Banquet season on the horizon

‘Tis the season for the important wildlife fund-raising banquets to gear up and the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is among the first to get going.

This year’s Hunting Heritage Banquet will be held on Friday, Aug. 17 at the Bavarian Hall in Lakemont. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m and dinner will be served at 7 p.m.

As always, a variety of wonderful raffle packages and special events will be the crux of the event. A particularly good ladies’ raffle will be instituted this year, which shows the increased participation not only in women hunting the wild turkey but in their interest in habitat and environmental concerns for the wild turkey.

To get in on the early bird special prices and a set-up of particular tables here are our local contact numbers: Philip Smith at 329-6374 or Joe Krug at 341-7649.

For the second year in a row, 48 junior hunters across the state will have the chance this fall to harvest wild pheasant roosters in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission announced the application process for the second annual Central Susquehanna Wild Pheasant Recovery Area youth hunt.

Junior hunters between the ages of 12 and 16 are eligible to apply, and each applicant must obtain a 2018-19 Pennsylvania junior hunting or combination license, as well as a free 2018-19 junior pheasant permit, prior to applying. Applications must be filled out online and submitted by the close of business on Friday, Aug. 3.

Applicants will be selected at random during a Aug. 17 drawing, and those who are selected for permits will be notified by Aug. 24.

Youth hunters will be assigned one Saturday hunt date, either the morning of Nov. 3 or Nov. 10, and each hunter will be assigned a “hunt mentor” to ensure safety and guide the permittee. The Game Commission encourages each permittee to be accompanied by an adult parent or guardian so the experience can be shared. Following the hunt, permittees and their guests are invited to attend a free luncheon provided by Pheasants Forever.

Applications, can be found at pgcdatacollection.pa.gov/PheasantYouthHuntApplication.

The Game Commission has just concluded a study of fawn predation that ended in 2017. A previous study ended in 2000 and the Commission assures us that the rate of predation has not increased but has stayed at about the same levels.

What may surprise a lot of us is that Black Bears prey on and kill about as many fawns each summer as do coyotes. But that is really just their natural instinct. While bears are aggressive at protecting their own young, they are just as aggressive as taking vulnerable fawns if the opportunity presents itself. Thanks to the endless rain this year, grass , weeds and underbrush in forest and farm areas are taller and heavier than ever and so fawns have more places than usual to hide and bears may have a harder time tracking down a fawn.

I’ve been doing a lot of driving around and looking, watching through binoculars and have been sighting lots of wild turkeys and deer with fawns. To me, on the surface it all looks good but it is difficult to see animals standing around in the open because of the undergrowth and tall grass and weeds.

Although I am not a professional wildlife researcher or scientist I do know that a wet spring/summer can have negative impacts on turkey and grouse and even pheasant poults and chicks. They can get chilled and succumb to various diseases and so it worries me that I have yet to see any turkey poults this summer. I can only hope that my not having seen poults is because of the high grass. To see hens walking around in a field at this time of year with no young in tow is not the usual.

I have seen a remarkable number of fawns, however, which is pleasing. I have seen a number of grown bucks with nice antlers in velvet, an exciting sight any time.

One standard for wildlife survival, however, always is habitat. That’s the reason for all the fund-raising banquets that are on the events menu every late summer and fall. It is expensive and labor-intensive work to work tirelessly to improve wildlife habitat as so many sportsmen’s groups do.

To do proper work for wildlife means to know from research and study exactly what their needs are, what foods they need for survival year around, how to successfully raise them, plant them, put tree guards on them so mice, rabbits and even deer do not strip them of bark before they are mature enough to resist it. Trees and shrubs planted need to be fenced in, fertilized and pruned at the proper times.

To do “habitat work” as it is called, is a commitment of many years length and those sportsmen who undertake these projects do so with little recognition. It is also costly. Seedlings, fertilizer, renting of machines for plowing, brush-hogging etc. don’t come cheap. And the fund-raising banquets are the chief methods for garnering funds.

And the prizes and great stuff the raffles and auctions offer entertain the hunters and anglers the night of the banquets. We need to support these events that most of the special interest wildlife organizations work so hard to present.

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