Indiana, PA - Indiana County

ZEKE WILSON: It's not autumn just yet

on August 12, 2014 10:14 AM

An abundance of wildlife in the area makes it difficult to look toward autumn.

The other evening as I shot my bow at last light, I watched three bats flying feverishly as they hunted insects above my head.

Earlier in the day I had observed purple martins doing the same, but it won’t be long until both pack things up for the winter.

The bat population throughout the region has been hit hard by white nose fungus, and it is hoped these residents will find an uncontaminated wintering cavern. In all likelihood the mother and pup bat spent their summer within an agricultural building on the property.

A toad crossing the driveway and a roadkill garter snake at the bottom of the road soon will be forgotten sights, but they still remain commonplace.

While freezing temperatures are still months away, wildlife already is anticipating the end of easy living. Squirrels have begun to hoard the first falling nuts, which are cleaned up almost as quickly as they drop. The heavy all-night rain undoubtedly left the forest floor littered with leaves and fruits, although the bulk will remain hanging until fall.

Acorn and hickory crops seem healthy in addition to the overwhelming abundance of corn.

While wildlife utilizes modern farm practices the best they can, stands of native grasses and overgrown pastures offer food and cover.

Much of the area lacks a crop of choke cherries, and it appears some sort of blight or fungus dried out the fruit before it had a chance to grow. All that is present is the stem curled up dry and void of even the slightest pit. This fall food is popular with a host of critters, but it will offer little yield this year.

Often when left in the field I discover that chipmunks or field mice have used the air filter on my Kubota as a larder, storing hundreds of cherries inside it.

• If you haven’t gotten around to applying for an antlerless deer tag, there will be a year to think about it as nearly all WMUs are sold out. Allegheny County and the rest of 2B is the only option left for this region.

Large amounts of private ground make such units difficult to manage, so an exorbitant amount of tags are issued in hopes many are utilized where hunting is permitted.

• Bear also are fair game for much of the year in several WMUs to help alleviate human conflict. Starting Sept. 20, archers in select units can arrow deer or bear alike, if the opportunity arises.

Shooting high volumes of arrows in the next few weeks will develop muscle memory and mass, allowing for stealthier draws and longer holds. 3-D target archery shoots provide good exercise, although not enough emphasis is placed on practicing from an elevated position. To spend the summer shooting off the ground and the entire season in an elevated tree stand seems silly, but it is standard practice.

This weekend the Potter County Bow Hunters Festival will be held at Ski Denton, allowing archers practice and conditioning in addition to a great time.

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