Notebook: Poor acorn crop a bonus for fall turkey hunters

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Weird weather this year resulted in low mast production. Acorns are generally few and far between.

That's bad news for many animals, including wild turkeys, but good news for fall turkey hunters, said state Game Commission turkey specialist Mary Jo Casalena.

The fall season opens Saturday in most Wildlife Management Units, including 2B.

"We don't have really bad winters any more, so if we have poor acorn production, the turkeys won't die. But the hens will be too small to reproduce in the spring," said Casalena. "But it could help fall turkey hunting. If you find a place where there's a good mast crop -- a big oak tree that's producing lots of acorns -- stay there. It may take a day or two, but they'll come around. Find the food and you'll find the turkeys."

The Game Commission is midway through a five-year study to determine ways that altering the length of the fall turkey season can impact the population. The fall harvest is used as the primary population management tool. The study includes eight WMUs in which the season is lengthened or shortened by a week, alternating each year, and individual harvests are charted.

"Since we stopped opening fall turkey on the same day as pheasant and rabbit, we have less incidental harvest of turkeys and it's easier to use the season for population management," said Casalena. "This study will help determine if changing the season length by one week can manipulate the harvest."

Successful hunters are encouraged to complete and submit their harvest report cards.

Great Lakes fly fishing

During three years of comprehensive research, Ohio fishing guide Jerry Darkes cast his fly lines across all of the five Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair and connecting waters. The result was the 40-year veteran angler's first book, "Fly Fishing The Inland Oceans: An Angler's Guide To Finding And Catching Fish In The Great Lakes" (Stackpole/Headwater). The book covers fly fishing in river mouths, near-shore areas, harbors, piers, jetties and connected waterways.

Darkes will be at International Angler in Robinson 10 a.m. to noon Saturday signing books and answering questions; 1-5 p.m. he'll host a big-water tying workshop focusing on the patterns Half and Half, Niagara Intruder and PMS Streamer. $30, materials supplied, bring your vice and tools. Space is limited, reserve a seat at 412-788-8088.

Schweiger to retire

Last week National Wildlife Federation president and CEO Larry Schweiger, a Pittsburgh native and former president of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, announced that he will retire in May 2014. Schweiger said he plans to work on a new book on climate change solutions and spend more time with his family.

Steelhead trip

About 10 seats remain for the Post-Gazette's Fish On, a Nov. 16 motor coach fishing trip to Lake Erie tributaries. Participants will tour a steelhead hatchery, talk with the manager of Pennsylvania's steelhead program, and fish under the coaching of veteran steelhead anglers, including outdoors editor John Hayes. Get details at

Fifty years of conservation

Friday in Morgantown, W.Va., The Nature Conservancy celebrated 50 years of conserving critical lands and waters in the Mountain State. "Our forests are the lungs of the East. We know these Appalachian Mountains enrich our everyday lives," Rodney Bartgis, director of the Conservancy's West Virginia office, said in a written statement.

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