Pennsylvania archery deer season almost here

·12 min read

Sep. 18—WILKES-BARRE — All any hunter can ask for is opportunity — the opportunity to get afield, the opportunity to look for game, the opportunity to perhaps fill a tag.

Pennsylvania's upcoming archery deer season offers all of that over the span of nearly two months.

But then, that's no secret. Lots of hunters — more than 330,000 annually — realize its potential and take to the woods, bow in hand.

The 2022-23 statewide archery season runs from Oct. 1 to Nov. 12, continues on Sunday, Nov. 13, then goes from Nov. 14 to 18. It comes back in from Dec. 26 to Jan. 16, 2023.

"Pennsylvania's archery deer season is an amazing time to be afield," said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. "With autumn's vibrant colors and increasingly cooler temperatures serving as the backdrop, the season gives hunters the chance to chase whitetails before, during and after the peak of the rut. It's clear hunters appreciate that opportunity and are taking advantage of it."

Indeed, resident archery license sales hit an all-time high in 2020 and — while dropping slightly from that peak — still reached 341,885 in 2021. That's the second-highest sales total of the last dozen years.

Non-resident archery license sales mirror that trend, with 2021's total of 19,099 trailing only 2020's record of 19,164.

Those aren't the only archers in the woods either. Holders of junior and senior lifetime combination licenses can likewise participate in archery season and, with senior combo licenses at record levels, an untold number surely do.

Opportunity surely has something to do with that. The Game Commission added a seventh week to the statewide archery season in 2020, providing more flexibility and a chance to hunt deeper into the whitetail breeding season. Hunters will enjoy that extra time again this year.

Last season, hunters harvested an estimated 130,650 deer in the archery season — 68,580 antlered, 62,070 antlerless. Week one was the most productive for antlerless deer, weeks five and six tops for antlered deer.

That archery harvest is important to deer management statewide, in all WMUS, without being too large, said David Stainbrook, Deer and Elk Section Chief for the Game Commission. He pointed out that many archers also are rifle hunters. If they take a deer in archery season, they're just taking advantage of the seasons available and filling their tags earlier in fall.

"We continually monitor our deer harvest to ensure that our goals and objectives are still being met in each WMU," Stainbrook said.

Opportunity doesn't automatically equate to success, though, so to help hunters get the most from archery season, the Game Commission is offering some reminders and tips.

Archery hunters may use long, re-curve or compound bows, or crossbows. Bows must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds; crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125 pounds.

The Game Commission encourages hunters to spend as much time as possible afield this fall prior to and during the hunting seasons to scout and identify areas where deer are traveling and bedding and where fall foods are abundant.

Food availability changes from year to year, and in areas where food is spotty, deer often move to find better feed. Hotspots change from one year to the next, even from the start to the close of the season, so tracking deer activity and keying in on food sources is important.

Bow hunters should practice with their equipment before the season starts, from the ground and/or an elevated stand, and take only responsible shots at deer to ensure a quick, clean kill. Archery hunters should take only broadside or quartering-away shots at deer within their maximum effective shooting range, which differs for each hunter depending on their skill level and type of equipment used.

Hunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts, as they aid in tracking or locating the arrow or bolt after being launched. However, transmitter-tracking arrows are illegal.

Tree 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.

Portable hunting tree stands and blinds are allowed on state game lands, but not until two weeks before the opening of the archery deer season. Hunters must remove them no later than two weeks after the close of the flintlock and late archery deer seasons in the WMU being hunted.

In all cases, tree stands on state game lands also must be conspicuously marked with a durable identification tag that identifies the stand owner. Those tags must include the hunter's first and last name and legal home address, the nine-digit CID number that appears on their hunting license, or their unique Sportsman's Equipment ID number. Hunters can find their number in their HuntFishPA online profile or on their printed license.

Hunters who plan to be afield on private property on the Sundays open to archers must carry with them written permission from the landowner to be there.

Safety tips for bow hunters

—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 cellphone for emergencies.

