Hunting, Fishing, and COVID-19 Questions

Volunteers are not participating in Pennsylvania’s trout stocking this year, but trout season will open on schedule in NY and PA. (Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.)
Volunteers are not participating in Pennsylvania’s trout stocking this year, but trout season will open on schedule in NY and PA. (Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.)
Steve Sorensen
Steve Sorensen
Contribiting Writer

Rumors are flying. People are asking, “How will this new corona virus affect me?” Don’t bother to ask. It has already affected you, even if you’re not infected.

“Did this new virus come from a Chinese biological warfare lab?” No. That’s a rumor. Scientists who study these things say there’s been no gene splicing or any telltale signs of human manipulation. The virus did not come from a bio-weapons lab.

What does CORVID-19 mean? It’s not CORVID-19. That would be 19 crows. It’s COVID-19, with no “R.” COVID-19 is worse than 19 corvids. And COVID-19 doesn’t stand for the 19th Chinese Originated Viral Disease, or anything like that. Yes, COVID-19 originated in China, but “China” is not part of its official name.

The CO in COVID means Corona (referring to the “crown” of tiny, clingy protrusions surrounding it). The VI means Virus. The D means Disease. The number 19 means it was identified in the year 2019, which helps differentiate it from other corona viruses that infect our respiratory tracts. The common cold, MERS, and SARS are all caused by corona viruses.

Now for the question sportsmen and women want answered: “Does the COVID-19 pandemic mean spring trout and turkey seasons will be cancelled?”

No. Wildlife agencies in New York and Pennsylvania will not cancel trout season or turkey season. You’ll be able to fish for trout just as you have any other year. And you can hunt turkeys on the dates that were planned before anyone ever heard of COVID-19.

However, you must take certain precautions. Airline travel might not be wise. Large group activities will be limited. Hunting turkeys and fishing for trout have built-in social distancing, but related activities that bring people into close proximity with one another during this time are ill-advised or prohibited. That’s why sportsman’s banquets are being cancelled. My speaking events plus two conferences have been called off. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has closed shooting ranges and cancelled hunter education events, only because these activities draw groups of people together.

The NY trout and salmon season opens on schedule April 1. New York’s Department of Environmental Resources Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Fishing is good for the mind and body…. I encourage all anglers, novice and expert, to get outside and fish, but act responsibly by practicing social distancing and staying safe.”

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission suspended the participation of volunteers to assist in stocking streams with trout, which simply reinforces social distancing rules. There will be no reduction in the number of trout stocked. Likewise, the largest spring gobbler youth hunt in the nation has been postponed. The Warrior Trail Gobblers in southwest Pennsylvania has a gathering of 150 or so kids plus that many adults for a spring gobbler hunt in April. Instead, they expect to hold a fall turkey hunt or a deer hunt this year, and not risk spreading COVID-19.

Accordingly, the PFBC delayed the early opening day for the southeast region to reduce the influx of people to an area with lots of cases of COVID-19. This simply steers more people toward fishing the statewide opener nearer home on April 18. Tim Schaeffer, PFBC Executive Director says, “While our calendars may start to look a little different, one thing we can count on is that there will be a trout season and there will still be plenty of fish out there to enjoy.”

The good news? None of that has anything to do with cancelling or postponing seasons for this year. We can be thankful trout and spring gobbler seasons are on, as usual, in both New York and Pennsylvania. But do take precautions. Check the websites of your state’s game and fish agencies for any last minute announcements. Your travel habits and plans may need to change. Avoid congratulatory hugs and handshakes. Shun crowds. Practice widely publicized safety precautions. So get out there and enjoy the season — your favorite way to be socially distant.

When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting , he’s thinking about hunting ,
talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.