Forget about the late hunting seasons not being those our fathers knew.
In recent years, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has created so many additional hunting opportunities these are not even the seasons we knew.
For small game hunters, squirrels, grouse, rabbits and pheasants in select wildlife management units – including WMU 5C are in season through Thursday, Dec. 23. Then, beginning Monday, Dec. 27, the season reopens for those species, as well as snowshoe hare, for varying lengths as outlined in the "Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest" that is available at all licensing agencies and on the PGC website at www.pgc.state.pa.us.
This is also a prime time of the year for devoted waterfowl hunters, and the increased popularity of predator hunting has made the pursuit of coyotes a year-around activity. And, then, of course, there is the return of deer hunting with the opening of the flintlock muzzleloader and late archery seasons, Monday, Dec. 27.
Statewide, the late archery and flintlock muzzleloader deer seasons are open through Saturday, Jan. 15. Many local hunters, however, take advantage of the extended seasons in the Special Regulations Areas of Wildlife Management Units 5C and 5D.
This year, both seasons extend through Saturday, Jan. 29, meaning hunters can still fill their antlered tag if using a bow or flintlock, and hunters are reminded that antler restrictions apply to the late seasons. For those hunting antlerless deer, any legal sporting arm may be used to take a deer.
Hunters are reminded that firearms limitations for the special regulations counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia remain in effect for the extended antlerless season in WMUs 5C and 5D. Those restrictions do not apply to those portions of Berks, Lehigh and Northampton counties contained in WMU 5C, where firearms deer hunters may use a rifle, shotgun, vertical bow or crossbow.
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 take an antlerless deer with either a WMU-specific or DMAP-specific antlerless deer license/permit or general hunting license deer harvest tag.
During the flintlock season, only single-barrel rifles .44 caliber or larger and single-shot pistols .50 caliber or larger are permitted, and firearms must be an original or reproduction of those available prior to 1800. Peep sights and fiber-optic inserts are permitted, as well as iron, open "V" or notched sights.
Hunters using archery or muzzleloader licenses, and hunting with those special sporting arms, are not required to wear fluorescent orange clothing while afield, but are encouraged to do so where the seasons overlap with late season firearms deer hunters. Special regulations area hunters must wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing, unless they possess an archery or muzzleloader license and are hunting with a bow, flintlock or crossbow.
For waterfowl hunters, Canada and white-fronted geese are open through Saturday, Jan. 29, in the Atlantic Population Zone and Saturday, Feb. 19, in the Resident Canada Goose Zone; the statewide snow goose season is open until February 19, when the conservation season opens through Saturday, April 16; and ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers may be hunted in the South Zone through Monday, Jan. 17.
Complete waterfowl seasons and bag limits for all zones are available in the "Pennsylvania 2010-11 Guide to Migratory Game Bird Hunting," which is available on the PGC website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) by clicking on the "Migratory Game Bird" in the "Quick Clicks" box in the right-hand column of the homepage.