Whitetails, waterfowl on the mind this fall
Right now the big-ticket item on every Pennsylvania hunter’s holiday shopping list is the whitetail deer, preferably a trophy buck. To that end, Keystone State hunters were out in force scouring our fields and forests when the firearms deer season opened yesterday (Monday, Nov. 28).
Mother nature provided perfect weather for the opener with temperatures hovering around freezing and calm skies when the season officially began at 6:36 a.m. That’s just about the same time I heard the first distant shot fired — call it the season’s opening gun — from my stand at an undisclosed Chesco location. For the next hour or so, as a warming sun began to rise, a smattering of gunfire, both near and far, reached my ears.
All told I heard around a dozen or so shots that morning. Apparently a few other Chester County deer hunters out there were successful in collecting their venison while my morning’s vigil failed to provide even the merest glimpse of any buck or doe -- not that I didn’t have a few close encounters during the archery season that ended here on Saturday.
While I passed up a few small but legal young bucks toting my bow and arrow around through a few Chesco woodlots, I never crossed paths with a real bruiser buck. The one exception to that was when a huge-bodied buck crossed a few yards in front of my treestand. I estimated that the buck would probably hit the scales at 200 pounds or more, but I let him go due to the deformed, undersized right antler his flawed headgear boasted.
Then, as the archery season wound down last week, I returned home from the morning’s hunt to discover the same cowfaced buck in my front yard casually chewing his cud. He had brazenly bedded down about halfway between one of my tree stands and my archery target. So I shot him... with my camera, and got some great photos of that nervy buck from my living room.
One other nice buck (this one I wouldn’t have passed up) appeared in my back yard a few times during archery season’s waning days. He twice ambled within bow range of another tree stand where I had been perched a few hours earlier, taunting my bad sense of timing. So I shot him too...again with my camera, this time from my back deck. Maybe I’ll get another crack at him during late archery season if I still have a tag to fill.
But whitetails aren’t the only items on the holiday hunter’s wish list. Waterfowl are also high on the list, especially Canada geese. Our South Zone duck season reopened last Tuesday, Nov. 22, and runs through Jan. 21. The Canada goose season here in our Atlantic Population Zone re-opened on Nov. 15 but closed on Saturday, Nov. 26. Apparently there were plenty of goose hunters out on Thanksgiving day, black Friday, and Saturday. A number of goose hunting sites with blinds and decoy spreads ring our Northbrook valley, and each of those three mornings I heard plenty of shotgun salvos from every direction listening from my unproductive tree stand. I assumed those hunters put a sizeable dent in our expansive Canada goose population.
Goose season here remains closed during our firearms deer season which ends on Dec. 10. Goose hunters here in the AP Zone will get yet another chance at their three goose daily limit when the season reopens on Dec. 17 and runs through the end of January, 2017.
By the way, if you’re like me and didn’t collect your venison yesterday (or during archery season) our mathematic chances for success are significantly dwindling. Last year 27 percent of the total deer harvest – and 47 percent of the buck harvest – occurred on opening day while deer bagged during archery seasons accounted for another 31 percent of the overall deer harvest.
But there’s still plenty of time to fill those deer tags (and don’t forget that our late archery season here in Wildlife Management Units 5C and 5D opens on Dec. 26 and runs clear through Jan. 28) so shoot straight, hunt safe, and good luck.
THREE-DAY BEAR HARVEST RESULTS
Hunters during the third day of Pennsylvania’s statewide bear season harvested 415 bears, raising the three-day total to 2,308, about an 8 percent decrease compared to the 2,487 bears taken during the first three days of the 2015 season. Archery and other early bear season harvest data is still being calculated.
Bears have been harvested in 53 counties during the statewide season so far with the top 10 bears processed at check stations were either estimated or confirmed to have live weights of 616 pounds or more. The largest of the state’s heaviest bears – a male estimated at 700 pounds – was taken in Barrett Township, Monroe County, by Chad D. Nauman, of Cresco, Pa. He took it with a rifle at about 7 a.m. on Nov. 19, the season’s opening day.
This nice 8-point buck appeared beneath Tatum’s tree stand on black Friday. Unfortunately, Tatum was elsewhere at the time.
This white faced buck bedded down in Tatum’s front yard last week. The photo was taken from his living room.