Matt Morrett is the headliner at the Jaffa Shrine outdoor show this year - slated for Feb. 21-23 - and he's a hunter and outdoorsman worth the time to come see and hear.
I've known Morrett for many years. I've judged him in turkey calling contests and I had the honor many years ago to attend the very first turkey-calling seminar he ever did, at the Harrisburg Outdoor Show.
I also hunted with Morrett in Missouri, also quite a few years ago; I'm looking forward to visiting with Matt at the upcoming show. And you will be glad you came to see him too; he's practical and wise in all the hunting advice he gives.
There are lots of other attractions as well: Ben Chamberlain will be heading up the Allegheny Mt. Classic-sanctioned turkey calling contest, and Curtis Frye and his championship dogs will be there as well. I've often written about Curtis as being the top dog trainer in the state and probably beyond.
Coyote hunting is coming on strong and Tom Bechdel will be telling you how to hunt them in his seminar. Rex Johnsonbaugh will be there about bass fishing and my buddy Joanie Haidle - if you are hearing the TV promotions, they are grossly mispronouncing her name - but she and I will team up together on a couple seminars, talking about how to think correctly when hunting the tough, silent, Pennsylvania gobblers. Joanie will also have a booth showing her turkey calls.
It's going to be a really fun show and we need to bone up on tactics, see all the new gear and gadgets and just have an outlet for the awful cases of cabin fever we have been suffering through.
In this awful weather, few have been thinking about pheasant hunting but the job of raising and releasing them goes on despite weather. Some are not aware that the Game Commission has four Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas where wild pheasants are placed after having been wild trapped and transferred from places where pheasants are plentiful. It has been three years since any pheasants have been released into any of these areas, because some of the areas where they get the wild pheasants from are having troubles of their own.
States like South Dakota, which initially provided wild ringnecks to Pennsylvania as part of the restoration program, have been reluctant to part with their own wild stock because of overall declines in their wild pheasant populations. And for awhile, it looked as though this year would be more of the same.
It looked as if 2014 would mark another year in which the trend would continue.
But when the Board of Game Commissioners took up new business at the end of its Tuesday meeting, there was some good news to announce. The Game Commission has received permission from a Native American tribe in Montana to trap 300 wild birds and transfer them to Pennsylvania for release on Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas.
This is what was said about the wild pheasants, along with other information discussed at the January Board of Commissioners meeting.
It's been three years since Pennsylvania has placed wild pheasants into any of the state's four Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas, which aim to restore to the state self-sustaining populations ring-necked pheasants.
States like South Dakota, which initially provided wild ringnecks to Pennsylvania as part of the restoration program, have been reluctant to part with their own wild stock because of overall declines in their wild pheasant populations.
But when the Board of Game Commissioners took up new business at the end of last Tuesday's meeting, there was some good news to announce. The Game Commission has received permission from a Native American tribe in Montana to trap 300 wild birds and transfer them to Pennsylvania for release on Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas.
Trapping and transferring has been proven to be the best way to truly establish wild and sustainable populations of any wild species. It is vivid in my memory when it was suggested by Game commission biologists in the early 1970's that wild trapping and transferring of turkeys would be the only way to establish a population of the birds in Pennsylvania.
A huge clamor arose about that. Sportsmen were adamant that they wanted no part of any such program but wanted only the raising of turkeys on game farms and pushed out into the woods just before each season. It was big, big issue back then.
But the Game Commission held fast and followed their biologists' advice and wild populations began to be trapped out of areas within the state where there were sustainable wild turkey populations.
The result is what you see today: more wild turkeys than we have ever had, plenty of birds when you go out to hunt them and the closing of wild turkey game farms.
Trapping and transferring of wild birds will be the only hope for the comeback of sustainable wild pheasant populations to our fields and woods and someday, perhaps goodbye to the pheasant game farms.
Let's all do what we can to support this program.