Sunday, April 26, 2015

Of Bills, Ticks, Outdoor Apps

Observations on a few things outdoors …

• There was a time when opponents of any move to legalize Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania would point to sportsmen and say they couldn't agree among themselves whether it was a good idea.

That was true enough. Hunters often split 50-50 on the issue.

But at the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs' spring convention, delegates were polled on 10 already-introduced or likely-coming pieces of legislation. One was a bill Lackawanna County Rep. Frank Farina has been circulating among his fellow lawmakers for cosponsors. It would give the Pennsylvania Game Commission the authority to decide when and if to include Sundays in seasons.

Federation delegates voted 80-17 with four abstentions to support the coming bill.
That's a huge change from past years and might be a sign the tide has turned.

• Federation delegates also voted to support three other House Bills: No. 223, which would permit the use of semiautomatic rifles in .223-caliber or smaller for hunting fox, coyotes and groundhogs; No. 263, which would give the commission the authority to allow air rifles for hunting; and No. 231, which would allow the commission, and not county treasurers, to sell doe tags.

Rejected by a 98-2 vote was Senate Bill 374, which would require hunters to report killing a deer within 24 hours instead of the current 10 days. The concern was it would leave hunters who kill a deer from a camp with no phone or Internet no way to comply short of going home.

• If it seems like ticks are everywhere these days, they officially are.

Last week, Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection announced that blacklegged, or deer, ticks have been confirmed in all 67 state counties. The same research found that the ticks have become imbedded in Western Pennsylvania in recent years, “though the prevalence rate of Lyme disease still remains relatively lower than the rest of the state.”

There were no ticks and no Lyme Disease here as recently as the 1960s, the report said.

• The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission launched a free new app, and the Game Commission is working to develop two by fall.

On the Fish side, the FishBoatPA app identifies things like which streams have been stocked with trout, how to get to those waters and what other access areas are nearby. There's a Fish ID feature, along with a section for sharing photos.

It's available on Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store.

On the Game side, one app will allow a hunter to pick the species he wants to hunt, then identify state game lands managed especially for it, said Mark Neissner, manager of the commission's GIS section. It also will identify early successional habitat on game lands, broken down as being 0-5, 6-10 and 11-15 years old, he said.

Another app will show pheasant stocking locations, identifying not just the game lands that get birds but also specifically where they're released via what Neissner called “broad circles.”

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

It's Turkey Time In PA!

Pennsylvania’s spring gobbler season kicks off Saturday with youth hunt.

Another spring gobbler season is just days away from kicking off. 

Hunters ages 16 and younger can take advantage of an early-season opportunity beginning a half-hour before sunrise on Saturday, April 25. Pennsylvania’s youth spring turkey hunt is open to properly accompanied junior hunters and mentored youth.

Get Image

          Hunters of all ages then can participate in the May 2 opener of the statewide spring gobbler season, which runs through May 30. 

The season that awaits promises to be a memorable one for Pennsylvania’s turkey hunters, said Mary Jo Casalena, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wild turkey biologist. While turkey numbers vary from one area of the state to the next, Pennsylvania’s wild turkey population recently has been on the upswing, Casalena said. 

The statewide wild turkey population was estimated at almost 235,000 birds last spring, which compares to the previous five-year average of 169,000. 

Despite a long and cold winter, the state’s turkeys – once again – escaped without any known, winter-caused mortality. In fact, over the last five years that the Game Commission has monitored satellite-transmittered turkeys, none of the 288 birds monitored ever has died due to winter conditions, and turkey survivability actually is highest in winter.

Casalena said she often gets questions about winter mortality, especially when turkeys in a given area don’t seem to be gobbling much. 

The amount of gobbling depends largely on the age structure of the local population, she said. If there’s a high proportion of younger males, known commonly as “jakes,” they might not call much. The same is true of the more seasoned gobblers. 

“Just because you’re not hearing much gobbling doesn’t mean they’re not there, and hunters anywhere might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome of a hunt, even if there’s not a lot of calling activity leading up to it,” Casalena said. “Prior to the season gobblers might be quiet because hens are still with them. Once the hens go off to incubate their eggs, gobblers intensify their calling to attract other hens. We time the season to begin, on average, when the majority of hens are incubating and gobbling intensifies.” 

