While the following account is true, no names will be used for obvious reasons.
Many years ago, a school district in northeastern Pennsylvania hired a superintendent who was a native of another state. When reviewing the school calendar for the upcoming year and seeing the Monday following Thanksgiving Day had the notation "School Closed: Big Game" asked what opponent was such a rival that no classes were held.
Yes, this Monday is indeed what amounts to a holiday in Pennsylvania, as it marks the opening day of the statewide firearms deer season. Locally, schools will be closed, wink, wink, for the extended "Thanksgiving vacation," but in some areas of the state the opening of deer season closes schools for several days.
No longer can Pennsylvania claim 1-million hunters being afield for the opening day of the firearms deer season, but at an estimated 750,000, the attraction is undeniable. And the "Great Orange Army" continues to have a dramatic impact socially and economically.
"Pennsylvania's deer season has a dramatic and beneficial effect on the Commonwealth, as it provides hunters a chance to put venison in the freezer and stimulates a multi-million dollar economic surge that local businesses rely on," Pennsylvania Game Commission Carl Roe said. "In addition to being a rich part of our state's heritage, deer season also is the most important method that the Game Commission has to manage Pennsylvania's whitetails, and the efforts of hunters are far-reaching, and they help to keep deer populations in check and enable the agency to meet deer management goals that benefit almost everyone who resides, visits or travels through this state."
Roe said that several factors effect hunter success, with those who have done preseason scouting usually having an advantage. Other considerations are food conditions that will impact deer movement and weather.
In an effort to aid hunters, PGC wildlife conservation officers, land management group supervisors and foresters are sharing information about wildlife population trends in their districts on the agency website at www.pgc.state.pa.us. To view the reports, click on the "Field Officer Forecasts" photo link in the middle of the homepage, then select the region of interest in the map and then choose the WCO district of interest from the map; for LMGS or forester reports, select the link to the LMGS Group or forester link of interest within that region.
"Our field officers and foresters provide wildlife forecasts for small game, furbearers, wild turkey, bear and deer within their respective districts," Roe said."These forecasts are based on sightings field officers have had in the months leading up to the 2010-11 seasons, and some offer comparisons to previous wildlife forecasts.
"Some WCOs and LMGSs include anecdotal information, as well as hunting and trapping leads in their districts, and the Game Commission offers this information to hunters and trappers to help them in their pursuits afield. Many WCO, LMGS and forester reports offer information on where to hunt or trap, as well as guidance on where to get more information, particularly for trapping certain furbearers, such as beaver and coyotes.
"Deer will respond to food availability and hunter pressure, both of which can vary from year to year, and from one area to another. Our fall food survey suggests wildlife food abundance is quite variable this year, with some areas having good acorn crops; others have few or no acorns, so, as always, pre-season scouting can improve a hunter's chance for success this year, particularly in the week leading up to the start of season."
Deer season will open with a five-day, antlered deer-only season in wildlife management units 2C, 2D, 2E, 2G, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E, Monday-Friday, Nov. 29-Dec. 3, and is followed immediately in those WMUs by seven days of concurrent, antlered and antlerless deer hunting beginning Saturday, Dec. 4, and continuing through Dec. 11. Throughout the rest of the state the two-week season has concurrent, antlered and antlerless season beginning Monday, Nov. 29, through Saturday, Dec. 11.
For approximately 750,000 Pennsylvania deer hunters, the game is nearly on.