Pennsylvania’s statewide archery deer hunting season gets underway Sat., Oct 1 and continues until Nov. 12, plus, on Sunday Nov. 13 that is the initial Sunday hunts that add Nov. 20 and Nov. 27 to the deer hunting calendar.
A word to hunters who hunt private property on Sundays, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) said hunters must carry with them written permission from the landowner to be there.
This weekend’s archery deer opener is the first of a four-part season. The season restarts Nov. 14 to Nov. 18, then resumes Dec. 26 to Jan. 16, 2023. Of course, the season opened Sept 17 in WMU’s 2B, 5C and 5D where the deer population is overly abundant says the PGC.
According to the PGC, these seasons give hunters an opportunity to chase deer before, during and after the peak of the rut, the latter is the time when trophy bucks throw caution to the wind as they chase doe to mate.
For the 2021 season, resident archery season license sales reached a second-highest total of 341,885, down slightly from the 2020 season. Nonresident archery licenses sales totaled 19,099 also down a tad from 19,164 in 2020.
Last season, bowhunters harvested an estimated 130,650 deer of which 68,580 were antlered and 62,070 were antlerless. The PGC says that week one of the season was the most productive for antlerless deer, while week five and six were tops for antlered deer that were within the rut period.
The PGC reminds bowhunters of a few regulations in regards to archery equipment. Foremost is that hunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts as the aid in tracking or locating the arrow or bolt. However, transmitter-tracking arrows are illegal.
There are also questions about the recent controversy regarding using deer scents in the form of deer urine. The urine has come into focus because of CWD cases among some deer. When asked about their use this season, Travis Lau, PGC Information Officer wrote back and said, “It’s still legal to use deer urine outside CWD Disease Management Areas, and illegal inside them. There is a proposal on the PGC Boards weekend agenda that would make deer urine and other secretions unlawful to use statewide.” Shortly after Lau sent this, and over the weekend, the PGC Board of Commissions meeting voted on the subject and in a 4-4 vote, the bill failed to gain majority support meaning it will advance no further toward adoption at this time, but there will be an opportunity to bring it up in the future.
Other reminders are that tree stands and climbing devices that cause damage to trees are unlawful to use or occupy unless the user has written permission from the landowner and are illegal on game lands, state forests and state parks. Tree stands or steps that penetrate a tree’s cambium layer will cause damage. It’s also unlawful to build and occupy tree stands that are screwed or nailed to trees on state property.
Archery deer hunting season is the finest time to be afield as the weather is still tolerable and deer have not been spoked, chased or shot at as they are during the rifle seasons.
While mentioning deer scents and if you’re looking for real fresh scent, not the bottled scent that’s been on Cabela’s and Dicks Sporting Goods store shelves for some time, stop in at Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy at 4642 Kernsville Road in Orefield. Bob’s gets his Yurine Luck Buck and Doe lure in fresh weekly. It’s available in 1 1/4-oz and 4-ounce bottles. For operating hours call 610-398-7609.
In the last column on the Muhlenberg College's polar bear restoration, I mistakenly identified Dr. Danlel Klem who did the bear project when it was Dr. Peter Saenger of Muhlenberg College. I apologize for this error as I had mixed up the phone numbers for the two professors.
The much-anticipated archery deer hunting season in local WMU’s 2B, 5C and 5D. gets underway Sept. 17.
It’s a perfect time to be afield and woodlands as the weather is warm, deer are still in their summer feeding habits, and haven’t been chased according to Brian Malone, Vice President of Pradco Outdoor Brands that includes companies such as Moultrie feeders, Summit tree stands, Knight & Hale Game Calls, Whitetail Institute and others.
Malone who was born in Pennsylvania and has been a bowhunter for 28 years and has bow hunted in several states, says some hunters prefer to pursue bucks right out of the gate while others hope to arrow a doe first to put some venison in the freezer. But for him, he likes to target mature bucks in the early season for the following reasons:
*Bucks are in a summer pattern so you have a better chance of seeing them in daylight.
*Fewer people hunt the early archery season so you don’t have as much competition interfering in your hunt.
*Bucks aren’t as spooky or pressured because they haven’t been hunted for months.
*There’s even a chance you’ll have an opportunity to shoot a buck that’s in late velvet.
