Happy hol­i­days for sec­ond-sea­son hun­ters

The Community Connection - - SPORTS - By Tom Tatum [email protected]­hoo.com

‘Tis the sea­son once again (hunt­ing sea­son that is) so if Santa left a shot­gun, rim­fire ri­fle, flint­lock, bow, or cross­bow un­der your tree or stuffed your stock­ing full of ammo on Christ­mas morn­ing, you’re in luck. That’s be­cause to­mor­row, Wed­nes­day Dec. 26, (and for many days af­ter) an­other hol­i­day gift cour­tesy of the Penn­syl­va­nia Game Com­mis­sion awaits you. The day af­ter Christ­mas has be­come the tra­di­tional late sea­son re­opener for hun­ters in quest of an im­pres­sive pot­pourri of Key­stone State game.

To a great ex­tent th­ese sea­sons rep­re­sent a last chance for deer hun­ters. The statewide late archery and flint­lock muz­zleloader deer sea­sons run con­cur­rently from Dec. 26 to Jan. 12. Also, the late antler­less deer sea­son here in WMUs 5C and 5D (most of Ch­ester County)along with the flint­lock and archery sea­sons here stretch from Dec. 26 through Jan. 26.

Flint­lock fans are most ap­pre­cia­tive of the late sea­son since it pro­vides them with a chance to bag that elu­sive buck with this most prim­i­tive of sport­ing arms. The early muz­zleloader sea­son back in Oc­to­ber lim­ited them to antler­less deer only and also per­mit­ted mod­ern in-line muz­zle load­ing ri­fles to be used.

First, some ad­vice for those proud new flint­lock own­ers: Keep your pow­der dry. Don’t be a flash in the pan. And for good­ness sake, don’t go off half-cocked. While all th­ese ex­pres­sions have be­come a generic part of our col­lo­quial lex­i­con, they trace their ori­gins to that most prim­i­tive of firearms, the old re­li­ably un­re­li­able flint­lock ri­fle with all of its quirky lit­tle idio­syn­cra­sies that make each shot an ad­ven­ture in prob­a­bil­ity.

Reg­u­la­tions dur­ing the late flint­lock sea­son are very spe­cific. Only sin­gle-bar­rel guns with a flint­lock ig­ni­tion sys­tem are per­mit­ted. The firearm must be an orig­i­nal or re­pro­duc­tion of a gun used prior to 1800, which is .44 cal­iber or larger (or .50 cal­iber or larger hand­gun) with iron, open “V” or notched sights. Te­le­scopic sights are un­law­ful but peep sights are per­mit­ted. Flint­lock muz­zleloader hun­ters may use “any sin­gle pro­jec­tile” and are not re­stricted to tra­di­tional patched round balls.

Hun­ters us­ing archery or muz­zleloader li­censes and hunt­ing with those spe­cial sport­ing arms are not re­quired to wear flu­o­res­cent or­ange cloth­ing while afield, but are en­cour­aged to do so where the sea­sons over­lap with late sea­son firearms deer hun­ters. Spe­cial reg­u­la­tions area hun­ters must wear 250 square inches of flu­o­res­cent or­ange cloth­ing, un­less they pos­sess an archery or muz­zleloader li­cense and are hunt­ing with a bow, flint­lock or cross­bow.

If your tastes run more to small game, you’re also in luck this hol­i­day sea­son if you want to break in that new rim­fire ri­fle or shot­gun. The late small game sea­sons in­clude squir­rel, Dec. 26 to Feb. 28; rab­bit, Dec. 26 to Feb. 28; and snow­shoe hare, Dec. 26-Jan. 1 In ad­di­tion, male and fe­male pheas­ant hunt­ing is avail­able from Dec. 26 to Feb. 28.

Dove sea­son re­opened Dec. 18 and runs thru Jan. 5. Crows may be hunted on Fri­days, Satur­days and Sun­days through April 14. Por­cu­pines may be hunted through March 30 with a daily limit of three, sea­son limit of 10.

Wa­ter­fowl hun­ters have nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties, some stretch­ing clear into the month of April. Hun­ters can take Canada geese and white-fronted geese here in the At­lantic Pop­u­la­tion Zone through Jan­uary 31 (the late sea­son opened on Dec. 15) with a daily limit of three. Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mer­gansers may be hunted here in the South Zone un­til Jan. 19 in a sea­son that opened back on Nov. 20.

In the in­ter­est of full dis­clo­sure I’ll re­veal that Santa left a Red­neck Wa­ter­fowl blind un­der my tree on Christ­mas morn­ing (with help from my won­der­ful wife) and I plan to set it up for some Canada goose hunt­ing in the next few weeks -- at least on days when I’m not try­ing to fill my buck tag via flint­lock, com­pound, or cross­bow. In­ci­den­tally, based on my ob­ser­va­tions, plenty of deer sur­vived our reg­u­lar sea­sons.

Furbearer hunt­ing sea­sons also con­tinue through the win­ter months, in­clud­ing: no closed sea­son on coyotes; red and gray foxes and rac­coons un­til Feb. 16; rac­coons, un­til Feb. 16; bob­cats, for those with spe­cial per­mits, from Jan. 20 to Feb. 6 in WMUs 2A, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4C, 4D and 4E; and skunks, opos­sums and weasels have no closed sea­son. Furbearer trap­ping sea­sons in­clude: beavers, Dec. 26-March 31; minks and muskrats, un­til Jan. 6; rac­coons, skunks, opos­sums, foxes and weasels, un­til Feb. 17; and bob­cats, for those with spe­cial per­mits in WMUs 2A, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4C, 4D and 4E un­til Jan. 11. Beaver trap­ping sea­son be­gins on Dec. 26, and runs rough March 31. Trap­ping for fish­ers for those with spe­cial per­mits be­gan on Dec. 15 and ends on Dec. 26.

One last cau­tion­ary note to Ch­esco deer hun­ters over the next few weeks: don’t for­get you’ll be shar­ing the deer woods with bowhunters dressed in cam­ou­flage, flint­lock­ers decked out in buck­skin, and shot­gun­ners draped in flu­o­res­cent or­ange. As al­ways, shoot straight, hunt safe, and al­ways re­spect the landown­ers.


Sec­ond sea­son hun­ters wield­ing flint­locks or archery gear will still be at­tempt­ing to fill their buck­tags, even on young bucks like this one.

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