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Pennsylvania counts down to deer season opener Nov. 28

From Pennsylvania Game Commission

-- Pennsylvania's only unofficial holiday-the Monday after Thanksgiving-marks opening day of the two-week general deer season when nearly 750,000 individuals sporting fluorescent orange are expected to be present in Penn's Woods.

New antler restrictions are in place for the five Wildlife Management Units in western Pennsylvania previously designated as a four-point on one side area. Under the new antler restrictions, hunters in WMUs 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2D need to identify three antler points, not including the brow tine, which is the point immediately above the antler burr.

Also, WMUs 2A, 2F and 3B have been added to the split-season structure, in which the first five days are open for antlered deer only and the remaining seven days are open for antlered and antlerless deer.

Hunters are advised to make sure they have done their pre-season scouting becasuse fall food conditions, development posted property and other factors impact deer movements. Deer respond to food availability and hunter pressure, both of which can vary from year to year, and from one area to another.

Hunters should be aware dramatic changes affecting acorn and other natural food availability.

The Big Wood area of north central Pennsylvania is within the area being explored for Marcellus Shale natural gas, and has seen a dramatic increase in drilling. Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee created widespread access issues on State Game Land roads. Pre-season scouting allows hunters to acquaint themselves to access issues that may impact hunting plans.

Deer season opens with a five-day, antlered deer-only season in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3B, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E from Nov. 28-Dec. 2. It is followed in these WMUs by seven days of concurrent, antlered and antlerless deer hunting beginning Dec. 3, and continuing through Dec. 10. The rest of the state follows the two-week concurrent, antlered and antlerless season - Nov. 28-Dec. 10 - that has been in place since 2001.

Hunters must wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined at all times while afield during the seasons. They also are advised that it's illegal to hunt, chase or disturb deer within 150 yards of any occupied building without the occupant's permission if they are using a firearm, or 50 yards if they are using a bow or crossbow.

During the two-week season, hunters may use any legal sporting arm, as outlined on page 45 of the 2011-12 Digest. Rifles are not permitted to be used in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware or Montgomery counties, however, shotguns and muzzleloaders are legal. Deer hunters in Philadelphia may use only bows or crossbows.

All hunters who take a deer must fill out their harvest tag and attach it to the deer's ear before moving the carcass. The tag can be secured to the base of the ear with a string drawn very tightly, if the hunter plans to have the deer mounted. Cutting a slit in the ear to attach the tag will require additional work by a taxidermist.

Properly licensed bear hunters who still possess an unused bear tag come deer season may take a bear during the first week of deer season but only in selected WMUs. Specific seasons and reporting requirements for taking bear during deer season are outlined on page 36 of the 2011-12 Digest issued with the purchase of a hunting license. The Digest also may be viewed on the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us).

Hunters have 10 days to report deer harvests, or five days for persons using homemade tags. Hunters can report their kill using the postage paid card supplied with their 2011-12 Digest, by calling (855)724-8681 or online at www.pgc.state.pa.us

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