HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 31, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While Pennsylvania's statewide fall archery deer season doesn't open until Sept. 29, archery hunters with an antlerless deer license for Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D can start hunting Saturday, Sept. 15, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe.
Statewide archers can hunt antlered or antlerless deer from Sept. 29 to Nov. 12, and during the late archery deer season, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 12.
The antlerless deer seasons in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, for those with antlerless licenses from these three urbanized WMUs, are Sept. 15-Sept. 28, and Nov. 12-Nov. 24. Bowhunters also may take antlered and antlerless deer in these units during the late archery season, which runs from Dec. 26-Jan. 26.
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. It also remains illegal to use dogs to track wounded deer.
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 build or occupy treestands screwed or nailed to trees on State Game Lands, state forests or state parks.
Hunters are reminded that Game Commission regulations limit the placement of portable hunting treestands and blinds on State Game Lands from two weeks before the opening of the first big game season – which is the archery deer season - to two weeks after the close of the last big game season – which is the late archery deer season - within each respective Wildlife Management Unit, excluding the spring gobbler season. Stands must be removed from State Game Lands two weeks after the late archery deer season.
"Hunters need to remember that placing 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.
HUNT WITH A VETERAN ON VETERAN'S DAY
Pennsylvania Game Commission officials, in partnership with the state chapters of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), are encouraging hunters to help veterans discover or rediscover the thrills and joys of hunting in Pennsylvania.
"This is an opportunity to do something special for the fine men and women who have served or continue to serve in America's armed forces," said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. "Our armed forces have defended our country and the rights we enjoy for more than two centuries."
In 2012, Veterans Day will be observed on Monday, Nov. 12, rather than the traditional Nov. 11, which falls on a Sunday this year. In recognition of this situation, the Board of Game Commissioners moved to extend this year's archery deer season to include the Monday holiday, for which many Pennsylvanians will have the day off of work.
"Since that action was taken by our Board, the Game Commission is encouraging licensed hunters to serve as a volunteer guide for a veteran not only as part of the archery deer season, but for any of the lawful species that may be hunted on Veterans Day or throughout the 2012-13 seasons."
Hunting seasons that are open on Nov. 12 include: archery deer; archery bear; fall turkey (in some Wildlife Management Units); squirrel; ruffed grouse; rabbit; pheasant; and various migratory game birds and furbearers.
The Game Commission offers several classifications of free or reduced fee licenses for resident active duty military, as well as former prisoners of war or disabled veterans. For more information, go to the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), put your cursor over "HUNT/TRAP" in the menu bar under the banner at the top of the page, then put your cursor over "Licensing & Permits" in the drop-down menu listing and then click on "License Types."
To recognize those who step up to serve as volunteer guides for a veteran, the Game Commission will conduct a drawing to present six framed fine-art wildlife prints. To be eligible for one of the prints, a participating hunter must submit a brief e-mail that outlines the name and address of the veteran taken afield, type of hunting taken part in, and county where the shared hunt took place. American Legion or VFW members who take another veteran hunting also should include their member number.
All participating hunters, including those not affiliated with the American Legion or VFW must send an e-mail to either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. A drawing will be held to select the six winners from all e-mails received by Dec. 31, 2012.
Hunters and veterans must meet licensing requirements and follow the laws and regulations that govern hunting in Pennsylvania.
ARCHERY BEAR AND DEER SEASONS TO OVERLAP IN URBAN WMUS
Archery deer hunters in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D will be able to participate in overlapping bear hunting opportunities as a means of achieving the Pennsylvania Game Commission's goal of reducing bear-human conflicts in these urbanized areas of southwestern and southeastern corners of the state.
Archery deer hunters, who also possess a valid bear license, will be able to participate in an archery bear season in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D from Sept. 15-28; and in WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D from Sept. 29 until Nov. 10. Additionally, the statewide archery bear season runs from Nov. 12-16.
Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year. Successful archery bear hunters must attach the bear harvest tag to the bear's ear and contact the appropriate region office within 24 hours for instructions to have the animals checked.
"Pennsylvania's black bear population is larger and more widely distributed than ever, and bear-human incidents are becoming commonplace, especially in more developed areas," said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. "Continued expansion of residential development into areas occupied by black bears has resulted in more frequent sightings and encounters between people and bears.
"In WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D, which all have relatively high human population densities, there currently are low bear densities. As part of the Game Commission's bear management plan, the agency wants to continue to have a minimum number of bears in these areas, and the agency wants hunters to have an opportunity to play an important role in bear population management in these urban/suburban areas."
THREE WAYS AVAILABLE TO REPORT A HARVEST
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 having 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 manufacturer'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).
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission