The ‘August Itch’ kicks Pennsylvania bowhunters into gear

(Photo courtesy Baker County Tourism)

Though you won’t find it in any medical dictionaries, a striking epidemic occurs right about this time each year in Pennsylvania. Archery shops become crowded, struggling to keep inventory on their sales racks. The casual summer 3-D course suddenly experiences longer lines and later hours. Outdoor television ratings climb to their largest number of viewers in months- all because of the sickness.

I like to refer to this curious phenomenon as the “August Itch.” It’s a time when evenings cool just enough for Pennsylvania bowhunters to slow down and glance at the calendar. In doing so, they promptly realize archery season is mere weeks away, which ushers in a fervor of impatient anxiety — areas to scout, stands to prep, bows to shoot, and a host of other important tasks to check off the list in order to be ready for opening day.

I’m far from immune to this illness, as I myself have clearly caught the bug. Friday, I hiked high into the mountains to check on an area I found promising last flintlock season. The deer sign is there, and I’m hoping my scouting camera will reveal a few shooters over the coming weeks.

With plenty of rain this summer, the crop fields and food plots look fantastic on our family farm, save for one small, secluded bean field, which has already been obliterated by deer. It’ll be a miracle if it yields any pods by the time the leaves turn.

A visit to my trail camera revealed a few decent bucks are beginning to show, typical of their changing late-summer to early-fall travel patterns. Though none are absolute monsters, there are a few respectable bucks in the mix, and I’m hopeful a few more may move into the area when bachelor groups disband. The food, cover and ladies are all there, so there’s no reason for them not to visit at some point.

Gear updates haven’t been overlooked. I’ve ordered a new set of climbing sticks, changed my bowstring, and swapped out the rest on my backup bow for an October trip I’m planning to Florida. My wife is in a wedding there, so I’m hoping to squeeze in a hog hunt the day after the ceremony to make up for my loss of a weekend in the Pennsylvania deer woods.

I also checked on the two stands hanging on my suburban homestead and trimmed a few shooting lanes. With only 3.5 acres, I don’t plan on doing the bulk of my hunting here, but it’s a nice little honey-hole that offers a fair chance of seeing deer when pressed for time. My buddy killed a mature six-point here last fall — proving even small properties can produce under the right circumstances.

As for shooting, I’ve been doing some of that as well, although not as much as I would have liked earlier this summer. Rest assured, I’ll be ready. My backyard resembles somewhat of a menagerie with a half-dozen 3-D targets set up at various ranges and locations. The evening shooting routine has become more consistent as of late.

I’m trying my best to avoid looking at all the Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops flyers that arrive daily in my mailbox, as well as the almost hourly email and social media advertisements that entice me to purchase more gear. Lord knows I don’t need any more hunting clothing, but it is always nice to look, just in case.

In a few weeks, I’ll be fine-tuning my arrows, swapping out practice points for hunting broadheads, as well as washing all my gear and stowing it in scent-free totes. My designated public land stand will get hung on a select parcel of State Game Lands, and I’ll look forward to another celebratory “Archer’s Eve” with good friends and family.

Then, before we know it, opening day will arrive, and we’ll be able to climb into a stand, settle into a blind, and finally scratch the itch that ails us.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Pennsylvania – Tyler Frantz, Whitetail Deer

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