Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pennsylvania Turkey Hunters Advised Of Season Changes

Fall season begins Nov. 2 in most parts of state, season lengths vary by WMU.

           Turkey hunters preparing to head afield during Pennsylvania’s annual fall season are urged to review the opening and closing dates that apply within the Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) they hunt.
          The fall season has been lengthened by a week in some WMUs, and shortened by a week in others. Additionally, a WMU might have a later opening date, a weeklong or shorter season, or could be closed to fall turkey hunting altogether.
          “Different sets of rules apply to different areas, and in a lot of areas, season lengths have changed this year,” said Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe. “Now is the time for hunters to check and make sure the season lengths in areas they hunt haven’t changed.”
In most of the state, the fall turkey season opens Saturday, Nov. 2. There are exceptions, however.
          In WMU 5A, a three-day season begins Tuesday, Nov. 5.  Meanwhile, WMUs 5B, 5C and 5D remain closed to fall turkey hunting.
          The fall turkey season dates are outlined on page 35 of the 2013-14 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest that is issued at the time hunters by their licenses. Those seasons are as follows: WMU 1B – Nov. 2 to 9, and Nov. 28 to 30; WMU 2B (shotgun and archery only) – Nov. 2 to 22, and Nov. 28 to 30; WMUs 1A, 2A, 2D, 2F, 2G and 2H – Nov. 2 to 16, and Nov. 28 to 30; WMUs 2C, 2E, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E – Nov. 2 to 22, and Nov. 28 to 30; and WMU 5A – Nov. 5 to 7.
          In all, the season length is changing in nine WMUs this year.
          The changes in eight of those WMUs are due to an ongoing study to determine how the length of the fall season affects the female turkey harvest. The Game Commission in the past two years has monitored two separate study areas, and with that data now collected, the study requires the season length in both study areas be changed.
          In WMUs 2F, 2G and 2H, that means shortening the season from three weeks to two weeks. Meanwhile, the season will be lengthened from two weeks to three weeks in WMUs 2C, 2E, 4A, 4B and 4D.
          Game Commission wild turkey biologist Mary Jo Casalena explained the changes.
          “By switching season lengths between study areas, we can attempt to answer the question of whether the harvest gained by adding an extra week to a two-week season exceeds a sustainable level of harvest,” Casalena said. “Ultimately, results from this study will allow us to provide the longest fall seasons without overharvesting hen wild turkeys.”
          This season marks the third year of the four-year study, and hunters can expect season length within the study areas this year to remain the same during the study’s final year in 2014.
          Aside from the changes within study areas, the fall turkey season also is being shortened from two weeks to one week in WMU 1B due to a precipitous decline in the turkey population locally. The three-day Thanksgiving season remains in place there, as it does in most other parts of the state.

Fall turkey forecast
          Casalena said turkey hunters are likely to see more turkeys afield this fall due to two factors.
          There was above-average nest success this summer, which produced more young turkeys statewide, Casalena said. Additionally, acorn crops are spotty this year, and turkey flocks tend to concentrate around available food sources, she said.
          The above-average summer reproduction mainly was due to dry and warm weather conditions during the peak of hatching in early June. Casalena said this nest success was a welcome relief for wild turkey populations, since summer reproduction had been below-average for the previous four years.
          Still, summer populations varied considerably by WMU, as is typical for wild turkey reproduction.
          Although springtime wild turkey populations were still lower than their record highs in 2001, when the state population was about 280,000 turkeys, this spring’s population of about 186,000 birds was similar to the last two years, rebounding from its low in 2010 of 182,000.
          Casalena said locating a flock is only part of the hunt. Properly setting up and bringing a turkey within range is another challenge that makes turkey hunting both tricky and enjoyable.
          Overall, Casalena said she anticipates turkey hunters to enjoy success rates similar to or even higher than last year, when 12 percent of fall turkey hunters harvested turkeys. That success rate was a slight improvement from the previous three years, when the success rate was 11 percent.
          The final 2012 fall harvest was 14,704, similar to 2011 but 5 percent lower than the previous three-year average.
          Hunter success has been as high as 21 percent (2001, a year with excellent recruitment), and as low as 4 percent (1979).
          Casalena said spring season harvests (not including harvests from the special turkey license that allows hunters to harvest a second bird) totaled 32,602, slightly down from 33,597 in 2012, but 12 percent lower than the previous 10-year average (37,229). Hunter success, 15 percent, was similar to last year due to a small decrease in the number of spring turkey hunters, and was slightly lower than the previous 10-year average, 16 percent.
          Even though spring harvests were down from the record 49,200 in 2001, Pennsylvania hunters have consistently maintained spring harvests above 30,000 bearded turkeys since 1995, exceeding most other states in the nation.

