Outdoors

Nothing beats being in the woods

Archery and small game hunters surely have an advantage over those of us who enjoy the scenery from our cars. To be in the woods, right in the middle of autumn at its best, to see hear and smell nature’s finest show, well, it is special indeed. How many hours have I spent in a tree stand, ...

Pennsylvania’s elk herd presents a special treat

The peak of the mating season for our Pennsylvania elk herd, commonly called the “rut,” occurs from mid-September to early October and provides a special experience for dedicated wildlife watchers. During the next several weeks, thousands of visitors armed with binoculars, spotting ...

New CWD rules affect out-of-state hunters

As we approach the threshold of the archery deer season and all the other fall hunting seasons, I am compelled to report on one of my least-favorite outdoor topics — chronic wasting disease (CWD) and its ongoing threat to Pennsylvania’s wild deer herd. Since last season, the boundaries of ...

Area grouse hunters may want to check out event this week

Ruffed Grouse, our state bird, has been experiencing population drops in the last couple seasons which is of great concern to Grouse hunters everywhere. West Nile Virus is the strongest suspect so far in the impact-search for the cause of this decline. But grouse hunters are a dedicated ...

Keeping you on ‘track’ while hunting deer

Most seasoned hunters are confident in their ability to find a deer should it be wounded by a shot and need to be tracked. We know to wait awhile before beginning the tracking, giving the deer the time to lie down and stiffen up before we push it for gruesome miles. There are many other ...

Firearm safety a big part of protecting yourself

Last Thursday’s Altoona Mirror featured a “How To” section which covered helpful advice on how to do or find various things we all need at some point. My eye was captured by — as you might guess — the one on “How to choose a firearm.” It was succinct and valuable ...

West Nile virus looms over state grouse

The Pennsylvania Game Commission recently acknowledged that our ruffed grouse populations in Pennsylvania declined by 63 percent from 2001 to 2005. Most serious grouse hunters have been aware of the disappearance of our greatest native gamebird for quite some time, so the PGC’s ...

Beavers are amazing mammals

Last weekend, I traveled to Armstrong County to visit my friend Joanie Haidle. Joanie has two small ponds on her property, and last spring, a beaver took up residence on the larger one. When I drove up the lane next to that pond, I spied Joanie’s new tenant immediately as it swam across ...

Kotchey claims world champion elk call title

It’s elk bugling season in Pennsylvania now and there are few sounds one can hear thundering over the autumn trees than the bugling of a bull elk in his prime seeking for love. It’s a high-pitched squeal underpinned with a deep grunt or two and if you were alone in the woods and heard ...

Hiking opportunities abound throughout Pennsylvania

This time of year, most of my free time is usually focused on one thing: catching smallmouth bass on the Juniata River. I say “usually” because this year has proved to be the exception to that ritual. The monsoon season we have experienced most of the spring and summer has kept the river ...

Don’t prepare too much for archery season

If you are just beginning to think about starting your preseason scouting for archery season, you may be a little late. Some experts I have talked to about this tell me that they start in June to track a trophy buck. These addicted archers forgo ballgames, picnics, family reunions and such ...

Scientists check out Superior algae bloom

The Associated Press DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Scientists are investigating an unprecedented algae bloom in Lake Superior and have sent samples for lab testing to determine if it is toxic. Kayakers and other visitors to the popular lakeshores along eastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin ...

Curious to know what you think about Commission honor

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has sent out a number of news releases in the last week and here is one that will draw a plethora of responses I am sure. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has been named the Quality Deer Management Association’s Agency of the Year. “A comparison to ...

Steps you can take to prevent Lyme disease

On July 10, Game Commission personnel euthanized a wild white-tailed buck that was showing symptoms of chronic wasting disease. The animal was later found to have severe pneumonia with no sign of a CWD infection. During the examination, however, a single longhorned tick was found on the ...

Fishing for those who served

Folks often ask me how difficult it has been to come up with a topic for a new outdoors column week after week for almost 18 years. Most of the time, it’s not a problem. Because I embrace a wide range of outdoor pursuits throughout the year, my biggest difficulty in choosing a topic for a ...

Antler growth just a part of nature

Hormones! They cause us more trouble than we like to acknowledge, and so it is also with all wildlife creatures as well. Right now, hormones are whirling in whitetail deer, producing the antlers hunters will so avidly look for in the winter deer season. We wonder how it is that a male deer ...

Jitterbug still catches its share of topwater bass

The first bass I ever caught on a topwater lure came more than 50 years ago, but that event is etched in my memory as clearly as if it occurred last week. I was in my early teens and had ridden my bike to a large pond in the early evening. My tackle was a flimsy, solid-fiberglass rod and a ...

Weighing pros, cons of Sunday hunting

As this horrid, wet summer drones on, so does the ever-present debate over whether or not to allow Sunday hunting. The question seems never to die and never to be settled. The hunter’s main assertion is easy to understand. Sunday would give them another day to be in the fields and woods ...

Plastic worms can be magic for summertime

Soft-plastic worms have been a staple lure in the bass fisherman’s arsenal for more than 50 years. The discovery of flexible vinyl in the 1930s gave lure makers a unique medium to work with, and by the early 1950s, several individual lure makers were making their own versions of soft, ...

Loving the sounds of Mother Nature

If you ever have the extreme privilege of having a swarm of hysterical songbirds attack your position, consider yourself blessed! I had that experience earlier this spring, at my friend’s house during the Spring Gobbler season. Even though Joanie and I had planned to get out hunting ...