Sunday, July 27, 2014

Deer Alliance makes debut

As promised, it's here. The National Deer Alliance, an organization that aims to be NRA-like in terms of political clout on behalf of deer and deer hunters, launched this past week.

The group has been in development since the first Whitetail Summit was held in Missouri in March. That was a gathering to talk all things deer, deer management and deer advocacy.

The 200-plus constituents on hand — hunters, biologists, land managers, hunting industry types, outdoor media and others — represented a wide range of groups that are collectively avid and willing to spend.
Deer, whitetails particularly, account for more hunting activity and more sporting dollars spent in any given year than any other species. Hunters alone lay out $12.4 billion annually, the Alliance said.
Yet those hunters are splintered.

There are nearly 11 million of them nationwide, according to the Alliance. That's about 80 percent of the 14 million hunters nationally, yet fewer than 1 percent belong to a deer-specific organization.

By comparison, 41 percent of duck hunters, 24 percent of elk hunters, 9 percent of pheasant hunters and 8 percent of turkey hunters belong to groups specifically representing their favorite species.

The Alliance wants to change that and bring deer hunters and managers together.

“NDA's goal is to serve as the unified voice of the modern deer hunter and guardian of North America's wild deer, wildlife habitat and our hunting heritage,” its website reads.

The group is going to be a little different than, say, Ducks Unlimited, at least initially.
For starters, you can join for free. Visitors to the Alliance's website,, need only provide a name and email address to get started.

That enrollment method is indicative of how the group wants to operate. Executive director Craig Dougherty told the Outdoor Wire that it plans to be a largely electronic organization, relying on weekly emailed news blasts and social media to communicate.

It will have a steering committee in addition to its staff of four. That committee will give direction to the issues the organization should tackle, either proactively or in response to outside influences. Members and supporters will be asked to provide guidance and feedback and help fight the fight where possible, though.
That's critical, according to information explaining the group's founding.

“In many respects, whitetail hunters and managers have become complacent following decades of herd growth and good times. Perhaps this explains why deer hunters are the most fragmented of all hunter groups,” the Alliance website reads.

“Regardless, the Whitetail Summit clearly revealed that more challenges face deer hunting and management today than at any time in recent history. We can either do nothing and hope for the best or take action and chart our own future.”

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Earlier PA Elk License Deadline Almost Here

Hunters looking for a chance take part in Pennsylvania’s 2014 hunt must submit applications by July 31.

No bull.

Those who don’t act fast will miss out on their chance to participate in Pennsylvania’s 2014 elk hunt. 

The deadline to enter the annual drawing for elk licenses is July 31 – about a month earlier than in previous years. 

The drawing also has been moved to an earlier date, and a new location. It will be held Aug. 16 in Benezette, Pa. as part of the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Elk Expo.

Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough said the elk expo provides a fitting showcase for the drawing, which each year generates excitement among tens of thousands of hopeful hunters. But those who haven’t yet submitted applications to enter this year’s drawing need to be mindful of the earlier deadline, he said.

“Elk hunting in Pennsylvania is the opportunity of a lifetime, and it’s exciting just to enter the drawing and know your name could be the next picked for a license,” Hough said. “Hunters who are hopeful of being drawn for the 2014 hunt need to submit their applications as soon as possible, however. 

“With the July 31 deadline approaching, time truly is of the essence,” Hough said.  
Changes aside, the process for submitting an application remains the same. 

Applications can be submitted anywhere hunting licenses are sold, or online at the Game Commission’s website, Perhaps the easiest way to submit an online application is by clicking on the “Elk Hunting” icon on the website’s homepage.

Applicants must pay a $10.70 non-refundable application fee to be included in the drawing. 

This year’s drawing provides a greater opportunity for hunters to obtain an elk license. The number of licenses to be allocated has been increased to 108, up from the 86 licenses issued in the 2013-14 season.
On the date of the drawing, hunters will be selected for 27 licenses for antlered elk, or bulls, and 81 licenses for antlerless elk, or cows.

Individuals are not required to purchase a resident or nonresident general hunting license to apply for the drawing. However, hunters who are drawn for a license must hold a valid general hunting license and a valid elk license in order to hunt elk. 

