HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania's fall archery deer season is set to open throughout the Commonwealth, and represents the beginning of big game hunting seasons in the state, said Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe.
Statewide archers can hunt antlered or antlerless deer from Oct. 1 to Nov. 12, and the late statewide archery deer season runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 16.
However, bowhunters who purchased and received antlerless deer licenses to hunt in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D were able to begin their season on Sept. 17-Sept. 30, for antlerless deer only. Hunters in these three urbanized WMUs also have extra antlerless deer hunting opportunities from Nov. 14-Nov. 26. Bowhunters also may take antlered and antlerless deer in these units from Dec. 26-Jan. 28.
Archery hunters may choose to use a long, recurve or compound bow, or a crossbow. Bows must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds; crossbows must have a minimum drawn weight of at least 125 pounds. Broadheads on either an arrow or a bolt must have an outside diameter or width of at least seven-eighths inches with at least two cutting edges on the same plane throughout the length of the cutting surface, and shall not exceed three inches in length.
The Game Commission encourages hunters to spend as much time as possible afield this fall prior to and during the hunting seasons to pattern deer movements and identify areas where fall foods are abundant.
"Hunt as often as you can, and scout every time you head afield," Roe said. "Try to figure out which food sources deer are using. And pay attention to prevailing wind direction. These adjustments really can make a difference."
Those participating in the archery seasons are urged to take only responsible shots at deer to ensure a quick, clean kill. For most, that's a shot of 20 yards or less at a deer broadside or quartering away. Archery and crossbow hunters should shoot at only deer that are within their maximum effective shooting range - the furthest distance from which a hunter can consistently place arrows or bolts into a pie pan-sized target.
Hunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts; they aid in tracking or locating the arrow or bolt after being launched. However, transmitter-tracking arrows still are illegal.
Treestands and climbing devices that cause damage to trees are unlawful to use or occupy unless the user has written permission from the landowner. Treestands - or tree steps - penetrating a tree's cambium layer cause damage, and it is unlawful to construct or occupy constructed treestands on State Game Lands, state forests or state parks.
Hunters are reminded of a new regulation that limits the placement of portable hunting treestands and blinds from two weeks before the opening of the first big game season to two weeks after the close of the last big game season within each respective Wildlife Management Unit, excluding the spring gobbler season. As approved, hunters will be able to place their treestands on State Game Lands two weeks prior to the archery deer season, and then have to remove the stands two weeks after the late flintlock deer seasons.
"Hunters need to remember that locating a treestand on State Game Lands does not reserve a hunting area," Roe said. "The first person to arrive in a certain spot has the right to hunt that area."
Other safety tips bowhunters should consider before heading afield and while hunting include:
- Make sure someone knows where you're hunting and when you expect to return home. Leave a note or topographic map with your family or a friend. Pack a cellular telephone for emergencies.
- Always use a fall-restraint device - preferably a full-body harness - when hunting from a treestand. Wear the device from the moment you leave the ground until you return. Don't climb dead, wet or icy trees. Stay on the ground on blustery days.
- Get in good physical condition before the season starts. Fatigue can impact judgment, coordination and reaction time, as well as accuracy. Staying physically fit makes a difference.
- Always carry a whistle to signal passersby in the event you become immobile. A compass and matches or lighter and tinder also are essential survival gear items to have along. An extra flashlight bulb also can be helpful.
- Use a hoist rope to lift your bow and backpack to your treestand. Trying to climb with either will place you at unnecessary risk.
- Don't sleep in a treestand! If you can't stay awake, return to the ground.
- Always carry broadhead-tipped arrows in a protective quiver.
- If you use a mechanical release, always keep your index finger away from the trigger when drawing.
- Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for all equipment and check your equipment before each use.
- Practice climbing with your treestand before dawn on the opening day of the season. Consider placing non-slip material on the deck of your treestand if it's not already there.
- Never walk with a nocked, broadhead-tipped arrow or bolt.
- Cocked crossbows should always be pointed in a safe direction. Keep your thumb and fingers below the crossbow's string and barrel at all times.
