Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Youth Hunter Nabs Early Christmas Gift

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sometimes, if you peek in the right closet or other hiding place, you can see what you are getting for Christmas before the holiday actually arrives.

Hanna Harris of Northumberland County experienced that this year, sort of

The 16-year-old lives and hunts on her family's farm, near Danville. She was in a treestand on opening day of the firearms deer season this year, armed with a .280 rifle. She'd killed two bucks in previous years, but this was her first time hunting alone.

A buck wandered by and she shot it -- and has been getting all kinds of attention since, given the deer's tremendous size. The 15-point, with one of its beams seemingly split, figures to rank high in the history of deer taken in the state.

To qualify for an official Boone & Crockett Club score, a deer's rack must go through a 60-day drying period, starting at the time the skull plate was removed from the deer. It's already been green-scored, however. According to Hanna's father, Joe Harris, the deer came at 210 3/8 nontypical and 181 typical.

"We do try to only harvest mature bucks, but this was over the top," he said.

Bob D'Angelo, associate editor of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's "Game News" magazine and an official scorer, told Hanna's father in an e-mail that the buck is the best he's seen taken this year.

"As far as I can tell (from a photo,) typical would be the way to go with the measurement, but I'd have to see the rack in person," De'Angelo wrote. "Either category, this buck should end up in the top seven in the state."

The day Hanna shot the deer was not the first that she ever saw it. Her father said that family had photos of the deer on trail cameras. It seems everyone is using cameras these days, which is why it's not surprising there's even a book out now on them.

Published by the Quality Deer Management Association, the 12-chapter book ($24.95 at www.QDMA.com or 800-209-3337) promises to teach hunters not only how to capture pictures of deer, but to use the information to predict their seasonal movements, identify home ranges and increase hunting success.

"Trail-camera surveys are simply the most powerful deer management tool you can use that doesn't require professional assistance," said QDMA's Lindsay Thomas Jr. "Surveys can reveal deer density, sex ratios, age structure of bucks, and even the impact of predators on fawn recruitment."

The book even includes information on how to keep your cameras safe from thieves who would steal them.

The book won't guarantee you a buck, but, as Hanna Harris showed, cameras can tell you what you might have to look forward to.

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