Bow Ties: Deer archery season opened September 29
By Ryan Reed
Few things are more exciting to me than the bowhunting season for white-tailed deer, which opened statewide September 29. There are so many reasons to love it—the smell of the air, the autumn colors, the still-warm temperatures, and sights and sounds of wildlife. Birds and mammals are seemingly at their most active stage, hoarding and eating as much as possible to prepare for winter. Plus, there’s the white-tail rut, which kicks in toward the end of October.
On a magical day afield in October many years ago, I saw the “Pa. slam” in just a few hours. First, there was a massive and loud flock of turkeys. About a half-hour later, a sow and two cubs came to within 20 yards. Once the sow winded me, she stood on her hind legs to look for me. It wasn’t long before she and her cubs sprinted off. One hour later a big 8-point buck ran a doe right by my tree stand. I even flushed a grouse on my way in, while also observing fox and grey squirrels the whole time. It seemed every forest critter was up and about. Bowhunters relish the enthralling show Mother Nature annually performs during fall, which is why they keep coming back, year after year. The bonus of filling one’s freezer with venison can be an even greater reward.
Deer numbers seem to be strong this year, with indications of above-average populations in the northcentral and southcentral regions of the state. Areas with typically high deer numbers (suburbs around Pittsburgh and Philadelphia) are expected to be similar. The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) reports deer numbers to be increasing or stable, statewide. When queried on their opinions regarding deer numbers in their respective forest districts, district foresters reported increasing or stable numbers, overall. This bodes well for an excellent season afield.
Hunters are reminded that there are now three chronic wasting disease (CWD) management areas (DMAs), the most recent addition being in the southeast. Successful hunters should be aware that head drop bins are available for eventual testing of harvested animals, and DCNR has arranged (in conjunction with the PGC) to increase the availability of these receptacles. It is important to note the vital role hunters must play to combat the spread of this insidious disease, by avoiding moving high-risk parts out of DMAs, refraining from feeding and using salt blocks, and using other best practices. For more information on CWD in Pennsylvania, please click here.
If you plan to be out, please remember to adhere to basic tree stand and shooter safety practices, and best wishes for a rewarding archery season!
Learn more about hunting seasons and bag limits here.
Details about hunting in the Pennsylvania Wilds can be found here.
About the Author: Ryan Reed is an Environmental Education Specialist in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry. He possesses degrees in Wildlife and Fisheries Science and Wildlife Technology, while currently pursuing a master’s degree in Environmental Pollution Control. He has also worked for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and taught high school sciences for 11 years. He is especially interested in biodiversity and ecology. A lifelong hunting and fishing enthusiast, Ryan resides in Harrisburg, PA. This article was originally published DCNR Bureau of Forestry’s Forest Fridays e-newsletter. Learn more about DCNR Bureau of Forestry here.