ZEKE WILSON: Getting out and about
June 24, 2014 10:25 AM
by ZEKE WILSON

I am fortunate enough to work outdoors, and almost daily I am reminded of the amazing vegetation and wildlife. Sadly, many find themselves inside for the workday or live in urban areas.

Bike, canoe and kayak activity in my travels around Pittsburgh indicate many realize that spending time outdoors is essential. Those who hunt, trap or fish use any spare time to pursue or prepare for their target species.

Out-of-state hunting licenses have begun to be awarded, and you can now purchase your Pennsylvania license. Doe applications are due in a few weeks, allowing plenty of time to avoid the lines.

Anglers can target a multitude of species, with bass being a favorite among many. Although the influx of heat and rains can impact when and where to go, chances are good of feeling a tight line.

The time and effort to catch and clean a meal’s worth of fish is often greater than the money it costs. But the flavor and quality are almost always better than what a corporation can freeze and box.

My excuse for a lack of angling is having too much work to do, while others claim going fishing is too much work. Catch-and-release is now practiced by the majority, but seeing a stringer, creel or cooler on the water is still common. For the time being I will have to stick to enjoying the birds and squirrels at work until things slow down enough to allow for some angling.

• Upon exiting the truck the other day at a tree farm, I quickly realized I had both feet in poison ivy. From years past I knew the area could harbor the plant, but it is the only place to pull off the road that will accommodate a truck and trailer.

Those who spend much time afield quickly learn to recognize the plant, while others use it along with insects as an excuse to not interact with nature. Insect bites or stings can ruin an outing, but in most instances they are preventable.

• On Sunday I received a picture message of a 54-inch rattlesnake taken in Cambria County. While many would cringe at the thought of capturing, measuring, sexing and either releasing or harvesting a rattlesnake, it is something I have to try.

Archery allows for close encounters, as does trapping with footholds, so I can somewhat imagine the rush of adrenaline prior to the catching the rattler. Perhaps next year I will schedule a few days for snake hunting with hopes of needing additional time to clean, cook and preserve the trophy. One snake per year is the limit, and a permit and short season exists, which is regulated by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission despite people still having the mentality of killing them all.

• Target archery in the backyard during the evenings is a great way to end the day and beat the heat. The activity is something the entire family can enjoy, although neighbors or lack of a yard can rule this out. Shooting in low light requires focus, which can be forgotten during practice sessions, and also replicates when game is most often taken.

It is hard to believe, but in just over three months archers will be taking to the woods is search of whitetail.

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