Hunter’s Corner: Open season on black bears, squirrels

For the Monitor
Sunday, September 03, 2017

With the departure of our 11-year-old grandson, Andrew, Camp Washburn is now closed for the season. The highlight of his stay would be when Robb and I took Andrew fishing. Rather than go to Winnipesaukee, Robb and I decided to take Andrew to Pleasant Lake. This would give us more time on the water.

Robb was anxious to try out his Micky Finn streamers. We would be fishing with four colors of lead core and our downriggers set at 24 feet. I put the Micky Finns on the lead core. On one downrigger, I put a Black Nose Dace. On the other, I put a brown streamer with a touch of red and gold. A 17-inch brown trout inhaled the Micky Finn and fought all the way to the net. Score one for Bob. Andrew was next with a 12-inch rainbow off the Black Nose Dace and Robb completed the trilogy with a 13-inch rainbow on the brown streamer.

We were curious to see what impact the solar eclipse would have on the bite, it didn’t. Robb and I have at least one more fishing adventure planned and we intend to re-visit Pleasant Lake in Elkins. Pleasant Lake offers Lake trout, salmon and brook trout. Brook trout spawn in the fall so it might turn out to be an interesting outing.

When my crossbow arrived I knew I needed someone with all of the skills to put it together so I contacted Randy at Morse’s Sporting Goods and he said bring it in. When I got there, a large sale was underway and the place was packed. I asked Randy about a crossbow target and he showed me a target rated for 400 feet per second arrows. As mine is rated for 360 fps it was a good fit. When I picked it up a few days later I asked about de-cocking arrows and he showed me a de-cocking bag specifically designed to receive a target tipped arrow. When I get backed to my truck after a hunt I will replace the hunting tipped arrow with a target tipped arrow and pull the trigger.

I also picked up three arrows with illuminated notches. Once fired, the notch will be in an illuminated state for 90 hours. Montana just authorized their use and the ranchers love them as they can spot the notches before a tractor runs over an arrow and punctures a tire.

September opens up several hunting seasons. Friday marked the opening of the black bear and gray squirrel seasons. Given the overall size of the bear population the amount of natural foods available will be the determining factor as to whether or not the 2017 season will be another record setting season or not. The squirrel season is a different matter. All of the skills required for deer hunting are present in squirrel hunting. The best place to set up for squirrels is in oak trees surrounding corn fields. The advantage of the squirrel season is the weather is generally great. This is also a great opportunity to take younger hunters and teach them skills that will last a lifetime.

My preference for youthful hunters is the single shot 20-gauge. There are reduced recoil shot shells fully capable for all hunting options. As for deer hunting, a well-placed 20-gauge slug will effectively take down a deer. As for squirrel season, a scoped .22 rimfire is also quite useful.

Small game opportunities are highly dependent on habitat which is why when funds are available, habitat improvement is a top fish and game priority. The most popular small game species is the partridge (ruffed grouse) with 64 percent of dedicated hunter hours. Next is the woodcock with 22 percent of hunter effort.

Another season that is unique to the Northeast is the resident Canada goose season which runs through Sept. 25. In addition to your regular hunting license you will need a federal duck stamp, state duck license and a hip number. By the way this year’s duck stamp features the Canada goose with a rendition by artist James Hautman.

The archery deer season opens Sept 15 through Dec. 15 (ends Dec. 8 in WMU A). The archery turkey season opens Sept. 15 and runs through Dec. 15 (ends Dec. 8 in WMU A). Acorns are starting to drop and this will generate the attention of both deer and turkeys. Given the rainfall we have experienced this spring and summer there are plenty of feeding opportunities for both deer and turkeys. Your best chance of taking a deer in the early season is to intercept them moving from their bedding areas to their feeding areas. The best chance to take a turkey is when they are feasting on grasshoppers or weed seeds.

(Bob Washburn can be reached at hunterscorner@aol.com.)