PA Game Commission Wishes Bowhunters Safe Days Afield
October 1, 2013
statewide archery deer season begins Saturday, Oct. 5, and its return is
prompting the Pennsylvania Game Commission to issue some helpful reminders.
can hunt statewide for antlered or antlerless deer from Oct. 5 to Nov. 16, and
during the late archery deer season, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 11.
time of the statewide opener, archery hunters in three urbanized areas of the
state will have had a two-week head start to their seasons. Again this year, an
early season for antlerless deer was implemented in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D. That
season kicked off on Sept. 21.
in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, also may take antlered and antlerless deer during an
extended late archery season, which runs from Jan. 13 to Jan. 25.
hunters may 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 draw weight
of at least 125 pounds.
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.
often as you can, and scout every time you head afield,” Game Commission
Executive Director Carl G. 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.”
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 that is broadside or quartering away. Archery and crossbow
hunters should shoot only at deer that are within their maximum effective
shooting range – the farthest distance from which a hunter can consistently
place arrows or bolts into a pie pan-sized target.
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
stands and climbing devices that cause damage to trees are unlawful to use or
occupy unless the user has written permission from the landowner. Tree stands –
or tree steps – penetrating a tree’s cambium layer cause damage, and it is
unlawful to build or occupy tree stands screwed or nailed to trees on state
game lands, state forests or state parks.
are reminded that Game Commission regulations limit the placement of portable
hunting tree stands 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.
need to remember that placing a tree stand 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.”
safety tips bowhunters should consider before heading afield and while hunting
• 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 tree stand. 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 tree stand. Trying to climb with either will place you at
• Don’t sleep in a tree stand! 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 tree
stand before dawn on the opening day of the season. Consider placing non-slip
material on the deck of your tree stand 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.
in Disease Management Areas:
hunting and harvesting deer within either of the state’s two Disease Management
Areas (DMAs) must comply with special rules aimed at slowing the spread of
chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania.
deer parts – essentially the head and backbone/spinal cord – may not be
transported outside the DMA.
deer can be taken to a cooperating taxidermist or deer processor associated
with a DMA, and the processed meat and/or finished taxidermy mounts may be
removed from the DMA when ready. Successful hunters who intend to do their own
processing and who need to transport deer meat or other low-risk parts outside
a DMA may stop by one of four state game lands within the DMAs where dumpsters
have been set up to collect high-risk parts.
parts dumpsters have been set up at State Game Lands 249, 242, 147 and 41, and
the exact addresses of their locations are available at the Game Commission’s
hunters who live in a DMA also may use the dumpsters, but those hunters can
also dispose of high-risk parts by bagging them with household trash and
sending them for disposal.
the method of disposal, hunters are asked to do their part to make sure
high-risk parts end up in a landfill and away from free-ranging deer. Because
CWD can be passed from deer to deer through direct as well as indirect contact,
and because the prion that causes CWD can live in the soil – perhaps forever –
hunters should understand that dumping deer carcasses on the landscape only
increases the risk of spreading CWD.
state’s two DMAs are the result of deer in those areas testing positive for
CWD, which is fatal to deer and elk, but is not known to be transmitted to
humans. DMA 1 encompasses a 600-square-mile area of York and Adams counties.
DMA2 encompasses nearly 900 square miles in Blair, Bedford, Huntingdon and
Cambria counties. Maps detailing the perimeters of the DMAs also are available
at the Game Commission’s website.
hunting in the DMAs, the use of urine-based attractants is prohibited.
feeding of deer within DMAs also is prohibited.
Commission plans to sample about 1,000 deer within each DMA this year to
determine the prevalence of CWD, but not every deer taken to a cooperating
processor or taxidermist, or dropped at a high-risk part dumpster, will be
tested for CWD.
want to ensure the deer they harvest will be tested, they need to make
arrangements to drop off a sample of their deer at the Pennsylvania Department
of Agriculture veterinary lab in Harrisburg. There is a fee for the test.
Taking a deer head to the lab for testing is an approved exception to the rule
prohibiting removal of high-risk parts from a DMA. The head should be
double-bagged in a plastic garbage bag before transport.
who are interested in CWD tests can call the Department of Agriculture at
717-787-8808, or click on the CWD link at the department’s website,