Pa. deer rifle season starts Saturday
The 2021-22 Pennsylvania Deer Season kicks off with the opening of rifle season this weekend. The antlered deer season opens up statewide with buck hunters in the woods trying to fill their buck tags with whatever antler rules are in their WMU's.
In the Butler County area, we are required to follow the 3-up rule which means the deer are required to be showing three points on their main beams and we need to ignore the eye guards for a legal buck.
Pennsylvania has the second largest hunter population in the United States with 887,221 licensed hunters. In case you were wondering, Texas was first and Michigan was third in hunter numbers. In the most recent license sales figures, PA had over 52,000 non-resident license sales as well.
I know that many families in western PA have relocated relatives come home for Thanksgiving and then stay for a few days of hunting afterwards. I expect to see several family members come back to PA from Wisconsin, Michigan and Virginia. I have other friends who have relatives come back from Alabama, Florida, Ohio and West Virginia. The hunting dollars across the country can really be a boost to local businesses in rural areas.
Some areas that continue to grow in popularity with hunters is in the deer archery season as over 373,000 archers have obtained licenses to hunt deer in Pennsylvania. That is one area that continues to grow each year and many hunters have been successful in the early fall hunts in October and November. Another area that has garnered more interest is in the PA Elk hunts with 79,417 license applications in recent years.
The applications cost $10.90, but the luck of the draw determines which lucky hunter can buy a license for the less than 200 awarded each year and then you pay $25 for residents and $250 for a non-resident license, which is a deal if you look at other states' license fees.
In general, you should have an idea where you would like to hunt for the Saturday opener. A few years back, the PA Game Commission changed up the traditional Monday Opening Day and allowed hunters to have one more weekend to hunt. Adding a Sunday gives hunters from Nov. 27 to Dec. 11 to hunt. There is only one Sunday open to hunting (Nov. 28) and we now have concurrent seasons in WMU 2D, which means both deer sexes are allowed to be harvested with the proper tags.
Hunters in WMU 1A cannot harvest an antlerless deer until the Saturday preceding the last week of the rifle season (Dec. 4). The PGC reports that the deer harvest has been at its peak the past 15 years and that plenty of deer have been observed in Penn's Woods.
Some basic safety and preparations should be made before you hit the woods for the deer season. For example, let's check your hunting basics; hunting licenses signed and, on your person, identification if you are asked to present it, firearms and ammunition in good condition, field dressing materials including a knife, gloves and zip tie for your tag to be attached, drag rope or conveyance to get your deer out of the woods.
Dragging a deer can cause a lot of stress on older hunters and should be avoided if you are not in good health. Wait for help or ask companions to assist you. You need the to hunt with others and look out for each other for a good experience. Always let someone know the location where you are hunting and carry a phone for emergencies as well.
Don't forget water to keep hydrated and a first aid kit, at least in your vehicle. Some light snacks or high energy foods will be welcome if you sit on a stand all day. The weather will likely be in the 30-degree mark, so some hot soup or liquids can help you ward off the cold. Dress in layers, have good gloves and boots because once the feet, head and hands get cold, it can get mighty uncomfortable.
If you are fortunate to harvest a deer, remember to properly tag the deer before relocating or moving the deer. If you decide that you want to share the deer with others or a food bank, remember to take the deer to a processor that is part of the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program.
They will make sure that the deer is going to help those who use the venison to feed a family. Until we meet again keep your eye sand ears sharp for those elusive white tails!