Pa. Archers Unsure What to Expect on Opening Day
Frye, Bob, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Recent history suggests that Saturday's opening day of archery deer season will be a good one across Pennsylvania.
According to Pennsylvania Game Commission statistics, hunters took more deer on opening day of archery season in 2005 -- the last year for which numbers are available -- than on any other day of the season. Not even the rut could produce a day to compare.
Yet, for at least some, the start of the upcoming season has a mixed feel to it.
Archers are, in many cases, reporting seeing more big bucks than they ever have before. Yet, lower deer numbers in certain areas, the outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease in places, and the increased posting of private land has some people concerned.
"I think it's a mixed bag," said Robert Ashbaugh of Ashbaugh Archery in Leechburg. "How good of a season you can expect I think all depends on your general location, where you happen to be hunting.
"Around here, we have quite a few deer. In the hard-hunted areas, they're killing them all off, plain and simple."
Tom Fazi, the Game Commission's wildlife conservation officer in eastern Westmoreland County, said it's possible to drive around his district and see lots of deer. There seem to be more deer around this year than last, in fact, he said.
But he admitted that those animals are not necessarily located in huntable places, he said. That means hunters have to be prepared to work a little harder than they have in the past.
"If you go up on the mountains and ridges where there's more public land, there are going to be fewer deer, no doubt about it. You can't just expect to stumble up there and see 50 deer a day. That's just not going to happen," Fazi said.
The upside to that, he said, is that if you see a half dozen deer, half of them might be bucks. They could be good ones, too. Half of all the bucks killed last year were 2.5-years-old or older, according to commission statistics.
Certainly the archers who have been scouting already have been seeing deer with nice racks, said Dana Dunlap of Loyalhanna Arrows in Loyalhanna.
"Oh yeah, guys have been bringing pictures of big bucks in. One guy with a trail camera had seven bucks in one picture," Dunlap said.
"They're out there. But you've got to hunt more than just one day, or more than just the rut. Some of these guys have been doing their homework all summer. …