HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s only unofficial holiday – the Monday after Thanksgiving, which marks the opening day of the two-week general deer season – will feature nearly 750,000 individuals sporting fluorescent orange and camouflage clothing throughout Penn’s Woods, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe.
“Pennsylvania’s deer season has a dramatic and beneficial effect on the Commonwealth, as it provides hunters a chance to put venison in the freezer and stimulates a multi-million dollar economic surge that local businesses rely on,” Roe said. “In addition to being a rich part of our state’s heritage, deer season also is the most important method that the Game Commission has to manage Pennsylvania’s whitetails. The efforts of hunters are far-reaching, and they help to keep deer populations in check and enable the agency to meet deer management goals that benefit almost everyone who resides, visits or travels through this state.”
Roe noted that hunters will need to make sure that they have done their pre-season scouting, as fall food conditions will impact deer movements.
“Deer will respond to food availability and hunter pressure, both of which can vary from year to year, and from one area to another,” Roe said. “Our fall food survey suggests wildlife food abundance is quite variable this year. Some areas have good acorn crops; others have few or no acorns. So, as always, pre-season scouting can improve a hunter’s chance for success this year, particularly in the week leading up to the start of season.”
Deer season will open with a five-day, antlered deer-only season in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2C, 2D, 2E, 2G, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E from Nov. 29-Dec. 3. It is followed immediately in these WMUs by seven days of concurrent, antlered and antlerless deer hunting beginning Dec. 4, and continuing through Dec. 11. The rest of the state follows the two-week concurrent, antlered and antlerless season – Nov. 29-Dec. 11 – that has been in place since 2001.
Hunters must wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined at all times while afield during the seasons. They also are advised that it’s illegal to hunt, chase or disturb deer within 150 yards of any occupied building without the occupant’s permission if they are using a firearm, or 50 yards if they are using a bow or crossbow.
During the two-week season, hunters may use any legal sporting arm, as outlined on page 45 of the 2010-11 Digest. Rifles are not permitted to be used in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware or Montgomery counties. Deer hunters in Philadelphia may only use bows or crossbows.
All hunters who take a deer must fill out their harvest tag and attach it to the deer’s ear before moving the carcass. The tag can be secured to the base of the ear with a string drawn very tightly, if the hunter plans to have the deer mounted. Cutting a slit in the ear to attach the tag will require additional work by a taxidermist.
Roe noted that there is no concurrent bear season during any portion of this year’s deer season.
GAME COMMISSION POSTS FIELD FORECASTS ON WEBSITE
Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officers (WCOs), Land Management Group Supervisors (LMGSs) and foresters spend a considerable amount of time gathering information about wildlife population trends in their districts. With the hunting and trapping seasons in full swing, the Game Commission, once again, is sharing that information – through its website – with those who enjoy Penn’s Woods.
To view these field forecasts offered by Game Commission officers, go to the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and click on the “Field Officer Forecasts” photo link in the middle of the homepage, then select the region of interest in the map, and choose the WCO district of interest from the map. For LMGS or forester reports, select the link to the LMGS Group or forester link of interest within that region.
“Our field officers and foresters provide wildlife forecasts for small game, furbearers, wild turkey, bear and deer within their respective districts,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “These forecasts are based on sightings field officers have had in the months leading up to the 2010-11 seasons, and some offer comparisons to previous wildlife forecasts. Some WCOs and LMGSs include anecdotal information, as well as hunting and trapping leads in their districts.
“The Game Commission offers this information to hunters and trappers to help them in their pursuits afield. Many WCO, LMGS and forester reports offer information on where to hunt or trap, as well as guidance on where to get more information, particularly for trapping certain furbearers, such as beaver and coyotes.”
Roe noted the Game Commission divides the state’s 67 counties into six regions, and then each region is divided into WCO districts comprised of about 300 square miles each. There are 136 WCO districts statewide. Each of the 29 LMGS groups is comprised of several counties or portions of counties within each region, and seeks to equally distribute the amount of State Game Lands and public access lands within the region. The number of foresters ranges per region, from four to nine.
