Friday, August 31, 2012

Hunters Sharing The Harvest A Worthy Cause

Hunters who are successful in the upcoming deer hunting seasons are encouraged by the Pennsylvania Game Commission to consider participating in the state’s Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) program, which channels donations of venison to local food banks, soup kitchens and needy families.  Pennsylvania’s HSH program is recognized as one of the most successful among similar programs in about 40 states.
“Using a unique network of local volunteer area coordinators and cooperating meat processors to process and distribute venison donated by hunters, HSH has really helped to make a difference for countless needy families and individuals in our state,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “Pennsylvanians who participate in this extremely beneficial program should be proud of the role they play. HSH truly does make a tremendous difference.”
Started in 1991, HSH has developed into a refined support service for organizations that assist the Commonwealth’s needy.  Each year, Hunters Sharing the Harvest helps to deliver almost 200,000 meals to food banks, churches and social services feeding programs for meals provided to needy Pennsylvanians.
“This program is all about the generosity of hunters and their desire to help make a difference,” Roe said. “It’s a program that many hunters have become committed to and enjoy supporting. After all, what is more gratifying than providing needed food to families?”
As part of the program, hunters are encouraged to take a deer to a participating meat processor and identify how much of their deer meat - from an entire deer to several pounds - that is to be donated to HSH.  If the hunter is donating an entire deer, they are asked to make a $15 tax-deductible co-pay, and HSH will cover the remaining processing fees.  However, a hunter can cover the entire costs of the processing, which is tax deductible as well.
HSH established a statewide toll-free telephone number – 866-474-2141 - which also can answer hunters’ questions about where participating meat processors can be found or other general inquiries about the program.
To learn more about the program and obtain a list of participating meat processors and county coordinators, visit the Game Commission’s website ( and click on “Hunters Sharing the Harvest” in the “Quick Clicks” box in the right-hand column of the homepage, or go to the HSH website (

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pheasant Hunts Provide Fun For Young Gunners

For several years, Jay Bossart has been telling himself it’s time to step down as coordinator of Little Sewickley Sportsmen’s Club’s mentored youth pheasant hunt.
Hasn’t happened yet.
Bossart, of Pleasant Unity, said the event is too much fun to give up. It’s one of 26 held across the state — 12 in Southwestern Pennsylvania alone — designed to introduce pheasant hunting to kids ages 12 to 16.
“Every year I say I’m going to quit it, and every year I’m back at it again,” Bossart said. “But once you get those kids out there, some of them having never hunted before, and you see the looks on their faces, it’s fun. It’s a blast.”
Donald Long knows the feeling.
“I have more fun watching the kids than I do hunting myself,” said Long, of Natrona Heights, who runs the youth pheasant hunt at Bull Creek Rod and Gun Club in Tarentum with Springdale’s Ray Zbikowski. “To take kids out and then see them come back down out of the field with a pheasant or two in their hand, you don’t see smiles bigger than that.”
The mentored pheasant hunting program is done in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. It supplies clubs with birds at a rate of two cockbirds per young hunter, with a few hens mixed in to teach the youngsters to recognize the difference between them. The hunts are held Oct. 6 on public lands or private lands open to public hunting through the agency’s public-access program.
Youth hunters need not have a hunting license, though they must have completed a hunter-safety course and wear the required orange.
The free hunts can all have their own flavor. All involve safety education. Most have volunteers who bring their bird dogs so young hunters can see how they work and benefit from their noses. A few offer more. At Bull Creek, for example, youngsters get breakfast and lunch along with an opportunity to shoot trap.
The goal all along has been to recruit young hunters, said game commissioner Jay Delaney of Luzerne County. Coordinating a youth hunt there for several years showed him that they work — or have the potential to — because kids always see game, usually get to shoot and often bag a pheasant, he said.
“We survey the kids after each hunt, and what they’re saying is that they want more of this and more often,” Delaney said.
But parents and other adults are key, too, he added.
“I really realized how hard it is for parents to make the time to take the kids to do this. On a Saturday, you’re competing with football, you’re competing with soccer, you’re competing with all these things to give the kids a day afield,” Delaney said.
“If the parents don’t support that, if there’s not a dad or mom or aunt or grandfather willing to get the kids out, this just simply isn’t going to work.”
Putting on a hunt involves a lot of time and effort and a bit of money from local clubs. But it’s all worth it, Long said.
“It’s for the kids, to get them interested in hunting. If we can do that, it keeps them off the street, it keeps them out of trouble, they learn discipline, have fun, all that stuff,” he said. “It’s really neat.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pennsylvania Fish-for-Free Day Set for Labor Day

