The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 17, 2012

Don Steese's Outdoors column: Still is plenty to do

By Don Steese
For The Daily Item

MILTON — Even with the firearms deer season behind us there are still plenty of opportunities to hunt here in Pennsylvania.  

Squirrel, ruffed grouse, rabbit and even pheasants in certain WMUs are legal game right now with a season for snowshoe hares coming up later this month. Dove hunters even have another chance starting the day after Christmas.  

I’ve already been out a couple times for grouse and the weather could not have been nicer. It’s a bit unusual not to have any snow even up in the mountains at this time of year, but I’ll take it! Deep snow is the only thing that’ll make me hang up the shotguns for the year.  

I have mixed feelings about the late grouse season. I’m not a big believer in hunting pressure having much of an effect on overall grouse populations, but I will allow that if over-hunting can have an effect, the late season is when it will happen. I try to hunt a cover only once during the late hunt and I’ll limit my take to one bird.  

Archery and flintlock deer seasons run from Dec. 26 through Jan. 12. There seems to be a fairly good amount of interest in the late flintlock season. It seems that quite a few folks can manage a few days off between Christmas and New Years and they will head for camp for a bit of primitive deer chasing. Sure beats sitting at home and watching TV!

Waterfowl hunters have hunting opportunities that stretch all the way into April here in Pennsylvania. The various duck and goose seasons are a bit complicated so I’d advise checking the PGC website for details.

Another great outdoor activity that one can participate in at this time of year is the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count which began on Friday and continues through Jan. 5.  

Local counts will occur on one day from now until Jan. 5 and volunteers can pick the most convenient circle or choose to participate in more than one count. The count takes place in “count circles” which focus on a specific geographical area.

Each circle is led by a “count compiler” who will be an experienced bird watcher willing to help beginning bird watchers to learn while they assist. If you live within the circle you can even stay home and report the birds that show up at your bird feeder.  

There used to be a $5 fee to participate in the bird count but this year Audubon has dropped the fee and participating in the count is free. For instructions on how to search for a circle and sign up for an open count, visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website.

Information is also available at the Audubon Society’s website or the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology’s website. Those website addresses are as follows: ( (

I have a buddy who participates in the count every year and he tells me it’s a great wintertime outdoor activity.

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