Indiana, PA - Indiana County

ZEKE WILSON: Habitat pay might off

by on May 28, 2013 10:39 AM

Sunday evening I was pleased to see a hen turkey feeding between rows of young white pines. After the area was cleared of honey suckle two years prior, a mixture of oats and clover was planted along with the pine seedlings. Along the edges of the new clearing several car-sized brush piles were built with care, with rabbit habitat in mind.

Habitat often benefits a number of species, and in this case the cover is providing safety as the hen sits on her clutch of eggs. With any luck, a sighting of her and poults in the next few weeks will indicate a successful nesting.

Last year, in all probability, the same hen attempted to nest, but to the best of my knowledge never reared young.

• The hunting season is winding down, and the underbrush can make seeing a gobbler difficult. Hunters who I spoke with indicated visibility was an issue, withbirds never being seen despite being well within range.

Others experienced silent toms sliding in unannounced and handcuffing the shooter. When you suddenly have a gobbler at 15 yards that is looking hard for the hen he heard, an extra full choke can make for some easy missing.

• This past weekend Consol Energy sponsored a kids’ day at Blue Spruce Park by stocking the lake with rainbow trout. Unfortunately at this time of year, shipping can be stressful on the fish, and often they do not want to actively feed once stocked. While the fishing was slow for the event, anglers that I spoke with are beginning to catch fish with some regularity.

• The upcoming potential for record-high temperatures should have pleasure boaters out in force, with anglers already having a scapegoat before they even hit the water.

• Work has limited my fishing and eliminated any thoughts of turkey hunting yet sometimes an outdoor opportunity cannot be passed up. When I pulled into the driveway after work, supper and a shower were on my list until I noticed a rabbit feeding near the basement door.

With little cover in the area, the rabbit was hung out to dry, so to speak, as I made my way for the kennel and my least-experienced beagle. Slowly I crept toward the rabbit with “Pepper,” and once the beagle made eye contact with the rabbit, the chase was on. Such an encounter was not on the rabbit’s mind for the day, and after a 150-yard dash the trail ended at a hole.

• Those who planted their gardens were reminded of the unpredictable spring weather of our region. A commute to Gibsonia displayed a vast array of ways to cover plants, and in one instance a flipped wheelbarrow was in use. Bed sheets on each side of a driveway covering flowers were as common as the campaign and yard sale signs along the route.

• Agriculture throughout the area is in full swing, and as I worked on Memorial Day I was reminded with each turn of the tractor planting pepper plants along Crooked Creek that the farmers, too, were working the holiday.

Those with food plots are beginning to plant as well, although the nature of farming often leads to less-than- desirable results. The cost of fuel, fertilizer and seed quickly add up when food plots don’t materialize. Oftentimes shade is the inhibitor, and no matter the quality of the soil, it will never create lush greens.

As the popularity of planting crops to entice deer continues, the debate over whether that should be classified as baiting continues. Had it not been for recent CWD outbreaks here in the state eliminating any likelihood, there had been some banter suggesting baiting for deer might become legal.

Zeke Wilson is an outdoors writer for The Indiana Gazette. His columns appear Tuesday on the Outdoors page and in the Indiana County Area Sports section on The Indiana Gazette Online.
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