Leg-banded turkeys
          Casalena also reminds hunters to report any leg-banded or radio-transmittered turkeys they harvest or find.
          Leg bands and transmitters are stamped with a toll-free number to call, and provide important information for the research project being conducted in partnership with the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State University, with funding from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Pennsylvania Chapter of NWTF, she said.
          “These turkeys are legal to harvest and the information provided will help determine turkey survival and harvest rates, Casalena said.
          Rewards for reporting marked turkeys are made possible by donations from the National Wild Turkey Federation, she said.

Fluorescent orange requirements
          In most parts of the state, hunters participating in the fall turkey season are required, while moving, to wear at least 250 inches of fluorescent orange on the head, chest and back combined. Orange must be visible from 360 degrees.
          Hunters may remove their orange once in a stationary location, providing that a minimum of 100 square inches of fluorescent orange is posted within 15 feet of the location and is visible from 360 degrees.
          In WMU 2B, which is open to shotgun and archery hunting only during the fall turkey season, turkey hunters, while moving, must wear a hat containing at least 100 square inches of solid fluorescent orange material, visible from 360 degrees. While fluorescent orange is not required at stationary locations in WMU 2B, it is strongly recommended.
          Archery hunters who are hunting either deer or bear during the overlap with fall turkey season also must wear a fluorescent orange hat at all times when moving. The hat must contain at least 100 square inches of solid, fluorescent orange, visible from 360 degrees, and may be removed once in a stationary location.
          Illustrations and a chart listing fluorescent orange requirements for different hunting seasons can be found on pages 68 to 70 of the 2013-14 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest.

Mentored Youth
          Pennsylvania’s fall turkey season is among those open to Mentored Youth hunters.
          The Mentored Youth Hunting Program sets out to introduce those under the age of 12 to hunting. Mentored Youth must obtain a $2.70 permit, and must be accompanied at all times by a licensed mentor over the age of 21.
          A full description of the Mentored Youth Hunting Program can be found on page 15 of the 2013-14 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest.

          During the fall turkey season, an adult mentor may transfer their fall turkey tag to a Mentored Youth hunter

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pennsylvania Bull Elk Shot Illegally, Reward Offered

Groups combine to pledge $3,800 for information leading to conviction in Elk County.

Wildlife Conservation Officer Doty McDowell, of the Pennsylvania Game
Commission, stands with a 5- by 5-point bull elk that was illegally shot
earlier this month, near Benezette in Elk County. Individuals and groups
so far have pledged $3,800 in reward money for information leading to
the arrest and successful prosecution of the person or
 persons responsible. 
 A reward is being offered in relation to a bull elk that was shot illegally earlier this month.
The 5- by 5-point bull was found injured and hiding in a patch of goldenrod soon after daylight on Oct. 15, near Benezette, Pa. in Elk County. The elk is believed to have been shot at about 3 a.m., when residents of Winslow Hill, near Benezette, heard several shots. 

 The elk apparently was shot while in the front yard of a nearby residence, and it hobbled about 100 yards before lying down. The injuries left the elk unable to further walk or get back up. 

Due to its injuries, the elk had to be put down by Pennsylvania Game Commission officers. 
Wildlife Conservation Officer Doty McDowell, who responded to the site where the elk was found, called the illegal shooting a senseless act. 

          “Whoever did this has no respect for elk, but also little regard for human life,” McDowell said, pointing out the elk was shot within close proximity of several homes.  

          The illegal shooting has prompted many in the Elk County area to contribute to a reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and successful prosecution of the person or persons responsible. Individuals and groups so far have pledged $3,800 in reward money. 

          Anyone with information about the illegal shooting is asked to contact the Pennsylvania Game Commission at 570-398-4744 or 570-398-4745. Callers may remain anonymous and can notify the Game Commission dispatcher at the time they call if they wish to do so. 

