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Turkeys, trout and the State Park

OUTDOORS WITH JAKE

Happy Easter everyone! Isn’t it is hard to believe that Easter is here already? It seems like we were just wishing each other happy New Years. The months of 2011 are certainly flying by. For example, we are in our second month of spring already and May is just one week away. The key is not to be caught flipping the pages of the calendar without living each day of the month to its fullest. While April showers are certainly bringing the May flowers, it is also bringing many outdoor opportunities. Trout fishing and turkey hunting are two good examples.

The trout season opened last weekend and many anglers were chased off the lakes and streams because of the heavy rains and winds. That means there is plenty of fish still swimming around for local anglers. In addition to the trout stocked before the season, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission are already restocking lakes and streams in what they call their “In-Season Stocking Program.” The Lake at Frances Slocum State Park was restocked this past Monday and what an event it was. Hundreds of people lined the shore awaiting the arrival of the stocking truck. Perhaps the most inspiring thing was the number of children with parents and grandparents. These afternoons spent together will be forever looked back at as good wholesome family memories.

The trout were a little finicky are first but within an hour they settled down and started to bite. I did a quick survey of the anglers landing trout. They claim that bright power bait fished on the bottom is the most successful way to land the trout stocked at Frances Slocum. I did meet up with a few fishermen using minnows quite successfully as well. The key to catching fish is to get out and fish. The rest of it should happen naturally. The Fish Commission stocked more than three thousand trout on Monday and they are scheduled to restock it again in May. For the most up to date schedule of in-season stocking, visit the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission home page at http://www.fish.state.pa.us.

Young turkey hunters had their chance yesterday to shoot a Pennsylvania Gobbler. The one day hunt for kids is designed to get our youth interested in hunting and in this case, turkey hunting. The official opening of the turkey season starts next Saturday, April 30, one half hour before sunrise. Youths under the age of 12 years may participate in this spring gobbler season through the Game Commission’s Mentored Youth Hunting Program. They can hunt with a mentor during the general spring gobbler season. Mentored youths need to obtain a permit for $2.70, and must be accompanied by an adult mentor who is a properly licensed and at least 21 years of age. A field harvest tag is provided with the mentored youth hunting program permit. Mentored youths also are required to report their harvest to the Game Commission either online or by using one of the report card inserts that are part of the Digest.

The outlook for the turkey season is excellent. I have seen quite a few turkeys on my travels and my scouting trips at daybreak have been very productive. The key is to get out this week and make sure the birds are where you think they are. Scouting is always the key to a successful hunt. More important than a successful hunt is a safe and enjoyable one. Here are a few tips to follow to help make your outing a safe adventure.

Positively identify your target. Be absolutely certain that the turkey you are about to shoot is a legal (bearded) turkey before you pull the trigger. The bird should be fully and clearly visible. Be sure to look beyond the path of your shot to make sure it is safe to pull the trigger.

Never stalk a turkey or turkey sounds. Take up a calling location and let the bird come to you. Movement or sounds you think are a turkey may be another hunter. Sneaking in on another hunter is not only unsafe, it’s illegal. Spring turkey hunting is by calling only.

Assume every noise and movement is another hunter, not a turkey.

Protect your back! Select a large tree, rock, or other substantial natural barrier while calling. Sit with your back against this object. Hunt in open woods so you can easily see approaching hunters.

Shout “STOP!” to alert approaching hunters. Never move, wave, or make turkey sounds to alert hunters of your position.

Eliminate red, white, blue, and black colors from your clothing. These colors are found on the head, neck, and body of mature gobblers.

Pre-select a zone of fire. Shoot at a turkey only in that predetermined zone and only when you’re certain it is safe to do so. Agree upon these zones with your hunting companions before the hunt.

Choose safe and responsible hunting companions. Know where they are at all times.

Wear hunter orange when entering or leaving your turkey hunting area. Fluorescent orange is not requited in the spring but it is a smart thing to wear while moving about.

Remember to practice these safety tips, be courteous and patient. No turkey is worth risking a human life for. Good luck if you are heading in search of a gobbling turkey.

Still Time for Two

It is not too late to get a second turkey tag. Pennsylvania hunters who would like the opportunity to harvest a second spring gobbler can purchase a second spring gobbler tag until Saturday, April 30. Thanks to the new Pennsylvania Automated License System (PALS), hunters can purchase a second spring gobbler tag at any issuing agent and walk out of the store with it. A second tag could be purchased online but it could take up to ten days to get in the mail. The cost of the second turkey tag is $21.70 for residents and $41.70 for nonresidents.

Be sure to watch Pennsylvania Outdoor Life tonight at 6:30 on WNEP-TV. We have dedicated most of the program to turkey hunting and turkey call making.

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