Bagging a longbearded gobbler in the fall is a challenge and a feat when accomplished. Palmer Loose did just that.
Loose, of Altoona, recently bagged an 18-pound gobbler with a double beard.
Loose and a couple buddies were hunting fall turkeys earlier this month when they ran into a flock of old gobblers and got them scattered. One of his compatriots bagged a bird that day.
Loose kept returning to the area, sure that the other mature birds were still hanging around. He could see their distinctive scratchings so he went back several times, setting himself down to wait for one of the birds to show up.
And one day, one did! The gobbler came feeding along off in the woods and Loose kept his eye on him and when the gobbler went behind a tree, Loose shouldered his shotgun and waited until he judged the bird to be within range.
"It took about 15 minutes for him to get close enough and just as I was about to pull the trigger he spotted me," Loose said. "He turned to run so I knew it was now or never and I shot. He'll taste pretty good on Thanksgiving Day."
Loose is one of a diminishing number of Pennsylvania hunters who spends a lot of time hunting squirrels. He said he and his wife really enjoy eating squirrel and he shared their favorite recipe with me so here it is:
n Put several squirrels - cut into pieces - into the slow cooker and cook until almost done. Then remove them from the cooker, roll in an egg and milk mixture then roll in flour or cracker meal - or whatever you personally prefer - and saute them until golden brown.
Wild meat, squirrel and wild turkey especially, were a staple in the diet of the first settlers to America.
So beginning this week, after the bear season ends on Wednesday, wild turkey are again in season on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Saturday. I'd sure rather be in the woods on Black Friday than the Mall.
Here it comes
Deer season is just around the corner and this year, Pennsylvania's deer hunters face a new challenge: Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD.
The Game Commission has been watching this threat to the deer herd for many years as it spread from state to state and until earlier this year, the state was free of the disease.
This newspaper has been reporting regularly about this threat in our midst so it isn't necessary for me to repeat it all here. Some time ago, captive deer in a couple counties escaped from their enclosure and that's how it got started.
One deer with CWD infects another animal with their exposure to bodily fluids. Having these deer mingling with wild deer during the rutting season in the fall is most unfortunate.
Deer are definitely "mingling" at this time of year.
Now we have reports of more captive deer in Huntingdon County escaping and so the threat is pretty close to home now, and needs to be on every hunter's mind this upcoming deer season.
Write this down
Pennsylvania Game Commission Southcentral Region Director Brad Myers recently announced the agency has established check station hours for those hunters who harvest a deer within the 600-square-mile Disease Management Area in Adams and York counties.
The check station is at the Game Commission maintenance building on State Game Land 249, 1070 Lake Meade Road, East Berlin, Adams County.
The GPS coordinates for the building are: -77.07280 and 39.97018.
The check station, which remains voluntary for early- and late-season hunters who harvest a deer within the DMA, will be open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays - Oct. 27, Nov. 3 and Nov. 10 - through the end of the early archery season, which ends on Nov. 12.
On other days, hunters may stop by the check station to deposit deer heads in the marked containers provided, and deer spines and rib cages may be deposited in the dumpster on the site.
As required by law, deer must have a field harvest tag attached to the ear. Details regarding mandatory check station hours for hunters within the DMA during the two-week firearms deer season - Nov. 26-Dec. 8 - are being finalized.
The check station was created by the Game Commission to collect samples from hunter-killed deer within the DMA to monitor for chronic wasting disease, which was found recently in a captive-born-and-raised deer in Adams County.
All private deer-farming concerns have been quarantined by now, including a couple in our immediate area. These deer farms sell animals from one to the other so the threat of the spread of this disease is constant.
Should you harvest a deer this season and have any thought whatsoever that the deer was acting abnormally, please contact the game officer for your area and have it checked.
If you hunt within the quarantined Adams and York County areas please take especial note of the check station requirements.
If this disease is not quickly snuffed out and the entire state herd is affected, you will find out quickly what it means to live in a state where there really are not any deer left. It's frightening.
I've had reports from other archery deer hunters and small game and turkey hunters who have been afield that they have been seeing many nice bucks in the woods. I have myself seen a few.