Monday begins the extended deer seasons, muzzleloader and bow and arrow only. It is the toughest and hardiest among us who go out in Pennsylvania's weather after Christmas to try to get a deer, especially with archery equipment and I admire those who do it.
My best hunting buddy says she will be out with her bow in the extended season because she has her eye on a particular buck that lives in her area. It has been spotted every now and then for the last several years, and I can testify that it will no doubt be a record-book buck if it is taken. She passes up all shots at "lesser" bucks to hunt for that one. I admire this kind of determination. Because I am able to hunt only one week during deer season, I don't hold out for a trophy.
So she, along with hundreds of other brave souls, will be out with bow and arrow, running her tree stand up icy tree trunks, swaying with the bitter wind, waiting for the bruiser buck to come along. Good luck.
Actually, there are lots of opportunities for small game and coyote hunting now. The small game seasons are as follows: squirrel, Dec. 13-23 and Monday to Feb. 5; ruffed grouse, Dec. 13-23 and Monday to Jan. 22; rabbit, Dec. 13-23 and Monday to Feb. 26; and snowshoe hare, Monday-Jan. 1. In addition, pheasants (males and females) will be open from Dec. 13-23 and Monday to Feb. 5, in WMUs 1A, 1B, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4D, 5C and 5D. There is no pheasant hunting in the four Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas (see pages 22-23 of the 2010-11 Digest).
Those hunting from the first Sunday in February through July 31 in the four WPRAs who participate in any of these seasons must have a general hunting license, which provides Pennsylvania hunting privileges through June 30. Depending on the deer season hunters are participating in, they also must meet additional licensing and fluorescent orange requirements.
All antlerless deer taken by hunters in the late archery and special regulations area antlerless seasons must be tagged with an unused WMU-specific antlerless deer license harvest tag or a Deer Management Assistance Program antlerless deer permit harvest tag. Flintlock muzzleloader season participants may harvest an antlerless deer with either a WMU-specific or DMAP-specific antlerless deer license/permit or general hunting license deer harvest tag. Buck hunting in the late seasons is governed by antler restrictions and limited to only bowhunters and flintlock muzzleloader hunters who possess an unused general hunting license deer harvest tag.
During the flintlock season, only single-barrel long-guns .44 caliber or larger and flintlock handguns .50 caliber or larger with a flintlock ignition system are permitted. The firearm must be an original or reproduction of a gun used prior to 1800. Peep sights and fiber-optic inserts are permitted, as well as iron, open "V" or notched sights. A flintlock ignition system consists of a hammer containing a naturally-occurring stone which is spring-propelled onto an iron or steel frizzen, which, in turn, creates sparks to ignite the gunpowder. Flintlock muzzleloader hunters may use any single projectile ammunition.
There are hunting opportunities for coyotes, crows and trapping seasons as well. Please consult the license digest for the spcific rules for each species. wearing fluorescent orange in most instances
Dove hunters also will have late season opportunities when dove season re-opens Monday-Jan. 1. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset, and the daily limit is 15.
Few things are more boring that this recitation of seasons and bag limits but one does well to pay attention. Fines can be hefty for those who don't. More than a few antlerless deer hunters found that out this season past.
For me, the space between now and spring is just something to endure. Hopefully, I'll get to a couple household projects, practice with my mouth calls, clean the rifle, enjoy some outdoor shows and hope the time flies as fast as it does from gobbler season to deer season.
For you, I wish for the new year, no new hunting regulations that are so complicated you have to spend time studying them and trying to memorize which wildlife management unit they pertain to and how to rearrange your vacation time to accommodate them. I wish for many conservation groups to see an increase in volunteers to help with habitat improvement projects that in the end are the thing that really benefits all wildlife.
For all of us I wish for much less snow than we had last year.