Sometimes, I like to think while I’m hunting. Usually, it’s about hunting deer or getting prepared for the upcoming big-game season.

Like many others, I get a bit confused about the seasons and do realize that the hunter needs to be a lawyer to determine what is legal and when. Heaven forbid he bends the law, accidentally, to the breaking point. I’m sure at least one of the Game Commissioners has said the laws need to be simplified. The Game Commission is not to be blamed but the blame lies more with what has been done in the past.

First, I hope most would-be hunters know we have a bear season near the end of October that requires the hunter to use a muzzleloader. Read that again. It is for muzzleloaders, not simply flintlocks. There is little to fault in such a season and I expect a fairly large harvest of the bear. Perhaps a harvest of around 300 to 400 bears.

It sounds great but a problem could arise. Let’s just say one hits a bear with the muzzleloader late in the evening. Then, he has to follow up with that smoke pole and its single-shot capability. Would you track the bear? Tell the truth. Would that make you nervous? Now the logical thing is to wait until the next morning. In late October, the temperatures can be high and the combination of waiting and the high temperatures can add up to one stinking rotten bear.

Not only do bears wear a fur coat, but also have a thick layer of fat that insulates from the cold. It also tends to keep the body heat inside. The successful hunter so early in the year needs to get the demised bear open and get a bag of ice inside the body cavity quickly.

Heat can be a problem for the deer hunter, too. Don’t forget blaze orange is required during this overlapping season.

Then, there is that end-of-October deer hunt for seniors and juniors. This late October hunt is for antlerless deer only and the hunter must not only have a hunting license but must have an antlerless license. Any firearm that is legal in the after-Thanksgiving season is, of course, legal here. The need for the blaze orange is waved during the archery season unless there is an overlap with a firearm season. This is another example of the archers being considered a special group and their hunts being made a little easier.

For many years, our deer were healthy and there were few diseases that hit the deer herd. The ones that did hit in certain areas, and for a few years, might have even impacted the population. But the deer have always jumped back to a higher-than-normal, or at least desired, numbers.

A good example of a disease killing larger numbers of deer occurred about eight years ago when Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease appeared here in Greene and Southern Washington counties. Diseased deer were found all across the region but a good thing about this disease is that cold weather brings it to an end.

Now we are facing another threat to our deer herd in the form of Chronic Wasting Disease. This killer of Elk and deer cannot be stopped or reined in. It is a fatal brain disease with a long incubation period. On the average, it takes 18-24 months for infected deer to show symptoms. As the disease progresses the deer will drool, be excessively thin and show abnormal behaviors.

There are no cases yet of people having CWD. The word yet is the scary part. CWD is spread deer to deer through saliva, urine and feces. Well, we all now need to help do what we can by not removing or exporting high-risk deer or elk parts, use or possess natural urine-based attractants, and feed or try to help sick deer. Hunters are the most important part of trying to figure this disease out. Have your deer tested in those designated areas that the Game Commission has listed as management areas in Pennsylvania.

I watched a small buck the other night and my partner in the truck said it’s nothing but a game commission buck and we moved on. To many hunters, I know, that is the term used for those little guys who will never have a decent rack but are protected by the antler restrictions. Here again, we find the need for an

  • attorney.

In some counties, a buck only needs eight points to a side to be legal. In others, it is four. Then there are the brow tines. I hope you can figure this out before deer season, then you can explain it all to me or we can all take that attorney with us into the woods just in case.

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