          While Pennsylvania’s native elk had been eliminated from the state by the late 1800s, a thriving elk population now exists in parts of five Pennsylvania counties. In fact, 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s first elk restoration efforts.  

          Since 2001, a limited number of hunters have been able to take part in an annual elk hunt in Pennsylvania, but illegally killing an elk out of season carries up to $15,000 in fines and up to 36 months in jail, plus hunting-license revocation. In addition to those penalties, those convicted of illegally killing a trophy-class elk must pay a mandatory $5,000 replacement cost.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Area hunters taking advantage of bonus bear hunting

By Bob Frye 
Dale Hajas of Latrobe shot this 292-pound black bear
 in Berks County on Sept. 27. It was his first bear 
and came just hours after he bought his first bear license. 
Hajas was deer hunting when the bear crossed his path
Dale Hajas' deer-hunting career took an unusual twist this fall.

The Latrobe man is the Westmoreland County representative for the United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania.

As such, he was invited to take part in a deer hunt near Kempton in Berks County, part of wildlife management unit 5C, in September.

It's meant to match up hunters with doe tags with farmers suffering from crop damage.

A look at the farm Hajas was assigned to hunt revealed evidence of a black bear being around, too. With archers there (as well as in wildlife management units 2B, which surrounds Pittsburgh, and 5D surrounding Philadelphia) allowed to take bears as early as Sept. 21, he was urged to get a bear license.

He did, and five hours later, Hajas bagged a 292-pound bruin.

“What's funny is, I live in bear country or at least on the edge of some pretty good bear country, and I've never been bear hunting,” Hajas said. “I always knew there were bears in the areas I hunt, but I'd never seen one. That was my first in-stand experience.

“But it was a life-changing event. When I turned in my stand and saw him, he was just stunning. I can't believe now how stupid I was for never having bought a bear license before.”

Bagging his bear caused quite the stir.

The farm on which he shot it is surrounded by lots of people. During the five hours he was in his stand, Hajas said he saw a young boy riding a mini-bike, a girl walking a dog and a couple of people on all-terrain vehicles. A wedding party even held practice at the church where Hajas parked his car, 100 yards or so from his stand.

Yet no one seemingly had ever seen the bear before or knew that it was around. A crowd of people — including the family of the farmer who owned the property — drove as much as an hour to see it, Hajas said.

The bear was likely the first taken by an archer in the state this year.

It wasn't the last. Last Wednesday, another archer bagged a bear in Allegheny County's Frazer Township.

He spotted the bear in the process of dragging out of the woods a deer he already had bagged with a bow, said Tom Fazi, information and education supervisor in the Pennsylvania Game Commission's southwest region office.

Commission officials are hoping a few more bears will follow it out of the suburban woods.
The early bear season — which also was open to muzzleloader hunters in certain units like 2B this past week — is meant to target bears living in populated areas where there is decent bear habitat but also lots of people and roads. It's in such places that bears most often run into trouble, said Mark Ternent, bear biologist for the agency.

“It's not that they're aggressive or anything like that. It's just generally nuisance issues,” he said.
About 80 percent of the bear complaints the commission receives from the public involve bears raiding garbage cans and bird feeders, he said, and almost all come from urban and suburban areas.

The early hunt is not meant to wipe them out. Instead, it allows for a few bears to live in the suburbs while also giving hunters the opportunity to keep their numbers in check, he said.
“There's a lot of good bear habitat in places like wildlife management unit 2B. But in general, it's not a place where we want a large bear population to develop,” Ternent said.
Hunters have been having success.

The early archery bear season came into being last fall after a hunter shot a bear in Fawn in Allegheny County the previous year. That was the first bear taken in the county since at least the 1940s, when the commission began keeping records, and more likely the first in at least 100 years, Fazi said.

Last year, they took six more in Allegheny County, three during the archery season and three during the extended firearms season. Another two died after being struck by vehicles.

Across the state, hunters took 13 bears during the early archery season.

More remain, though.

“There are others out there. We've gotten reports of people seeing them,” said Dan Puhala, one of the commission's wildlife conservation officers in Allegheny County. “There are still some running around.”

Perhaps some lucky hunter like Hajas will take one. It has set him on a definite path. In addition to making him a bear hunter from here on, it's given him a more immediate goal.

