod blank.
Deer harvest numbers for the 2019-20 season are officially in with some surprises.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission reports that the buck harvest was up 10 percent and the overall harvest was the highest in 15 years.
During the 2019-20 seasons that ended in January, hunters took a total of 389,431 deer. This topped the previous years harvest of 374,690 by four percent, says the PGC.
The statewide buck harvest jumped 10 percent with 163,240 taken. Of that total, about 66 percent were at least 2.5 years old while the remainder were 1.5 years old, which, reports the PGC, is a two-to-one margin. During the 2018-19 seasons, a total of 147,750 bucks were taken.
According to Chris Rosenberry, PGC Deer and Elk Section Supervisor, “In recent years about 17-18 percent of all hunters harvested an antlered deer and we see this trend to continue.”
As for the antlerless harvest, it resulted in 226,191 were harvested and that includes 10,461 that had chronic wasting disease (CWD) for hunters holding Deer Management Assistance Program permits.
For comparison purposes and during the 2018-19 seasons, there were 226,940 antlerless deer harvested, slightly more than this past season. And about 69 percent of antlerless taken were adults females while button bucks comprised 16 percent and doe fawns made up 15 percent. In 2018-19 the percentage was 66 percent.
In regards to antlerless deer, Rosenberry says “Keeping harvest pressure on antlerless deer is critical in our ongoing efforts to address the risk of CWD, particularly in Disease Management Areas.
Interestingly, and across 23 Wildlife Management Units (WMU), the antlerless deer harvest decreased in almost half of them. The largest decline, says the PGC, occurred in WMU 2H, 39 percent; WMU 3A, 23 percent; WMU 1B, 20 percent; WMU 4D, 21 percent; and WMU 4B, 20 percent.
For antlered deer, the buck harvest dropped in WMU’s 2C, 2H and 5D. The largest increases in bucks taken were in WMU 2G, 29 percent; WMU 3C, 22 percent; WMU 4C, 21 percent; and WMU 3A, 19 percent.
Bowhunter success was affected somewhat by unseasonably warm and rainy weather but still managed to take 145, 908 deer of which 74,190 were bucks and 71,718 were antlerless deer. That accounts for about a third of Pennsylvania’s 2018-19 total harvest but pales somewhat to the 2018-19 seasons when they took a total of 165,069 deer.
For local deer harvests, the following are the closest WMUs to the Lehigh Valley with antlered deer represented by “A” and for antlerless, “AL.” In parenthesis are the harvest numbers for the 2018-19 seasons.
*WMU 3D: 6,000-A (5,200); 4,900-AL (5,700).
*4C: 7,000-A (5,800); 8,300-AL (7,200).
*5C: 7,600-A (7,600); 14,427-AL (16,415).
*5D: 2,500-A (2,600); 6,700-AL (6,000).
For the archery and muzzleloader seasons, the totals are as follows.
*3D: archery, 2,250-A (1,660); 1,470-AL (1,410); muzzleloader, 50-A (40); 830-AL (590).
*4C: archery, 3,550-A (2,350); 2,960-AL (1,900); muzzleloader, 50-A (50); 1,240-AL (800).
*5C: archery, 5,330 (4,690); 7,075-AL (7,238); muzzleloader, 70-A (110); 1,042-AL (1,272).
5D: archery, 2,180-A (2,080); 4,460-AL (3,790); muzzleloader, 20-A (20); 240-AL (210).
The PGC also lists unknown WMU harvests at: archery, 140-A (40); 164-AL (0); muzzleloader, 10-A (0); 94-AL (0).
With the 2020 trout opener consolidated to April 18, local tackle shops are bracing for last minute customers.
Willie from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon, bemoaned the fact that the single opener will now have early season customers come in later when they should come in now when he’s not as busy to have reels wound with new line, to buy fishing licenses, buy bait and fix existing gear. But, he surmised, they’ll probably all wait to the last minute and deluge him with all of the above.
Under the normal early southeastern opener that was scheduled for April 11, the COVID-19 virus made the PF&BC cancel that date and move it to a single statewide opener on April 18. Far too many anglers will now figure they have time to get gear in shape and do their angling shopping, much to the displeasure of shop owners.