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Families and friends visiting Pennsylvania’s popular outdoor spots on the Labor Day holiday weekend can enjoy a day of free fishing, thanks to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC).Labor Day - Monday, Sept. 3 – marks the second of two free fishing days in the Commonwealth. Fish For Free Days allow anyone – residents and non-residents – to legally fish in Pennsylvania. From 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on both days, no fishing license is needed to fish in Pennsylvania's waterways. All other fishing regulations apply. The first 2012 Fish for Free Day was Memorial Day – Monday, May 28.
Fish-for-Free days are a convenient way to introduce friends and family to the sport of fishing,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “Many families spend the day at lakes and parks throughout the state. Now they can try fishing at no cost. We know that once people try it, particularly kids, they will see that fishing is a great recreational activity and they will want to do it more.”
To make it even easier to get started – or restarted – in fishing, the PFBC will host Family Fishing
Programs at three locations in the northern portion of Pennsylvania on Saturday, Sept. 1. 
“The Family Fishing Programs are free educational experiences designed for families with little or no fishing experience,” said Carl Richardson, PFBC manager of Education and Outreach. “Participating families will learn basic fishing skills and have an opportunity to practice those skills while fishing together during the program.”
The programs will be held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at these locations: 
             Mauch Chunk Lake County Park, Carbon County 
             Bald Eagle State Park, Centre County 
             Maurice K. Goddard State Park, Mercer County
The fishing license requirement is waived for registered program participants 16 and older. The program is open to all ages. However, the program is designed for children ages 5 and older.  All equipment, bait and tackle will be provided.
Space is limited at the event, so pre-registration is required. Deadline for registration is Aug. 31, and there will be no registration taken the day of the event. Visit to register and learn more about these events and Labor Day’s Fish-for-Free Day.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pa. Official Hope Ban On Some Imported Carcass Parts Keeps Deer Disease Out Of State

Before booking that dream hunting adventure in the Midwest or Rocky Mountains, bone up on what you can bring home. Some parts of that trophy deer or elk may have to stay where it came from.

Last week a revised executive order from the Pennsylvania Game Commission updated existing restrictions banning the importation of some animal parts from areas where Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been confirmed. Iowa and Texas were added to a list of 21 states and Canadian provinces targeted in a Pennsylvania ban on the importation of particular parts of cervids, or animals in the deer family including white-tail and mule deer, elk and moose .

In a written statement, Carl Roe, Game Commission executive director, urged Pennsylvania hunters to alert the agency if they see deer acting strangely.
"Pennsylvania hunters are just as concerned about keeping CWD out of Pennsylvania as we are," he said.

Discovered in captive mule deer in 1967, and confirmed in wild animals in 1981, CWD is a progressive and always fatal disease that impacts the animal's brain and nervous system. Scientists believe it occurs when an unknown agent converts normal brain proteins into an abnormal form. It spreads among North American cervids through the direct transfer of body fluids including saliva and urine, or indirect transfer through soil. Curiously, indirect transfer of fluids through contaminated dirt greatly increases the protein's potency.

Symptoms include awkward or uncoordinated movement, lowered head and ears, rough coat, weight loss, excessive drooling, increased thirst and ultimately death. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found "no strong evidence" that CWD can spread to humans directly or by eating the meat of an infected animal. There has been no confirmed case of CWD in wild or high-fence populations of deer or elk in Pennsylvania.

Game Commission scientists are concerned, however, that specific cervid body parts that harbor microscopic CWD-active protein particles could be imported when hunters return from vacation hunting trips. Those particles, or prions, could remain active in the environment for years -- even decades -- after they're discarded. Particular bones in butchered venison, and full heads and skull plates with antlers intended for mounting are among the parts included in the ban.

States and provinces included in the ban are Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Partial bans include Virginia (only from the CWD Containment Area), New York (only from upstate Madison and Oneida counties), Maryland (only from the CWD Management Area adjacent to Pennsylvania counties Bedford and Franklin) and West Virginia (only from the CWD Containment Area in the eastern panhandle).

Roe said Pennsylvanians who hunt in Maryland and West Virginia should be particularly aware of the affected areas in those states. For details check the wildlife agency web sites: Maryland,; West Virginia,

Representatives of a U.S. hunting tourism trade association didn't reply to an interview request regarding this story. The manager of a commercial hunting lodge in Colorado wouldn't speak on the record about CWD, but said it's routine for hunters to ship home only the carcass parts permitted in their states.

Game Commission veterinarian Walt Cottrell said it's "remarkable that we haven't detected it yet" in Pennsylvania. More than 35,000 deer and elk killed by hunters or exhibiting abnormal behaviors have been tested for CWD with no positive cases found. But Cottrell said two of the biggest risk factors for spread of the disease are commercial deer farms with less stringent regulations under the state Department of Agriculture, and the importation of abnormal prions stored in parts of cervids harvested out of state.

"We don't want to discourage responsible hunting tourism or stop hunters from bringing home meat or mounts," said Cottrell. "There's an effort to maintain the viability of the hunting industry in these states, which is a big thing. But we need to educate hunters about not bringing the nervous and lymphoid tissues back home with them."