He took this bear with a compound bow. He now wants to shoot a buck with a recurve bow this fall, then bag a turkey in the spring with his self bow, which is a bow made from a single piece of wood.

“I'm not a very good turkey hunter, but my brother is, and I've already told him that if a buck walks in front of me with my recurve, he's going to spend his April with me looking for a gobbler,” Hajas said with a laugh. “I don't know how it will go. But it will be fun no matter what.”

Outlook Good For Steelhead Season

By Bob Frye 

Chuck Murray is expecting big things this fall and into winter.

A biologist in the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Lake Erie research unit and an avid steelhead fisherman, himself he's predicting a better-than-average steelhead season.
That would be a change from the recent past.

“I think we kind of hit a low point in 2010. But I also think things are on their way back up,” Murray said. “The runs have been looking real good early, so I'm optimistic.”
Others agree this year's season is off to a relatively good start.

“There were fish in the streams as early as August,” said Shelley Moore of Poor Richard's Bait and Tackle in Erie.

“Guys have been doing pretty good so far, catching a lot of fish.”

“Now that we've got more water in the creeks over the last week or so, it's really starting to look like we could get a good run,” said Elaine Gaczkowski of Folly's End Campground.

“I've seen a lot of fish caught already, and they've been from just legal all the way up to some really nice sizes.”

That rain she spoke of has been the key to getting more fish in the streams.

“That's what initiates those large pulses of fish coming back into the streams. If we get a wet fall, it should be a good season,” Murray said. “There seem to be lots of fish out there.”
That can be attributed to a number of factors.

The commission has been stocking bigger steelhead smolts; they were nearly 7 inches long this year, just about the optimum size and the biggest since 2001, he noted. That's led to better survival rates. At the same time, the sea lamprey population in Lake Erie is down, meaning there's been less wounding of steelhead, and a decline in the lake's walleye population has meant less predation.

The best time for catching them is typically from mid-November through January, he said.
“One of the old-timers I know always told me that the best time to fish was right around bear season, so I always look for that date on the calendar,” he said.

So the only question is, what are you waiting for?

