2018-03-10 / Outdoors

Wolf Tracks

Outdoor Columnist
Dave Wolf

Dead leaves blanketing the forest floor crackle under my boots. Touches of green are peeking out from the leaf litter as the hours of daylight lengthen.

Into the face of a brisk wind I start to make my way up the hill to take down my hunting blind. Just when I think I’m the only creature in the valley, I see a groundhog scurrying from a field that will soon be covered in clover.

Winter has been gradually losing its frosty grasp, but this is occurring in fits and starts. Ice on our lakes and ponds is losing its last glistening layer.

In this day of media saturation, everyone seems to want to talk about the weather. Forecasts of “snow showers” always spark speculation of yet another terrible winter storm on the horizon.

As the temperatures warm and you venture out, take the time to ponder the world around us. It’s easy to find solitude in the forests and fields that surround us.

Consider the harmony that you’ll find in a forest. There is a pecking order, in which one species might flourish on the demise of another. But rarely do you see birds of prey or other predators take more than they need to survive.

Learning to be still and quieting your mind may be easier for some than others. I know I could rush up that hill and return home in a matter of hours, but why would I do that? It’s really not the hunting blind that I’m after.

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Our state legislators are beginning the task of auditing the Pennsylvania Game Commission to see exactly how its money is spent. But, this time, they will go way beyond that and assess how well the PGC is managing our deer and grouse populations.

Without a doubt, the agency is largely dependent on the deer herd for its financial sustenance in the form of hunting license fees.

Many hunters have serious reservations when it comes to politicians intruding on wildlife management. They point out that there is a reason our state’s fish and game agencies were established as independent agencies.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Gun control is back in the headlines as lawmakers wrestle with how to keep our school children safe.

There is no quick fix to the issue. That doesn’t stop many people from calling for radical “solutions” that might make us feel good, but probably won’t even put a dent in the real problems.

No one has reliable numbers on the proportion of Americans who own guns. Most estimates range between 39 percent and half of U.S. households having at least one gun -- between 43 million and 55 million. Estimates for the number of privately owned guns range from 190 million to 300 million.

Still, it’s sad that we need to even consider hiring armed guards to protect our children.

This is just the latest issue to remind us of the deep divisions in our nation. It’s easy to be divided over almost anything you choose. Some people seem to get a kick out of it.

The high road is to break that divide, to wade across those currents and come to some kind of solution that we can all can agree upon, or at least accept.

Trying to live in harmony can be difficult, but if nature can do it, why can’t we?

(Dave Wolf can be reached by email at wolfang418@msn.com.)

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