Ospreys certainly seem to be doing well across Pennsylvania.
The Game Commission, largely using volunteers, attempted to count all of the active osprey nests across the state this year. The count was the first done since 2010.
The effort revealed 148 nests.
That total – which is “certainly an underestimation,” the commission said – is a record. The 2010 count found 115 nests.
This year’s estimate includes at least 10 nests in six different sub-watersheds. Twenty-three nests were found in the Upper Ohio and Beaver River watershed and 20 in the Allegheny River watershed.
The Upper Delaware River watershed has the densest concentration of ospreys, with 42 nests.
Interestingly, more than 90 percent of the nests are on man-made structures, like nest towers, power structures, docks, buoys, grain elevators, old factories, and cell towers, “almost anything sturdy enough to support a nest,” the commission said.
The commission is in the process of removing the osprey from the state’s threatened species list. It’s promised to continue protecting the birds, though, while offering technical assistance to anyone wanting to put up or repair a nesting platform and promoting osprey watching as a recreational activity.
Stephen Tucker and his possible world-record whitetail. Image from Facebook.
Most hunters would be happy to get a chance a monster buck once. A Tennessee hunter got three, and may have a new world record to his credit as a result.
According to a story in the Tennessean, 26-year-old Stephen Tucker spotted a giant buck during the state’s muzzleloader season. He tried to take a shoot, but his gun misfired.
He saw the same buck again later in the day, but this time it was, he said, too far away for an ethical shot, so he let it walk.
Amazingly, he saw the same buck a third time just two days later. He killed it at 40 yards.
How big was it?
It has to go through the official drying period, but according to the newspaper, the non-typical, 47-point rack greenscored 308 3/8 inches.
Tennessee’s exiting state record nontypical scored 244 3/8. The world record – a 2003 Illinois buck — is 307 5/8.
Wildlife biologists believe the deer was only 3 ½ years old.
It’s official: the 184-acre parcel known as the Scenic View is now part of Laurel Hill State Park.
Now the question is what to do with it.
The ground includes a lodge and several other buildings. It is located in Middlecreek Township and offers scenic views and significant wildlife and watershed protection.
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy purchased the property for just more than $1 million and transferred the property to the state. The bureau of state parks is developing an operational plan for the new section of the park “in which visitors’ safety is a top priority.”
“Sections of Scenic View will be opened to the public in phases when it can be assured visitors will have a safe, pleasant experience,” the bureau said in a press release.
Might this be something the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission wants to consider?
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is now recognizing record fish taken with archery gear.
The bowfishing category will single out large fish separate from those taken on hook and line. Eligible species are bowfin and catfish, longnose gar and common carp.
The change was prompted by a request from bowfishermen.
In Pennsylvania, bowfishermen are legally allowed to take carp, suckers and catfish.
Irish elk antlers. Image courtesy James St. John Flickr.
Speaking of unusual racks, one just brought big money at auction.
In New Zealand earlier this month, the antlers of an Irish elk – a species thought to be extinct for 11,000 years – sold for $28,000.
According to scientists, Irish elk were big animals, standing about 7 feet tall. They ranged over much of Europe, Asia and Africa.
This one’s rack, still attached to the skull, was preserved in a bog.
In the recent election, California voters approved Proposition 63, which bans high-capacity magazines and requires firearms owners to undergo a background check just to purchase ammunition, among other things.
Gun owners are fighting back.
In a statement, the California Rifle and Pistol Association said it will seek to overturn that in the courts. Other gun rights groups have said the same.