Women Are Fastest Growing Group Of Outdoors Participants

For more than a decade, we've been hearing about declining outdoors participation -- particularly in hunting, particularly among young people.
But beneath the headlines, data show the fastest-growing segment of outdoors users -- including in hunting, including the young -- is comprised of women.
More than a quarter of all freshwater anglers are women, and while the percentage of female hunters is lower, their numbers are growing.
"Many people may be surprised to learn the traditional view of the outdoors person is changing. But to anybody who hunts, fishes and shoots, the presence of women on the water, in the woods and at the range is anything but new, and certainly not surprising," said Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates.
The Florida-based polling company he formed in 1989 is paid to gather data for studies commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state wildlife agencies and nonprofit environmental groups, and compile market data for sportfishing and other outdoors-related industries.
Noticing raw data in many unrelated polls showing a trend in rising outdoors participation among women, Southwick took the unusual step of culling and repackaging data on women from three years of studies. The data were compiled in a new survey, "Women in the Outdoors 2012," and released to the media.
"Typically when you look at data reflecting cultural change, you're not seeing monumental shifts," Southwick said. "Changes can be real slow -- a percentage point or two. But over the U.S. population at large, that can include a huge number of people. That's what we're seeing among women participating in outdoor recreation."
U.S. Fish and Wildlife data, collected in part by Southwick, shows that in 2001, 26.1 percent of freshwater anglers and 9.2 percent of hunters were female. In 2011, women comprised nearly 27 percent of all inland anglers and 11 percent of hunters.
Southwick's data shows that while women are participating more in traditional outdoors recreation, their preferences are sometimes different than those of men.
Overwhelmingly, guys like to target specific fish species. Sixty-three percent go after largemouth and spotted bass, and to a lesser degree they fish for panfish, trout, smallmouth bass and catfish. While 27 percent of men are happy to catch non-targeted species, 43 percent of women prefer to fish for "whatever bites."
According to the Southwick study, 86 percent of women fish to spend time on or near the water, and more so than men, they view fishing as an opportunity to spend time with family and friends (84 percent to 71 percent).
Women use dead bait including fish eggs, cut fish and commercially processed baits more than men (38 percent to 28 percent), and a higher percentage of women than men prefer to fly fish (23 percent to 20 percent).
Locally, many women fit Southwick's profiles.
Jennifer Shook of West Deer is a prolific angler. She fishes about every other day in the summer, plans to go ice fishing if the weather cooperates and wants to explore hunting.
"The thing that I most enjoy about fishing is that I always catch interesting fish," she said. "I love the fight that they give while you're trying to reel them in."
Kate Toth of White Oak learned to fish from her father and continued on her own as she grew older. She took her kids fishing and is now passing the tradition to her grandson.
"It can be a challenge because you have to know what you're doing -- what you do to catch a trout is different than trying to catch a bass," she said. "It can be relaxing because you're sitting in the peaceful outdoors, happy, communing with nature."
Toth is among the women registered for an upcoming Post-Gazette steelhead-fishing bus trip to Lake Erie tributaries.
Nationally about a half million women hunt, and a million hunt and fish. The hunting target of choice among men and women is deer (slightly more than 70 percent). Target preferences remain about the same for both sexes, but significantly fewer women hunt for coyote, upland game and dove. More women than men hunt for elk (10 percent to 6 percent).
At 17, Samantha Morgan of the North Side has downed more deer than many guys. Raised in a hunting family, she had her first crossbow kill at 14 and has taken a spike, 7-point, 8-point, 6-point and a doe. Last year, on the opening day of rifle deer season, she and her sister Mekenzie Saban each harvested a buck -- Mekenzie, then 14, took a 130-inch 9-point.
"Our family is tight-knit. We fish all the time and camp" said Samantha. "I just have a really good balance of things. I follow trends -- I'm a teenage girl and like the girly stuff -- but I still like going out to deer camp and hanging with my dad and all the guys."
Southwick said the trend among sportswomen has piqued the interest of outdoor products industries.
"The data is showing women don't want to compete with men or do something that's very specialized or demanding," he said. "They're realizing it's just fun to get outside."
Find the entire "Women in the Outdoors" survey at

Saturday, October 26, 2013

New Trap Shooting Range Construction Under Way At Bull Creek

Ground has been broken for the new trap range at Bull Creek.  The old range, built over 30 years ago, will be replaced with a 3 house range allowing for more flexibility and shooting options in the future.

Construction will be completed before the Winter Trap League begins the Sunday after New Years!

                                                               Click on pictures to enlarge

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Enhanced Pennsylvania Landowner Protection Passes Hurdle

Hunting is permitted on most of Pennsylvania's 1.4 million acres of state game lands and 2.1 million acres of state forest land, as well as thousands of acres in state and county parks. But most hunting in Pennsylvania occurs on private property with the direct or implied consent of the landowner.

Despite myriad disagreements, Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Harrisburg have long agreed that landowners who permit access for hunting and other recreation should be safe from liability should an accident occur. Pennsylvania's Recreational Use of Land and Water Act protects landowners who allow "free" access to their land from liability for accidents including those involving a firearm.

Under current law, landowners who sell access, including "deer management rights," might not be protected from liability even if the hunter purchased independent hunting insurance. Last week, the state House of Representatives unanimously adopted an amendment to a Senate bill ensuring property owners would not be held responsible for hunting violations committed by those granted permission to hunt on their land even if the landowner was paid for access.
State Rep. Neal P. Goodman, D-Schuylkill, said the act's previous landowner protections didn't go far enough.

"More than 1 million Pennsylvanians hunt, and the sport generates well over $1 billion in sales every year in the commonwealth," said Goodman. "Hunting is an important part of our heritage and our economy. But much prime hunting land is privately owned, and we need to take steps to encourage farmers and land owners to keep their property open to hunters. My amendment would do that."

The bill now goes back to the Senate. The original Senate bill was written to exempt property owners from responsibility for violations of Title 34, the state Game and Wildlife Code, committed by hunters granted access unless the landowners were willfully complicit in those violations. Earlier this year, Goodman and state Rep. Doyle Heffley, R-Carbon, introduced a House bill that further protected property owners.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

New Edition Of Pennsylvania Big Game Records Book On Sale

Pennsylvania’s all-time ranking updated for 2013.