Adult general hunting licenses cost $20.70 for residents and $101.70 for nonresidents, and elk license fees are $25 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.  

Those who enter the drawing but are not selected to purchase an elk license still benefit by increasing their chances to be selected in coming years.

Each applicant in the 2014 drawing receives a preference point that will serve to multiply the number of chances the applicant receives in subsequent drawings. Individuals who applied in each year from 2003 through 2013, but were not awarded an elk license, have 11 preference points heading into this year’s drawing. If they submit an application this year, they will have their name entered into the drawing 12 times (11 preference points in addition to the point from this year’s application.)

Additionally, hunters who want to earn a preference point for this year, but know that they would not be able to participate in the elk hunting season if drawn, have the option of simply purchasing a preference point for $10.70. While they will not be included in the drawing for the 2014 elk licenses, they will continue to build their preference points.

Those applying for an elk license can choose either an antlered or antlerless elk license, or they may select either-sex on their application. For those who select “antlered only,” if they are drawn after the antlered licenses are allocated, they will not receive an elk license. For those who do receive an antlered elk license, they will not be permitted to re-apply for future elk hunting opportunities for five years. However, those who received an antlerless elk license in any of the previous hunts may submit an application this year.

Applicants also have the opportunity to identify their elk hunt zone preference, or they may select “NP” (no preference). If drawn and their preferred hunt zone is filled, applicants will be assigned a specific zone by the Game Commission.  

The Aug. 16 drawing is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Plans are in place to webcast the drawing, with live streaming video available through the Game Commission’s website.

Those who can neither attend nor watch the drawing can check the status of their applications online. 

To find out the status of an application, go to the Game Commission website (, and click on the blue “Buy a License” box in the upper right corner of the homepage.  Click on the “Purchase License Permit and or Application/Replace License and or Permit” option, which includes the ability to “Check on the status of any Lottery Application,” scroll down and click on the “Start Here” button at the bottom of the page.  At this page, choose one of the identification options below to check your records, fill in the necessary information and click on the “Continue” button. Click on the appropriate residency status, which will display your current personal information.  At the bottom of the page, choose the “Check on the status of any Lottery Application” button, and then hit “Continue.”

Details on the elk season and drawing are available on pages 78 to 80 of the 2014-15 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which is provided to license buyers and may be viewed on the agency’s website.

By law, only one application is permitted per person per year, and the Pennsylvania Automated License System will prohibit an individual from submitting more than one application. 

For the cost of a $25 chance, one lucky hunter will win extended-season bull-hunting opportunity.

          Being selected to take part in Pennsylvania’s elk hunt is special, but a new opportunity available this year really is something to bugle about.

In addition to the 108 elk licenses to be awarded by lottery Aug. 16, an additional bull elk license will be raffled off Aug. 17.

          And the raffle’s winner not only will receive an extended opportunity to hunt anywhere on Pennsylvania’s elk range, but will receive a fully guided hunt filmed by a professional crew and, if the hunt is successful, the trophy will be mounted free of charge.

          Chances for the Elk Conservation Raffle cost $25 each, or six chances may be purchased for $100, but there is no limit on the number of chances that may be purchased.

          And all proceeds from the raffle will stay in Pennsylvania to be used among other things to improve habitat for the state’s elk.

          The Keystone Elk Country Alliance (KECA), in partnership with the Pennsylvania Game Commission will conduct the raffle, which is authorized by a newly passed state law – House Bill 2169 authored by state Rep. Matt Gabler, R-Clearfield and Elk counties.

          The raffle winner may not transfer the elk-hunting opportunity to another party. A Pennsylvania general hunting license, as well as an elk hunting license is needed to participate in the hunt. The license holder also is subject to a background check, and prior game-law violations might prevent the license from being awarded.

          Pennsylvania Elk Conservation Raffle tickets may be purchased several ways. They can be purchased online by midnight Aug. 16 at KECA’s website;, with payment made by credit card via PayPal. They also can be purchased at the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Elk Expo or at the Elk Country Visitor Center.

Purchased ticket stubs must be postmarked and returned by Aug. 11, if mailed to KECA. 

