Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bull Creek Members Steve Allias and Chuck Gray Featured In Newspaper Article On Advanced Turkey Hunting Class

Fall turkey season set to open

By Bob Frye Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Steve Allias will admit to having been humbled more than once.
The Arnold man has been hunting turkeys for decades and has taken his share of birds. But he’s been taken to school more than once, too.
Those failures have taught him as much as anything.
“I always say the birds are the best teachers. They’ll show you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong,” Allias said. Learning that way can take years, though, and success in harvesting a bird can take season upon season.
Now there’s an alternative.

Club Member Steve Allias teaching handgun safety
at a recent Women In The Outdoors event
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has rolled out a Successful Turkey Hunting class, an advanced course designed to teach hunters how to find turkeys, how to call them in and how to bring them home.
“We want people who leave this class to have a real chance at success very early in their turkey hunting career,” said Keith Snyder, chief of the commission’s hunter education and outreach division. “We’re trying to give people the opportunity to gain a lifetime’s worth of experience in a single day. We want to give them that kind of head start.”
It’s all tied to hunter recruitment and retention, he said. Hunters who enjoy success are more likely to stay involved, he said.
The turkey course is new. Instructors such as Allias were trained earlier this year and so far have offered just a handful of courses around the state. The intention is to offer more courses next year, Snyder said.
One was held recently in the southwest region at Bull Creek Rod and Gun Club.
Students do precourse work at home, reading a manual that covers everything from turkey management history to calls and call types. A one-day class follows. Hunters spend the first half doing class work, some of it focused on turkey hunting safety.
The afternoon is spent in the field at different stations. They shoot shotguns on the range to see how their guns pattern at different ranges. They learn how to make different sounds on different calls. And they learn to estimate distance by standing at a set point and guessing by the distance to turkey decoys.
That last skill is harder to master, even for experienced hunters, said Chuck Gray of West Deer, another course instructor.
Having experienced hunters to help students learn that and other skills is what the class is all about, though.
“It’s to help people and give them all of the little pointers, all of the little tricks, that we’ve learned from mistakes we’ve made throughout the years,” Gray said.
The course is aimed at all sportsmen, ones new to the sport as well as veterans who have never done much with turkeys, Snyder said. The first class at Bull Creek was composed almost exclusively of adults.
Gray expects to see more young people, though.
“I’m hoping that as word gets out, more kids will get involved. I think there’s so much information we can share,” he said.
Allias agreed, noting that the course can shorten the learning curve for new turkey hunters considerably.
“I wish someone had offered this class 30 years ago,” he said.

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