2018-09-15 / Outdoors

Wolf Tracks

Outdoor Columnist
Dave Wolf

Much of Pennsylvania has, over the years, become fragmented into smaller chunks of prime wildlife habitat.

What’s left of it is increasingly being developed into parking lots, shopping centers, and “bedroom communities” by thousands of acres each month, even though we have empty stores and houses just about everywhere.

With the exception of the state forest, park and game lands, rural property is disappearing at a faster clip than many people realize. We continue to chase the proverbial dollar until it rounds the next curve in the road. Pretty soon, it will be difficult to determine where one town ends and another begins.

This land development has had a major impact on hunting opportunities. It makes many of us thankful for the stewards of yesteryear who had the wisdom and foresight to acquire hundreds of thousands of acres and commit our state to manage these holdings responsibly.


Archery hunting season for black bear opens Sept. 15. The deer season opener follows on Sept. 29. Those who are heading into the deep woods for an autumn hunting experience should consider taking along a partner. Photo by Dave Wolf Archery hunting season for black bear opens Sept. 15. The deer season opener follows on Sept. 29. Those who are heading into the deep woods for an autumn hunting experience should consider taking along a partner. Photo by Dave Wolf Experienced bowhunters are out there now, scouting for the Sept. 29 archery deer season opener.

A smaller number of archers will try their luck during a bear-hunting season that opens on Sept 15.

Scouting can greatly increase a bowhunter’s prospects of success. The same tactics that boost a hunter’s chances of success should also be employed when scouting. Use scent killer, dress in camo, and when you find deer signs or see a deer, be sure not to spook it. It’s best to back out of the area immediately.

If you want to be sure the deer you’re after remain in the area, get a good pair of binoculars and glass the area during the morning and evening hours from a distance. The worst thing you can do is leave your scent there.

Although the country is fragmented, there is still public land to hunt. Granted, access to the prime hunting lands may require some hiking and climbing. As we grow older, it’s important to know our limitations. It might be advisable to hunt with a partner who can help you get your deer out and help find the way out if you get lost.

Remember that deep forest hunting can be productive, but keep in mind that deer often remain an “edge animal,” and don’t move too far into the woods until they are pressured. You will still have to do your scouting, making sure to follow the same routine you would if you hunted elsewhere.

With the cooler days of fall to look forward to, I would be remiss if I did not mention late-season angling. As the water cools, and trout begin feeding actively again.

On stocked streams, the limit is now three per day. On wild trout streams, all trout must be released. It’s important to handle the native fish with care, as both brook trout and browns are spawning.

(Dave Wolf can be reached by email at wolfang418@msn.com.)

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