ONLINE AND TELEPHONE HARVEST REPORTING AVAILABLE
Those participating in the state's archery deer seasons can file their harvest reports through one of three methods to the Pennsylvania Game Commission: postage-paid postcards, online and through a toll-free telephone system.
As always, postage-paid postcards are included in the annual hunting digest for those hunters who choose to mail in their report cards.
To report a deer harvest online, go to the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on "Report Your Harvest" in the upper right-hand corner, 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 using the toll-free telephone reporting system can call the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) number, which is 1-855-PAHUNT1 (1-855-724-8681). Those using the toll-free number to submit a harvest report will receive a confirmation number, which they should write down and keep as proof of reporting. Callers should have their Customer Identification Number (hunting license number) and field harvest tag information with them when they call, and they should speak clearly and distinctly when reporting harvests, especially when providing the Wildlife Management Unit number and letter.
"Hunters may report one or more harvests in a single online or telephone session," Roe said. "Responses to all harvest questions are required.
"We certainly are encouraging hunters to use the online or telephone reporting system, which will ensure that their harvest is recorded. Either way, the more important point is that all hunters who harvest a deer report it to the agency."
GAME COMMISSION OFFERS ONLINE TREESTAND SAFETY COURSE
As treestand use is a popular part of archery deer seasons, as well as other deer seasons, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is offering hunters the opportunity to take a free, voluntary online treestand safety course.
To take the course, go to the agency's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), put your cursor on "Education" in the menu bar under the banner, then put your cursor on "Hunter Education" in the drop-down menu list, and then click on "Online Treestand Safety Course" in the drop-down menu list.
"Treestand safety has evolved over the years as new research and statistics become available," said Keith Snyder, Game Commission Hunter-Trapper Education Division chief. "What were once considered to be 'safe' treestand safety practices 10 years ago are simply not considered 'safe' today.
"By reviewing this 15-minute interactive, narrated treestand safety course, a hunter will learn about the latest Treestand Manufacturers Association's safety standards and guidelines."
Snyder noted that, in 2000, the Game Commission incorporated a specific treestand safety segment into its basic Hunter-Trapper Education course, which is required for all first-time license buyers regardless of age, as well as its voluntary Bowhunter education course.
"One of the key messages is the importance of a have and using a full-bodied fall restraint device or harness," Snyder said. "According to the Treestand Manufacturers Association, 82 percent of treestand-related deaths were attributed to the fact that the hunter was not using a fall-restraint devise."
Other treestand safety messages include:
Stay away! - Avoid permanent stands; they weaken with age, damage trees and are eyesores.
Smart choice! - Used stands certified by the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA). They are commercially designed and tested to meet high standards.
Read the directions! - Read and follow manufacture's guidelines. Practice with stands before hunting.
Look carefully! - Inspect all stands and climbing equipment before each use.
Choose wisely! - Select only suitable trees. Avoid dead trees or those with loose bark.
Buckle up! - Use a fall-restraint device, preferably a full-body harness, any time your feet leave the ground. This includes climbing up and down the tree. Choose a harness that will keep you upright and will not restrict your breathing.
Keep it short! - Make sure there is no slack in the fall-restraint tether when you are in a sitting position.
Hold on tight! - Maintain three points of contact – at least two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot – with the climbing system, ladder or tree at all times while climbing. And remember to use a fall restraint system, preferably a full-body harness, anytime your feet leave the ground.
Climb safely! - Use a haul line to pull up gear. If hunting with a firearm, make sure it is unloaded and the muzzle is covered! Never attach the line near the trigger or trigger guard.
Ask a friend! - Use 3 persons to set up any ladder-type treestand.
Hunt with a plan! - In the event of a fall, be prepared to help yourself. Have someone contact authorities if you don't return at an established time.
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 unique 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).
HUNTERS/TRAPPERS REMINDED THAT LICENSES STILL MUST BE DISPLAYED
Hunters and trappers are reminded that they still are required to display their licenses in the middle of the back as has been done for many, many years, 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."
SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission