Outdoors: Hunters have lots of options
Sportsman have a potpourri of hunting pursuits after this past weekend’s opening of the squirrel, rabbit, grouse, woodcock and one-week muzzleloader deer hunting season (that ends this Sat. Oct. 22) for antlerless deer. Add to that duck season that opens in the southern portions of Pennsylvania.
Of all the aforementioned game species, squirrels are the most abundant and least hunted. For youth hunters, bushytails are the best way to introduce a youngster to hunting. Sitting near a hickory or walnut tree almost guarantees some action as squirrels will be devouring the tasty nuts from those trees.
And the firearm of choice can be a no-recoil .22 rimfire rifle that are inexpensive as is the ammo that was once tough to find but is now more readily available.
The second best part of squirrel hunting is that their meat is sweet, as most of their diet consists of nuts or buds. Some recipes from the NRA Members Cookbook lists such delights as Squirrel Creole Bake, Squirrel Dumplings, Squirrel Pot Pie, Squirrel and Eggplant Stew, Squirrel Dumplings, Squirrel Quiche, Squirrel Cacciatore and of course the easiest, Crockpot Stew.
If you do harvest a limit of squirrels, keep in mind that Mepps, the fishing lure company, will buy the tails or trade in exchange for lures. Check the details of the tail recycling program at www.mepps.com/squirrels or call 800-713-3474.
As for rabbits, I said it before and will say it again, there are more cottontails in the city of Allentown then there are in the uplands. That’s most likely because of the ever-growing coyote population who prey on them.
Grouse, however, are the creme de la creme of upland birds. But sportsmen will have to head to the local Blue Mountain to find these fast woodland flyers. The higher the better I was told by one avid grouse hunter who stopped short of divulging his favorite haunts atop the Blue. Of all game birds, grouse are the most challenging to hunt and most cherished. Their yearly numbers are cyclic depending on where you hunt them. A good hunting dog would come in handy when pursuing them, and to finding them when they do down in thick woodland cover.
Ducks too make excellent table fare but it’s tough to find suitable hunting areas. Some hang out on rural farm ponds, while others inhabit the banks of the Lehigh River and smaller creeks such as the upper Jordan, especially the stretch that runs through State Game Lands #205 in Lowhill Township off Route 100. Jump shooting them as you walk along the creek can also be challenging. Just make sure you wear durable chest waders to retrieve them or have a capable dog.
Then there’s the newly cut cornfields that are becoming more prevalent and where ducks will go to feed during early morning late evening hours. Here, they’ll pick up spewed corn from the mechanical harvesters.
In an effort to cull more antlerless deer, the PGC allows this early muzzleloader season where hunters can put some venison in the freezer, and do so with a primitive firearm although inline percussions are also allowed. But the PGC says properly licensed hunters can carry both a muzzleloader and a bow or crossbow to hunt.
During this season, it includes a three-day overlap with a special firearms season for antlerless deer. Junior hunters (ages 12-16), senior hunters (ages 65 and older), mentored youth (hunters younger than 12 who obtain a permit to hunt), mentored adults (18 and older with a permit), hunters on active military duty and certain disabled hunters, are able to use a variety of sporting arms including manually operated centerfire rifles, handguns and shotguns; 44-cal. or larger muzzleloaders; .50-caliber or larger muzzleloading handguns, bows and crossbows, during this period.
To date, the bow season has produced some large-tined bucks, said Bob Danenhower of Bob’s Taxidermy (610-398-7609) in Orefield.
“Bowhunters have been brining in mostly big 8-pointers for mounting,” he claims.
To increase your chances of having a deer come into range, you may want to try some of Bob’s fresh “Yurine-Luck” deer scent, especially since the rutting period is oncoming.