ZEKE WILSON: Autumn is in the air
As I toured the countryside Sunday, evidence of autumn was abundant.
Cornstalk edges are crisp, and I have seen soybean fields that are nearly leafless. In time these fields will be harvested and create a different landscape. Some maples are shedding leaves, and in the weeks to come the canopy will erupt in color.
The ground is littered with cherries, and the hickory crop is heavy. Squirrel hunters should enjoy a good season, with mature stands of hickory allowing for weeks of hunting. One must continue to harvest squirrel from the stand because in little time they would eat and cache the bounty. Chipmunks, too, will get in on the action, preferring the lesser-sized pignut.
The corn that has been taken for silage recently has allowed for better spotlighting. Often one must pass up field after field as standing corn blocks sight of the whitetail deer. Other wildlife such as coyote and fox also can be viewed at night, and on a couple occasions I have spotted bear.
• The discussion of whether to permit spotlighting in Pennsylvania is an interesting one. Most states already do not permit the activity. The tradition and popularity are colliding with the Game Commission’s ability to curtail poaching. In remote areas it can be a serious problem, with few people around to hear or report gunshots.
Outlawing spotting would allow wardens to watch for those casting beams in the assumption that they are doing so to poach. I have always enjoyed spotting, and it provides an easy way to introduce kids to the whitetail. For those without trail cameras, it is a way to evaluate the herd and see which bucks are in the area.
Much like the Sunday hunting debate, the discussion will continue, although the backing of spotlight enthusiasts is not as well unified as those against Sunday hunting.
• Dove and geese are scarce at the current time, with hunter interest and changing food sources to credit. The resident goose population has declined over the past five years, and for the first time Pennsylvania was not the leading state on the Atlantic flyway. It is hoped that some strong northern winds will bring in some hungry birds before the seasons wind down.
• Archery season is less than three weeks away, but for many the best hunting won’t come until November.
Crossbows have made archery more popular than ever, and finding a spot to hunt can be problematic. Often the best locations in public ground see a flurry of interests prior to and on the first day of the season. Finding an out-of-the-way spot might just put a displaced buck within range on the first day.
Utilizing hunting pressure and access points is popular among gun hunters but ignored by archers. As more take to the woods armed with a crossbow, it only makes sense to use these first-day drives from the parking lot to your advantage when hunting with a crowd.