—Practice climbing with your tree stand before the opening day of the season, especially at dawn and dusk. Consider placing non-slip material on the deck of your tree stand if it's not already there.

—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.

—Use a hoist rope to lift your bow and backpack to your tree stand. Trying to climb with either will place you at unnecessary risk.

—Don't sleep in a tree stand! If you can't stay awake, return to the ground.

—Keep yourself in good physical condition. Fatigue can impact judgment, coordination, and reaction time, as well as accuracy.

—Always carry broadhead-tipped arrows in a protective quiver. Know how to uncock a crossbow safely, too.

—If you use a mechanical release with a vertical bow, 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.

—Avoid walking with a nocked, broadhead-tipped arrow or bolt.

—Cocked crossbows should always be pointed in a safe direction. Know how to uncock your crossbow at the end of legal hunting hours.

—Always carry a whistle to signal passersby in the event you become immobile. A compass or GPS unit and map, matches or lighter and tinder also are essential survival gear items to have along. A flashlight with extra bulbs and/or a portable charger for the light and your phone also can be helpful.

Venison care

While hunting in October often offers pleasant days afield, the warm weather also presents challenges for successful deer hunters.

One is making sure they wind up with high-quality venison for the table.

Deer harvested when the weather is warm should be field dressed quickly, then taken from the field and cooled down as soon as possible. Refrigerating is best. While hanging a deer carcass in a shady area might be fine in cooler temperatures, it's not so good when air temperatures are above 40 degrees.

Additional information on warm-weather venison care, as well as instructions on deer processing and other tips, are available on the white-tailed deer page on the Game Commission's website, www.pgc.pa.gov.

Back Woods Bass Results

Bob Strunk reports the rankings for last week's results.

Week of 9/12

Wednesday Night Harveys Lake

1st Place: Kyle Drake/Steve Bell, 9 lbs.

2nd Place: George Gendler Jr. & Sr., 5.86 lbs.

Harveys Lake Friday Night

1st Place: Duane & Nick Deno, 12 lbs. 12 oz.

Also won Lunker Award, 4 lbs.

2nd Place: Johnny Niezgoda/Mitch Bailey, 11 lbs. 11 oz.

3rd {;ace: John & Evan Stravinski, 10 lbs. 12 oz.

4th Place: Shaun Kucharski, 9 lbs. 9 oz.

5th Place: Bob Strunk/Bruce Bonham, 8 lbs. 8 oz.

6th Place: Travis Sciandra/Gary Collins, 8 lbs. 7 oz.

7th Place" Joe Zombek/Mike Bahnweg, 8 lbs. 6 oz.

8th Place: Gary & Aaron Hayman, 7 lbs. 7 oz.

9th Place: Damien Strohl, 6 lbs. 2 oz.

10th Place: Jay Zubris/Jake Seamore, 6 lbs. 1 oz.

North Branch Land Trust receives

grant to conserve Huntsville Reservoir

Gov. Tom Wolf this week announced an historic investment of $90 million for more than 330 projects across Pennsylvania that will create new recreational opportunities, conserve natural resources, and help revitalize local communities, including area nonprofit North Branch Land Trust.

North Branch Land Trust received $816,000 toward a conservation easement on approximately 220 acres surrounding the Huntsville Reservoir in Dallas Borough and Lehman Township for habitat protection.

North Branch Land Trust's mission is to conserve the working, natural, and scenic landscapes in Northeastern Pennsylvania that sustain us.

NBLT Executive Director Ellen Ferretti said North Branch Land Trust is excited to work with Pennsylvania American Water to conserve the buffer lands around the Huntsville Reservoir, while providing long-desired public access where appropriate.

Ferretti said in accordance with North Branch Land Trust's mission, this project will maintain the natural beauty of the area with limited improvements to include simple trails and access. Public access will be available in an area suited for walking and hiking.

"The approximately 220 acres of conifer forest and wetland that envelopes the northern half of the Huntsville Reservoir present a unique opportunity for community and conservation benefits in our backyard," Ferretti said. "The Back Mountain community has long expressed a desire for conserving the beautiful lands around the reservoir, and North Branch Land Trust is thrilled to help bring that vision to life. Together, we can preserve and learn from this beautiful land."

