George Block

Column George Block

George Block is a sports columnist who loves the outdoors.
12

Aug 2017

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Ryerson Park festival should be a can’t-miss event

It might not be as big as the Washington or Jacktown Fair but bigger is not always the best. If one is looking for a relaxed atmosphere in a country setting keep in mind the small celebration to be held Sept. 9 at Ryerson Park.

You can purchase real maple syrup or just watch it being made. You can have your deer officially scored by a Boone and Crockett official scorer. John and I will do the measuring. While there is a new measurer in Washington County, Matt Weinzen of Coal Center, I am still emeritus and my signature still counts. Plus, I really enjoy this outdoor celebration. We have been attending this event yearly and it has become a favorite tradition of ours.

Invariably, John and Ranger Alan Johnson are both drawn to the archery range and shoot against each other using recurve bows. I hate to admit it, but both of them are good. Even without the lake, Ryerson is a pretty park in a very remote area. The good Lord willing, I will see you there Sept. 9.

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05

Aug 2017

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Nature offers us a lot, if only we take time to look

Nature offers us a lot, if only we take time to look

Anyone entering the grounds of the Dormont-Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen Club can’t help but notice a large walnut tree that grows near a bridge. The club grounds are home to quite a few of these friendly giants.

Like many things in life, more often than not, these trees are things that are unappreciated and taken for granted. Often as I enter the club, which I have been doing since 1960, I speak a few words to this tree. I know I am not normal but I think this tree speaks back. At least a few leaves bid me welcome with a wave.

I have a special appreciation for the walnut tree. What makes for a more gorgeous rifle stock than a finely figured piece of walnut?

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22

Jul 2017

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This catch caught a state trooper by surprise

Jason Churney of the Eighty Four area has caught more than a few people speeding. He also has busted a few thieves and others who can’t conform to society. However, this past week he caught a real trophy.

Churney is a state police officer who likes to fish when he finds the time. While casting a sinking lure into the Monongahela River, he hooked what he at first thought was a large Channel Cat but was pleasantly surprised to find it was a big Muskie that had grabbed the lure. After a brief struggle, which reminded him of a few arrests he has made, he landed the prize of a lifetime. The fish tipped the scale at more than 30 pounds and taped at 48 inches. Who said there are no good Muskie spots in Southwestern Pennsylvania?

While on the subject of fishing, I spent some time with Denny Fredericks, who lives near Glyde. He had just returned from a trip to Lake Erie. If one remembers, he has had his hat in the ring for an appointment to the Game Commission and was a commissioner about a dozen years ago. I have known Fredericks for years and he makes for a great commissioner and one I consider the best I have known. Fredericks and 2 of his friends were fishing in about 40 feet of water and were catching one Walleye after another. In a couple of days, they had landed and released more than 150 Walleyes each day. Denny said he has never seen so many Walleyes hooked any time before. Most of them measured between 15 and 19 inches, while not big, was an optimistic prediction for next year’s fishery.

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08

Jul 2017

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Giving a hooray for rounds designed for groundhog hunting

I watched the field, to no avail. Groundhog hunting was hitting hard times since the expanding of the coyote numbers. Since man has been trying to eliminate this carnivore for hundreds of years with little success the future of groundhog hunting might appear dim. Significant hog numbers do exist in certain places. These are mostly areas where human habitat is high.

Looking at the future of the pasture poodle, I still believe there is hope. In many instances, the animal that is primarily the prey adjusts to this new predator. It might take a few generations but it can happen. Despite this drop in groundhog numbers in the open areas, I still take the old varmint rifle with me as I sit in the fields watching through the binoculars. Sometimes I hit lucky and find a field that still holds a stable number of targets. The groundhog has found it safer to move closer to the houses and out of these fields. He is adapting.

I was hunting with Mike Weber last week and the conversation turned to groundhog outfits. Of course, almost any rifle-scope combo can be used, and has been used, but there are certain rifle-cartridge combos that are designed for such hunting and some that are useful for both groundhogs and deer-sized game. We all have our favorites and ill swear it is the best and can prove it. After all, our hunting partner just missed one at 400 yards. That is one reason I hate to hunt with a partner shooting the same caliber rifle as the one I brought that day. You think if I had been shooting my Swift instead of that 22-250 you might have hit that one. In reality, either one would have done the job if the wind hadn’t been blowing but it doesn’t feel that way.

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