George Block Column
Change is constant and inevitable
Hunting changes are constant and inevitable
According to the Bible, the wisest of rules, Solomon, said, “What has been will be again. What has been done will be done again. There’s nothing new under the sun.”
Yet, we see change constantly occuring about us, and many of those changes are related to hunting and fishing.
Some of the changes will be brief or temporary, while others will last well beyond our years. Such a change that could be temporary would involve the wild population of ringneck pheasant.
While the greatest probability points to the disappearance of the wild flock beyond our lifetime, widescale stocking from another state could occur.
For someone to understand the current pheasant situation, they had to be born before 1960. I was there. In the late 1960s and early ’70s, pheasant were everywhere.
In the evening, I would sit on our deck and watch and listen as the birds began to roost. Hearing a cock bird didn’t even raise an eyebrow. It was a common sound.
When a bird is spotted today, it is a stocked bird and you immediately take notice of its presence. Pheasants went from a high population to zero between 1971 and 1974. That’s pretty darned quick.
The loss of wild pheasant was a drastic change in the landscape, but not as much as the loss of huntable land. While this is more a local problem than one that reaches across the state, it still changes the hunting scene.
Most small-game hunting was not done in the mountains, but in the farms of Washington and Greene counties. Today, those farms no longer exist. Instead, they are housing developments and industrial parks.
The hunting scene has been changed forever in the name of progress.
I have a friend who says hunters in the nothern tier of the state are more friendly than they are around here. The reason for that in my eyes is that there is less competition for a hunting spot.
Here, if you find a good hunting spot, you treasure it and try to keep it to yourself.
Each year, there are more potential hunters who have less land to utilize.
In my eyes, King Solomon was wrong. The days of going out in the backyard and shooting a ringneck or rabbit are gone forever. Thinking otherwise is chasing the wind.
I’m going to go out on a limb and make a prediction – I feel we are presently in a big transformation period and that hunting will be changed by a factor that is now happening. It has little to do with the behavior of man or changes in the weather.
We are seeing a change brought about by a 30- to 40-pound animal that lives unnoticed in our backyard, the coyote. When I was a young hunter in the 1950s, I never dreamed I would see a coyote in the woods and briar patches of Pennsylvania. Coyotes were an animal of the west.
Movies showed the coyote howling in the background and this medium-sized canine was a symbol of the west.
Unbeknownst to many, the coyote was moving east across Canada and by the early ’50s, had reached our state. Remember, just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t here.
The coyote is a very secretive animal with keen eyes, nose and ears. One can feed in your yard every night and you wouldn’t know it’s there,
How has the coyote changed the hunting picture here in Pennsylvania?
Studies on deer mortality and predation show that fawn mortality is as high as 80 percent in certain areas of southern Texas because of coyotes.
While I don’t think the deer predation rates are as high here, I have no doubt that there is some impact on deer herd.
George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.