Parts included in the importation ban include the head (brain, tonsils, eyes and lymph nodes); spinal cord and backbone; spleen; skull plate with attached antlers and cape (only if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present); upper canine teeth (only if roots or other soft tissue is present); unfinished taxidermy mounts and brain-tanned hides.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sheriff’s sergeant comes to the aid of trapped moose

 First Published Aug 07 2012 
A Weber County sheriff’s sergeant on Tuesday was filmed freeing a moose that was tangled in a swing set at a home in Causey Estates.
The video shows the bull moose struggling against the chains of the swings until Sgt. Lane Findlay approaches with a cutting tool. Findlay stands inches from the moose and trims away the chains; at one point, he extends a hand to the moose’s nose to reassure him.
The video ends when the moose is freed. The moose then returned to the house to rest in the shade and drink some water, deputies wrote.
Swing sets and volleyball nets are hazards for moose that live close to humans, officers wrote.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pennsylvania Game Commission Announces Stocking Plans For 200,000 Pheasants

Thanks to Marcellus Shale revenues, agency returns to pre-2005 pheasant stocking level

HARRISBURG – Thanks to a series of Marcellus Shale leases approved by the Board of Game Commissioners in 2011, Pennsylvania Game Commission officials today announced that hunters will see the agency’s pheasant stocking efforts increase to 200,000 birds for the upcoming small game seasons for the first time since 2004.

The 110,090 males and 89,910 female pheasants to be stocked this year includes 15,000 birds for the junior-only season (Oct. 6-13) and 1,500 pheasants allocated for those clubs sponsoring mentored pheasant hunts for juniors on Oct. 6.

“Back in the 2004-05 fiscal year, the Game Commission was forced to make many difficult financial decisions as license revenues failed to keep pace with the increasing costs of doing business,” Roe said. “While the agency’s last license fee increase took effect in the 1999-2000 license year, many operational line-items, such as the price of gasoline and other habitat improvement materials, increased at a faster pace. The pheasant propagation program was one budget item we were forced to cut, resulting in the closure of one game farm and a 50 percent reduction in the pheasant production level from 200,000 to 100,000.

“During the intervening years, we said that it would take another license fee increase for us to be able to restore the cuts in pheasant production, as well as the other cuts that were made, since reducing the pheasant program was saving the agency more than $500,000 annually. However, thanks to monies from recent Marcellus Shale-related gas leases on State Game Lands, we have been able to return to the 200,000-bird level this year, which is consistent with the Game Commission’s Strategic Plan and Pheasant Management Plan.”

Going back to full production is a significant accomplishment, according to Robert C. Boyd, Bureau of Wildlife Management Wildlife Services Division chief, who oversees the pheasant propagation program.

“There were some very focused and concerted efforts that went into getting the repairs and upgrades made to the game farm facilities, particularly the two game farms in Lycoming County,” Boyd said. “The dedication and perseverance was above and beyond commendable from the staff of the game farms, the Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management’s Engineering Division and the Northcentral Region’s local land managers.”

Roe noted that the pheasant stocking efforts will begin Oct. 5, when the agency will release 15,000 birds (7,580 males and 7,700 females) for the junior pheasant hunt scheduled for Oct. 6-13. A listing of stocking locations for the youth hunt can be found on pages 25-27 of the 2012-13 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest, which is provided to each license buyer.

Opening day of the general pheasant hunting season is Oct. 20, and closes on Nov. 24. Pre-season stocking of pheasants will take place in each region prior to Oct. 20, followed by four in-season stockings, as well as a late season stocking.

Only male pheasants are legal game in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2A, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A and 5B. Male and female pheasants are legal game in all other WMUs.

During the regular fall season, the agency focuses pheasant stocking on State Game Lands and select state parks and federal lands. Birds also are stocked on properties enrolled in the Game Commission’s Hunter Access Program.

The Game Commission has an updated publication titled “Pheasant Management Program,” which identifies State Game Lands, and those state parks and federal lands with suitable habitat that receive pheasant stockings. This publication can be found on the Game Commission’s website (, and can be viewed by putting your cursor over “Hunt/Trap” in the menu bar at the top of the page, clicking on “Hunting,” clicking on “Pheasant” in the “Small Game” listing and then choosing “Pheasant Management Program” in the “Programs” listing.

As part of the agency’s Ring-necked Pheasant Management Plan, the Game Commission is taking steps to restore self-sustaining and huntable populations of wild pheasants in suitable habitats called “Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas” (WPRAs). For the 2012-13 seasons, WPRAs are defined as the Somerset, Central Susquehanna, Hegins-Gratz Valley and Franklin County WPRAs.

To give these wild pheasants the best opportunity to establish naturally reproducing populations, the Board has banned the release of any artificially propagated pheasants, including Game Commission-raised pheasants, in these areas, and pheasant hunting is closed in these WPRAs. Also, to limit disturbances to nesting hen pheasants, dog training of any manner and small game hunting, except for groundhog, crows and waterfowl, will be prohibited in these WPRAs from the first Sunday in February through July 31 each year.

