Deer and bear hunters are in for some changes this season, with most offering additional hunting days afield.
Now that the statewide archery deer hunting season gets underway this Saturday (Oct. 5), it also spells the time junior license holders can hunt squirrels and rabbits until Oct. 19. Juniors can also hunt ring-necked pheasants from Oct. 12-19.
But the big news is that for the first time in 50 years, the regular firearms deer hunting season will open on a Saturday after Thanksgiving instead of the usual Monday opener. This came about as the result of lobbying by sportsmen’s groups and hunters who plan their vacation days around the deer season opener. This gives them an extra day to hunt as many leave for their hunting camps and destinations on Friday night.
Statewide archery deer season too has increased a bit for antlered and antlerless deer as it runs until Nov. 16. This later November closing is due to the way the calendar falls, and the PGC says it promises to offer some prime hunting days during the deer rut.
The other big news is the bear season. According to the PGC, the season this year is being doubled and will be the longest since bear hunting began in Pennsylvania in the 1930s.
Says Mark Ternent, Pennsylvania Game Commission bear biologist, “Bear hunting days are expanding from 14 or 16 days, to 32, and from three Saturdays to seven. As such, we will start hunting bears almost two weeks earlier.”
The archery bear season in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D started Sept. 21 and will end Nov. 29. In 5B, it gets underway this Saturday and continues to Nov. 16. But the statewide archery bear season doesn’t kick off until Oct. 28 and concludes Nov. 16.
For muzzleloader hunters, their new statewide bear season begins Oct. 19 and ends Oct. 26. This leads the way for an early firearms bear season from Oct. 24-26 for junior/senior hunters and hunters who are on active military duty and certain disabled persons.
The PGC reminds deer and bear hunters of warm weather threats in regards to meat spoilage. They suggest field dressing the animal as quickly as possible and cooled down as soon as possible. Hanging an animal during warm temperatures they contend, is not advisable as that practice is mainly used during colder days.
Some hunters take along a cooler filled with ice bags to stow inside the body cavity of their field dressed animal until they can get it to a meat processor, or they do it themselves.
Another remedy in warm or cold weather was told me to by Jeff Heller, owner of the former Pro Am Fishing Shop in Kuhnsville, Heller said when deer hunting he would take along a plastic jug filled with salt water, a brine if you will, to wipe out the body cavity of a deer. He claimed it would put a nice sheen on the meat and preserve it while adding a bit of flavor to it. May be worth a try.
FALL TROUT STOCKING
A quick reminder that Lehigh County’s Little Lehigh Creek will be stocked Oct. 15, but not all portions.
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.