The winner of the Pennsylvania Elk Conservation Raffle will be selected during a public drawing held at the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Elk Expo on Aug. 17 at the Elk Country Visitor Center. The winner does not need to attend the drawing to win.

The conservation license can be used from Sept. 1 to Nov. 8, 2014. The winner of the Pennsylvania Elk Conservation Raffle will be permitted to hunt in all elk management units open to elk hunting.

The lucky winner can enjoy a six-day fully guided hunt donated by Elk County Outfitters. The guided hunt includes meals and lodging and guide service.

A fully donated shoulder mount has been offered by Cessna’s Taxidermy, of DuBois. And, as an added bonus, the hunt will be filmed by the camera crew from TomBob Outdoors, Friends in Wild Places Adventures Series to be aired on national TV. TomBob Outdoors operates out of Ridgway, Pa.

The guide service, taxidermy and film crew are available if the hunter chooses to participate.  There is no obligation to use the guide service, taxidermists or the film crew; it is the hunter’s choice.

           In addition to authorizing KECA’s Elk Conservation Raffle, House Bill 2169 also authorizes the continuation of the Special Conservation License Auction, which expired in 2013. The Game Commission will partner with a wildlife conservation organization to auction an elk hunting license to the highest bidder with the proceeds going to benefit conservation programs. More information on the auction will be available at a later date.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Hunting Dog Diet: Nutritional Needs Of The Working Dog

Click to enlarge
A good hunting dog changes everything. Well-trained dogs work hard for their human partners. They are canine athletes trained for speed, endurance and discipline and genetically predisposed to enjoy human companionship.

New research has found that year-round specialty diets can keep dogs in peak performance condition, and dietary supplements can prepare muscles and cardiovascular systems for explosions of energy use and post-exercise replenishment.

Canine nutritional physiologist Brian Zanghi said the summer training season, when temperatures can reach the 80s and above, can be a difficult time for four-legged hunting partners.

“We all know working dogs will burn more calories,” said Zanghi, a research scientist with the Molecular Biology Group at the Purina company’s Nestle Research Center. “What we’ve learned in the last 20 years is that the formulation that a dog eats — the amount of protein, fat and carbs in a dog’s food — can play a big role in its overall health and ability to perform.”

Generations of selective breeding created in hunting dogs the propensity to have special capabilities and skills. For millennia, dog owners have understood that size, speed, sight, scent perception, intelligence, discipline and affinity for working closely with a human master are among traits that can be fully capitalized upon or enhanced through good training. Zanghi said new research shows that high-performance dietary formulas can enable dogs’ bodies to take full advantage of the training regimen.

“Humans get most of their energy from carbs,” he said. “We’ve found that dogs, particularly working dogs with a high level of athleticism, get most of their energy from fats. These dogs have higher nutritional needs. Nutrition drives the ability of the muscles to adapt to the exercise regimen, and performance formulas have more fat than maintenance formulas.”

A high-fat diet can be beneficial, even for dogs that get little exercise. The research shows that when less active dogs are put on a performance diet for a several months, their muscles become primed to adapt to exercise metabolism. Zanghi, owner of beloved retriever and co-founder of a retriever club in Kentucky, said hunters shouldn’t wait for September to start their dogs on a new performance formula.

“The old paradigm was that hunting dogs are less active in the summer and spring and need fewer calories, so you feed them less food,” he said. “We’ve found it’s better to give them a [high-fat] performance formula all year long, altering the serving size in the offseason. I regularly get feedback from hunters [who’ve tried it and] say they’ve seen changes in their dog’s performance.”

The key to helping a canine athlete reach peak performance is in maximizing the muscles’ ability to burn oxygen. Year-round feeding on a performance diet primes the muscles to use oxygen more efficiently, said Zanghi, who helped Purina to develop its Pro Plan Prime and Refuel bars, nutritional supplements that help the muscles to rev up before exercise and replenish afterward.

“They’re not treats — that’s a very important element to share with readers,” he said. “Treating a dog as a reward for performing some skill should be done with very small kibbles or training treats. These bars are specific nutrients given before and after a dog goes on extended exercise.”

