Maine’s annual moose lottery tag draw didn’t carry its usual hoopla this year, the annual festivities surrounding the actual draw canceled due to the COVID-19 situation. But the drawing for the coveted tags for hunters still drew plenty of online attention, and several area sportsmen were among the lucky entrants securing tags for this fall’s hunt.

Tom Willson of Rome, Chuck Bastion of Troy, Greg White of Forksville and Tyler Stoltzfus of Nichols all drew antlerless (typically a cow moose) tags for this fall. They were among more than 3,000 recipients of the tags, 745 of which were for cow moose; another 2,300 or so were for bulls and 40 hunters had their names drawn for a tag allowing them to harvest either a bull or cow.

Willson’s draw carries a personal interest; he invited me to tag along on his moose hunt with longtime friend Gary Patterson, with whom I joined on his Pennsylvania elk hunt a couple years ago (he connected on a fine 7by7 bull). It should be a blast and hopefully I can contribute some quality video to the adventure. And if I get a chance to do some Maine grouse hunting, that’s okay, too.

There’s also a touch of irony here. While Paula and I are booked for a Newfoundland moose and bear hunt in September, that trip is in jeopardy since the province, and right now all of Canada, is on lockdown in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus. We’re playing the waiting game and hoping to get some good news, but the clock is ticking, just as it is on my northern Ontario fly-in fishing trip in August. We’ve already lost a Kansas spring gobbler excursion as a result of COVID-19, but a lot of folks have lost much more.

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A couple new state record fish were caught recently, one in Pennsylvania and another in New York state – both on May 24, about 300 miles apart.

Jonathan Pierce of Philadelphia landed a 56.3-pound flathead catfish while fishing the Schuylkill River near the city, a catch that when certified by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission will easily top the previous mark of 50 pounds, 7 ounces established by Jeff Bonawitz just last year while fishing the Susquehanna River in York County. Pierce was using a trout head as bait; he regularly uses parts of the trout he catches to lure big flatheads.

In New York, 8-year-old Jason Leusch of Webster was fishing off a dock at Lake Ontario’s Port Bay in Wayne County when he yelled to his parents that he had “a big one.” Mom and dad weren’t quick to respond; he had already caught about 20 rock bass. But the kid wasn’t kidding: Jason’s 14.5-inch rock bass weighed in at an even 2 pounds, topping the existing state standard by a single ounce, a mark that had stood since 1984. That fish was caught in the Ramapo River.

DEC Region 8 fisheries biologist Pete Austerman officially verified Jason’s catch, which was weighed in at the Bay Bridge Sport Shop at the south end of Sodus Bay.

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If you want proof positive that summer is blitzing by at a sizzling pace, consider that Pennsylvania hunting and trapping licenses went on sale June 22 and are available for purchase either online or at one of the many license-selling agents across the state.

The early hunting license purchase is important from the standpoint of applying for your antlerless deer permit. Residents can apply no earlier than Monday, July 13, while nonresidents can apply July 20. Applications for the second round of tag (unsold doe licenses) are accepted beginning Monday, Aug. 3, while a second round of unsold tags go on sale Monday, Aug. 17.

While most hunters will get their doe tag applications in early, there’s not the urgency as there was years ago when the tags were in short supply. In WMU 3A, which includes a slice of northwestern Bradford County, 21,000 antlerless licenses are available; in WMU 3B, which includes southern Bradford and all of Sullivan County, the allocation is 33,000 (down from 38,000 last season); and in WMU 3C, which includes most of Bradford County north of Route 6, the allocation was boosted from 46,000 in 2019-20 to 49,000 this season.

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