ZEKE WILSON: Snow makes it easier
Outdoor enthusiasts awoke this morning to the first snow cover.
Snow allows hunters to pick up animal movements sooner and more often. Walking into a woodlot with a fresh cover of snow can allow quick assessment on what creatures inhabit the property.
Locating a flock of turkey is as simple as cutting tracks in the morning and following.
Fall turkey season is in until Saturday in WMU 2D and runs until Nov. 22 in WMU 2E.
Although not as common as they once were, most mature woodlots with oak and grapes in the area will harbor turkeys at one time or another. Being in the right spot can be influenced by available food, hunting pressure, and most importantly, the presence of turkey.
Fresh scratchings, tracks and droppings can indicate how recently the flock came through. In the fall the flocks will follow food, although traditional roosting sites are frequented regularly.
Listening in the morning hours often will allow for calling among the flock to be heard, allowing for pinpoint location. Breaking up the flock and calling a bird into range is popular, although simply posting up where turkeys are known to cross can be just as deadly.
• In addition to pursuing Thanksgiving dinner, the possibilities of bagging small game until turkeys are located can be just as fun. From what I have observed, the pheasants stocked by the Pennsylvania Game Commission are very healthy, allowing for multiple flushes and almost instant dispersal. With these erratic movements and so many cooperative farms being stocked, flushing one can happen almost anywhere.
Hens and roosters are legal, with a daily limit of two, allowing for excellent table fare.
Grouse also appear abundant and regularly are found in good turkey habitat. While a magnum turkey load is overkill on the lesser birds, most flushes are straight away, allowing for minimal meat damage. Jumped rabbits and squirrels often present the same shot but do not hold up as well to the Texas heart shot.
• With some doe beginning to come into estrus, the whitetail woods are heating up for archers. Focusing on funnels that condense deer movements and food sources should allow for sightings and shot opportunities.
Tree stands and ground blinds are popular to help conceal movements, but at this time of year, bucks can act dumb enough to shoot in jeans.
• As November continues to advance, one can begin to see some of the better hunting slip away. Man is not the only hunter in Penn’s Woods, and despite the increase in trappers and predator hunters, small game numbers decline by the day.
In the weeks to come many will begin to look toward bear and deer seasons, with the anticipation often being greater than the participation. Spending significant time in preparation of the hunt often allows for the hunt itself to be over almost too quickly.
Despite the increased price and at times scarcity of ammunition, taking the rifle to the range is still money well spent.