Carb loading is standard practice among human athletes, but it can actually impair performance in dogs. Even eating a typical meal before exercise can slow a dog down.

Pre-exercise supplements, given 30 minutes before intense exercise, are better at putting extra proteins in place and sustaining them while the dog is active.

Post-exercise bars, said Zanghi, are formulated with rapidly digestible carbohydrates that don’t trigger a sugar spike. They work best when given to the dog during the window of opportunity for recovery and replenishment, 60 minutes following significant exercise.

“If the recovery nutrient is delayed two hours after exercise, the degree of replenishment is reduced by 50 percent,” he said.

Unlike their human handlers, dogs don’t sweat or use large amounts of electrolytes, which control how the body processes waste and absorbs vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Watering is vital for working animals. While many hunters periodically share a bottle of water with their dogs, Zanghi said they often don’t provide the amount of hydration required by a high-performance canine athlete.

“If you let a dog drink until he’s through, a lot of times he won’t drink enough to thoroughly hydrate himself,” he said.

Zanghi recommended that hunters and dog trainers add water to the dog food a day in advance of the exercise. During the outing, bring water that’s just for the dog and hydrate the animal every 15 to 20 minutes.
“You might have to bait the water to get the dog to drink enough,” he said. “Ideally, use something like low-sodium chicken broth, or put some kibble in the water to encourage him to drink. You might have to pour water into the side of his mouth, or use a tube to get the water in there.”

Dry gums, excessive panting, the seeking of shade, fatigue and lethargic behavior are symptoms of dehydration. Stop the exercise and get the dog to a cool location, preferably in the water.

A hour after the hunt or training session is a good time for feeding, said Zanghi.

“A lot of people feed their dogs twice a day, but for hard-working dogs it’s advantageous to feed them once a day,” he said. “When a dog has fasted it has better endurance potential than a dog that eats before exercise.”

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sportsmen's Groups Defend Lead Ammo Use


Traditional lead ammunition is in the crosshairs of some groups, 
such as the Humane Society of the United States. It claims 
lead ammunition left in the environment harms wildlife. 
Those associated with the shooting sports industry say 
such claims are untrue.
The ammunition shortage that's plagued America's shooters for more than a year isn't over just yet.

Just try finding some .22 long rifle shells, for example.

But, according to a survey of some local gun shops, things are better than they were even six months ago, especially when it comes to certain calibers. Most of what's out there is the typical, traditional lead ammunition.

“That's what most people always want,” said John Anderson of Delmont Sport Shop.

The appeal of that ammo is threefold, said Jeff Egley of Gone For A Day Sports in Elderton. It is most often readily available. It's effective on wild game, and it's significantly less expensive than lead-free ammunition made using metals like copper, copper-zinc alloys and even tin.

“In this area, because it's legal to use lead ammunition, we don't even carry that other stuff because it's way too expensive,” Egler said. “If you have a choice between a $40 box of ammo and a $20 box of ammo that does the exact same thing, you're going to buy the less expensive one.”

The Humane Society of the United States would like to take away that option. The group has launched what it's calling its “lead free campaign, a strategic offensive to end suffering and destruction caused by lead ammunition.”

“Lead poisoning translates into a painful, prolonged death for an animal, and we intend to elevate the cruelty associated with its continued dispersal in the environment,” reads the group's description of its campaign.
The group already has petitioned the Department of the Interior to ban lead ammunition for hunting purposes on all of its federal lands. That would cover about one-fifth of the land mass of the United States, it said.
The reality, though, is that the Humane Society's proposal, like others attacking lead, is based on bad science, said Nick Pinizotto, the Indiana County native who is president and CEO of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance.

For example, he said charges that lead ammunition — such as that found in carcasses or gut piles fed upon by raptors — is harming wildlife are bogus.

Pinizzotto referenced a website called

It says that the lead used in ammunition is metallic lead, “which is not sufficiently soluble in the digestive tract of scavengers to result in poisoning under natural feeding conditions in the wild. For example, several scientific studies have shown that it is extremely difficult to poison raptors with lead, even with constant feeding of large amounts of lead shot with food over extended periods of time.”

