You have mastered the safety drills; obtained the proper licensing; and scouted out potential new stomping grounds. You’re all set to pursue hunting and furtaking interests here in Pennsylvania. Right?
Well, here’s a few questions that just might test your knowledge and that of your go-to mentors, as well:
-- Are you aware that many of the 121 state parks across the Pennsylvania routinely yield black bear trophies to hunters?
-- Or that some of the best waterfowl hunting in the state can be found at state parks with large lakes and plenty of room to set decoy spreads and shoot safely?
-- That every species—from the dainty woodcock to the hulking black bear—can be found and hunted in our state forests and state parks?
-- Through the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), you often can extend deer hunting opportunities in our state parks and forests?
-- And, finally, that roughly 80 percent of DCNR’s almost 300,000 acres of state parkland is open to hunting and furtaking?
We in Pennsylvania truly are blessed. Not only do we have a wealth of game and forbearing animals, but, unlike many states, we also have a tremendous amount of public land where hunters and trappers are welcome.
Your purchase of a state license opens so many doors to pleasant days afield. November ushers in exciting times for hunters stepping out into Pennsylvania’s fields, woodlands, and wetlands.
Hunters seeking whitetails and other game will find more than 90 percent of all state forestland is now within one-half mile of an open road during deer season. Throughout the state’s big game seasons, running into 2017, hunters will find more than 3,000 miles of roadway open in state forests.
Access to some state forest roads will be determined by local weather and road conditions. Hunters should contact forest district offices in advance for up-to-date information.
With the hunter in mind, DCNR continues to update a new interactive map of state forest lands across Pennsylvania that offers details on newly opened roads, timber harvesting activity, forestry office contact numbers, and more.
Meanwhile, top-quality hunting is offered at many state parks—especially those in the 12.5-county Pennsylvania Wilds region—where state forestland often surrounds them. Inexpensive cold-weather camping can be found at many of those parks.
Primitive camping on state forestlands also is 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.
Many of these campsites are close to state parks and forestlands enrolled in the Game Commission’s Deer Management Assistance Program, permitting hunters to take one antlerless deer or more when properly licensed. Hunters are advised to check with state forest district headquarters or state park offices about availability.
Hunters traveling to the 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.
DCNR continues to utilize DMAP permitting in some state parks and state forests across the state, and continues monitoring success and effectiveness of the program for possible future adaptation and application. If it is to work, DCNR needs hunters entering these areas.
That’s one reason DCNR continues to join other state agencies in supporting the Hunters Sharing the Harvest effort. The move boosts hunter participation in the DMAP areas by helping pay for processing of their venison to feed the hungry.
The Game Commission has given you many possibilities and choices to anticipate in seasons under way and to come. We at DCNR are privileged to do the same:
-- More than 2.2 million acres of state forestland where the white-tailed deer, black bear, American wild turkey, and countless small-game and forbearing species thrive
-- Much of the acreage in many of Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks is open to hunting and furtaking—87 percent of their acreage, to be exact, or 286,000 acres
Questions are endless, and so, too, is the information supplied by DCNR’s bureaus. Is waterfowl hunting allowed at this state park? What are the boundaries of that state forest district? Can I rent a state park cabin during deer season? How did that group down in the state forest hollow get a lease for their aging cabin? Good cover for grouse? Squirrels? Pheasants?
You can acquaint yourself with the vast resources DCNR administers by visiting DCNR’s website.
Also, DCNR’s website offers a timely “News and Information” section containing the latest news releases about state parks and forestlands. Questions about special controlled deer hunts, Canada goose hunting opportunities, and related activities also are welcomed and addressed in DCNR’s popular “Ask DCNR” email service.
There is so much to see and do in Penns Woods. Our state forests and parks are the perfect place to start.
For more information, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Click Here to be part of DCNR’s Online Community, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.(Reprinted from the November 9 DCNR Resource newsletter. Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)