Pennsylvania’s official all-time ranking of trophy big-game animals has been updated for 2013 and is available for sale from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The new edition of the Pennsylvania Big Game Records book includes nearly 200 new entries. And to make them easier to identify, and to show where they stack up historically, entries from the 2012-13 hunting seasons appear in bold type in the 2013 book.

“Hunters for years have turned to the Pennsylvania Big Game Records book as a valuable tool to show where trophy animals are being harvested,” said Bob D’Angelo, coordinator for the Game Commission’s Big Game Records Program. “This small change of bolding entries in the 2013 book gives prominence and context to the most-recent record harvests, and gives the whole book a fresh, new feel.”

The new book nearly doubles the number of entries for record bear harvests in the archery category. In the 2012 edition, nine black bears qualified for inclusion in the book. This year, there are 16 entries, three of them resulting from 2012 harvests.

Also included in the 2013 book is a depiction of the Arthur Young buck, painted by artist Ernest Durphy. Taken in 1830, the buck ranks 11th all-time in the typical firearm category. No animal is documented in any record book anywhere in the world with a date earlier than Young’s enormous McKean County whitetail.

The story of Young’s historic hunt also will be featured in the December 2013 issue of Pennsylvania Game News magazine.

Copies of the 2013 Pennsylvania Big Game Records book are available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission online at The Outdoor Shop,, or by calling 1-888-888-3459, or mailing remittance to: PA Game Commission, Dept. MS, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.

The book costs $5, plus shipping and handling. Pennsylvania residents also pay 6 percent sales tax. Shipping and handling charges are $1.25 for orders up to $6; $2.95 for orders up to $20; and $4.95 for orders up to $35.

For additional information, contact Pennsylvania Big Game Records Program Coordinator Bob D’Angelo at the Game Commission Harrisburg headquarters (

Pennsylvania’s Big Game Records Program is based on the Boone & Crockett Club’s scoring program.

The Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association started Pennsylvania’s program in 1965 to showcase the outstanding hunting opportunities available in this state.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Autumn Makes Hunters A More Frequent Sight In Pennsylvania

Early muzzleloader, firearms deer seasons await.

Autumn in Pennsylvania means a change of colors.

And, aside from the flaring fall foliage, that change includes the addition of hunter orange to the state’s fields and forests.

While hunting opportunities exist throughout the year in Pennsylvania, and some fall hunting seasons already are underway, the majority of seasons are entering their stretch runs toward opening day.

This weekend hosts four awaited openers – the first day of the regular squirrel hunting season, the opening day of the one-week muzzleloader season for antlerless deer, and the first day of the seasons for ruffed grouse and woodcock.

Those openers lead the way for the Oct. 26 opening day of a small-game season for pheasants and cottontail rabbits, as well as the opening days for foxes and other species. Several big-game seasons lie just beyond.

All of this means hunters will become a more common sight throughout the Commonwealth.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission reminds hunters that hunting with a firearm is not permitted within 150 yards of any occupied structure, school, farm building or playground unless prior permission is obtained from the building’s occupants or property owner. This perimeter is known as a “safety zone,” and possessing a loaded sporting arm within a safety zone is considered hunting and a violation of the law. Trapping furbearers, and chasing or disturbing wildlife also are prohibited within a safety zone, unless permission is given.

A similar law applies to hunters using bows or crossbows, but the safety-zone perimeter is smaller. Archers and hunters using crossbows must remain at least 50 yards from any occupied structure, school, farm building or playground unless they receive permission from the building occupants or property owners to hunt at closer distances.

Hunters also are reminded that the fluorescent orange requirements vary depending on the species being hunted. Illustrations depicting the requirements that apply in different seasons can be found in the 2013-14 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest issued to hunters at the time they purchase hunting licenses. The digest also is available online at the Game Commission’s website,

Each hunter taking part in the upcoming early muzzleloader season for antlerless deer needs to wear a minimum of 250 square inches of fluorescent orange on the head, chest and back, combined. The orange each hunter wears must be visible from all directions (360 degrees) and must be worn at all times while hunting. This requirement applies to hunters who participate simultaneously in the muzzleloader and archery deer seasons.

During the one-week early muzzleloader season, properly licensed hunters are permitted to carry both a muzzleloader and a bow or crossbow. A hunter would need both archery and muzzleloader stamps, plus a general hunting and an appropriate antlerless deer license or Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permit.

