Pennsylvania gun season for deer is always matchless
In my youth, the first day of rifle season here in Pennsylvania always meant a prior Sunday night filled with turning and twisting in a bed that saw little sleep from my anxious body.
Rising and quickly dressing after my father’s nudge of my shoulder to move me, then munching some breakfast so fast that if I were to eat that rapidly today I’d surely choke to death, I would be pacing at the back door, ready to hunt.
With flashlights guiding the way to a darkened spot that was chosen for me by senior family companions, I stood nervous and quiet, but fully alert, awaiting first light. When light filled the woods, my mind and senses would then be consumed with hearing the first shot of the first day.
When it rang out, usually on a distant hillside, I would think that “someone has already seen a buck,” and then I would wonder what it would be like to squeeze off that first shot on the first day — something that has never happened in my lifetime to date. Above all else, that first shot meant the season had begun in an extraordinary time to be in Pennsylvania woodlands, and I’d better be ready if my chance came.
I now find any season for any hunting of wild game to be special, yet I still hold the belief that nothing compares to that first day of the statewide gun season for whitetails. The tenseness for a possible shot at a real trophy is always high with a gun in your hand, and as the season progresses, there is always some hope still remaining that a deer may cross your path and you’ll be able to fill a tag.
If everyone had the opportunity to list the three most important factors to consider during the statewide gun season for deer, they would probably have at least some of the following on their lists that I believe are valuable considerations:
- Weather. This is wintertime hunting, and this time of year usually throws some pretty nasty weather at hunters during the two-week season. Be it heavy rain or snow, deer will shut down and wait out storms. But just as true, when the storms end, deer will be on the move, and hunters who venture outside soon after a storm passes may see a lot of deer movement.
- Food. The rut is over, and deer once again are feeding heavily, attempting to regain weight loss from the breeding season that will carry them through the hard months ahead. Know where food sources are such as acorns, edible leaves, waste grains and browse, and hunt these areas hard. Get there early, before daylight, or hunt those places later in the day up to the final last legal minute.
- Hard work. Hunter movement will chase deer like nothing else can. Stay hunting for an hour or two longer than others and your chances will increase as hunters who are moving to new spots or back to vehicles may well push deer to you. Also true is the fact that, with enough early season shooting, deer will seek spots far from the beaten path, or near roadways. Even small woods near homes or in wide-open spaces can hold deer if you’re willing to get into the meanest cover you can find in those spots.
Deer hunting with a gun is usually more rewarding to those who consider these factors. Never hesitate to do the extra work that may be needed to fill a tag, because it is a special time to be hunting our home state, thus a harvest becomes special, too.