One of my buddies gave me a call and asked me if I have been paying attention to a few of the changes going on with the PA Game Commission license deadlines.
Actually, I have been a little busy with work and some other matters and I have been procrastinating on my usual June purchase of my annual hunting license.
Two deadlines were brought to my attention as I reviewed the new schedule; one was that my annual quest for a Pennsylvania Elk License had to be sent in by the end of July and the other was that the first round of the antlerless deer tags was due July 14th.
If you are reading this article this weekend it means that you need to purchase your hunting license and get it in the mail on Monday!
With the Elk drawing you will not need to have your license purchased to get the tag from the drawing; but you can’t do anything with it until you have the 2014-15 hunting license.
Getting a fresh set of tags will be on my list of things to do this week and hopefully I will be on target with the mailings as well.
In the past few years I have submitted my elk tag drawing electronically and being that I have never pulled a winning entry my bonus points keep adding up! The lucky winners of the elk drawing will be pulled on August 16th.
Speaking of adding up…the fee for a PGC Range Permit is at $30.00 per shooter each year.
I think that is a bit steep but it also isn’t cheap to keep a range up and in good condition.
Our club has invested thousands into a new range facility so that members have a place to shoot safely.
I guess our club membership is a good investment for the shooters after all when you consider the alternative.
There have been no changes in the general license fees of $20.70 for a resident hunter.
This fee and the others have been holding with no increase since 1999.
I don’t expect any major changes in the license structure in the foreseeable future with the current political climate of an election year.
There has been talk of the merger of the PGC and the PFBC but that has been buzzing around for years. The changes in the bear hunting season haven’t really materialized into anything dramatic either.
Fishing has been fairly good as the rain and cooler weather have not had a negative effect on the fishing.
Several people have been talking to me about the snapping turtle season and what are the rules for turtle hunters.
Right off the bat all turtle hunters/fishermen must possess a valid PA fishing license.
The daily limit for snapping turtles is 15 with a possession limit of 30 snappers.
Snapping turtles can get pretty big and I have seen them as big as a garbage can lid and weigh 35 pounds. One snapper caught in the wild was recorded as weighing nearly 75 pounds.
Any way you look at it a snapping turtle can be a large and fierce reptile. They are serious carnivores and scavengers known for aggressive attacks on all kinds of wildlife.
They are known for stealing fishermen’s catches off stringers along a stream bank and picking off unsuspecting ducklings paddling above them.
Many people seek the snapping turtle for its meat, which when butchered properly from the shell of the turtle is used extensively for turtle soup or breaded and fried much like clams. They are generally fished for by using bait sets on large fishing hooks known as turtle hooks.
Fresh pieces of meat or liver will do as bait while cut bait fish work as well.
Many anglers will tie a line on to a plastic milk jug and place the bait hanging down in the water beneath the jug.
Retrieve the jug and you may find a snapping turtle on your line.
Keep your name and fishing license number on the jug to ensure that it is legal and not mistaken for another’s set.
Some fishermen use a turtle trap that is much like a larger version of a minnow trap but the expense of this set is only necessary for serious turtle hunters who often keep the snapper in captivity and alive until ready for preparation & consumption.
Until we meet again I hope you get a whopper of a turtle and that you get your licenses in the mail this week. The other news is that I finally have the Fish Hawk running smoothly and at the level that I expect for a newer motor. It’s a good thing because I promised the neighbor kids some boat rides down at Lake Arthur real soon!
Jay Hewitt is an outdoors columnist for the Butler Eagle