Cooler days (and better hunting) are on the horizon in Pennsylvania
Holy heat wave! The start of the Pennsylvania archery season has been buggy, muggy and moist – not ideal for bowhunters. While I managed to harvest a doe on the second day of the season, my subsequent hunts entailed more sweating and mosquito swatting than actual productive deer encounters.
It seems the state’s recent stretch of scorching daytime temperatures has kept most deer bedded during daylight hours (and some hunters at home), with only a few good bucks being harvested thus far in my neck of the woods.
Despite the tough conditions, however, it was reassuring to at least be back in the woods for another season. But more comfortable hunting conditions are certainly always welcomed, and hunters should get their wish overnight as temperatures will drop nearly 20 degrees across most of Pennsylvania following the tail end of Hurricane Michael.
This reprieve from the heat comes just in time for the Keystone State’s “Super Week,” when archery, inline muzzleloader, small game and duck seasons all overlap (beginning Oct. 13), and hunters must prioritize their varietal opportunities in the field.
With overnight lows projected into the upper 30s and low 40s and daytime highs below 60 degrees, both hunters and the game they pursue are almost certain to be more active – fully embracing this shift to true “hunting season” weather.
Since the whitetail rut is triggered by reduced photoperiod, not necessarily temperature fluctuations, don’t expect too much chasing action just yet, but do expect the deer to be on their feet loading up on the hottest food sources around.
Right now, that would be tons of acorns freshly knocked from oaks’ canopies as a result of the passing storm, as well as food plot favorites, which will retain moisture from Thursday’s soaking rain. Just like humans, game species get restless from riding out a storm, and activity will increase just following a break in the weather.
As a result of the wet summer, waterfowl hunting opportunities should be prime as some agricultural fields and timber tracts are still flooded with standing water, providing both food and roosting areas worth throwing a few decoys into for an opening-morning ambush. Scout at will and sneak in quietly – that’ll do the trick.
Squirrels and rabbits also seem to be in high abundance this year, at least in the southeast portion of the state, promising exciting hunts for those looking to probe the fence rows and woodlots with shotguns or .22 rifles. I can’t speak for the grouse meccas of the north and west, but there’s no doubt the diehards are ready to unleash their pointing dogs for some early season action.
Whatever your pleasure, relish this coming week’s outstanding hunting opportunities, and join me for a resounding sigh of relief. The buggy, muggy, moist days just might be behind us. It’ll finally feel like hunting season. Amen to that.