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Shotgun start: Deer season underway in Pa.

November 27, 2006

If you live in Pennsylvania, you probably know someone sitting out in the woods in a tree stand today, sipping coffee from a thermos, waiting to take a shot at a herd of deer while on their early-morning commute to the watering hole (the deer, not the hunters … please don’t shoot me on my commute!).

It’s the first day of deer season in the state, when day-glow orange is the fashionable color. It was pretty foggy in central Pennsylvania this morning, which I’m guessing is bad for rifle shooting. And I’m thinking fog beams aren’t made for rifles yet.

It was so thick, that a WSBA radio show host joked this morning that the deer should be wearing the orange vests, not the hunters. Somehow, I don’t think deer (or PETA) will agree to that.

While my dad (and the Boy Scouts) taught me at a young age how to shoot a rifle, handgun and compound/re-curve bow, I never went out on the hunt. I was more fond of shooting targets that didn’t bleed and didn’t run away after you hit them. Yeah, I’m lazy.
The targets I liked came printed with bulls-eye rings, so I could keep track of the points I scored. Typical video game freak.

But, while I didn’t like the thought of shooting a live animal, I didn’t mind partaking of the venison meat that my dad and brothers brought home. Deer steaks were always good, and ground deer makes a mighty tasty meatball or sloppy joe sandwich.

The Patriot News has a story today about the state’s 717,000-plus hunters, about the disappointment of some that pine for the days when Pa. had a much bigger deer herd.

If you didn’t know, here are the ground rules, set by the state game commission:

Deer season opens a half-hour before sunrise today. Hunting is permitted a half-hour before sunrise to sunset through Dec. 9. Hunting is prohibited on Sunday. A state hunting license is required to take antlered deer. An antlerless deer license is also required to take does. Antlered deer must have three or more points at least an inch long to one antler, except in western Pennsylvania, where it must have at least four points to one antler. An exception allows for bucks with at least two points to one antler or one antler at least three inches long for junior license holders under age 17, disabled persons and active-duty U.S. military personnel.

Our Lancaster New Era outdoors columnist, Ad Crable, reminds our county hunters to HUNT SAFELY! Make sure you identify your target before pulling the trigger. He said that we have one serious injury or fatality every year in the county due to hunter error. So be careful.

If you’ve got a ton of deer to process at your local butcher, think about giving a little of your bounty to Hunters Harvest, who distributes meat to the needy and to food banks.

And if you’re riding on Amtrak today, keep an eye out for commuters with antlers. Some turkeys tried to get out of town last week, before Thanksgiving (see pic at left).

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