Groups seeking to ban lead ammunition know that but are using this debate as a back-door attempt to ban hunting on the basis of emotion rather than reason, Pinizzotto claimed.

“They don't have to be right. They just have to keep saying it enough until people start believing,” Pinizzotto said. “That's the goal.”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, likewise said there's “no conclusive evidence” that lead ammunition hurts wildlife, including raptors.

“Rather, raptor populations, including the population of bald eagles, continue to steadily rise — a welcome and positive trend that coincides with the longstanding, widespread use of traditional ammunition by sportsmen across America,” it said in a report.

Others aren't as sure.

A study done by Oregon State University researchers — which involved reviewing existing literature — said ingesting lead harms as many as 120 North American bird species. The study could not determine, however,  whether the damage is great enough to impact them on a population level.

Another Oregon State researcher warned that a move to non-lead ammunition would cause at least short-term pain for shooters. Non-lead ammunition hasn't been developed for all firearms, and what does exist is typically in short supply, said associate professor Clinton Epps.

Indeed, nontraditional ammunition accounts for less than 1 percent of the market sales, according to the Shooting Sports Foundation.

Shooters are learning that firsthand in some places.

California already has banned lead ammunition within its borders. That goes into effect starting next year with full compliance due by July 1, 2019.

That, combined with Arizona's voluntary ban on lead in parts of the state where condors are known to appear, has caused shortages. The Arizona Game and Fish Department has gone so far as to suggest hunters buy their ammunition early, prior to hunting seasons, before it runs out, as happened in places last year.
Oregon has no condors now but has had them in the past and potentially could have them again via expansion or reintroduction. So the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife is surveying hunters about what they know about lead and what they think about alternative ammunition.

That's not an issue here yet. Egley hopes it never gets to that point. He said he hopes people see the debate over lead as an attempt to make it so difficult or expensive for people to hunt that they'll just quit.

“There's still a certain amount of common sense out there, I hope,” he said.

Lead ammunition and the economy

What might it cost if lead ammunition were banned?
A lot, according to a National Shooting Sports Foundation “traditional ammunition economic impact” study.
The report said manufacturing non-lead ammunition can increase costs by up to 190 percent. That would lead to prices high enough to drive some people away from shooting, it said.
The result would be as many as 27,900 lost jobs and a reduction in the national gross domestic product of about $4.9 billion. Federal, state and local taxes would decline by up to $655.1 million, and excise taxes ­— used to fund wildlife management — would decline by up to $113.8 million, it said.
Pennsylvania would feel that as much as anywhere, the report said.
A ranking of the 50 states, looking at how hard they would be hit by a lead ammunition ban, shows Pennsylvania would rank in the top four in terms of lost jobs and wages and in the top five in lost overall economic output.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors

French Creek - Unique Creek: 'It's an oasis that remains biologically diverse'

FRANKLIN, Pa. -- Draw lines on a map connecting Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Cleveland. Now find

Ben Moyer
Dave Hartnett of Bellefonte caught this 19-inch redhorse
sucker at the Shaw's Landing access on French Creek.
Redhorses require clean moving water -- their presence
indicates a high-quality and stable stream ecosystem.
the center of the resulting triangle. If you are outdoor-inclined, but unfamiliar with the enclosed landscape, you might assume that mid-point dominated by industrial sprawl and the pollution that so often followed such enterprise, especially at the region's manufacturing peak decades ago.

You would be wrong.

French Creek flows across your triangle's heart, winding southwest from Chautauqua, New York to Edinboro, then turning southeastward to join the Allegheny River at Franklin. Along its course, rainfall from 1,235 square miles of forest, marsh and farm drains into French Creek's surprisingly pristine flow. Nowhere else in the Northeast does a stream of its size remain so ecologically intact. More species of fish and mollusks live here than any other stream in Pennsylvania, many of which have disappeared elsewhere due to habitat loss and pollution.
Some call French Creek one of America's "last great places." The French Creek Valley Conservancy intends to keep it that way.

"French Creek watershed is tucked into the middle of the industrial tri-state region, yet it has escaped major pollution that has devastated the ecology of other river systems," said Conservancy program director Dave Washousky. "It's one of the last remaining places that you can find some of these native species of mussels and fish. It's an oasis that remains biologically diverse. That's why we have to protect it."

