Historic deer hunt opens in Pennsylvania

November 27, 2001

Historic deer hunt opens in Pennsylvania


FORT LOUDON, Pa. - Some deer hunters complained that warm weather slowed the opening day of firearm season Monday, but Jim Burghard of Chambersburg, Pa., was not one of them.

Burghard, who is recovering from quintuple heart bypass surgery, said he would have been forced to stay home had it been too cold.

"I'd like to get a nice buck. There's one up there somewhere and it's got my name on it," said Burghard, 62, who was at Keystone Country Store in Fort Loudon, Pa., to pick up some supplies.


When temperatures reach the high 50s, as they did Monday, both the hunter and the hunted tend to move less. That means there is less chance for a deadly encounter.

"You kind of end up with a stalemate after awhile," said Joe Kosack, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

A rolling fog throughout the morning hampered visibility for some hunters.

It was hard to gauge the success of the hunt because this year's opening day was unique.

Never before in modern times has Pennsylvania allowed hunters to take both buck and doe at the same time.

Wildlife biologists are hoping the combined season will thin the state's 1.5 million deer herd, which is too large for its habitat, Kosack said.

Despite last year's large 500,000 deer harvest, the population remains stable, he said.

The concurrent season allowed Justin Kilgore, 14, to shoot his first deer, a doe, near Cowans Gap, Pa.

"This year we got lucky. It was his first year and his first doe and it means a lot," said his father, Larry Kilgore of Red Lion, Pa.

John Eigenbrode, 72, of Waynesboro, Pa., got a six-point buck about an hour into his hunt.

Eigenbrode keeps up with the annual family tradition even though he has had both hips replaced. His sons go along to help with the heavy lifting. Later, he'll make deer bologna out of the meat.

"Ever since they've been old enough to hunt they've been hunting deer with me. They don't want me to give it up," he said.

Hunters have mixed feelings about the combined season, said Randy Eigenbrode, John Eigenbrode's son and the co-owner of Keystone Country Store.

Some are reluctant to change a long-standing tradition. Others hope it will improve the quality of the deer herd.

"Personally, I think it will in time make a better trophy for people who get smaller bucks," he said.

For some, opening day is more about being in the woods than shooting a deer.

Brothers Barry and Fred Selby, who live in York County, Pa., spent the morning riding around in the woods of Franklin and Fulton counties in their pickup.

At age 68, Fred Selby said he didn't bring his gun along because he wouldn't be able to drag a deer out of the woods if he shot one.

Barry Selby, 59, said he already has his trophy buck. It's an eight-point deer he shot the day after he returned from Vietnam.

Some hunters got off to a late start.

Burghard was one of them. In the morning he was on his way to his favorite hunting grounds when he stopped for a doe that had been hit by a car along U.S. 30. After taking its temperature to determine how recently it was killed, he took it home for processing.

Pennsylvania's deer season ends Dec. 8.

The hunt is also on now in Maryland and West Virginia.

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