Year in and year out, Pennsylvania ranks near the top for turkey harvests. In 2014, the state’s hunters harvested more than 41,000 turkeys during the spring season. 

Hunter success typically could be higher, too, given that it is influenced by the fact many hunters choose to pass up chances to take smaller and younger bearded birds for the opportunity to take larger, mature gobblers, Casalena said.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Women In The Outdoors Event May 30th 2015 At Bull Creek!


Women ages 14 and over are discovering a world all of their own; the National Wild Turkey Federation's Women in the Outdoors program was created just for them. Today millions of women enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, fIShing, shooting, hiking, and more. 

By becoming a member of Women in the Outdoors, you'll join a network of women who share the same hobbies and interests. You'll learn new skills, tune up existing ones, and make memories that last a lifetime in a relaxed, non-competitive environment. 

Spread the word to your mom, sister, friend or co-worker. Bring them all to the Allegheny Valley Chapter event for a fun and exciting day of learning and fellowship. Ages 14-17 must be accompanied with an adult. Pre-registration is required

What Will Be Provided: 
* Choice of 4 expertly instructed classes 
* Continental breakfast, lunch, snacks and beverages 
* Equipment & materials needed for classes 
* A 1-year $35 membership in the NWTF 
* 1-year subscription to Turkey Country magazine and Turkey Talk 

If you are unable to attend our event, please visit WWW.WOMENINTHEOUTDOORS.ORG to find other events in the state of PA throughout the year! 

CANCELLATION POLICY: The cancellation deadline is May 24, 2014. If you cancel after the deadline, you will be responsible for the full program fee. You may send a substitute if you cannot attend.

Please print the following 2 forms and mail, click on the images to enlarge:

Late Springdale Township couple's donation will create 2nd public hunting land in Allegheny County

Abby Lund, 4, granddaughter of Louis and Flo Gagliardi,
 traces the letters on a sign honoring the Gagliardis
as donors of 42 acres in Springdale Township for use as
state game lands at a ceremony on High Street on
 Friday, April 10, 2015. Eric Felack | Trib Total Media

Louis and Flo Gagliardi enjoyed hiking the hills of the Harwick section of Springdale Township.

The Gagliardis loved the woods near their home so much they systematically bought up some of the land.

Now, their names are memorialized on a sign erected on land their family is donating to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The newest state game land is a compact 42 acres, but it's only the second game lands open to public hunting in Allegheny County.

“It's significant,” said Jack Lucas, a land management supervisor for the commission and an Oakmont native.

There are almost 1.5 million acres of public hunting areas in the state. But until now, only the 1,245-acre Game Lands 203 near Wexford is available to hunters in Allegheny County.
Lucas said the commission is delighted with the addition.

Louis, a miner, and Flo, a homemaker, lived in mining company houses before they moved into their house along Crones Hollow Road. At one time, at least three other families lived nearby.

The Gagliardi family buried one child at the top of the Harwick hill above what is now High Street, off Yutes Run Road, and welcomed the arrival of other children before moving to School Street in Springdale, the family said.

“My father would look up at the hills and see the trees blooming in the spring. He knew all the names of trees and wild flowers and he knew animals. He was a naturalist,” said Carrol Gagliardi Lund, a daughter, who is a speech pathologist now living in Florida.

Her brother, Tony Gagliardi, a retired union equipment operator and Navy veteran, said his father looked for ways to buy land in the area.

“He didn't have a lot of money and had to wait more than 20 years,” Tony Gagliardi said. “I knew my dad was interested in this property since the 1940s and he couldn't afford it.”
Then regional progress intervened.

At one time, Crones Hollow Road connected to Pillow Avenue and Main Street, but in the 1960s, construction of the Route 28 expressway cut it off, making the land less desirable for development, and therefore, more affordable.

Louis Gagliardi started small and bought one parcel. Others followed, until he eventually he had more than 40 acres.

Flo Gagliardi died in 2000; Louis passed in 2006.

When Allegheny County reassessed its property, their children filed unsuccessful tax assessment appeals. The family then tried to sell the acreage, but didn't find a buyer.
So donating the land for a conservation use seemed to be the logical next step.