ONLINE HARVEST REPORTING AVAILABLE FOR DEER HARVESTS
Those participating in this year’s deer seasons will be able to file their harvest reports through the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s online system.
To report a deer harvest online, go to the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on “Report Your Harvest” above the “Quick Clicks” box in the right-hand column, check “Harvest Reporting,” scroll down and click on the “Start Here” button at the bottom of the page, choose the method of validating license information, and click on the checkbox for the harvest tag being reported. A series of options will appear for a hunter to report a harvest. After filling in the harvest information, click on the “Continue” button to review the report and then hit the “Submit” button to complete the report. Failing to hit the “Submit” button will result in a harvest report not being completed.
“Hunters may report one or more harvests in a single session,” Roe said. “Responses to all harvest questions are required.”
Roe noted that hunters still have the option to file harvest report postcards, which are included as tear-out sheets in the current digest.
Tips on tagging and reporting deer also are available on the Game Commission’s white-tailed deer section. This information can be accessed by going to the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), clicking on the “White-Tailed Deer” icon in the center of the homepage and then selecting “Tagging and Reporting Your Deer” in the “Deer Hunting” section.
“We certainly are encouraging hunters to use the online reporting system, which will ensure that their harvest is recorded,” Roe said. “Either way, the more important point is that all hunters who harvest a deer report it to the agency.”
HUNTERS REMINDED THAT LICENSES STILL MUST BE DISPLAYED
Hunters and trappers are reminded that they still are required to display their licenses on an outer garment, said Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe.
“The Game Commission is supporting legislation to remove the statutory requirement that licenses be displayed, and thereby allow hunters to place their hunting license in their wallet with other ID,” Roe said. “However, until such time as the General Assembly removes this statutory requirement, hunters and trappers will need to continue to display their licenses.”
HUNTERS CAN CHECK ON TRAFFIC AND ROAD CONDITIONS IN ADVANCE
Hunters can check traffic and road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of roadways by simply calling 511 or logging onto the Department of Transportation’s website (www.511pa.com) before heading out to deer camp this year.
“’511PA’ is Pennsylvania’s official travel information service,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “This service from PennDOT provides travelers with reliable, current traffic and weather information. This site enables hunters to check on the status of road conditions before heading out for camp.”
HUNTERS SHARING THE HARVEST A WORTHY CAUSE
Hunters who are successful in the upcoming deer hunting seasons are encouraged by the Pennsylvania Game Commission to consider participating in the state’s Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) program, which channels donations of venison to local food banks, soup kitchens and needy families. Pennsylvania’s HSH program is recognized as one of the most successful among similar programs in about 40 states.
“Using a network of local volunteer area coordinators and cooperating meat processors to process and distribute venison donated by hunters, HSH has really helped to make a difference for countless needy families and individuals in our state,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “Pennsylvanians who participate in this extremely beneficial program should be proud of the role they play. HSH truly does make a tremendous difference.”
Started in 1991, HSH has developed into a refined support service for organizations that assist the Commonwealth’s needy. Each year, Hunters Sharing the Harvest helps to deliver almost 200,000 meals to food banks, churches and social services feeding programs for meals provided to needy Pennsylvanians.
“This program is all about the generosity of hunters and their desire to help make a difference,” Roe said. “It’s a program that many hunters have become committed to and enjoy supporting. After all, what is more gratifying than providing needed food to families?”
As part of the program, hunters are encouraged to take a deer to a participating meat processor and identify how much of their deer meat – from an entire deer to several pounds – that is to be donated to HSH. If the hunter is donating an entire deer, they are asked to make a $15 tax-deductible co-pay, and HSH will cover the remaining processing fees. However, a hunter can cover the entire costs of the processing, which is tax deductible as well.
HSH established a statewide toll-free telephone number – 866-474-2141 – which also can answer hunters’ questions about where participating meat processors can be found or other general inquiries about the program.
To learn more about the program and obtain a list of participating meat processors and county coordinators, visit the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and click on “Hunters Sharing the Harvest” in the “Quick Clicks” box in the right-hand column of the homepage, or go to the HSH website (www.sharedeer.org).