Deer season got underway Saturday and favorable weather conditions saw a solid turnout across the county.
“There were a lot of hunters out, the weather was nice,” said Al Zellner, a conservation administration supervisor for the state Game Commission’s southcentral region office in Smithfield Township. “The wardens that were out said they saw a lot of hunters.
Reports from the field suggest that the dear population is in good health.
“Most of the hunters that came through told us they saw more dear then they did last year,” said Zellner. “The acorn crop was pretty good this year.”
Zellner said that while violations were up “a little bit” from last year, thankfully there were no major incidents on opening day.
He thinks this morning’s wintery weather won’t have a major impact on hunters heading out today and throughout the remainder of the first week.
“The number of hunters nowadays are definitely weather-related. Bad weather knocks the hunting down, but as long as it’s not real rainy, it won’t be too bad,” said Zellner. “Many people already scheduled off (work) today, so they’ll be out.”
In conjunction with deer season (WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D), extended bear season runs through Saturday, Dec. 7 for WMUs 1B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A and through Saturday, Dec. 14 for WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D).
Zellner, who was at the bear weigh-in station the opening day of deer and extended bear season, said 55 bears were checked, one more than was checked the opening day of the initial bear rifle season that opened Nov. 23.
A pair of them were massive.
“We had two 600-pound bears,” said Zellner. “One from Huntingdon was 658 pounds.”
Zellner believes the reason behind the increase in bears checked in during extended season was the number of hunters out in the field.
“There were just a lot of hunters, and a lot of guys out deer hunting had bear tags,” he said.
John McCracken, a deer processor from Huntingdon, said the weather conditions brought a lot of deer to his doorstep Saturday.
“We had a little over a hundred come in Saturday, which was a little more than last year,” he said. “It was a perfect day, not super cold, not raining or snowing, which kept some of the hunters out in the woods longer. Although I think a lot of people probably took the afternoon and the evening and watched football.”
McCracken noted that he didn’t see many of his regular customers opening day, which led him to speculate.
“I think a lot of people were really rushed between the Thanksgiving holiday and first day of deer season. The older and more traditional hunting people probably just enjoyed themselves at camp. A lot of my regular customers, I didn’t really see them Saturday, and maybe this Monday will be like the first day of season for them,” he said.
Nathan can be reached at email@example.com.