ZEKE WILSON: Spring has sprung
Monday’s commute revealed evidence at almost every turn that wildlife had spring on the mind. Although driving and watching wildlife are difficult, the increased movements make it tough to miss.
A kingfisher darting along Blackleggs Creek reminded me that trout season is rapidly approaching.
Geese are pairing up at nearly every body of water, and it is hoped weather will allow for a good group of goslings this year.
On the way home from sunrise service on Easter morning I was impressed with the amount of turkeys that were out and about, although it appears that it will still be another week before things get interesting.
The flocks seem to be breaking up, but interestingly the birds that I have seen have been either all gobblers or all hens. I have seen several gobblers strutting for themselves and some large groups of hens without a beard in the bunch. Warmer weather should allow for better conditions for locating a gobbler, but the season is still almost a month away.
n On the way to the service it was obvious that the set of headlights bouncing out of the gas well road were that of someone listening for a gobble, and in the weeks to come more and more hunters will start to do the same. I have heard of some anxious hunters already out there educating birds, or as they call it, practicing their calling. While I respect being green to a new activity, calling in the same bird that you hope to kill at a later date is bad business. A gobbler’s brain is by no means large; however, after a turkey investigates something that kind of sounds like a hen once or twice, the calls will lose some of the luster.
Association of a calling area or cadence of calls, I believe, is more of what birds learn to ignore. With that in mind, a lot of gobblers have met their maker after responding some pretty rough calling. While it is exciting to watch a gobbler come into the call, practice should be saved for the living room or domestic turkeys’ ears.
When I was growing up, it only made sense that if I was to hunt turkey, I should own one. Each day as I fed the hen I learned more and more about how to sound like one. After perhaps six months it was evident that a turkey ate way more than a chicken, and I sent it down the road to another owner.
Along with the host of wildlife visible from the windshield of my truck, sportsmen, too, are making it a point to welcome spring. One bait and convenience store has a countdown to trout season on its lighted sign, and with excitement I read it aloud to myself.
The buzz surrounding the first day of trout season is something that those who do not fish or are from outside of the state cannot comprehend. Traveling 100 miles with $500 worth of fishing gear in an attempt to catch a fish dinner does not make much sense on paper. However, there are many that would do anything in their power to insure that at 8 a.m. on April 12 they are able to make a cast into their favorite hole.
Reductions in stockings over the past several years have led to fewer of these spots, but the fish are still there, just not in the numbers of years past. Taking anything away from someone is difficult, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is doing its best to keep as many streams stocked while being fiscally responsible.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is considering giving something back by lifting antler restrictions for those 65 and older. It is hoped this will be eventually become law, although many hunters are criticizing the change, fearing it will undo antler management.