One of the Conservancy's strategies to maintain French Creek's quality is to share it with other people through the annual French Creek Sojourn, a river journey highlighting aspects that make French Creek special. The Conservancy ran its second annual sojourn on high, turbid waters June 21-22, from Shaw's Landing in Crawford County, through a corner of Mercer County to the Allegheny River at Franklin, Venango County -- about 20 miles by water. Twenty-five kayaks and four canoes made the trip, their paddlers stopping to camp at French Creek Farms Campground in Utica on a Saturday night.

"What better way to help people learn about this watershed than to bring them here to experience it firsthand," Washousky said. "Here, in the midst of this scenic beauty, sojourners get to see what's living in this water. That's important because ultimately, it's people who will speak up to protect this stream."

The stream section just above Cochranton winds lazily, but as it flows out of the sheared-off glacial tablelands, its pace quickens. Surging from recent storms, the riffles reared as formidable standing waves. Volunteer safety escorts huddled with paddlers and coached them on the best route through the rapids.

"The creek is a little unpredictable today, so don't take a course where you don't feel confident of your ability," coached Darren Crabtree, a Nature Conservancy biologist who paddled as an escort. "The most important safety gear you have with you is your brain."

All of the boats passed safely over the challenge, then landed at Cochranton for lunch and a streamside tour.

"The creek is an asset our town had not utilized in the past, but we're excited about it now," Cochranton borough councilman Mark Roche told the lunching sojourners. "We see a new kind of visitor coming here that we hadn't attracted before. We're working with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Fish and Boat Commission to build a new access for boaters and fishermen. We're even developing a shuttle service to move boaters along the creek to their launch and take-out points. If we have the success we've seen in other places, we'll entice creek-related businesses to open here."

Below Cochranton the stream divides into meandering channels that flow among islands. Massive sycamores, walnuts and silver maples lean into the light, hemming in the paddlers' route. As the channels reunited, a bald eagle flushed from the trees ahead and banked downstream.

Mary Beth White of Edinboro, paddling a kayak solo, was enthralled with the scene. "Going through that tunnel of trees in that pure, green-tinted sunlight with bird song all around was such a pleasant experience," she said. "But then to see a bald eagle flying just ahead -- how can you do better than that?"

French Creek is a common destination for anglers -- muskellunge, northern pike, walleye and smallmouths are prolific. In some tributaries native trout capitalize on healthy bug life. Many of the sojourners were accomplished anglers, but fishing was not an option on the swollen flow. Still, the trip was not without fish.

At the second day's lunch stop, Casey Wilson, assistant professor of Environmental Science at Allegheny College, deployed a seine in the creek. She then asked paddlers to "kick and dance around in the rubble just upstream." Wilson and a helper watched the cloud of kicked-up silt, waited for the right moment, lifted the seine and grabbed a 11/2-inch spotted darter from the net's dense mesh. Darters are small perch-like fishes that cannot live in polluted water. Wilson said during her studies she sometimes captures and releases 100 darters from the various riffles along the creek.

"The variety of darters here is like nowhere else," she said. "Fifteen known species live here. Some are federally listed as endangered species. Those species are disappearing in other places but they're doing well in French Creek."

The freshwater mussel, another indicator species of clear water, is prolific in French Creek. Crabtree displayed several specimens he'd collected along the route.

"French Creek held 29 species of freshwater mussels before this region was settled," he explained. "There are still 27 living here. Some of those are doing well nowhere else except here."

Although the French Creek Valley Conservancy is working to protect French Creek's future, its pristine past is somewhat a matter of luck.

"The stream's quality is largely an accident of history," said Edinboro University associate professor of geography Karen Eisenhart, during her sojourn presentation on river bottom forests. "The Allegheny Mountains to the east were a barrier to early settlement, as were this region's soggy soils. Settlement came late here, not until the 1850s, so in a way this watershed was 'passed over' to its ecological benefit."

Washousky said keeping French Creek clean is a job too big for just the French Creek Valley Conservancy.

