Saturday, May 28, 2016

Frye: More Women Headed Outdoors

There was a time when this kind of event might have been considered a novelty.
Madison Shoemaker, 14, harvested this 9-point buck while hunting on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015 in Dunbar.
Madison Shoemaker, 14, harvested this 9-point buck while
hunting on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015 in Dunbar.

No more.
Today, the demand is real, and it's growing. Women want to be a part of the outdoors.
That's why the Allegheny Valley Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is hosting a “women in the outdoors” event Saturday at Bull Creek Rod and Gun Club in Tarentum.
It's a day for girls and women 14 and older — and them alone — to learn to shoot a bow, fire a gun, explore hunting and otherwise get a hands-on taste of outdoor sports.
Registration is open through Friday and can be done by contacting Sandi Hazlett or 724-777-5039.
Organizers are promoting the day by saying women are heading outside like never before.
“Hunting, hiking and fishing are no longer just for men. Women are taking to lakes and tree stands all over Western Pennsylvania to take advantage of its vast wildlife and majestic landscapes,” Hazlett said.
Indeed they are.
According to information released this past week by Southwick Associates, an outdoor research firm, women make up 27 percent of anglers and 11 percent of hunters nationally.
That trend is reflected here in Pennsylvania.
In the 2009-10 hunting license year — the first trackable under the automated licensing system — 67,165 women purchased a hunting license, Game Commission executive director Matt Hough said. That represented about 7 percent of all license buyers.
As of Dec. 31 of this past year, 93,210 women had done the same. That was a little more than 10 percent of all license buyers.
The figure assuredly went up because of spring turkey season, which annually accounts for a little bump in sales.
That trend is sure to continue, too.
Hough said it's not uncommon for half or more of the students in some hunter education classes to be female.
We'll be seeing more girls on the water, too. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is trying to figure out ways to recruit more women into the angling ranks.
It's hard to see that not working to at least some degree.
All those women share some things with male hunters and anglers.
According to Southwick, 44 percent of women anglers say they fish primarily for bass. They're also the most popular game fish with men.
Women, like men, hunt white-tailed deer more than anything else.
But women are different, too.
Compared to men, more women hunt with shotguns than with rifles, and a higher percentage bowhunt.
Manufacturers and retailers would be wise to make decisions with women in mind, Rob Southwick said.
“Women are a huge part of the outdoor market and even influence spending decisions by others in their households. Smart companies need to reach out to the female segment,” he said.
Here's guessing they will. Their customers — their new customers — are waiting.
Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Springtime Alert – Do Not Disturb Young Wildlife