“Working with major partners, such as Pheasants Forever, the University of California and local landowners, we already have a jump start on creating WPRAs,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “These groups have invested in creating pheasant habitat in four areas of the state. To make the best use of the agency’s resources, and with the support of these partners, we have established these areas as the first WPRAs in the state.”

A regional breakdown for the junior, regular and late season stockings are as follows: Northwest Region, 13,050 males and 25,380 females; Southwest Region, 29,010 males and 15,470 females; Northcentral Region, 6,980 males and 14,090 females; Southcentral Region, 19,020 and 9,920 females; Northeast Region, 14,770 males and 16,910 females; and Southeast Region 27,260 males and 8,140 females. Regional allocations are based on the amount of suitable pheasant habitat open to public hunting and pheasant hunting pressure.

To offer hunters better information about the stocking schedule, the Game Commission has posted on its website charts for each of its six regions outlining the number of birds to be stocked in each county, the public properties slated to be stocked and a two- to three-day window in which stockings will take place within the counties. To view the charts, go to the Game Commission’s website (, put your cursor over “Hunt/Trap” in the menu bar at the top of the page, click on “Hunting,” click on “Pheasant” in the “Small Game” listing and then choose “Pheasant Allocation” and click on the map for the county or region of interest.

Roe reminded hunters that, several years ago, the agency enacted a regulation aimed at improving safety for agency employees and vehicles involved in pheasant stocking.

“Each year, when Game Commission personnel are releasing pheasants from the stocking trucks, employees and trucks are shot at by unsuspecting hunters in the field. To prevent this, the agency approved a regulation that prohibits hunters from discharging a firearm within 150 yards of a Game Commission vehicle releasing pheasants. As we provide better information about when and where stockings will be conducted, we remind hunters that they have an obligation to ensure that no stocking trucks or personnel are in the vicinity.”

This year, the late season is scheduled for Dec. 10-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 2, for Wildlife Management Units 1A, 1B, 2B, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4D, 5C and 5D. During the late season, male and female pheasants are legal game in these WMUs. All other WMUs are closed during these dates.

For details on the pheasant seasons, please see pages 21-27 of the 2012-13 Digest. For more information about the clubs that sponsor junior pheasant hunts, go to the Game Commission’s website (, put your cursor over “Hunt/Trap” in the menu bar at the top of the page, click on “Hunting,” click on “Pheasant” in the “Small Game” listing and then look under the “Junior Youth Pheasant Hunt” category.

To augment the Game Commission’s pheasant stocking program, Roe noted that each January sportsmen’s clubs are invited to enroll in the agency’s “Pheasant Chick Program.” As part of the program, clubs are required to erect appropriate facilities, purchase feed and cover other expenses, and then they can receive, at no charge, pheasant chicks to raise and release for hunting and dog training purposes on lands open to public hunting in their local community.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for sportsmen to get kids involved in raising pheasants and to learn more about wildlife and habitat requirements,” Roe said. “Kids can be involved in raising the birds, assist in developing habitat in their community, and help release the pheasants into the wild. Our game farm superintendents can assist sportsmen’s clubs by providing technical advice and training to get a facility started.

“So, even as the Game Commission increases its stocking efforts back to 200,000 and looks for ways to grow the program to 250,000 birds, sportsmen’s clubs can be part of the solution by raising pheasants, too.”

Also, Richard Palmer, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Protection director, reminded hunters that an executive order remains in effect that bans dog training on State Game Lands from the Monday prior to the start of the youth pheasant season until the close of the youth pheasant season, which, for this coming season, translates to Oct. 1-13. The order does not, in any manner, prohibit dog handlers from using dogs as part of a junior-only pheasant hunt activity or for dog training activities on any lands other than State Game Lands. He also noted that this order does not impact dog training activities statewide during the remainder of the year, including general small game seasons.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Asian Carp Invasion Nearing Pittsburgh and The 3 Rivers

By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Que ominous music: The ...carp ... are ... coming. ...

Asian carp -- the alien and invasive species that can overrun and wipe out the native aquatic ecosystem, ruin recreational fishing and even smash into and injure boaters and anglers as they jump high out of the water when spooked by a passing boat -- are working their way up the Ohio River.

Despite the recent cooperative efforts of federal and state agencies, they will sooner or later swim up the Ohio River into Pennsylvania, imperiling native fish populations and riverine ecology in the Ohio, as well as the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and their tributaries, said Tim Schaeffer, director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission policy and planning office.

"We want to minimize their impact and we're working on ways to do that, but it's almost impossible to erect a fence on the Ohio to keep them out," Mr. Schaeffer said. "It's scary what they can do."