His next suggestion is to hunt the food. Hunt the early-season food sources that include corn, soybeans or hay fields, and you’ll find deer. If those options aren’t around, Malone says to search for soft mast crops like apples, crabapples or berries.
And with the early bow season almost upon us, the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation (TSSA) has proclaimed September as Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month. As such, they remind hunters about tree stand safety as every season some hunters fall or slip out of their tree stands and get injured and in some cases, die from their fall.
The organization points out that falls occur due to loss of grip, loss of balance or a slip. They contend that hunters should maintain at least three points of contact be it two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot.
Their primary call to safety is if you don’t have a full-body harness, DON’T CLIMB, but hunt from the ground, perhaps in a ground blind.
PENNSYLVANIA GAME COMMISSION REMINDS HUNTERS OF CWD
The PGC reminds hunters about regulations that prohibit the movement of high-risk carcass parts from deer, elk and other cervids to control and prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). These regulations impact hunters going out of state this fall or those hunting within a Disease Management Area (DMA) and CWD areas in Pennsylvania.
As such, hunters are prohibited from importing parts of materials from high-risk cervids taken in any state or country outside Pennsylvania. The high-risk parts include the head, lymph nodes, spinal cord/backbone, spleen, skull plate with attached antlers, cape, unfinished taxidermy mounts and brain-tanned hides.
To date, the PGC says CWD has been found in about 1,000 deer, but has not been detected in Pennsylvania’s elk herd.
Pennsylvania anglers will see a fishing license increase beginning in 2023.
At their recent special meeting, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) Board of Commissioners gave final approval to a list of proposed fee adjustments for fishing licenses and various other licenses and permits.
Under the proposal, a Resident Annual Fishing License, Trout Permit, and Combination Trout/Lake Erie Permit, would increase by $2.50 each in 2023. This marks the first fee increase since 2005.
According to the PFBC, separate increases would be applied to other license and permit categories for non-resident, seniors and tourists. Revenues from this increase are expected to generate an estimated $2.5 million annually for the PFBC’s Fish Fund to support fishing related programs.
The Board also gave approval to fee increases associated with several categories of boat titles, licenses and permits. These fees would be related to the issuing of title certificates, cast net permits and penalties for uncollectable checks, all of which haven’t been updated since the ‘80s or ‘90s, says the agency.
Revenues from these fee increases would generate an estimated $30,000 annually for the Fish Fund and $1.2 million for the PFBCs Boat Fund to support boating related programs.
In other news from the PFBC, an upcoming meeting of the Fisheries and Hatcheries Committee is set to discuss a proposal to create a fish stocking authorization program and enhanced protections against the spread aquatic invasive species such as Gill Lice and Mudsnails, and to simplify the code.
The purpose of the proposal is to create a simple, no-fee, user-friendly stocking authorization process through which anyone stocking fish within Pennsylvania waters, would be required to obtain authorization from the PFBC before stocking. The intent is to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and the introduction of new aquatic pathogens that could affect the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources, claims the PFBC. Commercial fish producers would also be required to test certain fish imported into Pennsylvania for disease before stocking in areas where those diseases do not occur.
To further prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by boats, the proposal includes new watercraft inspection requirements. Under the plan, boaters (with limited exceptions for fishing tournaments), would be required to drain live wells and bilges before transporting their watercraft away from the water on which they were boating.
We’ll keep you posted if and when this latter proposal is passed.
With the Dog Days of Summer upon us, local freshwater fishing is slow due to high day time temperatures. But it’s hot at Jersey shore points.
Our fishing reporters from On the Water Magazine report that boat anglers are catching more and bigger fluke. Schools of blues too are popping up off the Jersey beaches as are crabs. In addition, snappers are in rivers and bays with Spanish mackerel, bonito, triggerfish, cobia and kingfish also being caught.
My ole buddy Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet, says anglers are still catching plenty of good eating fluke in the surf by floating killies under a bobber. He adds that cobia are being caught by boaters live lining bunker and crabbing is good around Raritan Bay with snappers being hooked there as well.
If you’re an avid hunter, consider taking a hunt without a bow or firearm. It may pay off.
We’re referring to hunting with a metal detector. And it could be lucrative if discovering artifacts, antiques, coins, old jewelry or relics that remain in the ground of various areas.
To get started in treasure hunting, you’ll obviously need a metal detector, a flat blade screwdriver or garden trowel. Experienced detectorists use an 8-inch long digging tool often called a pin-pointer. In addition, it would help to wear a carpenter’s apron to stow your finds.