HARRISBURG, PA - Whether in their backyards or high on a mountain, it’s almost certain
Pennsylvanians will encounter young wildlife this time of year.
While some young animals might appear to be abandoned, usually they are not. It’s likely their mothers are watching over them from somewhere nearby.
So when encountering young deer, birds, raccoons or other young wildlife, the best thing people can do is leave the animals alone.
“Most people want to do what they can to help wildlife, and when they see a young animal that appears to be abandoned, they want to intervene,” said Wayne Laroche, the Game Commission wildlife management director. “What they don’t realize is that, in all likelihood, they’re doing more harm than good.
“Those young animals probably aren’t abandoned at all, meaning that anyone stepping in to try to help not only is taking that youngster away from its mother, but also destroying its chances to grow up as it was intended,” he said.
Adult animals often leave their young while they forage for food, but they don’t go far and they do return. Wildlife also often relies on a natural defensive tactic called the “hider strategy,” where young animals will remain motionless and “hide” in surrounding cover while adults draw the attention of potential predators or other intruders away from their young.
Deer employ this strategy, and fawns sometimes are assumed to be abandoned when, in fact, their mothers are nearby.
The Game Commission urges Pennsylvanians to resist the urge to interfere with young wildlife or remove any wild animal from its natural setting.
Such contact can be harmful to both people and wildlife. Wild animals can lose their natural fear of humans, making it difficult, even impossible, for them to ever again live normally in the wild. And anytime wildlife is handled, there’s always a risk people could contract diseases or parasites such as fleas, ticks and lice.
Wildlife that becomes habituated to humans also can pose a public-safety risk. A few years ago, a yearling, six-point buck attacked and severely injured two people. The investigation into the incident revealed that a neighboring family had illegally taken the deer into their home and fed it as a fawn, and they continued to feed the deer right up until the time of the attack.
It is illegal to take or possess wildlife from the wild. Under state law, the penalty for such a violation is a fine of up to $1,500 per animal.
Under no circumstances will anyone who illegally takes wildlife into captivity be allowed to keep that animal, and under a working agreement with state health officials, any “high risk” rabies vector species confiscated after human contact must be euthanized and tested; it cannot be returned to the wild because the risk of spreading disease is too high.
Animals infected with rabies might not show obvious symptoms, but still might be able to transmit the disease. Though any mammal might carry rabies, the rabies vector species identified in the agreement are: skunks, raccoons, foxes, bats, coyotes and groundhogs.
People can get rabies from the saliva of a rabid animal if they are bitten or scratched, or if the saliva gets into the person’s eyes, mouth or a fresh wound.
Only wildlife rehabilitators, who are licensed by the Game Commission, are permitted to care for injured or orphaned wildlife for the purposes of eventual release back into the wild. For those who find wildlife that truly is in need of assistance, a listing of licensed wildlife rehabilitators can be found on the Pennsylvania Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators website,
If you are unable to identify a wildlife rehabilitator in your area, contact the Game Commission region office that serves the county in which the animal is found so that you can be referred to the appropriate licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Region office contact information can be found through the “Connect with Us” tab on the agency’s website,

