Morrett a welcome addition for PGC

By now you have probably heard that the Pennsylvania Game Commission has added a hunting pro to their public relations staff as their new marketing specialist.

Many will probably think that it is about time they added someone who can speak for the hunting community and who knows from experience what hunters value, want and need.

Well I can personally speak up for Matt Morrett since I’ve known him almost since the day he stepped onto the stage of the outdoor world. I attended the first turkey hunting seminar he ever gave at the big Harrisburg Outdoor Show, so many years ago I can’t recall the exact date. He was nervous and unsure but rose admirably to the occasion and was on his way to a great career in guiding, speaking and in general a great ambassador for outdoor things,

Some years later I would hunt with Morrett in Missouri when he was a field representative for H.S. Strut Company. I didn’t get a gobbler that day but it was a memorable day and I enjoyed hearing and watching Morrett make great strides in hunter acceptance and knowledge as the years passed.

“I’ve spent the past 20 years working in the hunting industry, and it’s been extremely rewarding,” Morrett said. “But to work now for, what in my opinion, is the finest conservation agency in the country, is even more special and I’m excited for the opportunities ahead.”

Morrett works as part of the Game Commission’s Bureau of Information and Education. Steve Smith, who heads up the bureau, said Morrett’s work will play a vital role in recruiting new hunters.

I’ll be much surprised if Morrett’s addition to the Game Commission does not make a big difference. Watch for him.

I had great experience in the woods this past gobbler season. My buddy, Joanie Haidle and I were legging it out of the wooded ridge where we had heard a gobbler so had iked in there to try to call him to us.

We came to a very swampy place and decided to step into the woods to skirt around this bog on the trail. Sinking in to our ankles did not appeal to either of us. Almost immediately we both realized we had stepped into a bear’s lair.

Fortunately, he was not there at the time or he would have been on us before we would have known he was there. But there was fresh bear dung everywhere, claw marks on the smooth bark of a couple trees, scatchings by a log in the vertical fashion that bears use.

We snapped a couple pictures and decided it would be best to vacate that bear’s property.

Joanie called me to say that she had gone back to that ridge to hunt a gobbling bird and while there, she saw the bear at a distance. It stood about 100 yards off as if to ask who she was and what was she was doing there.

Neither Joanie nor are especially frightened of bears but we are both smart enough to know that the last bear you want to run into the spring woods is a bear who is just recently emerged from the winter den with cubs in tow. A female bear protecting cubs, is a perfect storm I definitely take pains to avoid.

Which brings us to the subject we must address every spring: do not chase, or get too close to any wildlife. Most any species can have rabies or other diseases. Keep your distance from any wild animals you see, even those that wander too close to your home.

Bears especially are opportunists and will happily help themselves to any thing you may have outside your home: bird feeders, garbage, leavings or scraps from a grilling session, dog food, or anything that has an odor that will attract them.

Summer is the breeding season for black bears. Big males will be on the move looking for females in estrus. This sets off a number of happenings in the woods. If a female has year and a half old cubs still with her, she will chase them away from her violently so she can breed again.

These are the 150 pound bears that, in their confusion and fear start wandering around looking for a territory they can establish as their own.

These young bears are usually the ones who come wandering into town, looking for food and company. Someone spots a bear in their yard or in their street and shouts the alarm and quick as you can think it, a crowd appears, screeching and the frightened, confused bear runs up a telephone pole or tree.

If everyone would just go home and let the bear alone, he would come down from his hiding place on his own and go on his way, but generally what happens is that the crowd annoys the bear, everyone wants their own pictures and the Game Commission has to come and tranquilize the poor bear and cart it back to the woods.

Simply put: let all wildlife alone. They are not abandoned. The mother is probably closer than you think, just waiting for you to go away so she can tend to her youngster. Don’t stir up trouble!

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