Outdoor sportsmen and sportswomen have after-Christmas hunting opportunities when the deer season re-opens for flintlock muzzleloader and late archery Dec. 26.
I’ve said in the past and will say it again, but the late muzzleloader season should allow longer range inline muzzleloaders as it’s extremely tougher to tag a deer when they’ve been shot at and chased the last few weeks, and fewer remain. On the other hand, flintlock muzzleloaders should be the only allowable choice during the early muzzleloader season that runs concurrent with a portion of the archery season. It’s a period when the limitations of the flintlock make it worthwhile. Seems inlines in the early season are similar to centerfire rifles in that they’re just as lethal at longer ranges as centerfire rifles and shotguns making them too effective and not as challenging.
The late deer season runs until Jan 13 in most of the state but continues until Jan. 27 in WMU’s 2B, 5C and 5D where there is an overabundance of whitetails. And in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, hunters may use shotguns and inline muzzleloaders to harvest antlerless deer only until Jan 27.
But deer aren’t the only pursuits as pheasant season and other small game (doves, rabbits, squirrels) open with the former seeing a late season pheasant stocking (8,640 hens) that took place Dec. 22 with new blue-back strain pheasants according to the PGC. This late small game season runs until Feb. 28, 2018 when roosters and hens may he hunted in 17 Wildlife Management Units that includes our own 5C. Only cockbirds may be hunted in WMUs 2A, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A and 5B.
Snowshoe hare hunting also opens statewide with a season that closes Jan. 1. It’s a short season due to their small population numbers and with no snow on the ground, makes snowshoe’s standout and more vulnerable.
Waterfowl hunters have excellent prospects and will likely pursue Canada geese and snow geese as their numbers are plentiful in our area. In fact, last Wednesday about 500 or more snow’s descended on the cut cornfields off Mauch Chunk Road on land owned by Jeris Corporation (formerly Trojan Powder Company). The snows may have taken off from a quarry located on Route 329 on the outskirts of Northampton, a place they often put down every year around this time.
The snow goose season for the Atlantic Population Zone is split running from Oct. 2 to Jan. 31, then again from Feb. 1 to Apr. 20.
Canada geese too have been feasting on cut fields of soybean and corn. The largest populations have taken up residency on the Lehigh River, mostly in the Northampton to Hokendauqua section. Others are at their usual haunts of Trexler Park and Cedar Beech ponds. Those birds appear to be hitting the vast cut corn fields belonging to Jaindl Farms.
Hunters should keep in mind that to hunt doves, a migratory game bird license is needed and for pheasants, a pheasant permit. For waterfowl, a migratory license and a federal duck stamp, in addition to a general hunting license that is required for all hunting.
Furbearer hunting seasons run through the winter months and include: foxes and raccoons until Feb. 17; porcupines until March 31; bobcats in WMUs 2A, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2H, 3A-B-C-D, 4D-E through Dec. 27.
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.