Friday, May 13, 2016


HARRISBURG, PA - The Pennsylvania Game Commission during 2015 found 12 additional white-tailed deer infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD) – all in Disease Management Area 2 (DMA 2), located in southcentral Pennsylvania.
DMA 2 is the only area of the state where CWD has been detected in free-ranging deer.
The latest cases bring to 22 the total number of free-ranging deer found with CWD within DMA 2 since 2012. This is the highest number of cases to be found in a single year, and more than doubles the total number of CWD-positive deer found in the wild in Pennsylvania.
These new cases have resulted in changes to DMA 2’s boundaries, increasing the size of the DMA by more than 437 square miles. A map showing the latest expansion to DMA 2 has been posted online at and will be included in the 2016-17 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest that’s issued to hunters at the time the buy their licenses. However, hunters are reminded that future CWD cases could further impact DMA 2’s boundary, and the most up-to-date maps always can be found at the Game Commission’s website.
Special rules regarding the hunting, transport and feeding of wild deer apply within all DMAs, and are detailed in full online.
One of the new cases was found in a deer harvested by a hunter. It serves as an example of why hunters need to be taking the DMA restrictions seriously. The hunter in the case transported a buck that later tested positive for CWD from DMA 2 to a deer processor far outside of the DMA, and the high-risk parts went to a rendering plant.
Transporting a deer out of the DMA is illegal. By leaving behind those parts with the highest-risk of transmitting CWD to other deer, hunters limit the chances the disease will spread to new areas of the state. The hunter in this case, which has been adjudicated, also failed to report the deer as required by law.
Hunters need to be taking CWD seriously. To do otherwise, risks spreading the disease to deer and elk in other parts of Pennsylvania. In the early stages of infection, CWD tends to spread and increase very slowly in wild deer populations. This might cause hunters to have a false sense of security, and take the presence of the disease lightly.
In some areas of Wyoming and Wisconsin, more than 40 percent of deer and elk tested have been positive for CWD. Arkansas first reported a CWD-positive elk on Feb. 23. Follow-up sampling since then has found an additional 81 positive animals, and 23 percent of the deer and elk samples from the infected area of northern Arkansas tested positive. It is thought that CWD might have been present, but gone undetected in Arkansas for as long as 10 years.
“This is the one disease that has the potential to drastically change deer hunting as we know it,” said Game Commission Wildlife Management Director Wayne Laroche.
Statewide, a total of 5,645 road-killed, hunter-harvested and suspected infected deer were tested for CWD in Pennsylvania during 2015. The Game Commission stepped up sampling efforts within DMA 2 during 2015 in an attempt to enhance monitoring efforts and to estimate a prevalence level of CWD within townships representing the core area of infection within DMA 2. A total of 1,602 samples were collected from deer within DMA 2. Twelve, or 0.75 percent of these, tested CWD positive.
The good news is the prevalence level of CWD within DMA2 seems to remain at a relatively low level. But, unless additional control measures are implemented, the infection rate is certain to increase.
The Game Commission for the 2016-17 seasons has allocated 14,500 DMA 2 Antlerless Deer Permits, in addition to antlerless licenses allocated for the WMUs partially within DMA 2. The permits must be purchased online or through mail-in application, and they go on sale at the same time antlerless licenses, July 11. More information on DMA 2 Permits can be found on the CWD page of the Game Commission’s website.
However, controlling total deer numbers only seems to slow the spread of the disease.
Wisconsin’s experience clearly demonstrates that controlling total deer numbers alone will not stop the disease from increasing. Illinois, which has employed a targeted deer-removal strategy at locations where positive animals have been found, has managed to hold prevalence at a low level since finding CWD in 2002. Targeted removal in areas where the disease is most prevalent is a more surgical strategy to limiting the spread of CWD.
Along with Illinois, Wisconsin also found CWD in 2002. Wisconsin began with an aggressive population-reduction strategy until being shut down by public pressure. While it is believed that the prevalence level in Illinois now remains at near 1 percent in the infected area, Wisconsin’s prevalence rate reportedly has climbed to 9.4 percent.
Like Illinois, Wisconsin now is considering the use of a targeted-removal method.
The Game Commission hopes to act sooner rather than later to put in place active control measures to stop the spread and growth of the disease within the Commonwealth. These measures may involve targeted removal of deer at locations where CWD-positive animals have been found. Discussion and planning are currently underway; details will provided once the planning process is further along.
“One thing we know is we will not be successful without the support of deer hunters and the general public,” Laroche said. “If we fail to develop and implement an effective control program, we risk the future of deer hunting along with all of the social and economic benefits that wild white-tailed deer and elk provide to the people of Pennsylvania.”
It has been estimated that deer hunting alone adds more than $1 billion a year to Pennsylvania’s economy. The tradition and social value that whitetails and elk provide to Pennsylvanians is incalculable.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Trainers To Thank For All-Time Low Number Of PA Hunting Accidents

The news was unquestionably good.
But who will hear it?
Last week the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced there were 23 hunting accidents — officially “hunting-related shooting incidents” — in 2015. That's an all-time low, beating the 27 of 2013.
Last year also was the third straight with fewer than 30 accidents.
That's reflective of a long-term trend.
The commission has been tracking accidents since 1915. Then, and in the decades after, it was common for incidents to number in the hundreds each year. They have steadily declined over time, though, and are down 80 percent since the advent of mandatory hunter education training in 1959.
Fatalities are also trending downward.
There has been only one year (2012) without a single reported fatality related to gun handling in hunting and trapping in Pennsylvania. But there was just one fatality in 2014 and only two last year, one of them from a self-inflicted wound.
The commission credits that in large part to its corps of volunteer hunter education instructors, who last year taught 38,671 students.
The tribute is well-deserved. Those men and women give up thousands of hours to teach youngsters and adults that their own actions largely determine how safe any trip to the fields and woods will ultimately be.
The state's ever-improving safety record shows those students are getting it.
But what about everyone else?
The perception among many in the general public remains that, for safety's sake, it's best to stay out of the woods when hunters are around.
Whenever the subject of legalizing hunting on Sundays comes up, for example, hikers and others who oppose the idea commonly justify their position by suggesting that's the one day a week in fall when they feel comfortable in the outdoors. And that's because they're not sharing it with people carrying bows and firearms.
On my way home from an assignment last autumn I stopped by a state park in the Laurel Highlands for a quick hike. Archery season was open.
I'd finished up and was coming around the trailhead gate, exiting the woods, as a young woman prepared to enter. She stopped short upon seeing a sign that read something like, “Caution, this area open to hunting.”
I'd seen it and never given it another thought, but she asked me who was hunting, what they were hunting and whether it was safe to go into the woods.
I assured her it was, but she didn't appear convinced.
As sportsmen, it's easy for us to dismiss those fears. But they are real, and we have to continually address them, carrying the message that sharing the woods with hunters doesn't mean inevitable human carnage.
Much like hunter education instructors who do what they do out of a love for their sport and a desire to perpetuate our sporting heritage, we all have to work to change minds.
We've taught ourselves to be safe. Now we have to get the word out to others.
Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Gunmakers pull up stakes, head south

