Hunters Gunning for Deer
Inside the Outdoors, December 6
, 2013

Ever since Dec. 2, hunters have been scouring the woods, looking for the animal of their choice – deer.

Even though there has not been any snow yet, this game is plentiful – to a certain degree that is. It seems there is a growing population of bobcat and coyotes affecting the growth of these animals, but I will leave that subject until another time.

Today, I want to talk a little bit about deer season, particularly regular firearms season, care after the kill, and tagging the animal.

Most sportsmen who read the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s 2013-14 Hunting and Trapping Digest know that one is allowed to hunt certain wildlife management units at a particular time. For example, I don’t discuss the happenings of 4A or 5D, for the first is centered in Bedford, Fulton and Huntingdon Counties, and the second consist of Philadelphia, Bucks and Chester Counties, two areas that the majority of local hunters would not travel to.

I like to spend my concentration on 2C, which makes up Westmoreland, Cambria, Fayette, Somerset, Indiana, Blair and some of Bedford Counties.

Last year, in the above WMU, 43,000 antlerless deer licenses were allocated just for that area. That is just one unit out of 23. All together there were 839,000 deer licenses allocated for the Commonwealth.

Also then it was predicted that 750,000 sportsmen, women and youth would take to the woods to look for deer with or without antlers. It was estimated a year ago that 133,860 antlered and 209,250 antlerless deer would be taken totaling 343,110 animals. According to the PGC, an estimate for the 2013-14 season will be tabulated after this deer season is over in 2014.

The antlered only deer firearms season begins Dec. 2 and ends Dec. 6 in our WMU in addition to 2A, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3B, 3C 4B, 4D and 4E.

The antlered and antlerless firearms season begins the following day, Dec. 7, and lasts until Dec. 14. Hunters will be able to harvest deer also in the same WMUs as mentioned above.

Sighting a deer and killing it is the fun of the sport. The real drudgery comes after the harvest. Here again, the PGC has provided tips for proper care.

  1. Field-dress deer as soon as possible to ensure rapid loss of body heat, prevent surface bacteria from growing , and maintain overall quality of meat
  2. To reduce your risk of exposure to disease, wear disposable gloves while handling animals. Using clean water, pre-moistened wipes, or alcohol wipes, clean your knife frequently between cuts to prevent bacterial contamination
  3. Remove the entails as soon as possible
  4. Trim all visible feces or ingesta with a clean knife. Clean it regularly between cuts
  5. Wash the cavity to remove contamination. Dry it thoroughly with a dry cloth or paper towels
  6. Prop open the body cavity to circulate air
  7. And last, upon arrival at home or camp, remove the hide and refrigerate the carcass (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) as soon as possible to prevent spoilage and maintain the quality of the meat.

A helpful guide to field dressing deer (Field Dressing Deer Pocket Guide) may be obtained through the Penn State website at or calling 814-865-6713.

It must be noted that all deer must be tagged immediately after harvest and before the carcass is moved, notes the PGC. A tag must be attached to the ear and remain attached until the animal is processed for consumption or prepared for mounting. The PGC suggests using a safety pin for the attachment process if the deer is to be mounted.

I talked to area archer master Lou Sartoris about the deer he has observed where he hunts and he said that, “I have seen many deer six-point and under, but nothing above that. I don’t know the reason. Farmers have even left their corn up and there should be much bigger racked deer,” he said.

“Deer season is critical in managing Pennsylvania whitetails,” stated PGC Executive Director Carl G. Roe.“The efforts of hunters are far reaching; they help to keep deer population in check, and enable the agency to meet deer management goals that benefit those who reside, visit or travel through this state.”.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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