During Friday's dedication ceremony, Lund's pre-school granddaughter, Abby Lund, of Mossup, Conn., took advantage of her bright pink rain boots to splash in the runoff. Later she and Tony Gagliardi's grandson, Austin Gagliardi, a bio-chemistry major at Duquesne University, admired the sign.

Austin, of Herman, Butler County, thinks his grandparents would be happy.
Game Commission staffers were pleased, too.

The Game Commission said it will add a parking lot. Drainage improvements are needed, too.

Game lands maintenance manager Steve Carey's crew will spend time improving habitat.
The tract has deer, turkey, some other game birds, rabbits and other small mammals and coyotes.

The Commission appreciates the gift and establishing a public hunting area, Lucas said.
“This is, indeed, only the second game lands in Allegheny County,” he said. “This is a historic day for us.”

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media and a member of Bull Creek Rod and Gun Club

PA Game Commissioners Reduces Allotment Of Doe Tags

By Bob Frye 

HARRISBURG — There will be fewer doe licenses, and presumably more deer, across most of Western Pennsylvania this fall.

Pennsylvania Game Commissioners on Friday gave final approval to seasons and bag limits for the 2015-16 hunting and trapping seasons. They also determined how many doe tags to issue.

The 746,500 total is 33,000 fewer — about a 4 percent decline — than last year.
The unit seeing the biggest change is 5C just northwest of Philadelphia. Commissioners changed the boundaries of the unit, making it smaller, and decreased the number of available doe licenses from 95,000 to 70,000.

Commissioner Brian Hoover of Delaware County said the adjustments, taken together, are meant to better direct hunters to urban areas with too many deer and lessen pressure on more rural lands that had generated a disproportionate number of complaints from hunters.
The number of doe licenses in unit 2C, which takes in Somerset County and parts of Westmoreland, Fayette, Indiana, Cambria, Blair and Bedford counties, is dropping from 38,000 to 31,000.

In unit 2D, which takes in Armstrong County and parts of Butler, Westmoreland, Indiana, Jefferson, Clarion and Venango, tags dropped from 61,000 to 55,5000, while in unit 2A, which takes in Greene County and parts of Washington, Westmoreland, Fayette and Beaver, tags dropped from 46,000 to 43,000.

In only five of 23 units did commissioners follow their biologists' recommendations.

Commissioners looked at the data provided by staff and settled on numbers meant to allow a few more deer on the landscape while still allowing for healthy habitat, commission president Dave Putnam of Centre County said.

“Commissioners don't do this lightly,” he said. “We spend a lot of hours going through all of the various numbers.”

In one unexpected development, commissioners also directed executive director Matt Hough to make available to hunters this fall 13,500 disease management area 2 doe tags. They will allow a hunter to shoot an antlerless deer within the boundaries of the disease area, where chronic wasting disease has been found in the wild deer herd.

The commission offered 13,000 such tags to hunters last year. The idea was that they would allow hunters to keep the population stable and, perhaps, slow the spread of the disease.

Just last week, commissioners said they expected to do away with the tags.

Disease area 2 takes in about 77 percent of unit 4A in southcentral Pennsylvania. It's expanding this fall into southwestern Somerset County.

Given that, commissioners had said they planned to do away with the tags, make all of unit 4A part of the area and just increase the number of regular doe tags to keep deer herds in check.

However, staff had concerns about that approach, commissioner Tim Layton of Windber said.

“I think (disease area permits are) a better tool for us to address our issues in that disease management area,” he said.

Commissioners also adopted a few nondeer changes.

They gave final approval to a change in the mentored youth hunting program. Under the new rules, children younger than 7 can kill a buck or spring gobbler but only if their adult mentor surrenders his harvest tag to them.

Commissioners — responding to a request Thursday from hunters — also moved the last day of the late rabbit season from Feb. 20 to the last day of the month, which will be Feb. 29 next year. The late squirrel and pheasant seasons also were extended.

The board created an otter trapping season, the state's first in decades, in units 3C and 3D in northeastern Pennsylvania, legalized rifles for fall turkey hunting in units 1A, 1B and 2A in Western Pennsylvania, and adopted a new list of approved locks for cable restraints used by trappers.

