Will COVID-19 Affect Hunting Season?
All of us are in a weird time right now in the midst of a global pandemic. With that being said, hunters (especially turkey hunters) have been practicing social distancing and wearing face masks before it was normal to society. Events, gatherings, businesses and much more are closed for business currently, but what about hunting season in Pennsylvania?
As of now, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has stated that they will not be shutting down any of the hunting seasons, including the Spring Gobbler season which opened for youth on April 25th, and will open statewide on May 2nd. This is a relief for hunters as it is a way to get outside and escape the chaos in the world around us, but that doesn’t mean we should operate as “normal”. It is recommended that we still practice social distancing, which means that you should avoid hunting with others that you have not been exposed to. A good rule of thumb for this is if you don’t live together, then you shouldn’t hunt together during this time. If you live together, then you are already exposed to one another so hunting wouldn’t be an issue.
Another recommendation is that you should hunt close to home, meaning within 15 minutes of your house, if possible. This is a strong encouragement, not the law. You will not get in trouble for traveling further to hunt, but it is recommended that you do not. This may not affect those of us that live in or near the PA Wilds, but can be difficult for those living in more populated areas with less opportunities for public lands hunting. In Pennsylvania, it is a tradition to go to their hunting camps for the turkey season opener. I would use your best judgment in accordance with the CDC guidance.
I utilize the run-and-gun style of turkey hunting, which consists of hiking ridges and calling, looking for a response from a fired up gobbler. This style of hunting allows for distancing and open air. Others like to use ground blinds, especially in farm country to “ambush” the turkeys and call them into their decoy setup. Unless you’ve built your own, blinds do not typically have enough space to spread out 6 feet and maintain proper social distancing. Avoid using blinds if you are hunting with someone else.
This next recommendation should be a simple and easy one to comply with. Wear gloves and a face mask. I don’t know about you, but I am doing that anyways! A simple camouflage bandana and thin pair of gloves will do the trick.
In addition, other hunting seasons will still be open as scheduled including the venomous snake season that runs from the second Saturday in June until July 31st. We have a lot to look forward to with being able to enjoy the Wilds safely this hunting season. There are some notable changes that were approved recently including, Sunday hunting allowed on three sundays. The three Sundays include November 15th (archery deer season), November 22nd (Bear season) and November 29th (gun deer season). This will add to the change last year that opened rifle deer season the Saturday after Thanksgiving, continuing to increase the amount of time that hunters can spend outdoors. Keep up to date with the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website (link below), follow the CDC guidelines in reference to the Coronavirus, and enjoy the outdoors!
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