New Peregrine Pages Posted
Although the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife's Jersey City Peregrine Webcam went offline in June, volunteer observers and staff continued to monitor the birds through the summer. Two new pages displaying photographs of the fledglings' early flights and a mid-air prey transfer between an adult and its young have been posted on the division's website.
To view the new prey transfer page, visithttp://www.njfishandwildlife.com/peregrinecam/preytransfer11.htm ; for the new Fledge-Watch page visithttp://www.njfishandwildlife.com/peregrinecam/jcp-fledgewatch11.htm . A detailed account of the entire 2011 season (including the fate of the chick removed from the nestbox in May) is chronicled in Nestbox News athttp://www.njfishandwildlife.com/peregrinecam/jcp-2011nestnews.htm .
ARCHERY DEER SEASON BEGINS ON SATURDAY
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s fall archery deer season is set to open throughout the Commonwealth, and represents the beginning of big game hunting seasons in the state, said Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe.
Statewide archers can hunt antlered or antlerless deer from Oct. 1 to Nov. 12, and the late statewide archery deer season runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 16.
Image by www.huntfishguide.com via Flickr
However, bowhunters who purchased and received antlerless deer licenses to hunt in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D were able to begin their season on Sept. 17-Sept. 30, for antlerless deer only. Hunters in these three urbanized WMUs also have extra antlerless deer hunting opportunities from Nov. 14-Nov. 26. Bowhunters also may take antlered and antlerless deer in these units from Dec. 26-Jan. 28.
Archery hunters may choose to use a long, recurve or compound bow, or a crossbow. Bows must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds; crossbows must have a minimum drawn weight of at least 125 pounds. Broadheads on either an arrow or a bolt must have an outside diameter or width of at least seven-eighths inches with at least two cutting edges on the same plane throughout the length of the cutting surface, and shall not exceed three inches in length.
The Game Commission encourages hunters to spend as much time as possible afield this fall prior to and during the hunting seasons to pattern deer movements and identify areas where fall foods are abundant.
“Hunt as often as you can, and scout every time you head afield,” Roe said. “Try to figure out which food sources deer are using. And pay attention to prevailing wind direction. These adjustments really can make a difference.”
Those participating in the archery seasons are urged to take only responsible shots at deer to ensure a quick, clean kill. For most, that’s a shot of 20 yards or less at a deer broadside or quartering away. Archery and crossbow hunters should shoot at only deer that are within their maximum effective shooting range - the furthest distance from which a hunter can consistently place arrows or bolts into a pie pan-sized target.
Hunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts; they aid in tracking or locating the arrow or bolt after being launched. However, transmitter-tracking arrows still are illegal.
Tree-stands and climbing devices that cause damage to trees are unlawful to use or occupy unless the user has written permission from the landowner. Treestands - or tree steps - penetrating a tree’s cambium layer cause damage, and it is unlawful to construct or occupy constructed tree-stands on State Game Lands, state forests or state parks.
Hunters are reminded of a new regulation that limits the placement of portable hunting treestands and blinds from two weeks before the opening of the first big game season to two weeks after the close of the last big game season within each respective Wildlife Management Unit, excluding the spring gobbler season. As approved, hunters will be able to place their treestands on State Game Lands two weeks prior to the archery deer season, and then have to remove the stands two weeks after the late flintlock deer seasons.
“Hunters need to remember that locating a treestand on State Game Lands does not reserve a hunting area,” Roe said. “The first person to arrive in a certain spot has the right to hunt that area.”
Other safety tips bowhunters should consider before heading afield and while hunting include:
- Make sure someone knows where you're hunting and when you expect to return home. Leave a note or topographic map with your family or a friend. Pack a cellular telephone for emergencies.
- Always use a fall-restraint device - preferably a full-body harness - when hunting from a tree-stand. Wear the device from the moment you leave the ground until you return. Don't climb dead, wet or icy trees. Stay on the ground on blustery days.
- Get in good physical condition before the season starts. Fatigue can impact judgment, coordination and reaction time, as well as accuracy. Staying physically fit makes a difference.
- Always carry a whistle to signal passersby in the event you become immobile. A compass and matches or lighter and tinder also are essential survival gear items to have along. An extra flashlight bulb also can be helpful.
- Use a hoist rope to lift your bow and backpack to your tree-stand. Trying to climb with either will place you at unnecessary risk.
- Don't sleep in a tree-stand! If you can't stay awake, return to the ground.
- Always carry broadhead-tipped arrows in a protective quiver.
- If you use a mechanical release, always keep your index finger away from the trigger when drawing.
- Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for all equipment and check your equipment before each use.
- Practice climbing with your tree-stand before dawn on the opening day of the season. Consider placing non-slip material on the deck of your tree-stand if it's not already there.
-Never walk with a nocked, broadhead-tipped arrow or bolt.
