One of the main attractions at the Allegheny Adventures Outdoor Show coming up this weekend, from Friday through Sunday, is the Alan Keagy Memorial Turkey Calling Contest.
The contest will begin Saturday at 3 p.m. but registrations for the various divisions will begin as soon as the doors open at 10 a.m.
Alan Keagy was one of the early presidents of the Allegheny Mountain Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation which functions in Blair County. Keagy was a noted turkey hunter and conservationist who passed away much too early a few years ago.
Turkey Calling contests provide not only one of the wackiest forms of entertainment for outdoors lovers, it is serious business for the callers. This is a NWTF sanctioned contest, meaning the winners will be eligible for participation in the Grand National Calling Championships held in Nashville in February but there are trophies and cash prizes involved and so the callers themselves are dead serious about the contest.
For those in the audience it is the opportunity to hear the best callers in the state ply their talents. You can listen and learn how the experts sound. Notice especially the rhythms they use while making the various calls because in the field, rhythm is usually a more important factor for success than the tone of the calls.
There will be various types of competition. Some of the events include:
n Poults: 10 years and under
n Juniors: 11 to 15 years
n Intermediate: 16 years to 15 years
n Hunter: anyone who has not won a first place in an amateur or Hunter division.
n Owl hooting
n The King of Pennsylvania. Anyone who calls in both the open and friction contests. The two scores will be added together, the top is the winner.
There will be lots of variety at the contest and lots of entertainment. For more information about the contest call Ben Chamberlain at 814-931-4002 or at BEN CHAMBERLAIN63 @ YAHOO.COM.
However, don't bother asking what the calls will be because that will not be revealed until registration.
A costly change
A bill to allow a $25 bounty to be paid for killing coyotes is up for consideration now in the Pa. Legislature. In my opinion, the paying of bounties is a foolish idea and frankly, even the Game Commission many years ago put a stop to paying bounties for various predator species when they found out it didn't work.
Once people start hunting coyotes for the bounty, the already wary, cautious creatures will get even more so and it won't take long. It seems to me to be just a "please the people" type program. Hunters have been concerned for some years now about the increasing coyote population in our state and when it comes right down to it, there isn't much anyone can do to "control" this population.
This legislation has very little support among sportsmen's clubs in Pennsylvania, according to a report from the Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs. And I remember a meeting I attended many years ago in another county when the big concern was the noticeable reduction of wild rabbits. So from somewhere came the suggestion that the Game Commission had decided to cooperate with sportsmen in a trap-and transfer program for rabbits.
I expressed my incredulity over that idea to a Game Commission employee and he told me not to worry, it was just a program they knew wouldn't accomplish anything but it would keep the sportsmen off their back if they thought they were engaged in this program. Needless to say, that program didn't last long.
Many clubs throughout this state hold coyote hunts during the winter and they have some success. But they don't harvest enough of the animals to make any kind of dent in the population.
The good times
Recently I attended the funeral of my good buddy Buck Alt. I spent a good bit of time conversing with his son Gary and we were constantly interrupted by folks, all asking the same question: "Is it true that the Game Commission trucked coyotes in from the West some years ago and let them loose in the Pennsylvania woods?"
That rumor just will not die.
But of course, everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who knows the truck driver. Gary Alt spent a lot of time patiently explaining to each and every questioner that the Game Commission never did any such thing and that they tracked down every report they ever got to that effect and every one came to nothing. " Why in the world would the Game Commission want to spread something through our woods that would be such a threat to the deer population?" Alt would ask each one. "The deer population is the Commission's bread and butter."
So, bounty or not, it might be time to take up coyote hunting. It is actually quite exciting. A lot of calling expertise and tactics have to be mastered to hunt coyotes. When I was up in the Poconos just a couple weeks ago, I talked to some members of a coyote hunting club up there. Hopefully, someday I will get to hunt the wily coyote with them.