"We're small but we get so much support from other groups," he said. "Audubon Pennsylvania, The Nature Conservancy and the Borough of Cochranton, among many others, are important partners. This collaborative approach toward protecting the watershed makes all our efforts more effective."

"I'd always wanted to paddle French Creek and I saw this sojourn as the perfect opportunity," said Paula Majhan, an accomplished kayaker from Laughlintown. "It's a uniquely beautiful place."

For more details about conserving the French Creek watershed, visit

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Doe Licenses To Go On Sale Monday

Applying early boosts chances for hunters seeking antlerless tags.

Pennsylvania deer hunters who want to better their chances of obtaining an antlerless license will want to send in applications during the first round of sales set to kick off on Monday, July 14.

During the first two weeks applications are accepted, only Pennsylvania residents may apply. Nonresidents may apply beginning Monday, July 28. Then beginning on Monday, Aug. 4, residents and nonresidents alike may apply for any unsold licenses that remain. The second round of unsold license sales is set to begin on Monday, Aug. 18.

Applications received before the Monday start of any round will be returned to sender.

Compared to the previous license year, 59,500 fewer antlerless licenses have been allocated statewide this year, and most wildlife-management units (WMUs) have fewer licenses available. That means submitting a timely application is as important as ever for hunters, said Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough. 

 “In wildlife-management units where the allocation is relatively small, it never takes long for licenses to sell out,” Hough said. “And while we’ve held steady the number of licenses to be allocated in a few WMUs, and have increased it in one, the fact remains there are fewer licenses available this year and hunters who want to be sure they get one would be wise not to wait.”

Hunters applying for 2014-15 antlerless deer licenses will follow the same process that has been in place during recent years. License fees also remain unchanged.

Antlerless deer license applications must be mailed directly to a county treasurer’s office, with the exception of the Philadelphia and Lehigh county treasurer offices, which no longer issue antlerless deer licenses. Treasurers across the state will accept applications for antlerless licenses covering any wildlife-management unit (WMU), but hunters should note that only county treasurers issue tags. The Pennsylvania Game Commission does not accept applications.

A list of participating treasurers and their mailing addresses, as well as the number of licenses allocated for each WMU, appear on Page 47 of the 2014-15 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which hunters can pick up from a licensing agent.

The digest also is available to view online at the Game Commission’s website,

Applications must be mailed in the official pink envelope issued to hunters at the time they purchase their general hunting licenses.

Hunters who are Pennsylvania residents need to submit with each application a check or money order to cover the $6.70 license fee. The license fee for nonresidents is $26.70.  If an application is rejected due to licenses being sold out, the uncashed check or money order will be returned to the hunter by mail.

Hunters may apply for only one antlerless license in the initial round. If licenses remain for a hunter’s chosen WMU, he or she may apply for a second license on Aug. 4 and a third on Aug. 18. Except in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, hunters may purchase no more than three antlerless licenses. In WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, there’s no cap on the number of antlerless licenses that can be purchased and hunters may submit three applications per mailing beginning Aug. 4. Antlerless licenses for WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D also are sold over the counter beginning Aug. 25, providing the allocation has not been exhausted.

Hunters are allowed during each round to select their top three WMU preferences. If antlerless licenses are sold out for the WMU that is the hunter’s top choice, for example, a license for the second choice will be issued if available.

Applications from up to three separate hunters may be submitted in the same envelope. If the WMU preferences for all applications mailed in the same envelope are exactly the same, payment may be made with a single check or money order. If the applicants have different WMU preferences, payment by separate checks or money orders is strongly recommended. That way, a check won’t end up written for the wrong amount if licenses in one WMU sell out before the application is processed.

Applying early during the first round of sales helps to ensure hunters will get their antlerless licenses by the start of archery season. Archery season begins Sept. 20 in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D. Statewide, the season begins Oct. 4.

Over-the-counter sales for licenses covering other WMUs begin Oct. 6. Hunters may apply over the counter to county treasurers for any other WMU with antlerless licenses remaining.

