Pheasant, rabbit seasons start soon
If ever a specific weekend could be designated as the beginning of "hunting season" it would be the final weekend of October.
This year Saturday, Oct. 25, marks the end of the antlerless muzzleloader season that opens today, it is the mid-way point of the statewide archery season and it is the first day that all seasons for small game is underway with pheasants and rabbits being legal along with squirrels. In addition, waterfowl hunting remains open in some areas and fall turkey season is just a week away.Also, the Pennsylvania Game Commission board of game commissioners has retained an expanded bear season during the archery deer season in the state's most urban Wildlife Management Units. Now through Saturday, Nov. 15, archers with a bear license may take a bear in WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D.Statewide, hunters are reminded that hunting with a firearm is not permitted within 150 yards of any occupied structure, school, farm building or playground unless prior permission is obtained from the building's occupants or property owners. This perimeter is known as a "safety zone," and possessing a loaded sporting arm within a safety zone is considered hunting and a violation of the law.Trapping furbearers and chasing or disturbing wildlife also are prohibited within a safety zone, unless permission is given.A similar law applies to hunters using bows or crossbows, but the safety-zone perimeter is 50 yards from any occupied structure or farm building unless having received permission from the building occupants or property owners to hunt at closer distances, however, the safety zone around schools and playgrounds remains 150 yards for archers.Hunters also are reminded that the fluorescent orange requirements vary depending on the species being hunted.Illustrations depicting the requirements that apply in different seasons can be found in the "2014-15 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest" issued to hunters at the time they purchase hunting licenses or can be viewed by accessing the PGC website at
www.pgc.state.pa.us or at GoHuntPA.org."Autumn is an absolutely beautiful time of year to get out and enjoy the Pennsylvania outdoors, and there's no better way to spend a fall day than by going hunting," PGC executive director Matt Hough said. "In the coming weeks, hunters will have an increasing number of opportunities as more and more seasons see their opening days."Many of them will be successful in harvesting game, but all of them can consider themselves fortunate for the rewards they receive just by being out there. In that regard, all hunters are lucky."Because of temperatures can vary during October and early November, successful deer hunters should take precautions to assure they have a high-quality venison. In especially warm weather deer should be field dressed quickly, then taken from the field and cooled down as soon as possible.While hanging a deer carcass in a shady area might be fine in cooler temperatures, if the air temperature is above 50 degrees, hunters should refrigerate the carcass as soon as possible.Information on warm-weather venison care, as well as instructions on deer processing and other tips, are available on the whitetail deer page on the PGC website.It is now easier than ever for successful deer hunters to meet the requirement to report their deer to the PGC.Reports can be submitted online at the PGC website by clicking on the "Report a Harvest" button on the homepage, they can be phoned in to 1-855-PAHUNT1 (1-855-724-8681) or they can be mailed in using the postage-paid report cards that are inserted in the Hunting & Trapping Digest.