I know it's difficult to talk deer hunting in July, when it’s 80 degrees out and sunny, and Thanksgiving seems so far away, but there are things to do and plans to make in July if you want to claim all your deer-hunting opportunities this year.
We have a couple of out-of-state hunters that have missed out on antlerless deer hunting in the past because we did not communicate deadlines to them soon enough. There are also some changes and innovations that you need to know about, starting this year, the 2020-2021 hunting season, most notably deer hunting being open on the Sunday after Thanksgiving:
• Antlerless applications: You can get your pink envelope for mailing a license application from any agent who sells licenses. Mail the application to a selected county treasurer no earlier than:
Monday, July 13, for PA residents
Monday, July 20, for PA non-residents
Monday, Aug. 3, unsold licenses, 1st round
Monday, Aug. 17, unsold licenses, 2nd round
Monday, Aug. 24, over the counter sales, WMUs 2B, 5C, 5D
Monday, Oct. 5, over the counter, all other WMUs
• Sunday hunting has been limited to the pursuit of crows, foxes, and coyotes for years, but this year, we have additional opportunities: Sunday, Nov. 15 for archery deer hunting, Sunday Nov. 22 for bear hunting during the bear firearms season, and Sunday Nov. 29 for deer hunting during the firearms deer season. Last year the Commission rolled out the first Saturday Opening Day for deer, which I opposed, but now that we can hunt both Saturday and Sunday, I am less opposed. I wrote some articles in the past with titles like “No Saturday Opener without Sunday Hunting,” explaining my reasons.
• Adopted a 14-day concurrent firearms season for antlered and antlerless deer in 10 WMUs (which I oppose on the grounds that it is literally overkill) and retaining a split season in the remaining WMUs (which I support). The Commission also voted to raise the antlerless deer licenses available from 903,000 to 932,000.
• Extended the statewide archery deer season to end Nov. 30, giving bowhunters the opportunity to take advantage of peak and post-rut activity (which I oppose; bowhunters and especially crossbow hunters already have enough opportunities to kill trophy bucks before we firearms hunters get a chance to hunt).
• Permitted either-sex pheasant hunting statewide outside of Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas. To me, pheasant hunting has deteriorated into such a put-and-take industry, and ruffed grouse populations have fallen so dramatically, that although I was once an aficionado of wing-shooting in the Pennsylvania woods and fields with my old 16-gauge pump, I no longer bother.
• Opened squirrel season statewide on Sept. 12 to create more opportunities for younger hunters to get afield. I’m all for this one. Sharpshooting for squirrels with a .22 is good practice for deer season, especially for youngsters, and getting out there to stand watch under a grove of Hickory trees will be all the more enjoyable on a warm September afternoon.
• Shifted the statewide general bear season to run from Saturday through Tuesday, adding an additional Sunday opportunity for bear hunters. I have this to say about bear hunting: when I’m in the woods I like to be sure who exactly is the hunter and who is the hunted.
DON FEIGERT is the outdoors writer for The Herald and The Allied News. His latest book, The F-Troop Camp Chronicles, and his earlier books are available by contacting Don at 724-931-1699 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Browse his web site at www.donfeigert.com. Or visit Leana’s Books at the Shenango Valley Mall or in the Grove City Outlets.