A listing of antlerless licenses allocated by WMU, as well as the remaining allocation, can be viewed on the Game Commission’s website (, by clicking on “Doe License Update” in the “Quick Clicks” box in the right-hand column of the homepage.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Register Now For The July 19th Hunter Ed Class At Bull Creek

Our Next course will be Offered on Saturday July 19th 2014 from 8AM to 4:30 PM. You may register for the July class here.


Sanctioned By
PA Game Commission

All Hunter Education classes MUST be registered for online 
Click Here To Register for July 2014 basic class

These Classes are FREE, but you must pre-register. Space is limitedPlease register early!

Bull Creek Rod and Gun Club's Hunter-Trapper Education classes are held twice a year, in early spring and mid summer. Our last class was held in July, 2013. Classes are taught by 4 or 5 certified instructors who are both Bull Creek club members and trained by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Plus, volunteers from the club and community assist the instructors with presentations offered in:
  • History of Hunter-Trapper Education in Pa.
  • Knowledge of sporting arms, ammunition, and traps.
  • Safe handling of sporting arms and trapping equipment
  • Wildlife Conservation and Management
  • Wildlife Identification
  • Hunting and trapping laws
  • Hunter-Trapper/Landowner relations and ethics
  • Safe Clothing
  • Outdoor Safety (Emergency first aid and survival)
  • Field care of game
  • Game Law presentation by Game Commission Officers
  • Range Instruction
  • Walk through shoot/don't shoot course
  • Archery Demonstration
  • Tree Stand Demonstration
Eligibility: Student must be 11 years of age or higher to register and receive a training certificate. You MUST have completed this mandatory training and have reached at least 12 years of age to hunt in Pennsylvania.

Call 1-800-243-8519 to reach the Southwest Region Office in Ligonier, PA, for other
class schedules near you.

Read a testimonial:

Friday, July 4, 2014

Camera To Provide Pennsylvania Elk's Point Of View

Information gained through partnership will provide valuable new perspective.

          What does an elk eat?
Researchers on Tuesday place a collar on a cow elk on Pennsylvania's elk range. Purchased with funds from the Keystone Elk Country Alliance, the collar has GPS tracking capability and contains a camera that will record video and audio. The information will be used by biologists and habitat managers to benefit elk.Get Image
With footage captured by a tiny video camera placed on a Pennsylvania elk this week, researchers soon will find out.
          The research initiative is a product of a partnership between the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Keystone Elk Country Alliance, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit organization headquartered at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, Pa

          The Game Commission actively manages wildlife habitat throughout Pennsylvania, and within the state's 3,500-square-mile elk-management area. Habitat quality directly influences elk pregnancy rates, survival, calf recruitment and the distribution of elk.

          Projects to improve or create high-quality habitat also are used to mitigate elk-human conflicts and hunter-related elk mortality. By making lands more inviting to elk, elk aren't as likely to turn up in less ideal areas.

          Traditional studies on the types of habitat elk prefer have provided both biologists and land managers with information needed to create high-quality elk habitat. However, a complete understanding of the elk's habitat selection requires an examination at the finest scale.

          Previously, the Game Commission wasn't able to collect that information.

          But on Tuesday, researchers placed a collar on an adult cow elk that not only will record her locations through GPS technology, but also will record video shot by a camera housed within the collar.

This adult cow elk was fitted Tuesday with a collar that contains GPS tracking capability and a small camera to record video and audio. The collar will fall off the elk in about 75 days, at which time the recordings and readings will be retrieved.Get Image
          A short video of the collar being placed on the elk is available to view at the Game Commission's YouTube page,

          The camera is programmed to collect video and audio during specific times of the day.

          The collar will fall off the elk in about 75 days, at which time the Game Commission will send the collar back to the manufacturer so the recordings can be retrieved. By providing never-before-collected information at the micro-scale, the recordings and readings from the collar will assist biologists and land managers, and will help in the planning and development of habitat-management programs.

          The Keystone Elk Country Alliance (KECA) purchased the collar and will use the information collected for educational programming, as well as habitat management.

          "High-quality habitat is vitally important to elk, to the Game Commission and to KECA," said KECA President and CEO Rawley Cogan. "We are pleased to fund this pilot habitat study and we look forward to cooperating with the biologists to refine the habitat-management plan for Pennsylvania's elk range."