Wet weather expected as Pa. rifle deer season opens Monday

November 26, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE |
  • A row of rifles is seen Saturday at Hunter's Den in Rouzerville, Pa. Pennsylvania's two-week general deer hunting season begins Monday.
By C.J. Lovelace

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Hundreds of Franklin County hunters have been making a list and checking it twice, preparing for one of Pennsylvania's unofficial holidays.

The Monday after Thanksgiving traditionally marks the opening of Pennsylvania's two-week general deer hunting season, and about 750,000 hunters statewide will take to their tree stands and hunting camps bright and early in search of their first big catch of the rifle season.

Weather forecasts predict some rain early in the week with colder temperatures and snow possible by Wednesday, which might deter some hunters from heading out, Stu McFerren, owner of Hunter's Den in Rouzerville, Pa., said Saturday.

"I look for as ugly a first day as it can be because your fair-weather hunters don't come out," said McFerren, who's been hunting for more than 40 years. "That means more deer for me and my chances are better the rest of the season."

Securing a scope on a customer's rifle inside the store Saturday, McFerren said business has been "crazy" with the opening of deer season just a few days away.

"People seem like they're more excited than they used to be," he said.

Even though the store still was overstocked, McFerren anticipated sales on umbrellas to jump by the time Monday came around and hunters took a better look at the weather reports.

A short distance down the road, the store at Wayne Heights Mall already had sold out of its tree stand umbrellas by Saturday afternoon, according to a store employee.

Seasoned hunter Tom Cordell of Waynesboro was shopping for a new pair of pants inside the store. Cordell, who hunts on private grounds near Greencastle, Pa., said he's excited to take aim with his rifle after participating in the archery season.

"It's a lot of fun to get out with your family and friends, be outdoors and get away from the everyday hustle and bustle of modern technology — cellphones and all that stuff — and be out in the wilderness," he said. "It's not always about killing game. It's about being outdoors."

Randy Cuka of Waynesboro stopped at the Hunter's Den to pick up some last-minute items for his hunting trip Monday with his 15-year-old son.

The 22-year hunter said they go to a camp near Huntingdon, Pa., each year and traditionally have a large barbecue dinner the night before as they finish final preparations with plans to head afield shortly after 5:30 a.m.

"I get everything together at the last minute and then go," Cuka said. "It's for fun. I'm not the hard-core hunter."

Deer season has numerous benefits throughout the state, providing hunters with a chance to put some venison in the freezer this winter, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe said in a news release.

"In addition to being a rich part of our state's heritage, deer season is critical in managing Pennsylvania's whitetails," Roe said. "The efforts of hunters are far-reaching; they help to keep deer populations in check, and enable the agency to meet deer management goals that benefit those who reside, visit or travel through this state."

According to the game commission, hunters must wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined at all times while out in the field during the seasons. They also are advised that it's illegal to hunt, chase or disturb deer within 150 yards of any occupied building without the occupant's permission if they are using a firearm, or 50 yards if they are using a bow or crossbow.

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