Asian bighead, black and silver carp, all voracious plankton consumers, were first brought to the United States in the 1970s by Southern catfish farmers to clean algae from their commercial ponds and also were used in sewage treatment plants.
They soon escaped those closed water systems, aided by massive Mississippi River flooding in the early 1980s that literally opened up the flood gates.
The carp -- which can tip the scales at 60 to 100 pounds -- are now found in 18 states along the Mississippi and its tributaries, are moving rapidly up those river systems, including the Ohio, and are on the verge of entering the Great Lakes.

An electrical barrier in a navigation canal linking the Illinois River to Lake Michigan near Chicago, is all that blocks the carp's northward movement into the lakes.
Because of their size, consumption of plankton needed to sustain native fish species and rapid reproduction, dense populations of the carp can quickly colonize a river or lake and crowd out native species, including commercial and sport fish species. That crowding and competition for food is also what moves them to migrate.

"This is something that's become a big priority for us," said Mr. Schaeffer, citing a June meeting in Pittsburgh of federal agencies and state officials from Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania to identify watersheds at risk and draw up a plan to limit and slow carp migration.

"We certainly don't want to see them in the Great Lakes where the full force and attention of federal and state efforts have been focused so far," Mr. Schaeffer said. "But we also need more attention in the Mississippi watershed and on up the Ohio."
"Our focus is to keep them out of Pennsylvania, and we're grateful the surrounding states are taking this seriously and working together."

How other states fight carp
Pennsylvania is not alone in trying to halt the invasion of Asian carp. Minnesota, where a number of bighead have already been caught on the northern Mississippi River, is in the same boat. The state's November 2011 Asian Carp Action Plan served as a blueprint for discussions at the June meeting in Pittsburgh.

But the cooperative strategies to slow carp migration in the Ohio River is in its early talking stages, remain unfunded on the federal level and are moving slowly, especially when compared to the carp.

Following the 1980 floodings, bighead and silver carp in Arkansas began moving up the Mississippi River and have been caught as far north as Minnesota. On the Ohio River they are breeding in the Markland Pool in Kentucky, about 450 miles upriver from the Mississippi and 531 river miles from Pittsburgh's Point.

This year adult bighead carp, which can grow to 100 pounds and more than 4 feet long, have been found for the first time in the Greenup Pool, on the northern border of Kentucky and 341 river miles from Pittsburgh.

"The carp were mainly below the Falls of the Ohio when I started working here three years ago. Since then they've moved up three pools to Markland," said Ron Brooks, fisheries director at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "They're catching bighead in that pool now and once they start catching them, you know there are a lot of them.
"These things will take over and will out-compete the native species for food. Pennsylvania realized this and is trying to nip it in the bud."

Mr. Brooks said the June meeting in Pittsburgh was an attempt to get federal agencies to understand the "enormity of the issue" in the Ohio River Basin, and support authorization of a 2007 carp management study that has yet to receive funding.
By contrast, approximately $200 million of federal money has been spent to keep the carp out of the Great Lakes.

"Those are different situations," said Rich Carter, fisheries administrator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources who has to worry about both. "In the Ohio River we know they are there versus the Great Lakes where we have spent considerable money and effort in the Chicago waterway system to prevent their migration into the lakes."
Mr. Carter said Ohio conducts regular gill netting and DNA sampling in Sandusky and Maumee bays on the western end of Lake Erie to detect Asian carp.

And a number of research studies are also under way to figure out how to control carp populations on the Ohio River and its tributaries.

'Kentucky tuna,' anyone?
Among the strategies under consideration are poison micro-pellets that would be eaten by the carp, creation of genetic abnormalities that would be introduced into the carp population to reduce reproduction and use of fish pheromones to attract carp into traps or nets.
Jeff Hawk, a spokesman in the Pittsburgh District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and operates navigational and flood control dams on the region's rivers, said the agency has conducted no formal study of the Asian carp situation in the rivers, and no money has been appropriated to do so.

"We're being as proactive as we can, exploring our options," he said. "Our researchers are interested in this and are trying to push into new areas. As an agency with a presence on the rivers we know we will be involved and we are looking for ways to work with the states."
Although it would seem logical that the navigation dams that stretch across the Ohio River might create barriers to the carp migration, Tom Maier, a Corps wildlife biologist, said studies show they don't.

"If there's any passage at all, carp have shown that they are strong swimmers and they'll find a way through," he said.
The only strategy in use now involves encouraging aggressive and expanded commercial fishing for the Asian carp. There is a hungry market for the fish in China, where they are raised commercially for food and which has said it would buy 30 million pounds a year, Mr. Brooks said.

But supplying that market doesn't work economically for the American commercial fishing industry, he said, because China will pay just 12 cents a pound and the industry needs to get 20 cents a pound.

Efforts are also under way to expand the domestic market for the fish, which has firm, white flesh and a clean taste, unlike other carp species introduced into the U.S. earlier. To facilitate that expansion, Asian carp is being marketed in some restaurants and markets as "White fin," while others have renamed it "Kentucky tuna."

