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The Roving Sportsman… Winter Chores

We have had amazingly pleasant weather these past few weeks, and according to the latest forecasts, it appears that it will continue for at least a few more weeks. It is so nice that some of the usual snowbirds have been delaying their regular trip south so that they can take advantage of the unseasonably pleasant conditions right here at home. With daily temperatures running into the mid-30s and mid-40s, what’s not to like?

For those folks who are staying home — at least for now — it might be wise to consider working on a few winter chores. After all, whatever you can accomplish now while the weather is decent is something you won’t have to take care of come spring when you may be focusing on fishing your favorite trout stream or scouting for spring gobblers! Here then, are a few things to consider putting on your “to-do list.”


One of the favorite small birds most folks like to observe throughout the year is our Eastern Bluebird. If you want to increase the odds of seeing more bluebirds, installing bluebird birdhouses will help. If you already have these boxes on your property, now is the time to clean out the previous nesting material. Bluebirds prefer to build a new nest rather than take over a box that has material in it from the past season. Two days ago, I cleaned out 14 boxes – 12 had been used last season, one had not been used at all, and the final one was currently occupied by a field mouse (he doesn’t live there anymore!). If you are thinking of adding a few more bluebird houses, making and putting them up now will make sure they are available for when the earliest bluebirds start looking for nesting sites in mid-March. If you are not into making boxes yourself, you can purchase already-made bluebird houses from the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Howard Nursery at a cost of $18.00 each. Check for availability before making the trip by calling them at (814) 355-4434.

Apple Trees:

Last week I related what a great addition apple trees are to a varied habitat for wildlife and discussed daylighting and pruning any existing apple trees you may have. I would like to emphasize that as long as we continue to enjoy this mild streak of weather we are having, it is the perfect conditions to accomplish the daylighting and pruning. Any nearby trees you remove to open the sunlight to the apple tree can be used to start a brush pile, and the limbs and branches you trim from the apple tree can be placed on top, where the deer will be anxious to nip off the buds of the freshly trimmed limbs.

Whitetail Deer:

January 16 was the end of the deer seasons throughout the state, except for WMUs 2B, 5C & 5D, where the season ends on January 28.

After those dates, it is legal to put out supplemental feed and mineral supplements for deer. There are many mineral mixes designed for deer, and this is an important time of year to make it available. The does that were bred and are developing fawns will benefit tremendously as the fawn grows, and later the fawn will benefit by a better milk production by the mother. Supplemental mineral mixes can aid in antler growth in bucks, and in fact, any deer will develop better bone growth by taking in the additional minerals.

Equipment Check:

While the opening day of our trout season and the opening day of spring gobbler season are months away, they both have a way of sneaking up on us before we realize it! It is rather frustrating when you look over your gear the day or two before these openers and discover something is broken or missing! Good luck finding replacement items on such short notice. Take time on one of the snowy days when you have a fire in the fireplace and a freshly brewed cup of coffee in your hand and drag out your fishing or turkey hunting vests and verify that everything is in place and in good repair.

Work on the “Honey-Do” List:

It may not seem so important now, but when the spring weather does arrive, and you want to take a day or two to fish or hunt, it may just be a bit easier to get “kitchen clearance” from your significant other if you have cleared a number of items off of the “honey-do” list!