The much anticipated and highly popular Pennsylvania bow-hunting season for antlered deer kicks off Sat., Oct. 1. That’s in addition to the current antlerless season that started here in Wildlife Management Unit 5C (and 2B, 5D) on Sept. 17.
Despite that early season that the Pennsylvania Game Commission employs to cull overpopulated deer herds in certain areas, many avid trophy buck bow hunters refrain from hunting during the early antlerless season so as to not spook antlered deer they may have spotted during discreet scouting trips.
It doesn’t take much to alert bucks of intruders into their domain. They’ll either move out of the area or go nocturnal if crossing scented paths of hunters. Even though it may mean traveling farther for their late summer food supply.
Here in our area of WMU 5C, corn and soybean fields are plentiful and deer are gorging themselves with these food staples. I’ve inadvertently spooked deer that not only fed in the middle of corn fields, but were also bedded down there as they didn’t have to travel to eat. Upon closer inspection, I found the areas littered with deer droppings that I took as a sign they were bedded there.
A few years back, during the third week of the bow buck season, I was driving along old Route 22 in Fogelsville and spotted what looked like antler tips in a soybean field that belongs to Jaindl Farms. I stopped and got out my binoculars to get a better view and couldn’t believe what I saw. There in midfield was a hefty 8-point buck just lazily lying there but without movement. I’m sure it didn’t move until dark.
The bow season has grown steadily in Pennsylvania and other states. I have talked to deer hunters who say they only hunt for deer with bows anymore as they gave up their rifles completely as bow and arrow is more challenging. As an example of bow season’s popularity, consider that Pennsylvania ranks third in the country in archery license sales (286,297 in 2009) according to a survey by Archery Business Magazine. Pennsylvania is only topped by Michigan (300,000) and Ohio who went from 300,000 in 2008 to 325,000 in ‘09, the increase is due in part to the legalization of crossbows.
Over in neighboring New Jersey, 19,964 archery licenses were sold in 2008 then jumped to 36,410 in 2009. Of this, 34,169 were resident bowhunters and 2,241 were nonresidents that most likely came from Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s increase, says Archery Business, was also due to the legalization of crossbows that give older and young hunters an opportunity they could not have had with traditional bows.
The most notable decline, says the magazine, is in West Virginia, which went from 150,000 in 2008 to 81,000 in 2009. They don’t say why that happened, but having hunted there I can only think it’s the terrain, which is predominately very hilly in this coal producing state.
All totaled, Archery Business says there are 3.49 million bowhunters in the U.S.
The archery bow season here in 5C runs until Nov. 12 as it does elsewhere in the state. However, the extended season for both species extends to Jan. 28 in 5C (and 2B, 5D) as opposed to Jan. 16 throughout the remainder of the state.
Allentown hunters should not have trouble finding deer in Lehigh County. For public hunting there’s State Game Lands (SGL) 205 in Lowhill Township located off Route 100, and SGL 217 that encompasses the Blue Mountain ridge from Route 248 westward to the Berks County line. There’s also some limited hunting at the northern portion of Leaser Lake, the northern tier of Lehigh Valley Zoo (formerly the Trexler Game Preserve for those who remember) and the wooded plot owned by Lehigh County and across from the baseball fields on Scheresville Road in Whitehall Township. The latter two came courtesy of Don Cunningham, Lehigh County Executive. And if you secure some private land, better yet.
UNIQUE CROSSBOW ACCIDENT
According to the Outdoor Pressroom, Florida Fish & Wildlife reported that a bizarre accident left a Levy County, Florida hunter with a puncture wound and several broken bones after his crossbow misfired while he was cocking it, sending the bolt through his foot and pinning it to the floor of the Polaris Ranger ATV he was seated in.
John Hammond, 21, a paraplegic, unsuccessfully tried to free his foot then attempted to drive for help and became stuck. Members of the hunt club where he was to hunt, found him and summoned paramedics.
As safe as they’re engineered, crossbows can still inflict injury including tearing off a finger or two if put on the rail as the string is released.
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