Turkey Season Begins Oct. 31
Inside the Outdoors, October 30 2009

Pennsylvania’s fall turkey season will get underway tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 31. It’s no secret, there are lots of these birds in wooded areas surrounding our communities. Just recently, one of my good friends told me he looked out his back window close to the wood line on his property and saw a number of deer intermingled with wild turkeys.

When our family lived in Laughlintown near the Washington Furnace Inn, often a rafter of birds would congregate in our back yard so as to appear that they were looking for easy pickings.

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Tom Fazi, “Turkeys are doing very well in the area and can be found anywhere.” I asked him what hunters should be scouting for where the flocks may be hanging out. “Look for oak and beechnut trees,” he told me. He concurred that acorns were in abundance this year, maybe because the summers were dryer as opposed to previous years.

According to Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director, “Wild turkey hunting is one of Pennsylvania’s premiere outdoor experiences. The satisfaction derived from calling in and taking a game bird is an experience that veteran hunters never tire of and new turkey hunters can’t wait to experience.”

PGC’s Mary Jo Casalena, wild turkey biologist, suggested that hunters may find hunting more challenging this year. That stems from the fact that the spring was cooler and wetter in the woods which affected their nesting. Thus, there were fewer birds born. And can you believe it, then, there was a shortage of acorns? That’s hard to believe considering we have so many dropping in yards, parking lots and similar areas.

However, the Commission reported the turkey population as being above average, so that may be a plus for hunters looking for their Thanksgiving meals. By the way, if you are looking for some good recipes, Google wild turkey recipes. There are many.

The biologist then discussed calling birds in. That “is what makes turkey hunting simultaneously tricky and enjoyable.” I remember being given a device I thought was designed to call turkey. I went to Cook Forest on vacation. I decided to ascend to the top of a mountain and then blow into my caller. I was surprised, in no time at all, I had attracted – no, not turkeys, - but crows, and boy did they come from everywhere!

Anyway, getting back to the subject at hand, it was revealed that as low as 16 percent of fall turkey hunters harvested turkeys last year. And even though that might sound like a low number, that amount was up four percent over the previous three years. “The final 2008 fall harvest was 24, 288 birds, similar to the previous several years.”

By the way, the PGC reminds sportsmen that licenses must be displayed in the middle of the back of each hunter and not kept in one’s pocket. This rule is outlined in the Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest. Failure to observe the regulation carries with it a $25 fine.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has a similar ruling whereby the permit must be visibly exhibited on the person. Failure to do so also results in a penalty.

Since I mentioned the PFBC, I want to tell you, any fisherman who hasn’t done any angling recently at either Upper or Lower Twin Lakes or Keystone State Park is really missing out not only on some really feisty fish, but the best eating rainbow trout. I’ve eaten trout before, but none as good as these.

My thanks go out to Latrobe resident Steve Gordon who took me out again recently on his boat to Keystone State Park. Minifoo jigs were the ticket for him. I trolled, and cast and retrieved a black rooster tail. Even though we both came up one fish short on our limit, we both had plenty of fish for some mighty fine dining. While we were there, we began conversing with a group of gentlemen on the handicap dock who recognized us (I guess because we were both so good-looking). Before long, the one fellow comfortably laid back in his collapsible chair seemed to be the leader of the pack, so to speak. He related they had gotten two trout on power bait.

I heard another gent on the other side of the lake yell out hours later, “I just got one on a worm.” And so it goes, the old stand-by baits still work just fine.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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