Sunday, October 12, 2014

New Map Aims To Put Pennsylvania Hunters On Right Track

Every hunter has heard the same advice: Preseason scouting is key to success in the field. Now some of that work has been done.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has created an online, interactive map designed to help hunters find everything from aspen thickets, thermal cover stands and clearcuts to forest openings, concentrations of oaks and food plots on state forest lands. It lists which normally gated roads are open, weather forecasts, the locations of bear check stations, and more.

“The website is geared to be an invaluable tool for hunters seeking prime locations for a variety of game, but others will find useful information when planning a visit to any of our 20 state forest districts,” said Dan Devlin, the department's deputy secretary of state parks and forests.

Individual state forest districts have been creating their own maps in printed form for a few years. Forbes State Forest, for example, has had hunting maps for its 60,000 acres.

“We had grouse hunters calling all the time asking about where we had done any cutting, and we were answering the same questions year after year, so we decided to come out with the maps,” said Cory Wentzel, forest assistant supervisor in the Forbes' Laughlintown office.

Printed maps show the locations of things such as clear cuts, where most of the trees have been removed, and shelterwood cuts, where more timber is left behind, and the years the cuts were made. They've proven “very, very successful and very, very popular” not just with grouse hunters but those seeking deer, turkeys and other species, too, he said.

Other forest district offices were putting together similar maps, said Emily Just, a wildlife biologist with the department.

“It's a great tool if you're a hunter,” she said.

Scott Miller, chief of the Department's silviculture section and a hunter, agreed. The bureau of forestry is full of hunters, he said, and many offered suggestions on what to include in the map.
“The map will be great for someone looking to explore new places. It will tell you an awful lot about what an area is like before you ever get there,” Miller said.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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