October can be a busy outdoors month
If asked to pick my favorite month of the year here in our part of the world, it would be May, without a doubt.
During May, the weather generally tends to be pleasant. With springtime at its peak, the landscape once again becomes awash in rich greenery, accented with the yellows, whites and blues from an impressive array of wildflowers. Most important, May presents an almost endless variety of opportunities for outdoors enthusiasts from trout fishing to turkey hunting to birdwatching to mushroom picking and more.
I can also rate October as my second favorite month for many of the same reasons I am fond of May. The weather can be wonderful like many of the glorious days we experienced last week. It’s also the peak of the colorful fall foliage and the spectacular scenery it creates. That stunning natural backdrop also sets the stage for another diverse range of outdoor activities, especially for us hunters and anglers. In fact, there are almost too my to choose from this month.
Quite a few deer hunting opportunities happen in October. Of course, we are smack in the middle of the statewide archery deer season that began on Oct. 3 and this year has been extended another week until Nov.15.
The muzzleloader season for antlerless deer started last weekend on Oct. 17 and concludes this weekend on Oct.24. Also on the hunting calendar for last week was the special three-day firearms antlerless deer season for junior and senior license holders, mentored youth hunters, active-duty military members and certain disabled persons permit holders that ran from Oct. 22 through Oct. 24.
The month also presents several other big-game hunting seasons. The muzzleloader bear season started last weekend on Oct. 17 and concludes this weekend on Oct. 24. Also last week was a special three-day firearms bear season for junior and senior license holders, mentored youth hunters, active-duty military members and certain disabled persons permit holders that ran from Oct. 22-24. And we are also in the middle of the statewide archery bear season, which began on Oct. 17 and ends on Nov. 7.
October has always been synonymous with small-game hunting, and that tradition certainly continues. Dove season started in September and continues until Nov. 27. Squirrel season also got underway in September this year on Sept. 12 and runs until Nov. 27.
I don’t recall ever hearing anyone wishing for an early squirrel season, but for some reason we now have an extra five weeks of squirrel hunting at the front end of the season. The season for rabbits, ruffed grouse and woodcocks began last weekend on Oct. 17, and pheasant season starts this weekend on Oct. 24.
The early season for ducks, coots and mergansers here in the South Zone began last weekend on Oct. 17 and concludes this weekend. The season for Canada geese here in the Resident Population Zone begins this weekend on Oct. 24 and runs until Nov.27.
The hunting and trapping seasons for many furbearers get underway this weekend. The hunting season for raccoons and foxes begins on Oct. 24. The trapping season for foxes, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, skunks and weasels begins on Oct. 25.
Avid anglers also know there is no reason to put away your rods and reels with the arrival of autumn, because October can produce great fishing opportunities for just about every species of fish we pursue here in central Pennsylvania.
Pleasant weather, cooler water temperatures and the thrilling backdrop of brilliant fall foliage can combine to make fishing this month a memorable experience. Unfortunately, many of our smaller trout streams are dreadfully low right now, and until we get some significant rainfall, they aren’t likely to offer much worthwhile fishing. Larger streams, while also low and clear, will present a bit more opportunity for anglers who welcome the tactical challenges current conditions present. Bass and panfish in most lakes or ponds are always a great option for fall fishing.
Trout and bass anglers who plan to keep some of the fish they catch should also be aware of reduced creel limits of these species during the fall. The daily limit of trout is reduced to three per day from the day after Labor Day until Feb. 28 on all stocked trout waters.
On Wild Trout waters or any other water not designated as stocked trout waters no trout can be kept from the day after Labor Day until the opening day of trout season next April. Both the minimum size limit and the daily creel limit for bass increases in the fall to 15 inches and 4 bass per day. These limits go into effect on Oct. 1 in rivers and Nov. 1 in lakes.
Like the month of May, October is a month full of opportunities for those of us who enjoy the outdoor sports. Come to think about, wouldn’t six months of May and six months of October make a great year?