Deer Hunting Continues
Inside the Outdoors, December 04, 2009

Depending on what Wildlife Management Unit one is hunting, there are several that hunters are allowed to continue to hunt up to December 12. That means opportunity still exists for those who may not have found their trophy.

But the question still remains, will there be plenty of deer left?

But according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, “The numbers are still somewhat lower than some hunters have grown accustomed to, but the deer are bigger and healthier with some real monster bucks.”

That’s one great thing about the state in which we live. The Commonwealth offers hundreds of thousands of acres to pursue. And when you really think about it, included are state game and forest lands, state parks, the Allegheny National Forest, the Erie National Wildlife Refuge, the Army Corps of Engineers properties, county and municipal parks and recreation areas.

In addition to the millions of public land acres available to hunters statewide, the PGC partners with private landowners in most counties to provide public hunting opportunities through its cooperative public access properties. The Cooperative Farm-Game Program, implemented back in 1936, the Safety Zone Program, created in 1958, and the Cooperative Forest-Game Program, started in 1971, all have provided and continue to provide great hunting to the Commonwealth’s sportsmen and sportswomen on millions of acres.

If one is out and about and looking for deer this year, it may to his advisement to search around the food sources. Fall foods seem to be doing fairly well this year, so states the PGC. Wild apple trees seem to be spotty. Some trees are loaded and others do not have a single apple. I have received word that the acorn crop was good this year. Also hickory and black cherry were also productive. Since we had an adequate amount of rainfall this last summer, the berry bushes had ample food on which the deer could forage.

So the next subject at hand concerns caring properly for the deer meat once the animal has been killed. The PGC has listed a number of pointers of which beginners and experienced sportsmen should be aware:

1. “Field-dress the deer as soon as possible to ensure rapid loss of body heat, prevent surface bacteria from growing, and maintain overall quality of the meat.

2. To reduce the risk of exposure to disease, wear disposable plastic gloves while handling animals. Using clean water, pre-moisten wipes, or alcohol wipes, clean your knife frequently between cuts to prevent bacterial contamination.”

It goes on to say, after field dressing, there are additional procedures that have to be followed.

1. Clean, ventilate and dry the body cavity.

2. Prop open the body cavity with a clean stick or branch. If possible, keep the opening up since heat rises.

3. Remove all visible dirt, feces, hair and bloodshot areas. Clean out entrail and drain excess blood.

4. Wipe the inside of the body cavity with a drip cloth or paper towels.

5. Upon arrival at home or camp, remove the hide and refrigerate the carcass (below 40 degrees F) as soon as possible to prevent spoilage and maintain the quality of the meat.”

And by chance, for some unknown reason, you, the sharpshooter, the one who prepared your bragging speech to all your cronies on how you were going to get the deer with the biggest rack and largest spread, just didn’t to master what you set off to do, don’t hang your head too far down. Remember, there will always be another year, place and time to cash in on your dreams, to do your thing, fall the “monster” and have the head mounted on your wall. Yes, your time is coming. You know I am right. Hang in there!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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