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Plenty to do this holiday weekend

OUTDOORS WITH JAKE

Just think about it, the year is half over. That’s right there are six months left to the year 2011. It seems like just yesterday when we were preparing to bring in the New Year with all of the parties and celebrations. Summer is here and it is time to get into the groove and enjoy it before the second half of this year passes. There is plenty to do this holiday weekend. Fishing, camping, hiking and boating are the obvious solutions. I have spent a good deal of time outside over the past two weeks. While I enjoyed every minute of it, most of it was spent dodging thunderstorms.

The river may be less than perfect for bass fishing but then a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work. I recently spent a day on the west branch of the river in Lycoming County. This part of the Susquehanna River was also less than ideal and yet we still caught enough bass for an upcoming program on Pennsylvania Outdoor Life. Our cameras and fishing gear also spent a day on Lake Wallenpaupack. This trip began right at daybreak in the middle of the week. We all agreed that the conditions were perfect for wetting a line and it was. We boated more than our share of fish before the rest of the boaters hit the water.

We fished well past noon before saying Uncle. The main reason for leaving the lake was the choppy waves created by the recreational boaters. Jet skis, water skiers and speed boats covered the lake by one o’clock and it was time to head home. The boating sports are alive and well in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission are aware of the increase in recreational boating and they have asked us to remind boaters to follow safety precautions when they are on the water.

“Boating is among the most popular of summer recreational activities and a lot of people like to anchor their boats and go swimming,” said Ryan Walt, PFBC boating and watercraft safety manager. “However, a day of fun and sun out on the water could end in serious injury or even death if boaters don’t follow appropriate safety precautions. Every year we see accidents in which individuals swimming behind boats are struck by propellers.”

Last year in Pennsylvania, 72 boating accidents were reported to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, 15 of which involved individuals being struck by propellers. Since 2000, three people have died as a result of being struck by a propeller. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, more than 6,000 boating accidents occur every year.

The Commission says propeller strikes are among the most preventable of all boating accidents. It’s simple, follow a few safety precautions and enjoy a safe boating experience. It begins before the boat engine is started. Be sure to check around the motor to make sure no one is nearby. Always attach the lanyard to the engine cut-off switch to your life jacket. If the lanyard is removed from the switch, the engine will shut off. Talk with the passengers about the propeller and the danger of swimming next to it. Discuss preventing falls overboard: Maintain three points of contact; keep your weight low and close to the centerline. Avoid rough water and adverse weather conditions whenever possible. Limit alcohol use. Make sure everyone has a life jacket on and assign a passenger to keep watch around the propeller area of your boat when people are in the water. Safe boating and common sense are important when boating. For more information on boating safety, go to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission homepage at www.fishandboat.com.

There are safety practices for just about every form of outdoor recreation. Remember to wear sun screen and bug spray. If hiking is your bag, wear the right shoes and drink enough water to stay hydrated. Outdoor fires are a major part of a camping trip. Be sure to build fires responsibly and put them out before walking away. Common sense should not be forgotten at home when packing for your summer adventure. Be prepared, be safe and enjoy your 4th of July holiday weekend!

Sunday Hunting Update.

Two weeks ago I spoke out on behalf of Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania. It’s all because the House Game and Fisheries Committee are holding public hearings on the topic. I made a few points about the changing times and the need for our state to allow hunting to compete with the rest of the activities allowed on Sunday. I wrote about children’s sports, shopping, gambling as well as liquor sales. All of which you can do on a Sunday.

The article also included the fact that the State Lawmakers had to change the law that would allow the Game Commission to decide on Sunday hunting. It also pointed out that the Pennsylvania Game Commission hadn’t taken a stand at all on the topic. That changed this week at the Pennsylvania Game Commission meeting.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners approved a resolution to support repeal of the statutory prohibition on Sunday hunting. In short, they want the right to make the decision to hunt on Sunday. The resolution was proposed by Game Commissioner Jay Delaney Jr. (our local representative on the Commission) and seconded by Game Commissioner Ralph A. Martone. The final tally was four in favor, three opposed with one abstention. Game Commission staff will present the resolution to the House Game and Fisheries Committee at the next hearing.

The meat of the resolution includes many reasons for a change. They include such things as consistent declines in hunting participation by both resident and non-resident hunters over the past several decades, the need to increase youth participation by effectively doubling the number of hunting days for youths during the school year by offering Sunday hunting, and recruiting new hunters and retaining current hunters by increasing hunting opportunities.

It also included some economic points as well as a few positive notes about traditional hunting camps and clubs. You can read the entire resolution on the Pennsylvania Game Commission webpage at: www.pgc.state.pa.us.

I applaud Commissioner Delaney and the other Commissioners in favor of the resolution for their actions this week. Now it’s time to get on the lawmakers to act accordingly. With that said, remember to get your hunting license because the first round of antlerless deer permits can go in the mail next Monday, July 11th.

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