For more information on metal detectors I asked Josh Lantz, of Traditions Media, who represents Vanquish and Equinox metal detectors, the two most popular brands on the market. Said Lantz, “The Vanquish brand offers consumer friendly pricing and they’re popular choices for beginning and novice detectorists. The Equinox Series detectors are, for example, the lightest, very powerful and easiest to use out of the box.”
Lantz goes on to say that once you have the detector and equipment, you’re ready to start. And the first place to start is by practicing in your own yard. If it’s 25 years or older, it could possibly contain lost coins, toys and other metal items for you to find.
To get more practice with the device, he recommends burying some coins, old jewelry, nails, bottle caps or other metal objects in the ground and at various depths. When doing so, each item can be marked with a piece of paper containing the name of the object and depth at which it was buried. Practice detecting each item and take note of the sound each item makes as well as the numeric value your detector is returning on the screen. He says that it won’t take long for you to gain confidence in knowing what your detector is telling you.
“You’ll quickly learn what common items like pennies, quarters, nails, bottle caps, pull tabs and rings look like on your detector. It’s a fun process that will give you more confidence and save you a lot of time you’d otherwise spend digging. Once you find an object and retrieve it, always fill in your dig hole,” said Lantz.
Upon gaining experience it’s time to take your detector to other places like parks, fields, creek banks and if going to the shore, sandy beaches that are always a great place to find items buried in the sand.
Find Civil War relics and they could be worth major money. You could also help a friend find lost property like my neighbor did some years back. A lady who lives a block away lost her engagement ring while walking her dog along my neighbor’s grassy strip behind his house. She knocked on his door to tell him if he should find a ring in his yard, it was hers. My neighbor got out his metal detector and scanned his grass and found the ring in three-inch deep grass.
Unlike hunting and fishing, metal detecting can be done almost any time of the year and there’s no license required. Best of all, the rewards are real and the treasures you find are yours to keep.
With vacation being foremost for many families this month, perhaps a trip to the shore is in the offing. If so, it may be a good time to take in some saltwater angling as the New Jersey shore points are reporting good action for a variety of species.
Our fishing contacts from On the Water Magazine report the following from the popular northern New Jersey coast.
*Rick Hebert, at Tackle World in Rochelle Park, said fluke are getting the most attention however swings in water temperature had an impact on the bite. There were some decent catches in Raritan Bay and the Verrazano Bridge
*Capt. Phil Sciortino, at the Tackle Box in Hazlet, reports numbers of blues and fluke are being hooked at the Rip on Sandy Hook. Blues are also showing up along the Sandy Hook beaches. Anglers fishing with killies are getting fluke at Keansburg Pier while porgies are being caught at the Tin Can Grounds and Rockaways.
*Mike Pinto, at Giglio’s Bait & Tackle in Sea Bright, said blue fishing is going strong in the Shrewsbury River with fish in the 2-10 pound range being hooked early in the morning on topwater plugs. Sand bugs are still picking up stripers in the wash and there are fluke in there as well. Fluke in the surf are just so-so. Crabbing, which is great for kids to do, is picking up in the Shrewsbury and Naversink Rivers.
*Mike Gleason, at TAK Waterman in Long Beach, said fluking in the surf has been steady while it’s been a bit inconsistent for boat anglers. Water temps have been fluctuating and that’s been affecting the bite. But there’s plenty of triggerfish on the jetties and inshore pieces. As for tuna, Gleason says it’s been a tricky season so far as there are bluefin and yellowfin offshore but fishing for them is hit or miss. Stripers, he reports, are hitting plugs at first light off the beach. Stripers continue to hit sand crabs in the Ocean Grove surf and fluke are also in the wash and hitting sand crabs and Gulp baits.
*Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, said fluke are active in Shark River with party boat anglers latching onto fish up to 9 pounds. Stripers, blues and triggerfish were being taken at Shark River Inlet. Anglers fishing the surf are hooking fluke, kingfish, blues and stripers with the top bait for stripers being sand crabs while Gulp and bucktails are luring fluke to hook.
*Pete Kupper, at Charlie’s Bait & Tackle in Normandy Beach, reports the summer routine is in progress with fluke, blues, stripers and crabs the main bites. He goes on to say fluke are in the wash and eating sand crabs and Gulp, while bass prefer clams and sand crabs. Blues on the other hand are chasing mullet and metal. He added that crabbing in the back bay is improving.
