May 28 is the first of two free fishing days in the Commonwealth.

Residents and non-residents can legally fish in Pennsylvania without a fishing license on Fish-for-Free Day, from midnight to midnight. All other fishing regulations apply.

“Fish-for-Free days offer an easy, convenient way to introduce friends and family to the sport of fishing, or to reconnect with the sport if you haven’t fished in a while,” said Steve Kralik, director of the PA Fish and Boat Commission’s Bureau of Outreach, Education and Marketing.

More information is available on the PA Fish and Boat website, www.fishandboat.com, which includes interactive maps, regional fishing reports and tips on fishing fundamentals. Fishing licenses can be purchased online at GoneFishingPa.com.

The second Fish-for-Free Day will be July 4.

Turkey hunter not rattled

As always, it was a pleasure to catch up with turkey hunter extraordinaire Bob Clark at the outdoor writers’ conference in Grantville last weekend.

At last report, Bob was birdless but carrying with him a story as only he can tell and experience in Michaux State Forest.

Unable to draw a shootable gobbler to within range, Bob’s stealth in the turkey woods allowed a rattlesnake to unknowingly slither to within inches of him.

Fortunately for the hunter, he was first to recognize the other as the intruder.

I promised Bob a wrap-up once the spring gobbler campaign concludes, or if he scores first.

Big gamers die in Africa

Good hunters in Pennsylvania respect the need for safety and the power of the implements they carry. Seldom do the dangers we face here flash from the quarry we seek.

Fifty-one-year-old professional hunter Theunis Botha found himself in a grave dilemma in Africa that he could not shoot his way out of.

Botha was leading a trophy hunt safari in Zimbabwe when his group encountered a breeding herd of elephants. Chaos erupted.

Reports are that three cow elephants stormed at the hunters and Botha started shooting. A fourth cow came at them from the side and one of the hunters shot her after she lifted Botha with her trunk. The shot was fatal and the cow collapsed onto Botha.

This came just weeks after Botha’s friend and fellow big game hunter Scott van Zyl’s dogs returned from a hunt in Zimbabwe without him. A search was launched, tracing Zyl’s footsteps to the edge of a riverbank. His remains were found inside three Nile crocodiles.

Take a hike

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Keystone Trails Association put together organized hikes and walks for Hiking Week through June 2.

All hikes have leaders and some hikes are in the evening.

Special hikes include night hikes, wildflower hikes, hikes for folks with disabilities, pet walks, geology walks and more.

Most hikes take place in state parks and state forests, with some scheduled for the Appalachian Trail.

For specifics, visit www.explorepatrails.com.

National Trails Day, June 3, is the only nationally coordinated event designed to unite all muscle-powered trail activities with the goal of connecting more people to trails. American Hiking Society believes that trail experiences can improve the lives of every American.

National Trails Day attracts new trail users and helps connect existing trail enthusiasts with local clubs and organizations with the hopes of creating trail advocates and stewards. The task to protect and maintain more than 200,000 miles of trails in the U.S. requires a collaborative effort among trail clubs, organizations, government agencies and most importantly passionate trail advocates and stewards.

Some National Trails Day activities originate at Pine Grove Furnace. For more details go to nationaltrailsday.americanhiking.org.

Senate bill with bite

Foodies in Pennsylvania may find shark fin soup on fewer menus in the wake of Senate Bill 577, which bans the sale, possession or distribution of shark fins in the Keystone State.

“Shark fins are very valuable for use in shark fin soup. The practice of shark finning, however, is brutal and wasteful, and is contributing significantly to the extinction of an important ocean predator,” says the sponsorship memo for the bill sponsored by Democrat Senator Daylin Leach of Delaware and Montgomery counties.

“While shark finning is illegal under federal law, the possession of shark fins is not,” Senator Leach’s memo continues. “The market for shark fins is what drives this brutal practice and the over fishing that accompanies it. Pennsylvania can help impact the demand for shark fins and thereby reduce this practice by banning the possession and sale of shark fins and tails within our borders. The entire West Coast and Hawaii have already banned this unsustainable practice, and several East Coast states are currently poised to act.”

What’s in a letter?

Outdoor writers know there is only a slight difference between “deadlines” and “deadliness.”

Contact B.J. Small at bjsmall@comcast.net. Follow on Twitter @Arrows2010

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