2017 Hunting Season Reflections – the Vital Role of Hunters and Anglers in Conservation
As hunters across the Pennsylvania Wilds look forward to Spring Gobbler Season beginning April 28th, we compiled some reflections from seasoned hunters and anglers on the vital role they play in stewardship and conservation of our precious lands and waterways. We spoke with four outdoors enthusiasts and professionals with varying levels of experience, who pursue hunting and fishing as much for the love of outdoor recreation as they do for respect of wildlife and our invaluable natural resources. We asked:
What draws you to the woods for hunting, or to the waters for fishing?
Do you believe hunters and anglers play an active role in wildlife and habitat conservation, and if so, how?
Beau Martonik – Field Editor for Journal of Mountain Hunting, Elk County Native
What draws me to the woods… From a young age, hunting (archery hunting specifically) has played a huge role in my life. Every year, I save my vacation time from work to spend as much time in the woods as possible. I love the chase and chess match of attempting to outsmart mature whitetail deer in their natural habitat. More importantly, getting to see these animals and how they behave is something I will always want more of. Hunting provides me with much needed time away from the fast paced life that we all live in, and to enjoy nature as it was intended.
On conservation… Hunters play one of the biggest roles in wildlife and forest conservation. We are lucky enough to own over 4 million acres of federally and state owned public lands in Pennsylvania open to hunting. According to the Fish & Wildlife Funding Survey, conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Funds of America, the agency contributes almost $2.8 billion towards land acquisition, conservation and wildlife nationwide. This astounding number comes from sportsmen’s taxes, hunting and fishing license sales, and other sportsmen conservation organizations. With urban development steadily increasing, it is important for sportsmen and women to enjoy the wild places that we have available to all of us, and more importantly protect them for future generations.
About Beau Martonik: Beau is a bowhunter, outdoorsman, outdoor writer and conservationist. He grew up in the heart of the Allegheny National Forest, Elk County, Pennsylvania. Growing up in a small town, he spends all of his spare time in the Appalachian Mountains. Beau is driven by the adventure and the challenge of being successful on public land, Do-It-Yourself hunts in spectacular places from East to West.
Follow Beau on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bmartonik8/
Brad Clinton – Executive Director of Marketing & Branding/Executive Producer for TomBob Outdoors – 2015 PA Wilds Business of the Year
What draws me to the woods… The warmer temperatures of archery season and all the beauty of Autumn in Pennsylvania is second to none. That alone is enough to get me deep in the forest. Fall is a time that the deer are more active with breeding, and they move around feeding more in preparation for the long winter months ahead. I’m also drawn to the opportunity to see other wild animals; they too are out getting the last bit of summer season food. I typically hunt from a tree stand which gets me above the action and out of the way of the animal’s daily routines for the most part. This allows for some great adventure, and memories that last a lifetime.
On conservation… Hunting isn’t for everyone, and it can be a tough subject for some outdoors enthusiasts. However, having the opportunity to make a living in the outdoors, I have seen firsthand how nature has a harsh way of handling things that are out of balance. Most people never have the opportunity to witness this side of the outdoors. It sheds a whole new light on healthy harvesting of wild animals over the alternative. I find that most true hunter conservationists are more concerned about the quality of life the animals have while living than they are over a successful hunt.
About Brad Clinton: Brad is a Pennsylvania native who grew up living in a traditional outdoor family setting where hunting, fishing, and the outdoors are a way of life. Brad has been a television personality, seminar speaker, and is recognized for his research of wild game habits both in the field and in his captive study area. Brad has over 30 years of experience in the outdoor industry and has served as a Pro Staff member for many large industry leaders including Mathews Solo Cam, Scent-Lok, Knight Rifles, and Outdoor Channel. Brad is currently the Director of Marketing/Branding for TomBob Outdoors, LLC and our sister manufacturing company, Continuous Metal Technology, Inc. Brad produces the national outdoor television series TomBob Outdoors: “Friends in Wild Places,” and he provides marketing and branding leadership for both the Keystone Elk Country Alliance and Pennsylvania Game Commission. He is also Chairman of the Board for the Tom Siple Foundation. Learn more at: http://tomboboutdoors.com/
Ta Enos – Executive Director, PA Wilds Center
What draws me to the woods… This is my first archery season. My husband urged me to try it a few years ago but I was intimidated. I was a new hunter, a new mom and making a career change, so I had my hands full. Fast forward a few hunting seasons to this fall. I was pressed for time between work and home, and wanted something I could walk out behind our barn and practice every day. We have five acres, flat with some nearby houses, so not good for rifle shooting. So I thought, maybe I’ll try that bow. My husband tried not to get excited when he took me to our local hunting shop. His friend who works there walked us out back. They had a target set up in front of a dirt bank for me to aim at. He handed me a compound bow and showed me how to hold it. From the moment I pulled it up, it was love.
