Coyotes by balloon and other outdoor news

Posted on: May 25, 2017 | Bob Frye | Comments


One lawmaker is definitely thinking outside the box to control coyotes.

You like coyote hunting? You like riding in hot air balloons?

Here, maybe, is a chance to combine the two.

According to a story in the Texas Observer, a state representative there has introduced legislation that would make it legal to hunt coyotes – and feral hogs — from the sky.

Lawmaker Mark Keough admits he’s never heard of anyone doing such a thing, in Texas or elsewhere.

But his bill has already passed in the state House. It’s awaiting action in the Senate.

Texas hunters can already kill coyotes from helicopters and some kinds of vehicles, so this isn’t as far-fetched perhaps as it sounds.


The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s most recent meeting, held back in March, ended abruptly. One of the six sitting board members took ill as the meeting was underway and had to leave.

So the meeting was rapidly called to a close.

Fortunately, that moment came as the board was wrapping up business anyway.

There are supposed to be eight commissioners. The board needs six at any one meeting to conduct business.

If the sudden departure of one had come a day or even hours earlier…

“We wouldn’t have had a meeting,” said commissioner Jim Daley of Butler County.

That means the board couldn’t have set seasons and bag limits for the deer or allocated doe licenses.

The problem is the board isn’t fully set, and hasn’t been for almost two years now.

That might finally be about to change.

Gov. Tom Wolf recently nominated two people for seats on the Game Commission board, and three for open seats on the Fish and Boat Commission board.

The nominees are:

* Stanley Knick Jr. of Dupont for Game Commission district 7, which includes Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties. He’s owner of Knick Fence Co. and an avid hunter and angler who’s a former vice president of the Eastern States Flemish Giant Rabbit Association.

* Michael Mitrick of York for Game Commission district 6, which represents Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder and York counties. He’s a physician and life member of the Starview Sportsman Association and York Riflemen.

* William C. Brock of Saint Marys for Fish and Boat Commission district 3, which represents Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, McKean and Potter counties. He’s president and CEO of Straub Brewery and an avid hunter and angler.

* Robert “B.J.” Small of Mechanicsburg for Fish and Boat Commission district 6, which represents Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and York counties. He’s Pennsylvania media and communications coordinator for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

* Richard Kauffman of Leesport for Fish and Boat Commission district 8, which represents Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill counties. Retired from Penn State Cooperative Extension, he still works as a consultant and is an avid hunter, angler and hiker.

According to J.J. Abbott of Gov. Wolf’s press office, the nominees have filed statements of financial interest with the State Ethics Commission. They’ll undergo review there.

Nominees then have to be approved by a majority of the state Senate.

And then?

It’s back to seeking nominees for the Governor’s office. More seats on the boards are empty or will be soon.

The Game Commission board’s district 3 seat – representing Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, McKean and Potter counties – is already technically vacant. Dave Putnam has been serving that district since 2009. His term end on May 5.

He can serve an additional six months, or until a replacement is named, but no longer.

The same could be in store for the Game Commission board’s district 2 seat. It’s currently held by Bob Schlemmer of Westmoreland County.

His term ends on June 16, though he, too, could serve a 6-month extension.

District 2 represents Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

The Fish and Boat Commission has some looming vacancies, too.

It has two boating-at-large commissioners. The term of one, Steve Ketterer of Dauphin County, expired in 2015, though he continues to serve. That of Warren Elliott of Franklin County expires in July.

The district 4 seat is held by Len Lichvar of Somerset County. His term ends on Dec. 19. That district represents Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin and Somerset counties.

Fish for free

Want to try fishing but don’t want to invest in a license? Want to introduce someone else to the sport, hoping they’ll take it up as a hobby?

Kids don’t need a license to fish in Pennsylvania. This Sunday, though, no one does.

Here’s your chance.

May 28 is the first of two “fish for free” days across Pennsylvania. On that day, from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m., anyone can fish any public water in the state without needing a license.

All other rules 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 Fish and Boat Commission’s bureau of outreach, education and marketing. “Many families already spend the day at lakes and parks throughout the state. Now they can try fishing at no cost.”

What’s more, people can borrow fishing equipment from numerous fishing tackle loaner sites across the state. Sites include state parks, county parks and some public libraries.

A list of loaner sites can be found here.

Tournament change

Welcome to the future.

Bass tournaments are nothing new, of course. But this was different.

BASS held its Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest recently. It’s one of the tour’s Elite Series events, which draw top-level competitors. Total payout was $1 million.

There was a full field, too, of 109 anglers.

So what was different?

Typically, anglers take their daily catches to a central weigh-in station to be recorded.

Here, though – in what was a first for an Elite Series event – anglers caught fish, then saw them weighed and released immediately by judges in the boat.

Competitors were only allowed to bring one fish to the scales and that fish had to be at least 21 inches long.

Ladies event

This one was for the girls.

Hannah Reynolds, at far right, gets some shooting pointers from Tony Morell as her mother Melissa Reynolds, at left, looks on

West Penn Sportsmen’s Club held its first ladies-only shoot and clinic recently. Thirteen women participated in a variety of events including trap, doubles trap, wobble trap and springing teal.

Certified instructor Tony Morell worked with the new shooters on the fundamentals of safe gun handling, proper posture and form and target acquisition.

“This was such a great opportunity to try something new with my mom,” said Hannah Reynolds, who attended with her mother, Melissa Reynolds.

Hannah said she plans to visit the club again during its regular public shoots – held on Thursday evenings – with her mother to shoot again.

Another mother-daughter team attending was. Sheila Confer — a regular shooter at the club – brought her mother, who was shooting for the first time.

Club member and event organizer Maureen Zang was very pleased with the turnout.

“I’m so excited to introduce women to this sport that I have enjoyed for many years,” she said.

She plans to make it an annual event, she added.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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