New Handgun-Only Range Opens On Game Land 203 Near Wexford

By Bob Frye, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

There are many places in Pennsylvania’s forests and fields where you can escape to enjoy peace and tranquility, the kind of quiet solitude that restores the soul and lifts the spirit.
State game land 203 is not necessarily one of them.

Located off I-79 near Bradford Woods, it’s home to a public shooting range unlike just about any other. It sees shooters in the cold of February. It sees shooters in the heat of August. And it sees shooters — oh boy, does it see shooters — on the weekend before opening day of deer season.

“This is the most heavily used shooting range in the state, period,” said Doug Dunkerly, a land manager for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which owns the range.

“You know what, I’ve been doing a little digging, and I’m not sure it’s not the most heavily used range in the country,” said Tom Baldridge, field representative for the National Rifle Association in Western Pennsylvania. “There are more NRA members in Allegheny County than in any county in the country. We’ve got a lot of shooters here, which is cool.”

That carries demands, expensive ones. A new project at 203 — partially completed — aims to address that.

This week, in what is phase one, the commission unveiled an all-new handgun-only range on the game land, just off Game Land Road. It features 16 shooting stations, all under roof, with backstops 10 yards away.

Phase two of the project likely will begin in March, when the game land’s primary shooting range will be closed for renovations. The now-duplicate pistol stations will be removed, and berms will be added between what remains so shooters can operate safely without having to wait on their neighbors so much.

The work is expensive; it will cost the Game Commission more than $500,000, and perhaps as much as $700,000.

It’s going to foot most of that bill itself, though the NRA is helping, too. It has agreed to funnel $50,000 to the agency through the Wildlife For Everyone Foundation.
That deal was struck last summer, when the NRA brought its national convention to Pittsburgh. Commission officials talked with Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the NRA, and secured help.

“That’s really how this all got kicked off,” said commissioner Bob Schlemmer of Export.
Next spring’s work will require closing the rifle range for two months or so, but it will be worth it, said Joe Stefko, wildlife education supervisor in the commission’s southwest region office.
“It will be a case of short-term pain leading to long-term gain,” Stefko said.
Then the banging away at targets can begin again

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bull Creek Rod and Gun Club 2012 Youth Rifle Tournament August 26th!

The 4th annual Bull Creek Youth Rifle Tournament will be held Sunday, August 26th, 2012 beginning at 12:00 noon. We will have three age brackets (8-10, 11-13 and 14 to 16) with trophies awarded for first, second and third place in each bracket. The entry fee is only $5.00 per entrant.

Every entrant will in receive a prize bag with items donated by many sponsors who help support this great activity and promote the teaching of safe firearm handling, shooting and marksmanship.

This tournament is open to the public. If you have a son or daughter in any of the age brackets (see entry form) you may print out the the entry form (see below) and either bring it to a monthly club meeting or mail it to the address listed (Do not send money, pay only at the event).

This event has been very successful and offers a great opportunity to learn gun and range safety as well as compete in a structured yet fun atmosphere!

Click on the form to enlarge and print.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

PA Game Commission To Conduct Pheasant Farm Tours

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Game Commission will offer public tours of its four game farms on Sunday, Sept. 30. Guided tours are scheduled to begin at noon and conclude by 3 p.m., rain or shine, at the game farms in Armstrong, Crawford and Lycoming (two farms) counties.

“The tours are designed to provide the public an opportunity to learn more about the Game Commission’s game farms and our pheasant propagation program,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “While pheasants are not a native species to Pennsylvania, or the United States for that matter, the Game Commission’s pheasant-stocking program continues to be a service in high demand, provides a tangible product for the license buyer, and adds diversity to today’s hunting experience at a time when wild pheasant populations are low.

“Also, as we continue to work to recruit and retain hunters, pheasant hunting seems to be one thing that our senior license holders enjoy, as it reminds them of their youth, and our newer junior license holders enjoy, as it provides them with an exciting hunt.”

Tour stops will include hatcheries, brooder houses, and rearing, “grow-out” and over-wintering pens. Workshop discussions will focus on objectives in propagation management, including sportsmen’s organizations participating in raising day-old chicks provided by the farms to increase local hunting opportunities and surplus day-old hen chicks that are sold to the public. Also, after registration and before taking the tour, visitors may view a brief DVD highlighting farm operations throughout the year.

When visitors arrive on tour dates, they will be asked to register before game farm personnel take them on a guided tour. In order to maintain biosecurity and minimize human contact with the birds, visitors will be asked to remain with tour groups.

Since budget cuts in 2005, the agency reduced the production of ring-necked pheasants from 200,000 birds to 100,000 birds annually at the Game Commission’s game farms, and the agency temporarily closed one of the game farms.

