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Frye: Seasons on elk, turkey are here

| Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, 9:23 p.m.

Turkeys and elk and coyotes, oh my…

• The fall turkey season is here. Do you know where your birds are?

If the answer is no, and you haven't done your preseason scouting, you can at least fall back on this: there should be a few more turkeys available this fall than last.

Mary Jo Casalena, the Pennsylvania Game Commission's turkey biologist, said there was above-average nest success this summer throughout most of the state. That was a welcome change. Reproduction had been below average for four years running before that.

That shouldn't be taken to mean populations are booming. Turkey numbers still aren't what they were a dozen years ago.

The estimated population in spring of 2001 — the peak year — was 280,000 birds. That dropped to 182,000 in 2010. This year it sits at 186,000, still much closer to the bottom of the barrel than the top.

But more — even by a little — is better than less.

A spotty acorn crop should concentrate birds in areas with the most food, Casalena said. Find that food, and you should find the birds, she said.

Hunters took 14,704 turkeys last fall, with 12 percent of hunters bagging a bird. Casalena expects hunters to do that well again, or even a little better.

• Pennsylvania's elk season, meanwhile, gets underway Monday. Sadly, someone's already taken one bull elk illegally.

A 5-by-5 bull was shot by a would-be poacher at about 3 a.m. Oct. 15 near Winslow Hill outside of Benezette. It wasn't killed outright. Instead, it wandered off, wounded, before lying down 100 yards or so away.

A commission wildlife conservation officer found the animal, injured but alive, but had to euthanize it because of the severity of its injuries.

Now, individuals and groups in the Elk County area have raised $3,800 for a reward that will go to anyone who can provide information leading to the conviction of the poacher or poachers. Information can be called to 570-398-4744 or 570-398-4745.

• Coyotes, love 'em or hate 'em. Predator hunters consider them the ultimate quarry, tough, smart and wary. Deer hunters see them as competitors who can decimate herds by feasting on fawns.

But did you know they can take down a moose?

Not often, necessarily. And not if the moose is in the prime of its life.

But, according to research done in Canada and described in the latest issue of the Canadian Journal of Zoology, packs of two to four coyotes were able to kill very old and very young moose in periods of deep, frozen snow.

That makes them more opportunistic than anything, researchers said. They do not likely pose a threat to moose populations.

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