Zeke Wilson.jpg

The Indiana County courthouse was abuzz Monday with activity as hunters lined up to purchase over-the-counter antlerless licenses. A line began to form at 7 a.m. despite the courthouse not opening until 8. By late morning, the tags left for WMU 2D were dwindling, and I felt fortunate that I was able to purchase one later in the morning.

WMU 2D is now sold out of antlerless licenses, with 74,000 now in the hands of hopeful hunters.

On the eastern side of the county, WMU 2E had 5,260 antlerless licenses remaining at the end of business hours Monday. With 42,000 offered for WMU 2E, it would appear it, too, will sell out soon, and those wanting another few tags should make arrangements to make it to the courthouse today.

The cost of an antlerless license is a bargain in today’s world, and for those who enjoy hunting and venison, it is nice to have a few available.

With a lengthy deer season, the chances of filling a tag are good should one be willing to spend some time in the woods. Abundant public land allows everyone with a chance to harvest a deer, and we are fortunate to live in an area where some landowners are still willing to grant permission for hunting. With the weather still warm and daylight lasting past dinnertime, now is a great time to ask for permission to hunt this fall.

Squirrel season is now underway, and deer hunters will benefit greatly by getting some time in the woods. Deer and squirrels share a love for acorns, and quite often a concentration of squirrels surrounding some oaks will reveal a hot spot for deer, as well. A squirrel can consume and hoard a tremendous amount of nuts, and harvesting them now will allow the mast to remain and attract other wildlife.Last season, I witnessed deer, squirrel and turkey all foraging beneath a massive white oak and then watched my coonhound tree a raccoon on the opening night of the season. Spending time in the woods allows one to find these special food sources, and the early season seems to be the best time to discover them.

Rain in Wednesday’s forecast should quiet the woods and knock some nuts down onto the ground, allowing for some good hunting later this week. I still can remember the anticipation and excitement that came with some of my first squirrel hunts. Those memories combined with the enjoyment of the hunt keep me returning to the squirrel woods despite there not being much to gain in social status by harvesting a mature nut cruncher.

However, the hunt can yield personal satisfaction along with some fine eating. While the act of hunting, harvesting, butchering and cooking wild game can seem like a bit of an inconvenience in today’s modern world, it helps bring one back to the basics.

Those with young hunters in the roster should find the time to teach them the ways of the woods so that they can pass on our hunting heritage. Sadly, many hunters now outsource their meat processing, and an important part of the hunt is not being passed on or preserved. I am certainly more enthused to pull the trigger as I am the hide, yet see the two acts connected and cannot bring myself to outsource the hard part.

Archery hunters should begin to practice their shot with opening day fast approaching. Modern devices such as compound bows and crossbows are relatively easy to master in comparison to the stickbow but still require familiarity.

Using a new weapon can be frustrating and potentially hazardous in the heat of the moment. Over the weekend, I spoke with an individual who nearly lost his thumb when firing his crossbow. Those who plan to put a crossbow in a kid’s hands this fall should be sure to practice plenty so that the mechanics are just as understood as point of aim.

Shot selection is an important part of archery hunting and hunters should establish their limitations and shot angles prior to the season so that low percentage shots can be avoided. Each setup and shooter is different, and it is up to honesty with oneself as to what shots can be made and what shots should be passed up.

Experience is perhaps the greatest teacher, and despite having plenty of it, I still find myself learning with each string release.