Timed for Monday’s opening of Pennsylvania’s traditional deer season, the DCNR Bureau of Forestry is offering a revamped, interactive website offering a wealth of maps, statistics and other information designed to make a hunter’s search more enjoyable and rewarding.
“Hinging on an interactive map of the entire state, this multi-faceted website was designed by hunters – for hunters. Those who enjoy roaming our wealth of state forestlands,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “This information should prove invaluable, not just to deer hunters but others seeking bear, turkey, small game and even waterfowl in others seasons.”
Offering details on newly opened roads, timber harvesting activity, forestry office contact numbers and much more on the state forest map.
“Hunters are the bureau’s strongest ally in its bid to achieve deer populations in balance with state forest habitat,” Dunn said, “and we know the more information they have about open roads, good habitat, and state forest and Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) boundaries, the better their chances of success.
“The website looks beyond deer for hunters who may be seeking other species,” said Dunn. “Grouse and turkey hunters and others in tune with good habitat will be interested in locations of young aspen stands; winter thermal cover; wildlife openings; oak forests and timber sales.”
In addition, the site:
-- Locates newly opened roads on state forestlands;
-- Offers directions to locations that prompt interest;
-- Displays legal shooting hours and supplies current weather conditions including wind direction and strength;
-- Lists season and bag limits, filtered by species, season type, and/or what’s currently in season;
-- Delineates Game Commission Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) and what state forests they encompass;
-- Lists deer harvest statistics and antlered and antlerless license allocations for WMUs;
-- Facilitates elk hunters in choosing Elk Hunting Zone applications by showing boundaries on base map, along with each zone’s public land access, road access and the number of elk tags issues.
“Essentially, we tried to make it easier for hunters to find their way around our 2.2 million acres of state forestland,” Dunn said. “They can display current state forest boundaries atop aerial imagery, topographic maps, terrain, and other base maps, and then and zoom in to see more detail. Hunters also can plot locations of personal waypoints and track logs from their GPS on the map.”
Hunters heading into Pennsylvania’s state-owned woodlands on November 30, will find additional roads open in 18 of the 20 state forest districts.
“The Bureau of Forestry hopes to improve accessibility while promoting hunting where it is needed to benefit forest regeneration and the overall ecosystem,” said Dunn. “For that reason, a total of 536 miles of state forest roads normally open only for administrative use will again be available to hunters and others visiting state forestlands this year.”
More than 3,000 miles of state forest roadways were open during the statewide archery season, which began October 3 and closed November 14. They will continue to stay open through other hunting seasons continuing into January, 2016.
Some state forest roads only will be opened for the second week of the traditional rifle season because they cannot withstand the expected heavy traffic of the first week of that season. Two- or three-month long openings will be in effect only where there is minimal threat of damage or deterioration to road surfaces or forest surroundings.
Meanwhile, top-quality hunting is offered at many state parks -- especially those in the 12-county Pennsylvania Wilds region -- where state forestland often surrounds them. Inexpensive camping can be found at many of those parks.
Primitive camping on state forestlands is also an option, giving hunters a backcountry camping or hunting experience. Camping permits, issued by the managing forest district, are required when camping on state forestlands on designated sites.
Hunters traveling to some north central areas of the state are reminded some hunting areas and travel routes may be impacted by Marcellus Shale-related activities. Some state forest roads may be temporarily closed during drilling operations or other peak periods of heavy use to reduce potential safety hazards.For more information on Pennsylvania’s 20 state forest districts and 120 state parks, visit DCNR’s Natural Gas Drilling and State Forests, Forestry and State Park webpages.