Hunters are now on mark

“This truly is a great time to be a Pennsylvania hunter,” proclaim two Pennsylvania Game Commission leaders in the 2018-19 issue of Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest.

Noting that the commission receives no money from the state’s general fund, the two officials — Bryan J. Burhans, executive director, and Timothy S. Layton, Board of Game Commissioners president — thank hunters and trappers “for helping to preserve and strengthen” the state’s hunting and trapping tradition through the purchase of 2018-19 hunting and furtaker licenses.

They go on to say that “your license not only is your ticket to making lasting memories in Penn’s Woods, it represents an investment in our state’s wildlife resource to ensure future generations can experience the hunting and furtaking opportunities we enjoy today.”

As for lasting memories, many are likely to emerge from this year’s “regular firearms” deer hunting season, which begins today and extends through Dec. 8. And, it must be hoped that those lasting memories are for all the right reasons — that this year’s deer-harvesting season will be among the safest, most-productive ever, within the limits of rules and guidelines.

An additional hope must be that it further strengthens a positive, respectful relationship between parents and their children who are joining them in this year’s hunt. One important goal of parents should be to instill in their children a greater respect for the outdoors and the wildlife that inhabit the forests.

As part of that, parents should emphasize the point that hunting is important to maintaining a healthy wildlife population, with an adequate food supply amid available habitat.

Unfortunately, despite Game Commission efforts on behalf of ensuring a healthy deer population, there remains an enemy — Chronic Wasting Disease — that hunters must consider as they engage in their hunt.

Although no evidence has yet been found that CWD is transmissible to humans, the commission recommends that hunters be watchful for signs that a deer might be infected, such as a loss of body functions and abnormal behaviors, among them standing with poor posture or staggering.

Also, the commission suggests that hunters “consider” having their animals tested “and do not consume meat from any animal that tests positive for the disease.”

But that remains a judgment call for hunters as they personally weigh risks, based on what they’ve been told officially about the prevalence of the disease in the regions where they hunt.

The Hunting and Trapping Digest urges hunters to ask political leaders to approve increased financial assistance to state wildlife and agricultural agencies to combat CWD — a good recommendation.

If — or how much — snow will remain in the woods from the area’s first significant blast of winter weather is anyone’s guess, but most hunters today will be hoping some will be left to aid in tracking.

Because snow on the ground poses additional challenges, such as in maintaining footing, hunters must be deliberate in terms of trying to ensure their own safety and the safety of others.

In their Digest greeting to hunters, Game Commission officials Burhans and Layton told hunters to “be ready for action; Pennsylvania offers plenty of it.”

Hunters won’t be shy in judging the accuracy of that statement as deer season proceeds.


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