Lack of snow won’t help tracking

The upcoming week has much to offer as we have three days over Thanksgiving to hunt turkeys. Having some snow helps as tracking turkeys through the snow is fairly easy to do. Sitting around in the snow waiting for turkeys to come to your calling or to just show up can be a cold and monotonous task.

If the birds have been shafted around a lot during the regular season, they will be suspicious of calling coming from afar and be ridiculously cautious about approaching calls coming from the bushes. During the last few days of the regular season, I had a line on a nice flock of turkeys, had experienced having these birds in range a couple times. On Friday I was dressed and ready to go, but when I opened my door to go to my car, I met a wind of about 40 miles per hour, so I chickened out. I was not about to sit around in the woods fighting that kind of wind.

The next morning, I snuck into my chosen and favorite place before dawn and saw or heard nothing. When the sun came up, however, I saw the fresh scratchings. The flock had scratched within feet of my chosen watch from the day before, wind or no wind. I just groaned inwardly. Such is turkey hunting. So I won’t be having a Butter­ball for Thanksgiving this year, I’ll be sitting in my favorite place hoping they decide to feed by that day.

But a bad season is what I deserve, I suppose. The last two years, on opening day each year, I went to my favorite place for turkeys and ran right into them, and on both days my season ended in less than a half hour after daylight.

I watched deer all around me that day as the rut seemed to be in full swing. Does running around, tongues hanging out, panting from being chased so heartily by bucks is one of my favorite tableaus to observe in the woods and I was treated to it that day. It means I’ll be hard pressed to see a legal buck in season probably.

This week also means packing up for deer season. If you hunt from home, you are spared this chore, but if you travel to deer camp which is one of the great experiences in a hunter’s life, there is plenty to pack up. A couple flashlights, hand warmers, a small survival kit that includes a space blanket, firestarters and waterproof matches, extra gloves are some of the essentials. This is all in addition to the duffel bag full of long underwear, extra sweatshirts and rain jackets, gun oil, and don’t forget the hunting license with ID tucked in with it as well as a pen and twist-ties to attach a tag should you need this. Sharpen the knife, too, and definitely do not forget the compass.

Plugs in every hunter’s house are busy charging the smart phone, batteries for radios, heated socks, and a plethora of other electronic equipment. But all this prep is such fun. It helps heighten the anticipation one is so intensely feeling on this day.

Recent reports of the elk season just past indicate that more than 89 percent of the hunters participating in Pennsylvania’s 2017 elk hunt have taken home a trophy. Hunters took 1004 elk during the regular one-week elk season that ended Nov. 4. And for those licensed to hunt antlered elk (bulls), the success rate was 100 percent.

The 2017 harvest included some large elk. Ten bulls each were estimated to weigh 700 pounds or more, with three of them going more than 800 pounds. The heaviest bull taken in this year’s hunt was estimated at 833 pounds. That bull, which sported an 8-by-7 rack, was taken Oct. 30 by Shawn Latshaw of Franklin.

Official measurements of bulls taken in the hunt cannot be recorded until the antlers have air dried for at least 60 days after the animal was harvested. There also were some large antlerless elk in the harvest. Nine of the 79 cows taken by hunters during the one-week season weighed over 500 pounds.

Fifty-nine elk — 12 bulls and 47 cows — were taken on the opening day of the elk season Oct. 30.

To participate in the elk hunt, hunters must submit an application, then must be selected through a random drawing and purchase a license.

A buddy of mine, Joe Krug of Portage bagged an elk in Colorado earlier this year. I wrote about it a few weeks ago in this column. Joe stopped by recently to favor me with some of the elk steak and a few choice recipes for cooking elk. I’ll include some of that information in a few weeks when I do some recipes here.