With the hot summer we’ve had, small game hunting season was probably the last thing on Lehigh Valley sportsmen’s’ minds. But come Sept 1, the traditional dove and early goose season opens.
Dove hunters will get a triple-split season with the first running Sept. 1-29 when hunting begins at noon and closes at sunset. The season reopens Oct. 27-Nov. 24, and again from Dec. 26-Jan. 5 when hunting hours run a half-hour before sunrise until sunset.
For all seasons, the bag limit is 15 birds with a possession limit of 30. That’s all well and good but the real problem is where to hunt doves. Every year it’s tougher and tougher to find suitable hunting land as development and private posted land increases.
As such, there’s a choice. Either seek out farmland in upper Lehigh County and in Northampton County, or, join the crowd at SGL #205 in Lowhill Township off Route 100 and at Jacobsburg State Park in Bushkill Township, Northampton County. Both offer suitable dove habitat.
I could talk about the good ole days when dove hunting could be done in Macungie off Main Street, off Cherry Lane in Emmaus and several fields in Egypt, but what’s the use. They’re gone and never to return.
If there’s one place you may want to try and get access to, are the vast fields in upper Berks County where most of the acreage is owned (and won’t be developed) by Mennonite families. Of course that’s not a panacea either since you have to find fly routes where the birds go to feed, roost and water during the day. Best bet is to drive the country back roads and look for doves perched on utility lines. That’s a starter. But not a guarantee of productive hunting.
Then there is the statewide season for resident Canada geese that also opens Sept 1 and runs until Sept. 25 (Sept 15 and 22 for the special youth waterfowl hunt). Here again, hunting grounds are tough to find and the early season finds corn crops still standing. Or, some farmers cut the edges for silage.
The only alternative is to try pass shooting near or around water, including farm ponds and golf courses with ponds, recommends veteran goose hunter Bob Danenhower, of Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy in Orefield. “That, and any clover fields you can find that normally harbor bugs like crickets and grasshoppers that geese will eat,” added Danenhower.
Since Leaser Lake remains dry, Ontelaunee Reservoir (in upper Berks) is the closest large impoundment to Lehigh County. You can use the same hunting technique near a quarry, river or stream that harbors geese. Danenhower said he’s even seen hunters erect goose decoys above and amidst edges of standing corn, and pass shoot them from there.
Hunters should keep in mind that those pursuing doves and woodcock need to have a Pennsylvania migratory game bird license ($3.70 for residents), as well as a general license. And for waterfowl, hunters 16 and older need a federal migratory game bird and conservation (duck) stamp. Hunters are also encouraged to report recoveries of leg-banded migratory game birds online at www.reportband.gov, or call toll-free, 800-327-BAND.
FISH FOR FREE
With Labor Day fast approaching, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission has set Monday, Sept 3 (Labor Day) as another Fish-for-Free day in the state. At this time, a fishing license is not needed to fish Commonwealth waters. This complimentary opportunity is intended to introduce friends and family to the sport, says the PFBC in a prepared release. And since Labor Day is a time when many families hit the lakes and parks for a last summer fling, it’s a great time to give this life-long pursuit a try.
In conjunction with Fish-for-Free Day, the PF&BC offers free programs designed for families with little or no fishing experience and for them to learn the basics of fishing plus have an opportunity to practice those skills. The closest location for this program is at Mauch Chunk Lake Park in Carbon County. All equipment, bait and tackle will be provided for the event. The program begins at 9 a.m. and concludes at 12 p.m. on Sept. 1. Registration, however, is required before Aug. 31 by logging onto www.takemefishingpa.com.
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