Trout action has been a surprise at Leaser. Yes, you read right, trout. Guess the muskies didn’t eat all of them as a friend managed to land a plump 20-inch rainbow last week on an ice jig as he was fishing for crappie. At first he thought he hooked a musky as the trout fought hard.
If you hit Leaser on the weekend, prepare for lots of company with kayaks, canoe’s and paddleboards being plentiful all over the lake.
Turkey hunters will be glad to hear about the opening of a shotgun patterning range on State Game Lands on SGL 205 in Lehigh County.
Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Southeast Region Director, Peter Sussenbach, announced the opening of two newly constructed archery ranges and a new shotgun patterning range on state game lands in Lancaster and Lehigh Counties.
A newly constructed archery range is located on State Game Lands 046 in Lancaster County, at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, at the Willow Point parking area, off Hopeland/Kleinfeltersville Road, in Clay Township. A new shotgun patterning range and a new archery range are both open for use on State Game Lands 205 in Lehigh County, off Warden Road, in Lowhill Township.
“With the growing popularity of archery hunting, especially in the Southeast Region, we are pleased to be able to provide these two new archery ranges to bowhunters and recreational archers. The new ranges will enable archers to hone their skills and, in turn, become more proficient and ethical hunters.
Also, just in time for Fall Gobbler Season, a new shotgun patterning range was opened at the range complex on State Game Lands 205, in Lehigh County. We’ve also made substantial improvements to the existing Rifle Range there. All three ranges meet ADA specifications to accommodate shooters with limited mobility,” said Sussenbach.
The newly constructed archery ranges provide shooting distances of 10, 20, 30, 40 & 50 yards. Each distance has two, 4-foot by 4-foot commercial quality targets designed for field point or broadhead use.
The new shotgun patterning range on State Game Lands 205 consists of two shooting stations with shot collection structures designed to secure paper targets (not provided) at 25- yard and 35-yard distances.
The construction of, and the upgrades to state game lands ranges are funded through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, most often referred to as the Pittman–Robertson Act. Pittman and Robertson Act funding is derived from the federal excise tax on the sale of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment.
Future range enhancements are planned for the State Game Lands 205 range complex with the addition of a Pistol Range slated for 2023.
More specific information about state game lands shooting ranges, including range regulations, and driving directions, can be found at State Game Lands Ranges (pa.gov).
To use the ranges, sportsmen need to possess a valid hunting or trapping license. or a range permit for $31.97.
ANTLERLESS DEER LICENSES SOON TO GO ON SALE
Deer hunters are reminded that for residents, antlerless deer hunting licenses will go on sale July 11, and July 18 for nonresidents. Then on Aug.1, the first round of unsold licenses will go on sale followed by the second round of unsold on Aug. 15. Then on Sept. 12, licenses can be purchased over the counter for WMU’s where licenses remain.
FREE FISHING DAY JULY 4
From 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Monday, July 4, the Pennsylvania Fish Commission is hosting a Fish for Free Day when no fishing license is needed to fish commonwealth waters. It's a great time for those who have been considering fishing but were reluctant to buy a fishing license if they didn't like it. It's also a day when those who fished but gave up the sport to try it again.
For Lehigh Valley golf fans, this is the week to see senior golf pros at their best during the USGA’s U.S. Senior Open Golf Tournament being played at local Saucon Valley Country Club. The tournament runs June 23-26 at Saucon’s famed Old Course.
Of the 77 fully exempt golfers who will play, the only fan favorite and big draw that won’t be there is Fred Couples. Couples has withdrawn from the tournament with the USGA not providing a reason for Couples’ withdrawal.
I had the pleasure of bumping into Couples several years ago in British Columbia while I was there for a new car introduction. As I descended in the elevator of the hotel I was staying at, when the doors opened at the first floor, there stood Couples and his dog waiting to get into the elevator. Surprised to see him, all I could muster to say was “Hi Freddie” and he replied in his normally cool way of, “Hey how’s it going.” I subsequently learned his was there to play the now defunct golf tournament hosted by Shell oil company.
