It's that time of year to start thinking turkey, and in Pennsylvania, that means spring gobbler season, which runs May 3-31.
Why start thinking about it so early?
If you have a child who turns 12 before then, or are expecting to help or be a first-time hunter who might want to examine some of the thrills of spring turkey hunting, now is the time to get them prepared.
Pennsylvania requires that all first-time hunters successfully pass a hunter-trapper education course before applying for their first license. A list of all the courses is available by going online to http://www.pgc.state.pa.us and clicking on the Hunter Education Classes link.
There is another benefit to taking the class this early, according to Dann Daniels, who helps run one of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Hunter-Trapper Education courses at Ridge & Valley Rod & Gun Club.
"Taking the class early, before the end of June, enables first-time hunters to apply for antlerless licenses and take advantage of the many youth hunting opportunities beginning in mid-September," Daniels wrote in an e-mail asking to make people aware of the courses.
"Late summer and fall classes tend to fill up fast, and antlerless [deer] licenses are usually sold out by then … Each year at the October and November classes, I see the look of disappointment on the faces of youngsters and other first-time hunters who have missed the chance for an antlerless license or who have missed the special youth hunts."
The class takes six hours, and you must successfully pass the test at the end to receive your certificate and qualify for your first hunting or trapping license.
How popular are the courses?
Saturday's class at Hellertown Sportsmen's Association is closed due to a full registration of 80 participants, as is the one at Independent Park Community Center in Breinigsville, which had space for 60 participants.
Ridge & Valley is next hosting an HTE course May 3, but there are other local opportunities to take the course before then.
It's important to get online early to sign up for the free course.
Local sportsmen's groups that are holding the courses should also post them on our free Outdoor Calendar http://www.mcall.com/outdoors. Click on one of the hot links on Outdoor Calendar section on the right of the page, then click on Register at the top of the page if you are a first-time user in order to set up a profile to submit the item. You must register as a user to submit the event, but it is free. Many clubs already submit their shoots and other events and you may be able to use their access information to input the event.
As an added service, any hunter education course that is entered by Wednesday of a particular week will be included in the print version of the Outdoor Calendar, which usually only lists events in the next few weeks due to space limitations.
Fegely tribute: The late Tom Fegely, award-winning author, photographer, broadcaster and former outdoors editor at The Morning Call, was the subject of some big talk at the Hunting Heritage Banquet of the Jerry Zimmerman Memorial Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation last Friday.
Many of Fegely's articles were put up on auction. His wife, Betty Lou, announced through tear-filled eyes and in a choked-up speech that the money raised from those items is being used to kickstart a fund-raising effort for some type of commemoration of Tom at the Wildlands Conservancy in Emmaus.
Great Swamp Pre-season Trout Derby canceled: One of the popular yearly events has been dealt a big blow because of the cold winter's weather that has hit the region.
According to organizer Jeff Weisberg, the annual Great Swamp Pre-Season Trout Derby scheduled for March 22-23 has been canceled due to 14 inches of ice currently on the pond. Weisberg said it was a tough decision to make, but the event will not be rescheduled this spring.
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