If you still have an unfilled buck and doe license, and have a muzzleloader license, the traditional post-Christmas flintlock deer hunting season gets underway Dec. 26 and runs until Jan 15 in twenty Wildlife Management Units (WMUs). For those who hunt in WMU 2B, 5C and 5D, that season runs Dec. 26 and extends a bit longer to Jan 27. There’s also the Extended Regular Firearms for antlerless deer in 2B, 5C and 5D from Dec. 26 to Jn. 27.
For you bowhunters, you may take an antlered and antlerless deer statewide from Dec. 26 to Jan. 15 and from Dec. 26 to Jan. 27 in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D.
While these big game seasons are ongoing, small game season restarts for squirrels and rabbits from Dec. 26 to Feb. 29. This is a good time to introduce a young hunter to the sport as hunting pressure for these species is virtually nil. And even better, there’s no lack of targets as squirrels are plentiful and seemingly everywhere. And they make good table fare as their meat is on the sweet side.
As for rabbits, they are more of a challenge to find unless you have a good hunting dog that can flush them from their hiding haunts. If there’s any snow on the ground, they can be easier to spot.
NATIONAL BOWHUNTER STUDY
The Archery Trade Association (ATA) conducted a nationwide study on bowhunter participation in 2021 and came away with some interesting numbers, one of which that was Pennsylvania was number one in the country.
ATA worked with state wildlife agencies and the National Deer Association to determine bowhunting participation for the 2021-22 hunting season. Through the study, ATA learned that there are 3,761,233 bowhunters in the United States. And the numbers reflect younger hunters coming into the sport, and part of that credit goes to the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) where youngsters 6-17 years of age made up 23 percent of all bowhunters. Hunters 65 and older saw an 8 percent average 3-year growth, and that’s likely due to easier to use crossbows.
The top state was Pennsylvania who had 331,000 bowhunters followed by the following, all with six digits: Wisconsin, 307,450; Michigan, 306,278; NewYork, 244,226; Mississippi, 202,726; Illinois, 173,710; Ohio, 172,967; Texas, 168,301 and Arkansas with 128,810.
The states that you would expect to have high numbers were surprisingly low such as Colorado, 11,963; Montana, 58,304 and Wyoming who had 4,063. The least expected state was Florida at 63,407 and the smallest number goes to Hawaii at 1,384.
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.