October still brings plenty of hunting and fishing

In many ways, October reminds me a little of May because there seems to be so many great things going on for those of us who enjoy the outdoors. May is certainly my favorite as I am partial to springtime and the summer months that will soon follow.

October is another wonderful time of year but the transition to winter is less inviting and somewhat bittersweet. But the first week of October has been a pleasant and productive one, and I’m hopeful the rest of the month will continue that track.

I don’t have to remind anyone that the archery deer season is well underway, and this Saturday marks one of the busiest days for many other hunting enthusiasts. Dove season reopens after a weeklong hiatus. Duck season also opens on Oct. 14 in the South Zone. But the big opener will be for the early small-game season, as squirrels, grouse and rabbits become fair game for Pennsylvania hunters. Of course, not that many folks hunt small game anymore, and that is a little sad. The muzzleloader season for antlerless deer starts Oct. 14 and runs through Oct. 21. I also think it’s sad we only have a handful of days to hunt does with muzzleloaders but we have six weeks of archery season including the rut to shoot bucks. Why can’t we have a few days of a real muzzleloader deer season here in Pennsylvania like most other states? Just saying.

It seems like every other week there is something new to report regarding chronic wasting disease. In its ongoing efforts to monitor the occurrence of CWD in Pennsylvania’s wild deer herd, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has ramped up its testing for the disease in the two Disease Management Areas. Hunters who harvest a deer in DMA 2 or 3 will now be able to have their deer tested for CWD at no charge. In recent years, the Game Commission has tested random samples obtained from deer brought to processors, but not every deer was tested, and only hunters who had taken a deer that tested positive for CWD were informed. Many of the test results often weren’t available until March, long after much of the meat from an infected animal could have already been consumed. If an individual hunter wanted to make sure his deer was tested, he would need to take it to a lab and pay $75 or more for the service.

To expedite testing for CWD in deer harvested in DMA 2 and DMA 3, the Game Commission will be placing 26 metal bins at various locations throughout the DMAs by the second week of October where hunters can drop off the heads of their deer for CWD testing.

These bins will be white and clearly marked for the deposit of deer heads and will be emptied every other day through the end of all the deer seasons. Hunters who submit deer heads for CWD testing will be notified of the results within about two weeks.

The specific locations of the collection bins can be found on the Game Commission website,www.pgc.pa.gov. Click on the “Chronic Wasting Disease” link under “Quick Clicks” on the left side of the homepage. If you bought a Deer Management Assistance Program Permit for Units 2874 and 2875 within DMA 2 and Unit 3045 within DMA 3, you probably have already received a letter with the locations.

All deer heads dropped off for testing must be properly tagged as required by law. Make sure your tag is attached to the ear and filled out legibly so the agency can notify you with the test results. If you harvest a buck, you may remove the antlers.

The Game Commission recommends that all heads submitted for testing be placed in a plastic bag and tied shut to make sure the ear tag stays with the head. I applaud the Game Commission for taking this action to provide hunters with the peace of mind that a deer harvested is not infected with CWD.

Fishing has been just wonderful so far this fall as well. While the water is as low and clear as it has been all year, both bass and trout have been willing to bite for those that use a little stealth and finesse in pursuit of their quarry. I’ll remind my fellow anglers one more time that the smallmouth bass fishing on the upper Juniata has been as good as it gets for river bass.

Over the last two or three weeks, I have fished just about every mile of the Juniata River in Huntingdon county and have caught two dozen or more smallmouths 18 to 20 inches long. My best baits have been 1/4- and 3/8-ounce spinnerbaits and Bass Pro Shops Slit Tail Stik-Os in baitfish and Houdini colors. Rather than spending a beautiful fall afternoon on the couch watching a bunch of people that disrespect our country playing football, I’m heading to the river to catch some bass. Just saying.