Two things many hunters want to know about almost any deer they take are its age and weight, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, through its website, is offering some free tools to guide hunters in determining their deer's age and weight.
To help hunters learn how PGC biologists determine the age of a white-tailed deer, the agency has posted a link to a seven-minute and 38-second video on its "YouTube" account demonstrating the technique used to identify deer that are six months old, 18 months old and 30 months old or older. Information is available by accessing the agency website at www.pgc.state.pa.us , clicking on the "YouTube" icon in the upper right-hand column of the homepage and then selecting the link to "Deer Aging.mov."
In partnership with the Pennsylvania State University Department of Dairy and Animal Science, the Game Commission also posted a deer weight estimating chart in its "White-Tailed Deer" section. To find this chart, go to the agency's website, click on the "White-Tailed Deer" icon in the center of the homepage and select "Deer Weight Chart" in the "Deer Hunting" section.
By knowing the girth of the deer's chest, which is measured in inches just behind the front legs, the chart will help hunters estimate a deer's live weight and field dressed weight, as well as the weight of edible boneless meat. For example, a deer with a girth of 35 inches at the chest would have an estimated live weight of 126 pounds, an estimated field-dressed weight of 99 pounds and yield around 57 pounds of edible venison.
A deer-weight tape, which includes markings to enable a hunter to estimate these weights in the field, is available for 94 cents on the website by clicking on "General Store," then "Visit the Outdoor Shop," choosing "Merchandise" and then "Misc. Items." Each tape includes a depiction of where to place the tape around a deer's chest, as well as measurements that enables a hunter to convert that measurement in inches into estimated live weight, field-dressed weight and edible boneless meat.
Pennsylvania Game Commission preliminary bear harvest figures show that 3,023 bears were checked by agency personnel at official check stations during the first three days of the ongoing four-day statewide season (November 19-23). Last year, in a three-day season with a Saturday opener, 2,815 bears were harvested.
So far, the state's incomplete bear harvest of 3,023 preliminarily ranks as the seventh highest statewide harvest, however, bears taken in the five-day statewide bear archery season (November 14-18) and in the upcoming extended bear seasons that ends today in certain wildlife management units will increase this preliminary statewide bear harvest total. The two largest total bear harvests were recorded in 2005 (4,164) and 2009 (3,512).
Preliminary total bear harvest figures – including the ongoing extended bear seasons – are expected the week of Dec. 5. Official total bear harvest figures for all seasons won't be available until early 2012, after a thorough review of all bear harvest reports.
All of the top 10 bears processed at check stations had estimated live weights that exceeded 629 pounds. Jon Byler, Ulysses, harvested the largest bear, which was a boar that weighed in at 746 pounds estimated live weight. It was taken in Ulysses Township, Potter County, at 1:45 p.m., Nov. 19.
This week's edition of "Experience The Outdoors," hosted by award-winning Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association member Doyle Dietz, Sunday, at 7 a.m. on 1410 WLSH and 9:30 a.m. on Magic 105.5, will feature Wounded Warriors Project coordinator Tom Frendak.
A trap shoot will be held, Thursday, Dec. 8, beginning at 6 p.m., at Orwigsburg Gun Club, Gun Club Road, off Route 443 East, Orwigsburg. For information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
A muzzleloader shoot will be held, Sunday, Dec. 11, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by First Frontier Militia at Bowmanstown Rod and Gun Club, Road and Gun Club Road, Bowmanstown. For information, call Roger Fisher at 610-377-2812.
Public comments are being sought by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission on an environmental assessment review the agency has drafted as part of its application for a federal grant the agency has applied for through the Voluntary Public Access-Habitat Incentives Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency. The program is designed to provide private landowners various incentives to open their land to public fishing and wildlife-related recreation and to improve conditions for wildlife and their habitats.
As part of its grant application, the PFBC must submit an environmental assessment. Comments on the draft assessment will be accepted through Dec. 19. The assessment can be reviewed on the Web at www.fishandboat.com  or in person at the agency's headquarters in Harrisburg and its six region offices. Comments can be submitted to Jackie Kramer, PFBC statewide public access and lands conservation coordinator, at email@example.com  or by mail to Fish and Boat Commission, Attn: Jackie Kramer, Box 67000, Harrisburg, Pa. 17106-7000.