2018-05-12 / Outdoors

Wolf Tracks

Outdoor Columnist
Dave Wolf

Sunshine and warmth have returned. The brook dances in the sunshine as I watch darting images below the flow.

Our landscape is greening and wildflow­ers are emerging from the soil. Peepers and wood frogs add to the outdoor symphony. How can there possibly be a better season than spring?

A longtime friend who passed away years ago once explained to my why he had given up hunting and fishing.

“I can’t explain it.” he said. “It’s just that I have caught so many trout in my lifetime that I don’t need to catch another one, al­though I will leave that option open.”

Perhaps I am becoming more like him than I ever thought possible. I still fish, but not nearly as frequently as my prior three- days-a-week pace. In 2017, I only fished on three days in the entire year.

I still hunt and cannot picture a time ever coming in my life when I do not head to the “deer woods” for that pursuit. One factor that diminishes my interest is the smaller deer population.

Biologists dispute this and we have a game agency that is doing everything it can to facilitate hunters killing more whitetails.

It has dawned on me more and more that there are other quality experiences in the outdoor world besides fishing and hunting.

Today, I fed the birds as usual, refilling both feeders with sunflower hearts, and replacing the peanut butter suet cakes. Our hummingbird feeder is filled, as we anxiously await their arrival. We planted a “pollinator garden” for bees and butterflies.

Last weekend, Karen and I watched a tur­key vulture feeding on a small road-killed deer and even found that a fascinating part of nature. It sometimes takes the sacrifice of one species to sustain another – the web of life.

If the rigorous physical activities of your past are not as appealing as you age, rest assured that there are still adventures to be enjoyed.

Feeding the birds and welcoming their visits, planting native wildflowers to attract pollinators, or just heading out into nature to take it all in and perhaps snap a few photographs – those are just some of your options.

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As you read in this newspaper a couple of weeks ago, the Pa. Game Commission has hiked the number of antlerless deer li­censes to be sold this season from last year 804,000 to 838,000. That will obviously have a significant impact on the state’s deer herd.

One reason for the increase this time around is chronic wasting disease (CWD). Ironically, at the same meeting, commis­sioners decided to allow people in the southeastern part of the state to feed deer without a permit. In other sectors of the state, you can be fined for feeding deer.

Artificial feeding of deer heightens the risk of CWD, so some heads have been turning over this mixed message.

Also of note, PGC also reinforced its sup­port for Sunday hunting, an issue that rests with the state legislature. PGC was moti­vated by the fact that lifting the ban would hike hunting license sales.

(Dave Wolf can be reached by email at wolfang418@msn.com.)

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