The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 12, 2013

Don Steese column: Pheasant program in danger

As you read this I’ll be on the eastern shore of Maryland chasing woodcock and giving the pups their last hurrah for this season.

It’s been a long one, starting back in September when we headed for the prairies in search of sharptails and huns. Results have been mixed. My young dog has delighted me at times and frustrated me at others — but when I was frustrated it was at least partly my own fault and the fault of spooky birds that won’t hold under a dog’s point for more than a minute or so, not enough time for me to fight my way through 150 yards of thicket.

My old dog gets slower each year, but then so do I, so I guess I can’t fault her. My shooting hasn’t gotten any better — it never does — and the mountains seem to keep getting steeper, I’ve never figured out how that happens. Anyhow, it’s been an OK season, better than some, worse than others.

I see that the Pennsylvania Game Commission is considering pulling the plug on its participation in the wild pheasant recovery effort here in the Keystone State. I get the feeling that not many Pennsylvania hunters care much either way. That’s a shame, but only us older guys remember when wild pheasants were plentiful here in Pennsylvania and the opening of pheasant season drew hundreds of thousands of nimrods to the fields of central and southern PA.

All most folks know today is stocked birds, and they’re excited about the fact that the game commission is stocking 200,000 birds again and releasing them over a longer period.

I’m sure folks like Lynn Appleman of Bloomsburg and his Pheasants Forever folks will still do their all to foster a wild pheasant population here in the Susquehanna Valley, but it’d be nice if they could count on some help from the commission. The program in the Turbotville/Washingtonville area, by the way, is doing very well. I saw a video of a flushing count done last year on a farm near Turbotville where 80 wild Pennsylvania pheasants were found. I don’t hunt pheasants anymore, stocked or wild, but just knowing there were a few truly wild birds around would be a nice thing.

On a final note, I must add a couple more thoughts about the gun control controversy. The two sides in this issue remind me of Christian folks who either believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and isn’t open to interpretation and those who believe that you can read different things into various passages.

The same goes for the gun control debate. There are those, mostly on the pro-gun side, who believe that the Constitution says what it says, period. Then there are those who believe it is a “living document” whose meanings can be shaped to fit the times we’re living in. I guess if you tend to believe the former you might want to shout loudly and clearly that there isn’t anything in the second amendment about having the right to own guns “until it gets too dangerous out there!”

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