Doggedly, I'm clinging to the fact spring is just around the corner. I see the signs, despite the wind, cold and snow. My spring bulbs are several inches above ground and last week they got decorated with a couple inches of snow.
Each morning now, my windshield has polka dots all over it, thanks to the birds that roost above my driveway. And then there was that day I wait for each year: I heard my first big flock of geese heading north. They were flying low and the sound was loud but I don't think anyone else in the parking lot of the supermarket heard them. At least no one else stopped to blatantly stare up into the sky like I did.
Drake, my friend Teresa Patterson's yellow Labrador, was one of the big hits at the recent Jaffa Outdoor Show. He lay placidly in his dog crate inside the booth where he was, but everyone who passed noticed him and stopped to "Ooh!" and "Ahh!" over him. He is superbly trained for hunting waterfowl but Teresa has also trained Drake to hunt and retrieve antler sheds.
Someone told her that if she let the dog play with an old shed he'd learn to love it as he does the scent of ducks and geese. He's a superb retriever. So she gave him an antler and let him have it a few days then she put a shed on the end of a decoy gaff and tossed in out into the yard as far as she could and sure enough he chased after it, found it and brought it back to her. They played that game for awhile and so she took him to her hunting grounds and to some woods and told him to go find some sheds are sure enough he did. It's a pretty good game now to Drake and Teresa has lots of sheds now.
Sheds, of course, have a story to tell. What sized bucks are still in an area, and if you have been watching/hunting for a particular buck for a couple years, finding his sheds will clue you in as to just where you might want to check out for next archery season.
Last year at this time, you will remember, after an unusually warm winter, turkeys were gobbling and strutting in high gear. By the time the spring gobbler season started, they were worn out and the toms were quite reluctant to respond to the hen-calls by the middle of May last year.
I'm hoping it will be different this year because surely most gobblers must be dragging ice balls on their beards and the snow will probably slow down the breeding activity somewhat. Unlike the deer, turkeys will come through this miserable winter in pretty good shape.
Mark it down
Remember that Wednesday night is the public meeting with the Game Commission on the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease.
Here is the place to hear some authentic news and ideas and help you sort through the rash of theories being thrown around on the wind. I've heard some pretty far-out stuff that folks swear is the "truth" and so a mini-panic is getting some folks upset. Let's go hear what it really is all about. The Middle School in Roaring Spring is the place to be Wed. night.
You will remember the panic that set in a month or so ago when the huge Outdoor Show in Harrisburg was about to begin. Then the shooting is Connecticut happened and so Reed Exhibitions, who head up that show, decided to cancel any displays of up to date firearms. They thought that would promote peace and help quell the public opinion against such a display of weapons.
The ground swell that arose from that decision was likened to a Pittsburgh reporter by a "Tsunami," and I think that is a very apt description of what happened.
Hunters, gun owners and other vendors rose united in protest to such a capitulation to the politician's rush to feather their own political nests by lining up on the effort to restrict lawful gun owners from procuring the firearms they wanted or felt they needed for protection and hunting.
You know the history - it led to the cancellation of the show itself. The promoters of that show were genuinely surprised at the strength of the reaction. Many of the vendors then applied to our own Jaffa Show, and many had to be turned away for lack of space to accommodate them.
No doubt that was a big reason why the Jaffa show reported that this year's attendance was a record, the best ever. This will probably be a boost for this area because many of those transplanted vendors were quite impressed with the Jaffa show and very possibly will now want to include themselves in this show as well as in the Harrisburg show, when and if that show is ever resurrected.
It was estimated that the economic loss to the Harrisburg is the range of $40 million dollars. Restaurants, motels, gas stations, convenience stores and other businesses were greatly impacted. Our area could be pleasantly blessed with an intake of new vendors, who need restaurants, motel rooms and gas stations and so on.