But there will still be familiar names playing in the field such as Fred Funk, Rocco Mediate, Jim Furyk, Davis Love III, David Duval, Vijay Singh, Mark Calcavecchia, Mark O’Meara, Tom Lehman and other notables that reigned on the PGA Tour.
If you are attending, be aware that there will be no paper tickets offered so it’s best to apply online now. Tickets can be displayed on your smartphone via the AXS app that’s offered when purchasing tickets online. Tickets will be delivered to your AXS mobile app for iOS and Android phones.
As there are four ticket packages available, Gallery tickets provide general admission to the Open and Saucon Valley Country Club’s grounds to walk the course and watch your favorite players. With this ticket, you’ll have access to the grandstands and opportunity to purchase food and beverages at concession stands around the course, according to the USGA. Gallery tickets also provide complimentary parking at an off-site location with shuttle service to and from SVCC. For more timely information contact the USGA Sr. Open Championship Office at 484-223-3295 ext. 2 with ticket questions or issues. Tickets can be ordered by visiting www.ussenioropen.com.
LIL-LE-HI TROUT HATCHERY
According to Herb Gottschall, president of Lehigh Fish & Game Association, there was supposed to be two remaining trout stockings in selected streams from fish in the hatchery, but because of an infestation of Mudsnails on the trout, Pennsylvania Fish Commission biologists have put those stockings on hold as they don’t want to spread the contamination to existing trout in area streams.
One of the remaining stockings could have been used for the upcoming July 4 Free Fishing Day when a fishing license is not needed to fish commonwealth waters. It would have been a nice enticement to try the sport.
Gottschall also apologizes to anglers who were bothered by some of the stocking crew during the recent Lehigh Fish & Game Association trout fishing contest on the Little Lehigh. The organization was celebrating their 100th Anniversary and Gottschall was angered that anglers were harassed.
Now that all major hunting seasons are over, there’s still coyotes to pursue and they can be a challenge for even experienced hunters.
Coyotes are notoriously wary and difficult to call in as that’s the popular way to hunt them. The folks at Convergent Hunting, a Texas-based game call manufacturer that makes everything from mouth and hand calls to smartphone-controlled calls and decoys, say that successfully calling-in one of these critters provides an adrenaline rush that can fetch a few dollars for their pelts.
Convergent says that calling in a coyote presents a real challenge to a hunter of any skill level, especially those new to the sport. Convergent offers some tips to help get the most out of your next hunt for these “yotes” as they’re called, and who kill fawns, birds, rabbits and pets among other prey.
My son once related a story to me where his buddy shot a spring gobbler in Berks County and before he could retrieve it, a coyote ran up, grabbed it and ran off with his bird. Seems they’re also opportunists.
Convergent Hunting offers these tips that could help coyote hunters be successful.
First tip, don’t give away a free education. They claim that with many new and inexperienced hunters heading afield, it’s common to see older, cheaper calls getting airtime in the coyote fields. The result is a highly call-literate population making these wary critters even more challenging to call into shooting range. A call with poor sound quality, is a way to give coyotes a free education.
Second tip, stick to the basics. Instead of getting fancy with exotic call patterns and advanced hunting strategies, the best way to improve your coyote hunting game is to drill on the fundamentals. This includes setting up appropriately for wind direction, maintaining concealment and mastering the use of a good electronic call with a few high-quality sounds, A premium electronic call helps newbies, in particular, and hunters of all experience levels to produce the most consistent calls.
Third tip, use better calls to produce better, more realistic sounds. Many older electronic calls typically feature a horn-style speaker sound and run off AA batteries, neither of which is ideal for creating quality sound claim Convergent.
Now may be a good time to try this sport if you haven’t already as litters of from 5-7 coyote pups are born from mid-April to early May and they need to be fed. As such, their parents are out looking for food in daytime hours even though coyotes are mainly nocturnal feeders.
While coyotes have adapted to a wide variety of habitats, including in the city of Allentown where one resident posted a photo of one on a community website walking down the street in the West End. They’ve also been seen in the Stiles, Egypt, Ruchsville, Orefield and Salisbury Township areas. And a buddy used to trap them at the rear of Cedarbrook Nursing Home. But they’re typically found in heavily forested, dairy and cropland areas. Coyotes prefer heavy brushy cover such as clear-cuts (a good place to hunt) and along edges between forest and agricultural areas where prey is abundant.
Most importantly, pay attention to wind direction as yotes have a ultra-keen sense of smell.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.