PUNXSUTAWNEY — The weather conditions were nearly perfect for the
opening day of Pennsylvania Buck hunting season, in which 750,000 were expected to head into the woods throughout the state in pursuit of a trophy buck.
It was described as a decent turnout for the first day in southern Jefferson County, according to Andy Troutman, Wildlife Conservation officer (WCO) for southern Jefferson County. He said while making his rounds throughout the county, he checked four or five decent-sized bucks out in the field.
"Whether it was a large kill or a down year, I can't say for sure," Troutman said, adding that there was a lot of shooting in the morning that tapered off in the afternoon.
He said some people wait for doe season to come in on Saturday, but for the most part, most hunters are out in the woods on the traditional first Monday after Thanksgiving, whether it's doe season or not.
Troutman said he believes the deer population is good in southern Jefferson County.
"I checked a nice size trophy rack today that was shot on the Knox-Oliver Township line by a non-resident," he said.
Troutman said he encountered hunters with several violations after hours of hunting.
"I have a case where a deer was shot at 5 a.m. Monday, and the culprit
has not been caught," Troutman said, adding that legal hunting begins a half-hour before sunrise and concludes a half-hour after sunset.
He said hunters often are wearing the correct amount of blaze orange when in the woods, which during rifle season is 250 square inches on the head and the front and back of the upper body.
"Even though these hunters had the correct amount of orange on, they did not meet the requirement," Troutman said.
"In one case, it was a violation because someone was wearing a backpack that partially covered the orange," he said. "In another case, there was a little bit of a cloth on his tree stand; it was hard to see the orange.
"They were in compliance with the law, but a little more orange would have been safe," Troutman said.
He said the law is also specific on the tagging of the deer once it has been harvested.
Troutman gave an example of someone who takes a deer just before dark and can't find the deer.
The law says the deer must be tagged immediately when found. If a hunter does not find the deer until the next day, it can appear that he or she is not fulfilling that portion of the law, Troutman said.
Actually, he said, the deer must be tagged before being moved from where the hunter finds it.
"If someone takes a buck today and drags it back to their vehicle or back to their camp and doesn’t put a tag on it, it's a violation," Troutman said, adding that the WCOs do cite hunters for tag violations.
"We do take this very seriously, because of how easy it is for poachers to slip a deer out of the woods and not put a tag on it," he said.
Troutman said then a poacher will still have a tag on his or her back and go out and shoot another deer.
He said the fine for not tagging a deer can range from $100 to $200.
"Hunters must carry a pen with them while hunting so they can fill in the information at the site of the kill before moving the animal," Troutman said, adding that an easy way to attach the tag is by making a small slit in the ear and using a zip tie to secure the tag.
Troutman said hunters who use a blind or hunting shanty to hunt from must have 100 square inches of patches of orange cloth surrounding the blind or structure.
"I say to be safe, fly an orange flag up on the roof on a large fiberglass rod for better visibility," he said. "This is the third year for this regulation, and we are taking a harder stance on that."
He said the antler restrictions this year mirror those from the previous year.
According to PGC website, "For Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2D, hunters need to identify three antler points, not including the brow tine, which is the point immediately above the antler burr.
"In the remainder of the state, antler restrictions remain a minimum of at least three points on one side, the commission said.
Troutman said statewide, all junior license holders, mentored youth hunters, disabled hunters with a permit to use a vehicle and resident active-duty U.S. Armed Services personnel have a minimum antler restrictions of one antler with at least two points, or one antler three or more inches in length.
For those hunters in 11 WMUs, there is a split-season structure such as Jefferson County, in which the first five days (Nov. 26-30) are open for antlered deer only, and the remaining seven days (Dec. 1-8) are open
for antlered and antlerless deer.
Those WMUs which include in our area: 2D, 2E and 2F.