Hunters Await Fall Archery Deer Season

Hunters Await Fall Archery Deer Season

Pennsylvania Game Commission
Pennsylvania Game Commission

HARRISBURG, PA –-( With Pennsylvania’s fall archery deer seasons set to open, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe reminded those participating in the season that they may choose to use a crossbow during all archery deer seasons, as well as the archery bear season.

“As it stands for the 2009-10 seasons, information contained in the 2009-10 Digest regarding the legal use crossbows is correct,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “Crossbows may be used by hunters participating in the archery deer seasons, Oct. 3-Nov. 14, and Dec. 26-Jan. 9, and the archery bear season, Nov. 18-19.

“Additionally, crossbows continue to be legal for all deer seasons in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D, as well as the fall and spring turkey seasons and the two-week firearms deer seasons.”

Crossbows must have a minimum drawn weight of at least 125 pounds, and a bolt must be equipped with a broadhead that has an outside diameter or width of at least 7/8 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.

Hunters participating in the October muzzleloader antlerless deer season or late flintlock muzzleloader season are not permitted to use the crossbow in place of their muzzleloader, but hunters participating in the overlapping archery deer seasons may use a crossbow.

Roe noted that a sunset date for this expanded crossbow use requires a future Board of Game Commissioners to vote on the regulation before June 30, 2012.

“There are some who believe that the full inclusion of crossbows in archery seasons may cause an increase in deer harvests, while others – including our biologists – believe that we can regulate harvests through the antlerless license allocation process,” Roe said. “Regardless of which camp a person is in, all will know that the Game Commission staff and Board of Game Commissioners will revisit this new opportunity each year when considering seasons and bag limits and deer harvest estimates.

“And, the sunset requirement will mandate whoever is on the Board in 2012 to take another vote on the issue with at least three year’s worth of data on which to base the decision.”

Roe noted that the start of our archery deer seasons also represents the beginning of relief for some landowners who are sustaining crop and property damage from deer. This is especially true for people who live in Pennsylvania’s developed areas around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where deer populations remain exceedingly high.

Bowhunters who have purchased and received antlerless deer licenses to hunt in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D will once again get an early start on the rest of the state. They may begin hunting for antlerless deer only in these WMUs beginning Sept. 19, through Oct 2. There also are two late fall archery antlerless deer seasons in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D that run from Nov. 16-28, and Dec. 14-23.

Statewide, including WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, archers can hunt antlered or antlerless deer from Oct. 3 to Nov. 14, and the late statewide archery deer season runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 9.

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. 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, including crossbow hunters, are urged to take only responsible shots at deer to ensure a quick, clean kill,” Roe said. “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, which can be affixed at the aft end of an arrow or bolt and aid in tracking or locating the arrow or bolt after being launched. However, transmitter-tracking arrows still 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. It is unlawful to construct or occupy constructed tree-stands on State Game Lands, state forests or state parks.

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 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 unnecessary risk.
  • – 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.