"Pennsylvania American Water is committed to being a steward of our environment and protecting our watersheds," said Mike Doran, president of Pennsylvania American Water. "Preserving this land through our partnership with North Branch Land Trust helps further our mission to provide safe, clean drinking water for generations to come."

Ferretti said public access to the Huntsville Reservoir Trails will become an important and safe outdoor resource for the Back Mountain area. Recreation such as biking and walking are already popular on the roads along the Reservoir, but the lack of sidewalks make recreation dangerous. Public trails, open to foot traffic, will wind through the northwest section of the Huntsville Reservoir, hidden from public roads and private homes to provide opportunities for outdoor education and recreation.

The Huntsville Reservoir also offers opportunities for conservation around the reservoir and beyond. This project area will help to connect existing conserved lands in the region, amplifying the positive impact of preserved natural habitats and nature-based recreation.

"Conserving buffer lands around our drinking water reservoirs, not only greatly enhances the quality of this fresh water but also reduces risks of soil erosion, runoff pollution, and regional flooding," Ferretti said.

Let's Bio-Blitz! Become a

citizen scientist with NBLT

If you enjoy getting out in the wilderness, taking pictures, learning about the environment, and getting just a little bit messy, then you might be the citizen scientist North Branch Land Trust is looking for!

This month, with the support of American Water Charitable Foundation and PPL Foundation, the Land Trust is inviting the community into the field to provide insight in the health of our habitats and learn a bit more about the plants, animals, birds and insects that inhabit them.

Citizen scientists are members of the community who assist in observations, gathering data or testing hypotheses with or without a science background. Environmental groups depend on citizen scientists because they can provide a larger scope of data points than a small team of professionals.

"It is exactly this kind of tangible connection to the land that creates a passion for conservation and awareness of the natural world...and all its wonders," said Ellen Ferretti, Executive Director of North Branch Land Trust.

North Branch Land Trust is engaging passionate citizen scientists this autumn with multiple opportunities for conservation fun out in the field.

On Sept. 21-22, citizen scientists of all ages can assist Senior Energy and Sustainability student Melissa Lopez from Penn State University at the Hanover Crossings Marsh Bio-Blitz. If you have comfortable walking shoes and a device with a camera, you can gather data on the numerous species that inhabit North Branch Land Trust's Hanover Crossings Marsh Sanctuary.

This data will help North Branch track invasive and native species and guide our restoration efforts.

Participants will learn about our local watershed, explore the waterways of Picton Wildlife Sanctuary, and help create signs to protect our local natural resources. At the conclusion of this educational workshop, NBLT will host a bilingual stewardship sign design contest, including digital transformations of designs created during this workshop.

Melissa Lopez told North Branch, "The outdoors has always been my happy place. As I became older, I realized more and more that the earth must be protected so future generations also have the ability to enjoy the beauty this world has to offer."

Lopez developed the Bio-Blitz event as a means to share her formal knowledge outside of academia and to encourage everyone to take active steps in mitigating the effects of climate change.

"We are thrilled to have Melissa join our team," Ferretti said. "We cannot wait to hear all about her adventures exploring these great outdoor preserves."

Professor Brandi Robinson from Penn State University is excited to see her students out in the field,

"Having the chance to collaborate with local community partners like North Branch Land Trust provides our graduating Energy and Sustainability Policy students a unique opportunity to apply the concepts and skills they've cultivated in their classes out in their communities where they have broad and tangible impact," Robinson said.

These citizen science events have been made possible through the American Water Charitable Foundation 2022 Water and Environment Grant, PPL Foundation's 2022 Sustaining Grant, and support from North Branch Land Trust members. Community-focused charitable organizations are vital for nonprofits seeking innovation in the ways they impact the region.

If you would like to participate in these events on Sept. 21, 22 or 24, visit — nblt.org/events — or contact North Branch Land Trust at — info@nblt.org.