Doe licenses

Doe licenses to be available for the 2015-16 hunting year, by wildlife management unit. In parentheses is last season's allocation:

1A: 46,000 (47,000)
1B: 29,000 (30,000)
2A: 43,000 (46,000)
2B: 61,000 (60,000)
2C: 31,000 (38,000)
2D: 55,000 (61,000)
2E: 21,000 (21,000)
2F: 22,000 (27,000)
2G: 22,000 (22,000)
2H: 6,500   (5,500)
3A: 19,000 (18,000)
3B: 28,000 (33,000)
3C: 36,000 (32,000)
3D: 25,000 (25,000)
4A: 30,000 (28,000)
4B: 26,000 (26,000)
4C: 25,000 (25,000)
4D: 33,000 (33,000)
4E: 25,000 (21,000)
5A: 19,000 (19,000)
5B: 50,000 (49,000)
5C: 70,000 (95,000)
5D: 24,000 (18,000)

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

Thursday, April 9, 2015

2015 Valley Trap League Schedule and Information

2015 Valley Trap League
The public is welcome!

Valley League: The Valley League consists of 5 clubs roughly located along the Allegheny River valley north and east of Pittsburgh, PA. It's a 20 week league that starts April 7th, 2015 and ends with a presentation shoot August 29th. You do not have to be a member of a club to shoot in the league for that club.

The clubs involved are Bull Creek Rod and Gun, South Buffalo Sportsmen, Tarentum Sportsmen, Ford City Sportsmen and Frazier Sportsmen. The shoots are every Tuesday evening, with sign-ups from 4:30pm to 8:00pm.

Costs: program - $10.00, Junior (under 18) - $5.00, Practice: - $7.00
Program shoots 50 targets from 16 Yards.
You do not need to be a member of Bull Creek to shoot for Bull Creek!


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Frye: Pennsylvania Game Commission board president getting ready for bills on air rifles, semi-automatics

 By Bob Frye 

Dave Putnam wants to be ready.

The state Legislature is considering bills that would legalize air rifles and semiautomatic firearms for hunting in Pennsylvania.

The air rifle bill would remove the prohibition on such weapons' use. It would leave it up to the commission to decide the seasons and species for which they would be legal and what minimum calibers might be required.

The bills regarding semiautomatics — there are several — would do anything from remove the prohibition on their use to specify what they could be used to hunt and how many shells could be in a magazine at any time.

Putnam, president of the Pennsylvania Game Commission board, expects to hear more about them from lawmakers and sportsmen. So he asked commission staff to provide recommendations where it might go if any bills become law.

This past week, Tom Grohol, director of the bureau of wildlife protection, the agency's law enforcement arm, provided some answers.

In short — to his own surprise — he sees potential in the case of air rifles.

“At first glance, I thought no way,” Grohol said. “But after I looked at it a little bit, there are some opportunities there, I think.”

Only two states, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, prohibit their use for hunting. Most allow them to be used for small game, though some permit big-game hunting with air rifles, too, he added.

He doesn't see a big demand there. Big-game air rifles can cost $1,000 or more and have to be filled by the same kind of compressor that scuba divers use on their tanks, he said.
That likely would keep a lot of people from wanting to use those, he said, but air rifles capable of taking small game might be more popular.

If there's one oddity about air rifles, Grohol said, it's that while they're classified as “firearms” by Title 34 regulation, the wildlife code, they're not considered that way under state law.
The one thing that means is that a convicted felon who's not allowed to hunt with a firearm could hunt with an air rifle, he said.

No matter what, Putnam said, the commission should have a plan in mind should lawmakers act.

“If the Legislature authorizes this, we need to be ready to react,” Putnam said.

Grohol was less enthusiastic about the possibilities for semiautomatic rifles. He's not familiar with the various bills that would legalize them, he said.

“But my first impression is, I'd be a little hesitant about (them),” he said.

There might be some interest among sportsmen, though. At their recent convention, members of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs voted to support a bill that would allow semiautomatics to be used for hunting groundhogs and coyotes.

Pennsylvania again is one of just two states — Delaware is the other — that prohibits hunting with semiautomatic rifles.

Grohol said he'd have to do some more investigation before he could give commissioners a recommendation on those kinds of bills.

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