Northern states, particularly northeastern states, just don't seem to learn. Their officials hobnob with that specific political party that doesn't have any use for firearms. They keep business taxes high and adopt more and more gun-hating laws. Gun-loving Southern states are thrilled. They get more gun plants, more jobs.
The latest companies to head south are Beretta and Remington.
Little more than a week ago, Beretta introduced its new plant in Gallatin, Tenn., near Nashville, a $45 million investment. The loser: Maryland, where Beretta had operated since 1980.
Beretta, which has been in business close to 500 years, will use its new plant to build the M9 handgun for armed forces. “Firearms are an important part of the culture in the United States, the culture of the outdoors and self-defense,” said Franco Gussalli Beretta, the executive vice president of Beretta USA. “So we were thinking it was important to develop our future business in a part of the country where all these concepts are clear and respected.”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam applauded the decision at the opening ceremony of Beretta's manufacturing and research facility.
“They had questions about staying in Maryland because they didn't really feel appreciated there.” Haslam said, “Obviously in Tennessee,we take great pride in the Second Amendment, and we were proud to have a company like Beretta move here.”
While the facility employs 75 people, Beretta expects to expand that to 300 jobs in the next few years.
The company reported sales of $430 million in the United States in 2015, out of $725 million sales worldwide, said Pietro Gussalli Beretta, the president and CEO of Beretta Holding.
“Now the flag of the Beretta Group is in Tennessee,” he said.
Remington is celebrating its 200th anniversary. It is America's oldest gunmaker, and the national gun magazines are heralding the achievement with history and new details. New to Remington is a plant in Huntsville, Ala. Thought it is keeping its historic plant in Ilion, N.Y., Remington is building many of its legacy guns and those with new designs in the new plant.
Last year, Kahr Arms opened a plant in Blooming Grove, Pa. Ruger has a new one in North Carolina, and Colt moved into one in Texas.
The political people don't get it. Jobs, protection, enjoyment, challenges in precision and hunting abound in what they consider harmful activity.
Not many Americans have been enamored of the overall economy in recent years, but the gun industry is definitely contributing more than its share to bolster it.
The industry added 24,763 jobs in 2015, the National Shooting Sports Foundation reported. The nearly 10 percent increase is attributed to manufacturing and retail jobs for guns, ammunition and related supplies, like hunting gear. The NSSF said the last few years of job growth in the industry has been “nothing short of remarkable,” reporting an overall increase of 73 percent since 2008.
Wages and benefits from guns average $50,180, with many of the jobs in rural areas and small towns, where cost of living is relatively low.
The state at the top of the industry, of course, is Texas, with about 21,386 jobs. Next are California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and Missouri.
The economic impact from revenue, wages, benefits and taxes, totaled $49.3 billion in 2015, up 15% from 2014. NSSF said.
Charles Rondinelli is a freelance writer. Reach him at