Of all the fishing tackle on the market, there are some new tackle items anglers may be interested in, and one of them is Ugly Stik’s new Carbon rods.
According to Cole Hunter, Ugly Stik media manager, the new Carbon rods offered in casting and spinning models, are the lightest Ugly Stik ever made. He goes on to say that using new carbon technology, the carbon rods are crafted of 100 percent 24-ton graphite which allows the new rods to be lightweight and 37 percent stronger, on average, than other similar action rods make without the Ugly Stik process. But they still use the famous Ugly Stik durable tip.
Although the rods’ press release said it’s 24-ton graphite, the major composition is comprised of carbon fiber like that used in the automotive market, crossbows and other gear.
Pure Fishing, the parent company of Ugly Stik, says the Carbon series of rods marks a major improvement in rod handling and sensitivity and the series also encompasses other performance qualities that raise the bar for the brand in terms of features and benefits. The Carbon rods feature Ugly Tuff stainless steel guides and popular WINN split grips for added control and comfort.
Ugly Stik Vice President Jon Schlosser says, “Anglers are shocked that a rod can have this much power and yet be so sensitive at the same time. And does so while remaining in line with the affordability of other Ugly Stik models, making it one of the best values in all of fishing.”
For you bass and saltwater anglers, Soft Steel, the line company from reel maker Okuma, has debuted their stretchable fluorocarbon line.
The company says it’s Sift Steel is 100 percent fluorocarbon line with stretchable properties of monofilament line. This means, they claim, you’ll get a tighter cinch on your knot standard fluro lines and it’s available in breaking strengths of 10-150 pounds and is offered in 25 yard spools as well as 5-yard single shot lengths. It retails from $6.99 to $89.99.
UNUSUAL FISH HATCHERY THEFT
We recently learned that a thief visited the restroom at Allentown’s Lil-Le-Hi Fish Hatchery and broke the toilet paper container to steal two rolls of toilet paper and hand wipes from the room. Unreal what some crazed people will do.
Lehigh Valley trout anglers will have to wait a bit longer for the southeastern trout fishing opener. The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) has announced that they’re consolidating opening days to one amidst concern for the COVID-19 virus.
The separate early opening in 18 southeastern counties that was set for April 4 was cancelled and has been re-set for April 18 when the remainder of the counties had their usual and statewide opener.
This also affects Mentored Youth Trout Day that will now take place on Saturday, April 11.
Another change will be that trout stocking volunteers will not be permitted as all stocking will be handled by PFBC personnel.
The PFBC in their press release says that in some cases pre-season and inseason allocations of trout will be combined into single stocking events to increase the efficiency of stocking trips. Stockings, says the agency, will be prioritized to deliver trout to regions of the state that are predicted to be affected most severely by COVID-19 that could result in restrictions on travel.
In addition, trout stockings will be announced upon the completion, rather than in advance on the FishBoatPA mobile app and PFBC’s website (www.fishandboat.com). As such, it’s also very likely that the published stocking dates on the PFBC’s website will change through this consolidation. Added to this, stocking will occur seven days a week until further notice.
According to Rick Kauffman, PFBC District 6 Commissioner, “We’re trying to get as many fish in the water as possible as quickly as possible while we still have the best access to waterways and available staff.”
If you haven’t purchased your fishing license, boat launch permit or boat registration and don’t want to visit a tackle shop to do so, the PFBC suggests purchasing both online through the PFBC’s Outdoor Shop’s website (www.pa.wildlifelicense.com). You can then take a smartphone photo of it and use it for identification if a fish warden asks to see it as a pdf file containing an image of your license is provided via email. As for boat launch permits and registration, customers will eventually receive validation decals and registration cards in the mail from the PFBC.
The single opening day, like it was some years ago, may be for the better, aside from the virus concern, in that it’s a bit warmer then and more conducive for kids to more enjoy the sport. It may also be less crowded since some anglers from upstate areas would typically travel to southeastern counties to join the local crowds to fish. This time, the crowds should (hopefully) be spread out.
As for the recent pre-season stockings, it’s surmised that since PFBC personnel are stocking trout, they won’t be placing the trout throughout the stream as the many volunteers did, but mainly put in deep holes of a stream as it’s more expedient that way. So let’s hope the fish will move around and not stay at one place.
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.