“Thanks to recent revenues from Marcellus Shale-related gas leases on State Game Lands, the agency has increased its production level to distribute 200,000 birds for the 2012-13 hunting seasons, and we reopened the fourth game farm in 2010 to reach that production level,” Roe said. “Also, in recent years, the Game Commission has invested in many long overdue game farm infrastructure improvements.”

With the increase to 200,000 pheasants being stocked for the 2012-13 seasons, Roe said he hopes hunters have an even better pheasant hunting experience in the upcoming seasons.

“We’re expecting hunters will see more pheasants in the field, because the Game Commission will be stocking pheasants during the first four weeks of the seasons, which is two weeks more than in recent years,” Roe said. “Because of these improvements and expanded production, we encourage pheasant hunters, as well as other interested individuals, to participate in our public tours of the four game farms.”

Goals for the pheasant propagation program are found in the agency’s pheasant management plan, which can be viewed on the agency’s website ( by putting your cursor over “Hunt/Trap” in the menu bar at the top of the page, then clicking on “Hunting” and then choosing “Pheasant” from the “Small Game” listing.

Directions to the game farms are as follows:
Loyalsock Game Farm: Lycoming County, 136 Game Farm Rd., Montoursville, PA 17754. The game farm is five miles north of Montoursville on Route 87, but the Route 973 bridge over the Loyalsock Creek still is out due to last year’s flood. The game farm is 1.5 miles east of Warrensville on Route 973. Follow Warrensville Road 5.7 miles north to Warrensville from the Warrensville Road exit (Exit 23) of Interstate 80. Tour starts at the hatchery.
Northcentral Game Farm: Lycoming County, 1609 Proctor Rd., Williamsport, PA 17701. The game farm is 18 miles north of Montoursville off of Route 87. Tour starts at the hatchery of the Proctor (northern) farm.
Western Game Farm: Crawford County, 25761 Highway 408, Cambridge Springs, PA 16403. The game farm is 3.5 miles east of Cambridge Springs on Route 408. Tour starts at the office/hatchery.
Southwest Game Farm: Armstrong County, 217 Pheasant Farm Rd., New Bethlehem, PA 16242. The game farm is two miles south of New Bethlehem off Routes 66/28. Tour starts at the office/hatchery.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

International archery competition coming to area

By Bob Frye, Pittsburgh Tribune Review
It’s going to be raining arrows this week in Pennsylvania.
The International Bowhunting Association, a nearly 30-year-old organization dedicated to promoting archery, is bringing its world championship to the Keystone State for the first time. It will be at Seven Springs Mountain Resort near Somerset on Wednesday through Saturday.

It’s not quite the Olympics, but the event is expected to draw archers from more than 20 countries — from youngsters participating as cubs to “the best pros in the world” — to compete in more than 30 classes, all under real-world hunting conditions. There will be 24 courses featuring more than 400 3-D whitetail, black bear, turkey and mountain goat targets set up over the resort’s hills and woods.
The event — which offers $200,000 in cash and prizes — culminates in Saturday’s finals.
Along the way, there will be a daily bowhunter’s market featuring vendors and manufacturers showcasing “the newest and best,” a target auction, opening and closing ceremonies and more, all open to the public, said Association president Ken Watkins. Fans can walk the courses with competitors to follow the action.
You can see a full schedule at
“It’s pretty exciting. All the competitors are doing the same thing as the fans, walking around and checking out the new gear, talking to people, catching up with old friends, making new ones. There’s a whole atmosphere that goes with it,” Watkins said.
The decision to bring the championship to Pennsylvania was based in large part on the number of archers and bowhunters living here, he added.
That’s a large — and growing — number.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission sold more than 285,000 resident adult archery licenses last year. That was the highest total in more than a decade, according to information from press secretary Jerry Feaser.
Add in the junior and nonresident archers, and there were more than 300,000 bowmen and women last year in the woods.
Those archers can get involved at the championship, via the Seven Springs Bowhunters Open. Non-qualified shooters can compete in the two-day shoot — on the same courses as the world qualifiers — by registering at
It’s no wonder that Watkins is expecting this year’s championship to be a large and enthusiastic one.
“Pennsylvania does have a really strong archery representation, and a lot of bowhunters, so I would think we could see close to 2,000 competitors,” Watkins said. “As far as family, friends and fans, I think we could draw up to 5,000 people.”