While hunters who are taking part strictly in the archery season are required during the early muzzleloader overlap to wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange while moving, they are permitted to remove their orange once settled into a stationary position. Archery hunters who remove orange clothing are required to post 100 square inches of orange within 15 feet of their locations, and the posted orange must be visible from all directions.

Archery hunters who are simultaneously participating in the early muzzleloader season, however, must follow the orange requirements for early muzzleloader.

To participate in the early muzzleloader season, a hunter must have a valid Pennsylvania general hunting license, a muzzleloader stamp and valid antlerless deer license or DMAP permit.

Antlerless deer licenses in Pennsylvania are valid only within the Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) they are issued. Likewise, DMAP permits are issued for certain properties and are valid only on those properties. Maps showing the locations of WMUs are available in the Hunting & Trapping Digest.

Hunters during the early season may use in-line, percussion and flintlock muzzleloaders, and sporting arms may be equipped with scopes, peep-sights and other lawful sighting devices.

The one-week early muzzleloader season includes a three-day overlap with a special firearms season for antlerless deer.

During that season, which runs from Oct. 24 to Oct. 26, junior hunters (ages 12 to 16), senior hunters (ages 65 and older), mentored youth (hunters who are younger than 12, but who obtain a permit to hunt), hunters who are on active military duty, and certain disabled hunters are able to use a variety of sporting arms to harvest antlerless deer.

Permitted sporting arms include manually operated centerfire rifles, handguns and shotguns; .44-caliber or larger muzzleloading long guns; .50-caliber or larger muzzleloading handguns; long, recurve or compound bows; and crossbows.

To take part in the special firearms season, hunters must meet participation qualifications and possess a general hunting license and valid antlerless deer license or DMAP permit. Hunters also must wear a minimum of 250 square inches of fluorescent orange at all times.

Each mentored youth hunter taking part in the special firearms season must possess a valid mentored youth permit, and the mentor who accompanies a mentored youth afield must possess a valid antlerless deer license or DMAP permit. The antlerless deer license or DMAP permit can be transferred to the mentored youth upon the mentored youth’s harvest, and each mentored youth hunter may receive only one antlerless deer license and one DMAP permit by transfer during a license year.

For a more detailed look at the regulations pertaining to these and other seasons, or to view hunting season start and end dates, as well as bag limits, visit to the Game Commission’s website.

There’s a lot of hunting in store.

“Autumn is always a special time in Pennsylvania, and an absolutely beautiful time to spend outdoors,” said Carl Roe, the Game Commission’s executive director. “And there’s no better way to spend a fair-weather fall day than by enjoying a great day of hunting.

“While little is guaranteed on any hunt, it’s always a good bet that good times await afield and are there for the taking each fall,” Roe said.

Venison care

While hunting in October often offers pleasant days afield, the warm weather also presents challenges for successful deer hunters in assuring harvests result in high-quality venison.

Especially in warm weather, harvested deer should be field dressed quickly, then taken from the field and cooled down as soon as possible. While hanging a deer carcass in a shady area might be fine in cooler temperatures, if the air temperature is above 50 degrees, hunters should refrigerate the carcass as soon as possible.

Information on warm-weather venison care, as well as instructions on deer processing and other tips, are available on the white-tailed deer page on the Game Commission’s website,

Reporting harvests

Hunters are required to report deer harvests, and they are encouraged to do so soon after their successful hunts, so they don’t forget.

There are three ways to report harvests. Harvests can be reported online at the Game Commission’s website by clicking on the “Report a Harvest” button on the homepage. Reports also can be phoned in to 1-855-PAHUNT1 (1-855-724-8681), or mailed in using the harvest report cards that are inserted in the Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest hunters receive when they purchase a license.

Hunters who call should have their hunting license numbers handy, as well as additional information that’s required to be reported.

Mistake kills

Hunters participating in the early muzzleloader season to begin Saturday or the special firearms season to begin Oct. 24 may harvest antlerless deer only.

Any hunter in any season who, by accident or mistake, kills an illegal deer is required to deliver the carcass – entrails removed – within 24 hours to any Game Commission officer in the county where the deer was killed.

