Indiana, PA - Indiana County

ZEKE WILSON: Lessons best learned

on September 04, 2013 10:40 AM

Heel-to-toe my boots fell as I stalked toward a pond in hopes geese were there Monday.

Minute things like walking softly are instilled from parents or a mentor early on in a young hunter’s life. Often these small lessons are so simple an older aspiring hunter just starting out would never even consider them.

On occasion I will remind a fellow hunter to walk softly, although if they aren’t already, chances are good the stomping will continue. The type of boot sole alone can be the difference in closing the gap on a stalk that emphasizes the need to learn the skill at an early age.

Gun safety is also something best learned young, although the current debate with mentored hunting is what age is too young. I can vaguely remember elementary school, but I remember my first rabbit, buck, duck and many other early kills with great clarity. The mentality of a 6-year-old and a 12-year-old is significant, and many of the fundamentals taught to the younger hunters will need to be revisited until it sinks in.

When dealing with high-powered rifles, a lot of caution must be taken as in the blink of an eye the gun will do what it is designed to. The recoil often is too great that the young hunters do not even practice with their deer rifle. Although the utilization of shooting .22 for cost and comfort cannot be denied, young hunters must realize the potential of their rifle. When I began hunting, a .243 suited my frame just fine, and all I was worried about was hitting deer.

Many would argue that mentored hunts are up to the individual, but I must wonder what happened to taking a kid along simply to watch the hunt. This aspect of true mentoring is being lost with the excitement of getting them their first buck.

Sadly, the possibility of an early squirrel season was dismissed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, with the rationale that an archer might be mistaken as a squirrel due to the leaves still on the trees.

As coon hunters know, it is typically the end of October before seeing a treed coon becomes consistent, so perhaps the season should be moved back another two weeks in the name of safety. Surrounding states that hold early squirrel seasons do not have the statistics to support the rationale that mistaken target incidents would rise. I believe it was archer interest that led to the rejection of the early squirrel season rather than concern.

Everyone likes to have the woods to themselves, and rightly so, as it allows the best view of true nature. In addition, archers purchase a $16 license, so keeping archers happy is a priority, and many were crying about sharing two weeks with squirrel hunters. I hate not being able to shoot squirrels while hunting the first two weeks of archery.

Despite not harvesting any geese, the dove hunting allowed for some action, although most of the doves are still out there thanks to poor shooting and high winds. Surprisingly, some larger flocks worked the area I hunted, although for the most part it was typical for hot-weather hunting.

Mud in the farm lanes revealed a host of tracks, including coyote, fox, turkey and mink.

Also, cherry leaves are beginning to rain down along the fields edges, and soybeans have begun to yellow.

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