Bow hunters may begin hunting antlered and antlerless deer on Saturday across the state and may do so until Nov. 12 during the first of Pennsylvania's big-game seasons for 2011-12, state Game Commission officials said.
Fall archery season begins statewide on Saturday, although licensed hunters in urban wildlife management areas in Allegheny County and in eastern Pennsylvania have been able to hunt antlerless deer since Sept. 17. Bow hunters in those areas also may hunt from Nov. 14-26 and from Dec. 26-Jan. 28.
The late bow-hunting season runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 16, according to the Game Commission.
Bow hunters may use a long, recurve or compound bow or a crossbow. They may not use tree stands, tree steps or other devices that may damage trees without written permission from landowners. It is illegal to construct or occupy constructed tree stands on state game lands, state forests or state parks in Pennsylvania.
A new state regulation also restricts hunters from placing portable tree stands and blinds in wildlife management units from two weeks before the opening of the first big game season to two weeks after its close during all seasons but the spring gobbler season, according to the Game Commission. Approved hunters may place portable tree stands in state game lands two weeks before the archery season begins, and they must remove the stands two weeks after the late flintlock deer seasons end, according to the commission.
Commission officials offer these safety tips to hunters planning a trip into the woods:
- 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.
- 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.
- Ensure you are in good physical condition. Fatigue affects judgment, coordination and reaction time, as well as accuracy.
- Carry a whistle in case you are hurt and cannot move. A compass, matches or a lighter and tinder also are essential survival gear items, as is an extra flashlight bulb.
- Use a hoist rope to lift your bow and backpack into a tree stand, rather than trying to climb while carrying them. Practice climbing before opening day, and place non-slip material on the deck of the tree stand.
- Don't sleep in a tree-stand.
- Always carry broadhead-tipped arrows in a protective quiver,and don't walk with a nocked, broadhead-tipped arrow or bolt.
- Cocked crossbows should always be pointed in a safe direction. Keep your thumb and fingers below the crossbow’s string and barrel at all times.
Hunters may file harvest reports in three ways: with postage-paid postcards, going online or dialing a toll-free telephone number. The postcards are included in the annual hunting digest. They also may go to the Game Commission’s website at www.pgc.state.pa.us or call 1-855-PAHUNT1,(1-855-724-8681).