A written statement must be provided to the officer, explaining when, where and how the accident or mistake occurred. The deer must be tagged with the appropriate deer harvest tag.

Rifle deer season

As it has traditionally, the two-week firearms season for deer will open statewide on the Monday following Thanksgiving.

The statewide season this year runs from Dec. 2 to Dec. 14.

Hunters in different parts of the state are required to observe different rules regarding the number of points an antlered deer must have and when during the season hunters may harvest an antlerless deer.

Information is available at the Game Commission’s website.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Another Successful Youth Pheasant Hunt At Bull Creek!

In conjunction with the PA Game Commission 30 young hunters age 12 to 16 took part in this years Youth Pheasant Hunt.  A special thanks to club member Don Lang and many many other members who helped make this year the best ever (OK, the great weather helped too!).

Ramped-up Stockings Haven't Sparked Increase In Pheasant Hunting In Pennsylvania

By Bob Frye, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

The Pennsylvania Game Commission expects to stock more than
200,000 pheasants for hunters this fall, with most of the birds
to be released on public land.
And you thought it was tough getting dad out of his recliner after a plate of turkey and the fixings on Thanksgiving.

It turns out it's pretty hard to get him into the pheasant fields, too.

Last year the Pennsylvania Game Commission stocked 200,000 ringnecks statewide. That was twice what had been the norm over most of the previous decade.

The hope was that all of the extra birds would convince sportsmen to return to their small game roots.

It didn't happen.

The hunters who chased birds had a ball. The commission estimates they killed 198,704 last autumn compared to 116,828 the year before.

“We got a ton of feedback on the season. What we heard was just a huge amount of positive comments from hunters,” commissioner Ralph Martone of New Castle said.

But the people hunting all of those birds were apparently the same ones who were hunting pheasants in the lean years, too.

“We saw a near doubling of the harvest, which you'd expect since we stocked twice as many birds. But we didn't see an obvious jump in hunters,” said Bob Boyd, wildlife services division chief for the commission, who oversees the pheasant propagation program.

In 2011, when the commission was stocking 100,000 birds, Pennsylvania had an estimated 88,307 pheasant hunters who spent 384,125 days afield. Last year, with 200,000 birds out there, Pennsylvania had 87,341 pheasant hunters who spent 389,694 days afield.

That's a statistical wash, Boyd said. But it's early, too, he said.

It will take a few more years of stocking lots of birds — the goal is to get to 250,000 sooner than later — to see if it's possible to make hunter numbers trend upward, he said.

Martone agreed, suggesting a lot of hunters have switched from pursuing small game to archery deer hunting in recent years. Getting them out of their treestands and back into the pheasant fields, at least on occasion, will take some convincing.

“I think it's just a time thing,” Martone said. “We told people about all of the extra birds last year, but I don't know if they didn't believe us or what. I'm sure this year that the word's gotten out a little better, and we're going to see a few more hunters.”

This year's pheasant season is already here, at least for some.

The general statewide season in which everyone can participate doesn't open until Oct. 26. But the special youth-only pheasant season runs through Saturday.

It got off to a rough start in one way.

The federal government shutdown meant that some federal properties typically stocked for the kids didn't get birds. One was the Golden Run portion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Shenango River Lake near Hermitage.

Birds bound for that property went elsewhere in Mercer County.

“We regret having to make this move, but pheasants are a high-dollar resource and the agency has an obligation to place the birds in areas where we get the best return for sportsmen's dollars spent,” said Keith Harbaugh, director of the commission's northwest region office.
Other corps properties have been stocked. Loyalhanna River Lake in Westmoreland County, Conemaugh River Lake in Indiana and Crooked Creek Lake in Armstrong got birds prior to this weekend, said Travis Anderson, land management supervisor in the commission's southwest region office.

“The areas we stock on Army Corps properties, they're not in the day-use areas that have been impacted by the shutdown, and they're not behind gates. They're all places you can access from a state or township road,” Anderson said. “So the shutdown won't affect us.”

Hunters who take advantage of the season should have some good days, Boyd said.
The commission's pheasant farms are on pace to stock even more birds than anticipated. The total should be around 220,000, he said.

“We're trying to maximize opportunities for hunters, and we've had a pretty good year on the farms, so I think it should be a nice season,” Boyd said