Any Pennsylvanian who enjoys hunting, trapping, fishing, wildlife, or just being outdoors in general should be justifiably proud of our state game lands system.
Since 1919, when the Game Commission was granted authority to buy land specifically for public hunting access, more than 1.4 million acres have been set aside in the public trust for the protection, propagation and management of wildlife. All the sportsmen and sportswomen of our state can take an extra measure of pride in knowing all that land was purchased almost entirely with hunting license dollars rather than general tax money, yet hunters and non-hunters alike are free to use and enjoy these lands year-round.
Each fall, the Game Commission typically schedules a series of tour on state game lands throughout the state to invite the public to take a closer look at what these areas have to offer. Unfortunately, many of the tours planned for game lands in the eastern part of the state had to be cancelled because of the recent heavy rains and subsequent flooding that washed out access roads and bridges there. The three tours scheduled for this region, however, escaped those problems and are still a go.
The first game land tour in our area will take place today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on State Game Land 108 in Cambria County. A sign at the access road three-tenths of a mile north of Frugality, along Route 53, in White Township will mark the beginning of the 7.5-mile tour that will end on Route 865 near Blandburg, in Reade Township.
Brochures will be provided to participants with directions and information about highlights along the route such as a strip-mined area converted into small-game habitat, wildlife habitat food plots and a deer exclosure fence. One stop along the tour of this 23,086-acre game land will feature a hands-on display of furs, skulls and mounts of wildlife found in the area. Game Commission personnel will also be on hand to answer questions. This is a one-way, self-guided tour, and a vehicle with high ground clearance is advisable.
Two other tours are scheduled for next Sunday, Oct. 9. The first of those will be from noon to 3 p.m. on State Game Land 26 in Blair and Bedford counties. This 7-mile, self-guided tour will feature the mountainous terrain and fall foliage on this game land that covers 12,062 acres over four counties. Participants will also want to keep an eye out for the many mounted wildlife specimens that will be placed in their natural habitat along the way. The tour will begin at the parking area on the northeast side of Route 869, between Pavia and Beaverdale, and will conclude near the village of Blue Knob. Game Commission personnel will be on hand to answer questions.
Also scheduled for Oct. 9 is a tour of State Game Land 77 in Clearfield County that will be conducted by Game Commission personnel, rain or shine. Tour participants will meet at 1 p.m. at the parking area along Game Lands Road (T402), about one mile east of Route 219. This will be a driving tour with short walks at planned stops to view habitat management practices, a public firearms range and an ongoing reclamation coal mining and stream rehabilitation project. The tour will take about two hours, and four-wheel-drive vehicles are not required.
With the recent passage here in Pennsylvania of the Castle Doctrine legislation, which affords law-abiding citizens greater latitude to use deadly force for self-protection, more folks are likely to make the decision to carry a gun to protect themselves. With that decision, however, comes the tremendous responsibility of knowing how to carry and use handgun properly and safely. Each fall, my friends at the Hollidaysburg Sportsmen's Club conduct a series of excellent handgun training classes to provide proper instruction for individual gun owners.
They will be conducting a basic pistol class on Oct. 22 to teach the fundamentals of handgun shooting and safety. Registration deadline for this class is Oct. 16. A defensive pistol class will be held on Nov. 12.
Students in this class must take the basic class or have had equivalent training. Registration deadline for this class is Nov. 6. Each class will be from class fee 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and class fee is $85. For more information or to register, contact Jack Hazenstab at 944-8979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Having taken both of these courses myself, I can personally recommend them highly.
The content of the classes is first-rate as is the quality of the instruction. The class sizes are small and taught by a team of highly trained certified instructors, so you will receive plenty of individual attention. Simply put, either or both of these courses is well worth the relatively small investment of time and money.