I’ve spent a lot of time behind the barn since then. It has become a family thing, our three young boys go out with us. The oldest, 9, shoots; the middle 5, cheers us on, and the youngest, 1½, just hangs out in a car seat in the dusty barn watching the action.
The best I can describe my fascination is something I read recently by Scott Bestul, the Whitetails Editor at Field & Stream. “Archery, I believe, is addictive because it is so intimate,” he wrote, “…when an arrow flies true, I sense a piece of myself arcing through the air and landing in the target. You have to do so many things – large and small – correctly in order to shoot a bow well.”
The thing I look forward to most about archery season is the time of year. The Pennsylvania Wilds is just incredibly beautiful in autumn. And I’m used to hunting whitetail here when it is bone-chilling cold outside, so that will be a welcome change.
On conservation… Hunters and anglers were among the first to crusade for wildlife and habitat protection and management in America, and are still on the front lines today. They raise tons of money for conservation and have the collective voting power to sway politicians on either side of the aisle whose agendas threaten the wild places they hold dear. Those are two incredibly powerful things in this day in age.
I was talking to a backpacking/paddling outfitter who doesn’t hunt but spends half her year in the woods and on the river helping people get into nature in other ways. We were talking about the public lands fights out West and she was like, ‘thank god for the hunters and anglers. The rest of us in the outdoor industry need to get our act together and mobilize. These wild places are so special and they belong to all of us. If we don’t, we’re going to lose them.’
This is a personal story for us here in the Pennsylvania Wilds. We have 2.1 million acres of public land – nearly as much as Yellowstone National Park. If you were here 100 years ago, things would have looked very different… clear cut forests, wildfires, flooding. Our now famous elk went extinct, and whitetail nearly suffered the same fate.
Decades of conservation restored our region’s landscape to what it is today, and hunters and anglers were a big part of that. Pennsylvania’s first State Game Lands are in the Wilds — there’s a stone with a placard that memorializes it. PA’s first state forest lands are here, too.
About Ta Enos: Ta is founder and executive director of PA Wilds Center, a regional nonprofit dedicated to marrying conservation and economic development in a way that strengthens and inspires communities in the Pennsylvania Wilds. Wonky as it sounds, Ta is passionate about building storytelling and commerce platforms, systems and revenues to support the region’s public lands, rural lifestyle, and local businesses. She also loves writing and is working on a book about the Pennsylvania Wilds called, PLACE: The adventurous building of a regional brand in Appalachia. Ta grew up in Warren County, in the northwestern corner of the Pennsylvania Wilds. Before her job with the PA Wilds, she helped her sister grow an outfitting business in the region and write and publish the Allegheny River Paddling Guide. Prior to moving home to Pennsylvania in 2006, Ta worked as a news reporter and editor in Alaska for 10 years, where she covered issues at home and abroad, and served two terms as president of the Alaska Press Club, a non-profit. Ta lives in a small farming town in the PA Wilds with her husband and three young sons. Learn more about the work of the PA Wilds at www.pawilds.com
Brian Minich – Owner and Guide, Fish & Fly Adventures
What draws me to the woods and the waters… I head to the woods and water because I enjoy the solitude of nature. Sitting in a tree stand or on the banks of a river is not always about the harvest or the catch; it’s a time for me that I can shut my brain off and relax. Taking a mature buck or catching a trophy trout are just a bonus of being out there. Of course, guiding on the fishing side is one half of my livelihood. I guess you could call it work, but you won’t find any complaints from me about my “office” in the outdoors! I love getting in the woods and on the water whenever possible and strive to show and teach others about the endless opportunities our area has to offer.
On Conservation… Responsible hunters and anglers absolutely play an active role in habitat management. Hunters and anglers are often the first ones to identify potential problems with the natural ecosystem since we are actively in the field every day. I believe anyone who respects wildlife wants to ensure that there is a future in it for our children and grandchildren. The only way that happens is by respecting the lands, animals, and habitats where we pursue these ventures and also to try to teach others to do the same. Coming from a family that has a love and passion for the outdoors, I want to make sure our lands and wildlife are preserved for future generations.
About Brian Minich: Brian’s career in fly tying began at age 8, and he hasn’t looked back since. Brian got his start in the guiding industry as the Assistant Activities Director at Glendorn Lodge in Bradford, PA, and has been in the guiding business for 15 years. Brian and his wife Megan are the owners of Fin and Fly Adventures along with the Scandia General Store in Warren County. Learn more at: www.scandiageneralstore.com
Upcoming Hunting in the Pennsylvania Wilds
SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with required license, and mentored youth – April 21, 2018. Only 1 spring gobbler may be taken during this hunt.
SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): April 28-May 31, 2018. Daily limit 1, season limit 2. (Second spring gobbler may be only taken by persons who possess a valid special wild turkey license.) From April 28-May 12, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon; from May 14-31, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.