HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania’s statewide archery season for white-tailed deer begins Saturday.
According to the PA Game Commission (PGC), the six-week-long season will be highlighted by an abundant deer herd with access to plentiful food sources.
“The acorn crop is very good, but we would not consider it a bumper crop. Compared to last year, which was historically large,” said Travis Lau, PGC Communications Director. “In addition, because we had an exceptionally wet summer, we are hearing of very impressive corn and soybean crops. Beech is also doing very well this season, so soft mass food sources are everywhere.”
Lau says archery hunters, who must typically get within 40 yards or less of a buck or doe in order to take an ethical shot, could find the early part of the season frustrating if content deer do not move.
“When you have food everywhere, they’re a little more difficult to key in on,” added Lau. “Because they have an opportunity to eat no matter where they go.”
While Lau says general hunting license sales have dropped steadily in the state since the 1980’s, the archery season represents a growing sector. Since the PGC approved the expansion of legal crossbow hunting for deer in 2009, archery license sales have gone up every year.
The interest in crossbows has meant good business for Midstate archery outfitters.
“Six years ago, for example, crossbow sales were probably 15-percent, maybe ten,” said Ron Espenshade of Baker’s Archery Supply in Halifax. “Now, I would say it is closer to 40-percent.”
For all of the optimism surrounding Saturday’s opening day, it will also be the first test for many hunters who will navigate expanded boundaries of Disease Management Areas set up by the PGC to control the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. While the 600-square-mile section formerly known as DMA1 encompassing portions of York and Adams Counties is now dissolved, DMA2 to the west has been expanded this year to include section of Adams, Bedford, Cambria, Franklin and Huntingdon Counties. Newly formed DMA3 includes portions of Clearfield and Jefferson Counties.
Beginning the week of October 2nd, the PGC will be offering hunters in DMA2 and DMA3 the opportunity to deposit deer heads from legally harvested deer into special bins located on several State Game Lands. The specimens will be tested for CWD for free, and hunters will receive a report containing results when tests are completed. For a map of bin locations, go to the PGC website.