Pennsylvania has new record archery buck

The Pennsylvania Game Commission announced last week that a monster buck killed last October in Westmoreland County has been certified as the new state record in the Typical Archery category.

Ron Shaulis, of West Newton, harvested the 13-point buck on Oct. 24 on public land with a compound bow. The PGC uses the well-known scoring system of the Boone & Crockett Club to score antlers for their state records program, which requires the skull plate with the antlers attached to dry for 60 days prior to being officially measured.

After the drying period, Shaulis took the rack to Harrisburg to be measured where it yielded a net score of 185-4/8 inches, topping previous record buck taken in Allegheny County in 2004 that scored 178-2/8 inches. In the Typical category, antlers are rewarded for symmetry and receive deductions for irregularities or differences between the two sides of the rack.

“The 13-point rack was very symmetrical and lost only 7 7/8-inches in side-to-side deductions, which included an inch-and-a-half abnormal point off the right-side G-2 point,” said Bob D’Angelo, Game Commission Big Game Scoring Program coordinator. “That’s not much in deductions on a set of antlers this size.”

For all the antler geeks out there, here are some of the notable dimensions of the record rack. The main beams were 25 and 26 inches. Each of the G-2 and G-3 points were more than 11 inches. The inside spread was more than 20 inches. The antlers exhibited incredible mass with circumferences of 4¢ inches or more at the four locations where circumference measurements are taken on the main beams.

Eagle cam online again

Also last week, the PGC announced that the popular Eagle Cam is back online at a bald eagle nest near Codorus State Park in York County. Since 2015, viewers from all over the world have enjoyed watching a pair of eagles lay eggs and raise their young eaglets from this nest 75 feet high in this treetop nest. Eagles have used this nest since 2005, and since then have fledged eaglets from that location at least eight times. The Eagle Cam will feature two cameras with sound again this year that provide both side and overhead views, along with infrared capability for nighttime viewing.

The aged nest partially collapsed prior to the 2017 nesting season, but the eagles rebuilt it and raised two eaglets there that year. The nest experienced another collapse after last year’s nesting season, casting doubt whether it would be practical for the site of the Eagle Cam this season. But adult eagles were observed around the nest with material to rebuild it last month, so the decision was made to resume the Eagle Cam there for this year.

So far, not much has been happening at the nest during the few brief periods I have logged in to watch the live stream, but that is typical of the situation. Based on the events of previous years, two eggs have been laid about three days apart beginning sometime between February 10 and 18. From that point on, the two adult eagles will take turns sitting on the eggs, giving Eagle Cam viewers something to watch. If all goes well, the eggs should hatch around March 20 to 25, and then things get quite interesting as the adult eagles keep busy bringing food to their ever-hungry offspring. The young birds grow quickly until they are fledged and ready to leave the nest on their first flights sometime in late June.

Hopefully, 2018 will be another successful nesting year for the stars of the Eagle Cam. I’ll provide some updates as things progress in the coming weeks.

PGC suspends sales

And in one last, albeit disappointing, bit of news from the PGC, the agency recently announced that tree and shrub seedlings from the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Howard Nursery will not be offered for sale to the public in 2018 due to drastically low inventories. Typically, the Howard Nursery begins taking orders from the public in mid-January for a variety of seedlings that private landowners can use to improve habitat on their properties. Unfortunately, germination failure in several species of conifers has resulted in a seedling shortage.

The Howard Nursery will continue to supply seedlings for other PGC programs including state game lands and the Seedlings for Schools Program, as well as to landowners participating in the PGC’s Hunter Access Programs. The agency is hopeful this will be a temporary situation and that seedling sales to the public will resume in 2019.