The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 20, 2012

Don Steese's Outdoors column: Take time and smell the gunpowder

Daily Item

---- — By the time you read this the early antlerless season for senior, junior, and disabled hunters will be history. Pheasants, grouse, rabbits, and squirrels will be legal targets and the archery and muzzleloader guys will have had a chance at a whitetail.

It's hunting season again in Pennsylvania. Bear season will be upon us before we know it and the regular firearms deer season won't be far behind.

We wait months for this time of year to be upon us and it seems to go by so quickly. What we really need to do is take some time to smell the gunpowder. Slow down a bit and drink in the autumn splendor.

Speaking of autumn splendor, this weekend was the weekend of the Flaming Foliage Festival in Renovo. I fear that this year's event came about a week or so late. Reports I've been getting say the leaves have passed their peak and are falling fast in that part of the state. I'm sure the celebrants had a great time anyhow.

I've had some very encouraging reports of grouse numbers here in Pennsylvania this fall and woodcock numbers are looking excellent also. I've also been hearing that tick numbers are lower than they've been in a few years. That's great news indeed! Ticks are one creature that I wouldn't miss if they'd happen to go extinct.

Haven't heard much about deer numbers but there are certainly enough bears out there for the bruin hunters to chase next month. I'm sure the deer situation is much like it has been for the past few years.

There are areas of the state that still have too many whitetails, but unfortunately, those areas are mostly in our urban counties and hunting opportunities are few and far between. The big woods, northern tier counties, are the areas where many feel our deer herd has been decimated. I tend to agree there are areas where the deer herd has been reduced too much, and perhaps steps should be taken to allow the herd to grow.

Some would probably argue for shorter antlerless seasons, or no season at all for a couple years, others would agree with simply reducing the number of antlerless licenses in the areas where deer are scarce.

Western Union, eastern Centre, and parts of Snyder County are areas that seem to have very low deer numbers. A lot of fellas won't even hunt these areas anymore.

Our deer population around our camp in northern Clinton County has been pretty stable. We still have a fair number of deer, certainly not what it was 15 years ago, but you can usually scare up a few whitetails if you put in just a little effort. Compared with some areas of the northern tier we've been very lucky.

I almost forgot to mention that fall turkey season will be upon us next weekend. Check the seasons and bag limits because there are areas of the state where there is no fall season on wild turkeys.

Good luck to you, no matter what you're pursuing this fall ... and remember to slow down and enjoy the season. It is indeed fleeting.