Food Plentiful
Inside the Outdoors, December 10,
2016

Over the weeks prior to opening day statewide rifle season and through the first week of whitetail harvesting, one thing was for sure. Food was plentiful due to the warmer days of fall and availability of acorns, a prime feed for these animals.

There were a lot of definites that resulted. With abundance of food, they gained weight in short order. As they fattened, their antlers grew bigger. As a result, there no doubt will be some nice looking specimens out there to be taken.

In as much as the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) stated that there would be 550,000 hunters taking to the woods of the commonwealth the first day, there will be a good number of sportsmen exiting Penn’s Woods with smiles and grins on their faces from ear to ears.

One report I heard about prior to the season opener was the employment of hunters and property owners affixing spy cameras mounted to trees that revealed that there are some monstrous whitetails for the taking. As I reported from Tom Fazi, wildlife conservation officer supervisor for the southwest region, “Hunters don’t have to travel long distances. We have all the trophies any hunter would desire here in our neck of the woods. It’s all in the matter of finding them,” he said.

Seeing large deer and knowing which ones to harvest is dependent upon knowing the rules and regulations the laws as detailed in the Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest summary handbook.

As I mentioned weeks ago, deer love to gather where food is found. They do not normally wonder off when tree droppings are literally at their feet. They will be clustered where food is found.

We are told that we are going to have a very cold winter. However, the beginning of deer rifle season started off with higher temperatures. If it continues this way, this may be advantageous for the young fawns, for they may be given more time to forage and grow. On the other hand, temps can change overnight as we have found out these last couple weeks.

The PGC did reveal an interesting fact. “Overall, the deer population is stable or on the rise in each of 23 Pennsylvania’s wildlife managements units.”

Just prior to the start of the season opener, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Matthew Hough stated, “The prospect of bagging a trophy has never been better.”

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Now that we have arrived into the cooler temperatures, most of the colorful leaves we all enjoyed are now strewn amongst the ground, collected in leaf piles or burned by enthusiasts who like to keep to the adage of “out of sight,” out of mind.”

Here’s the question. Which fell first and which still may be real ‘hang-ups?’ Not having the slightest idea, I contacted Jessica Salter, service forester for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry, Forest District number Four, who filled me in on what leaves fall first and their leaf color and what fall last.

The first to fall are from the black gum trees, their leaf color in parenthesis (reddish); second, black walnut (bright yellow) third, black cherry (yellow); fourth, yellow poplar (yellow); fifth, red maple (orange to red); sixth, sugar maple, (orange to gold); seventh, hickory (yellow to red); eighth, chestnut (yellow); ninth, oaks (red to brown); and tenth, American beech (light yellow).

“The family of pines which are always green fall off all year long only after they’ve hung on the trees for over one year,” Salter said. “The hardwoods loose their leaves last,” she concluded.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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