Rainy first day of deer season hurts hunters
A rainy first day of firearms deer hunting season washed out the hopes of some, though others quickly got their buck.
With the rain coming down Monday morning, David Lutz of Ligonier Township said he did not see or hear many deer moving.
“It was quiet and raining,” Lutz said.
That did not stop his 13-year-old son, Luke, from bagging an 8-point deer about 8 a.m. with a .30-06 rifle.
Russ Javens of Derry Township “saw nothing but rain” as he hunted off Route 217 near Torrance State Hospital, the same location he has been going to for the past 25 years.
“I did not even see a deer, but I saw a lot of hunters … come out at 11 a.m. when rain came pounding down,” Javens said as he ate lunch at Ruthie’s Diner on Route 30 in Ligonier Township.
Javens plans to head back into the woods and get a deer.
“I love hunting. I’ll go every day, as long as the weather cooperates,” said Javens, 62, a retiree.
Business was a little slower than normal for the first day of deer season at Hoffer’s Ligonier Valley Packing in Ligonier Township, said Morgan Zimmerman, a member of the Hoffer family that has operated the business for about 45 years.
“It’s kind of slow because of the rain,” Zimmerman said early Monday afternoon as about a dozen deer were strewn around the outside processing area waiting to be butchered.
There were no reports of gunshot accidents. Firefighters in Sewickley Township were called to the Lowber area about 4 p.m. to rescue a hunter who reportedly suffered a fractured ankle. Firefighters called for boats to cross the rain-swollen Sewickley Creek to reach the hunter.
The game commission expected it would be more difficult to sort out deer movements this season. Deer typically key in on food sources within good cover, and cornfields have stood longer than usual this fall and trees have held their leaves longer, the game commission said.
The statewide buck harvest has increased each of the past three years. Hunters killed more than a million whitetails over that period, the game commission said. Hunters took more deer on the first Saturday in 2017 than on opening day — a first in Pennsylvania’s deer-management history, said Bryan Burhans, game commission executive director.
Larger-racked and older bucks are making up more of the deer harvest with each passing year.
Last year, 163,750 bucks were taken by hunters, making it the second-largest buck harvest in Pennsylvania since antler restrictions were started in 2002.
The firearms season for antlered deer continues until Dec. 8. The antlerless and antlered seasons run concurrently from Saturday to the season’s close.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review
staff writer. You can contact
Joe at 724-836-5252
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