-Cocked crossbows should always be pointed in a safe direction. Keep your thumb and fingers below the crossbow’s string and barrel at all times.
SCOUTING SHOULD INCLUDE MORE THAN LOOKING FOR WILDLIFE
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commission officials urge hunters and trappers to place a greater emphasis on pre-season scouting this year, as there have been a number of dramatic changes in the landscape, some of which is manmade while others are the result of nature’s fury.
“Annual changes in the availability of fall food sources require hunters and trappers to study how wildlife behavior and movement patterns are altered as the seasons approach,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “Those who take the time to scout for these food sources and trails before the seasons open greatly increase their chance of harvesting game.
“However, this year, dramatic changes on the landscape will be just as important – if not more important – as looking for the highly nutritious acorns and other natural foods sought by game animals.”
Specifically, Roe cited Marcellus Shale-related drilling and recent Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee damages as examples of larger impacts on the landscape that may alter what hunters and trappers find in the forests and fields of Pennsylvania.
“The ‘Big Woods’ area of northcentral Pennsylvania, home to many of the traditional hunting camps, lies within the area being explored for Marcellus Shale natural gas, and has seen a dramatic increase in drilling,” Roe said. “Northeastern Pennsylvania also has seen a large volume of Marcellus Shale activity. Both of these regions experienced more disruption in traditional hunting and trapping areas from drilling activity.”
Roe said decisions about when drilling activities on State Game Lands occurs is largely dictated by who owns the oil and gas rights. In many instances, the Game Commission owns only the surface rights, and a separate party owns the oil and gas rights under State Game Lands.
“According to state law, mineral and oil/gas estate rights exceed surface estate rights, meaning the mineral and oil/gas owners have the right to use the surface in a reasonable manner to access these natural resources. Simply put, the Game Commission can’t just say ‘no’ to those seeking to tap into the gas reserve they own. However, the Game Commission strives to work proactively with the subsurface rights owners to minimize the surface impacts of the drilling operations.”
When the Game Commission owns the oil and gas rights, Roe said the agency exercises much greater control and oversight of drilling operations.
“All drilling operations are regulated by state court rulings, state law and the state Department of Environmental Protection,” Roe said. “That being said, the Game Commission does weigh many factors when considering a lease on State Game Lands, and much attention is paid to areas with critical or unique habitats. When the Game Commission owns the rights to the subsurface resource, we have the ability to stipulate that no drilling-related activities occur during peak hunting seasons.”
Roe said the standard language in all agreements in which the Game Commission owns the rights to the oil and gas under State Game Lands states that drilling-related activities are not permitted for the following: opening day of archery deer season; opening day of any youth or special-use hunting season; opening day of early fall muzzleloader deer season; opening day of early small game season; opening day of general small game season; the first three days of the antlered and antlerless or concurrent antler/antlerless firearms deer season; opening day of fall turkey season; all Saturdays of firearms deer season; opening day of spring turkey season; and opening day of bear season.
Unfortunately, in situations where the Game Commission does not own the oil/gas and mineral rights, Roe said the agency cannot prevent an operator from exercising his or her rights in a reasonable manner.
“We strive for voluntary agreement to our standard hunting season restrictions with those companies,” Roe said. “When the agency doesn’t own the rights to oil and gas deposits under State Game Lands, the Game Commission’s ability to restrict drilling activities during hunting seasons is limited.”
Roe also noted that there have been significant impacts on wildlife and the environment from weather beyond gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale layer.
“Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee wrecked havoc on thousands of Pennsylvanians,” Roe said. “At the same time, access to certain areas of State Game Lands and other hunting and trapping locations may require hunters and trappers to use alternative plans or routes to reach their intended destinations.”
As an example, Luzerne County Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO) Gerald Kapral said the recent hurricane and heavy storms that passed through the Northeastern United States caused a tremendous amount of damage to roadways and bridges, making many areas impassable.
“While major roads will be on the priority list for repairs, many back roads and those in more remote areas could be closed for an extended period of time,” WCO Kapral said. “With another season on the way, hunters and trappers should check access to their favorite spots as soon as possible to avoid any last minute surprises that could keep them away from areas they plan to be this fall and winter.”
Lebanon County WCO Michael Reeder reports that several access points to SGLs in Lebanon County have been affected by flooding. “The Food and Cover Corps crews are busy trying to repair the damage, but hunters should plan on possible limited access points and parking during the upcoming season,” he said.
Roe noted damages caused the agency to cancel three of its popular public tours for State Game Lands. Those cancelled were for SGL 211 in Dauphin/Lebanon counties; SGL 57 in Luzerne/Wyoming counties; and SGLs 12 and 36 in Bradford County.
“The cancellation of these tours should alter hunters and trappers who use these roads to access interior portions of State Game Lands to the fact that they may want to consider alternative access points,” Roe said. “The bottom line is that scouting this year will need to include how you plan to get to where you’re hunting or trapping.”