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Fun if by sea (trout season) and now fun if by land. The state’s 50th anniversary spring-gobbler hunt gets underway today, one week early, for youngsters, of course.

Properly licensed junior hunters and mentored youths can go after gobblers starting Saturday when the annual youth spring turkey hunt gets its booming start.

All hunters can go afield for spring gobblers next Saturday, April 28.

The statewide turkey population is expected to be between 210,000 to 220,000 birds. So, hunters who’ve done their homework should find opportunities.

Hunters killed 38,101 birds in the state’s last spring turkey season. A similar harvest is expected this spring.

The fact that turkeys made it through a relatively mild winter and had a really good acorn crop that could have boosted survival, are reasons for hunter optimism.

But the Pennsylvania Game Commission sees the last year as a trying one for turkeys. Spring and summer rains last year hurt the survival of poults.

Hunters took advantage of buying a second gobbler license — 5,049 scored second birds. But be aware that the second permit is for sale prior to the season. Once April 28 gets here, second permits won’t be available. Only one gobbler may be taken per day.

As for the youth hunt, youngsters must be accompanied by adults. Hunting hours during the youth hunt end at noon. Junior hunters and mentored youths also may participate in the statewide spring gobbler season.

For the first two weeks of the statewide season (April 28 through May 12) hunting hours begin one-half hour before sunrise and end at noon. Hunters are asked to be out of the woods by 1 p.m. when hunting hours end at noon. This is to minimize disturbance of nesting hens.

From May 14 to May 31, hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset. The all-day season allows more opportunity at the point in the season when hunting pressure is lower and nesting hens are less likely to abandon nests.

Only bearded birds may be taken during the spring season, and hunting is permitted by calling only. The stalking of turkeys is unlawful and unsafe.

Hunters are not required to wear fluorescent orange during the spring turkey season, but it is recommended that it be worn while moving.

Do your best, hunters, to make this another successful and safe turkey season.

Saturday

Oh deer, a season opener on Saturday?

They did it with the first day of bear season in the Keystone State.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission may be just a few seasons away from doing the same with deer season. There has been talk of breaking away from the traditional Monday first day of deer season and moving it to Saturday.

When the commission board meets next week, it is poised to keep the opener on the Monday after Thanksgiving. This year it would be Nov. 26.

If having the first day of deer season puts more hunters in the woods and more license dollars in commission coffers, money talks. More than likely, the first day of deer season walks to Saturday, eventually.

I have reservations about the idea.

Considering that Pennsylvania deer hunters already treat the first Monday as a holiday or an extension of the weekend, how many more deer can they expect to be killed on a Saturday, and will it really trigger more license sales?

This isn’t just any weekend that a Saturday season-opener would disrupt. It would create a trifecta of run-on holidays: Thanksgiving, Black Friday and deer season.

Granted, deer hunters are shopping widowers on Black Friday anyway. But the short turnaround is not going to sit well with campers. It doesn’t leave enough time, during the week, to prep the hunting camps and put in the required provisions of library books, milk and bingo cards.

What do Sentinel readers think of the possibility of opening the deer season on a Saturday? Email your thoughts to bjsmall@comcast.net.

Pipe dream

Those who care about pristine wild waters and critters like brook trout that rely on them for survival have long had their suspicions about the process and aftermath of earth left scarred by pipelines.

This week I found even more evidence that pipelines can bring havoc on critters and those of us who enjoy them.

The Roaring Creek Valley Conservation Association in Columbia County seeks to conserve the natural resources of the basin and its rich culture through watershed stewardship, education and monitoring.

On its website this week was this sad posting:

“The Hellbender Half Marathon and 5K Race will not be held in 2018 due to water pipeline construction in Weiser State Forest Roaring Creek Track.”

I was so looking forward to earning that T-shirt.

Send your wild thoughts to bjsmall@comcast.net or follow him on Twitter @Arrows2010.

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