2018-12-01 / Outdoors

Wolf Tracks

Outdoor Columnist
Dave Wolf

Hunting during the second week of deer season is one of my favorite experiences.

The tradition started when I owned my lodge in Potter County. Housing 30- plus hunters during the first week of the season made it impossible for me to get out there. By the second week, the woods were often void of other hunters.

Back then, many bucks were taken during the second week. I recall a 5-point being a “good buck.” Today, a deer like that would be barely legal in some areas and illegal in others.

Larger-racked and older bucks are making up more of the deer kill with each passing year. Some are even “book bucks,” antlered deer that make the Pennsylvania Big Game Records book, or Boone & Crockett Club rankings.

The deer kill usually increases when hunters are allowed to take antlerless deer, which begins Dec. 1 this year.

Years ago, taking a doe wasn’t difficult. Back in the mid-70s to early 80s, the 20-plus hunters I kept at the lodge had sometimes all taken a doe by lunch time. However, times have changed, and deer are getting smarter.


There was a time when spikes made up the majority of the state’s antlered deer herd. Today, there are many more large-antlered deer. Many have survived the season’s first week and will be out there for second-week hunting. Karen Wolf photo There was a time when spikes made up the majority of the state’s antlered deer herd. Today, there are many more large-antlered deer. Many have survived the season’s first week and will be out there for second-week hunting. Karen Wolf photo Then again, there are other reasons that the doe kill is down is some areas, and that’s simply because a lot of hunters are unwilling to take an antlerless deer. A good number of hunters believe that the deer population is shrinking, primarily because of an excessive doe harvest.

Still, antlerless deer licenses still sell and support the Game Commission’s deer management program.

Over the years, I’ve taken many bucks during the second week and found that hunting during the weekdays was especially challenging. Nonetheless, I know that both good bucks and does survive each season.

Responsible doe hunting can require a judgement call, looking over the doe carefully and checking to see if she is traveling alone. If she has smaller deer traveling with her, I usually pass.

If we take a buck, we conclude our season. We consider ourselves fortunate, living in a country where choices are granted far more often than in other nations. The excitement is building at our house, so perhaps we may see you out there during the second week.

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

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