Friday, August 3, 2012

New Year Underway For Mentored Youth Hunting Program

Fall turkey hunting added to list of eligible species for youth participants

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe said the popular Mentored Youth Hunting Program (MYHP) has been expanded for 2012-13 to include fall turkey hunting thanks to a recent change in law and regulations.
“Since 2006, Pennsylvania’s hunters have been taking advantage of a remarkable opportunity to introduce those under the age of 12 to hunting through the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, and we have seen a steady increase in the number of MYHP permits issued,” Roe said. “Hunting is deeply woven into the cultural fabric that defines Pennsylvania, and it is important that we recruit new hunters to carry on this tradition.”
Roe noted that the logic behind the Mentored Youth Hunting Program is simple and clear: create expanded youth hunting opportunities without compromising safety afield. In 2009, the first year a permit was required to participate in the MYHP, the agency issued 28,542 permits. In 2010, the agency issued 30,790; and, in 2011, the number of permits issued increased to 33,514.
“This program paves the way for youngsters to nurture their interest in hunting early and allows them to take a more active role in actual hunting while afield with mentoring adults,” Roe said. “The program accommodates hands-on use of sporting arms and can promote a better understanding and interest in hunting and wildlife conservation that will help to assure hunting’s future, as well as reinforce the principles of hunting safely through the close supervision provided by dedicated mentors.”
Under the program, a mentor is defined as a properly licensed individual at least 21 years of age, who will serve as a guide to a youth while engaged in hunting or related activities, such as scouting, learning firearms or hunter safety and wildlife identification. A mentored youth is identified as an unlicensed individual less than 12 years of age who is accompanied by a mentor while engaged in hunting or related activities.
Mentored youth can participate during any established season for woodchucks (groundhogs), squirrels, fall turkey, spring gobbler, coyotes and antlered and antlerless deer. In addition to being able to participate during the general seasons for the listed species, mentored youth also may hunt during the junior-only squirrel season (Oct. 6-12) and junior-only spring gobbler day (April 20).
For antlered deer, the mentored youth must use legal sporting arms for that season; for example, a bow or crossbow must be used during archery antlered deer season. Also, those youths participating in the MYHP are permitted to follow the same antler restrictions as a junior license holder, which is one antler of three or more inches in length or one antler with at least two points.
In order to harvest an antlerless deer, an adult mentor must be willing to transfer a valid antlerless license issued to him or her to an eligible mentored youth upon the harvest of an antlerless deer, and a mentored youth may only receive one antlerless deer license each license year. The antlerless deer license transferred to the mentored youth must be for the Wildlife Management Unit in which the adult mentor and youth are hunting. The harvest of the antlerless deer is to be reported by the adult mentor within 10 days of harvest, and a box is to be checked “taken by mentored youth.”
In order to harvest a fall turkey, an adult mentor must be willing to transfer a valid fall turkey tag that is issued as part of the adult’s general hunting license to an eligible mentored youth upon the harvest of a fall turkey. A mentored youth may only receive one fall turkey tag each license year. The harvest of the fall turkey is to be reported by the adult mentor within 10 days of harvest, and a box is to be checked “taken by mentored youth.”
The regulations require that the mentor-to-mentored youth ratio be one-to-one, and that the pair possess only one sporting arm when hunting. While moving, the sporting arm must be carried by the mentor. When the pair reaches a stationary hunting location, the mentor may turn over possession of the sporting arm to the youth, but must keep the youth within arm’s length at all times while the youth is in possession of the sporting arm.
The program also requires that both the mentor and the youth must abide by fluorescent orange regulations for the season they are participating in, and that the mentored youth must tag and report any deer or turkey taken. As part of the MYHP permit, youth will be provided the necessary harvest tags for antlered deer and spring gobbler, but must use the adult mentor’s antlerless deer and/or fall turkey harvest tags.
MYHP participants who harvest an antlered deer or a spring gobbler must report their harvest within 10 days. Harvests can be reported using the agency’s online harvest reporting system, the toll-free telephone reporting system (1-855-724-8681) or they can submit a harvest report card, which is available as inserts in the 2012-13 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest.
Harvest report cards also can be printed from the agency’s website ( by putting your cursor over the “Self-Help” button in the menu bar at the top of the page, then clicking on “Download Forms and Brochures” in the drop-down menu listing and then clicking on “Big Game Harvest Report Card.”
All youth participating in the MYHP must obtain a permit through the Game Commission’s Pennsylvania Automated License System (PALS), which costs $2.70. Of that fee, one dollar goes to the Game Commission, one dollar goes to the issuing agent who processes the permit application, and 70 cents goes to the company managing PALS.
“When we first started the MYHP, we didn’t require a permit because there was no method available to issue a permit without creating an enormous obstacle for participants,” Roe said. “PALS provides an easy method for parents to obtain a MYHP permit without too many difficulties.”
For more information on the program, visit the Game Commission’s website ( and put your cursor over the “Hunt/Trap” button in the menu bar at the top of the page, click on “Hunting” and then click on “Mentored Youth Hunting Program FAQs” in the “Related Links” section. Information also is included on page 15 of the 2012-13 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest.
To continue hunting once a youth reaches the age of 12, they will need to and pass a basic Hunter-Trapper Education course and purchase either a junior hunting license or a junior combination license. For a listing of HTE courses, visit the Game Commission’s website ( and put your cursor over “Education” in the menu bar at the top of the page, then put your cursor over “Hunter Education” in the drop-down menu listing and click on “Hunter Education Class Calendar.”