How To Check The Status of Your Pennsylvania Antlerless Deer Tag Application on HuntFishPA

HuntFishPA, PA Doe Tag, PA Doe Tag Status

How To Check PA Doe Tag Availability and The Status of Your Pennsylvania Antlerless Deer Tag Application on HuntFishPA

If you’re anything like me, patience is a hard thing to come by especially when it pertains to hunting. This rings true every July after Pennsylvania hunting licenses officially go on sale and the lead-up to submitting your antlerless deer tag application.


Every PA hunter is bound to have their own strategy in order to get that pink Pennsylvania Game Commission antlerless deer tag application envelop to their local county treasurer’s desk first thing Monday morning.


My rule of thumb is always trying to send out my antlerless deer application the Friday or Saturday before the Monday that the Antlerless Deer applications go on sale. Whether this level of planning and preparation is warranted or not, I still live by the adage that the early bird gets the worm. Or, in this case, their preferred WMU antlerless deer tag. It has worked for me up to this point so why fix something that isn’t broken?


Once I’ve submitted my antlerless deer application, the anticipation of whether or not I got my preferred WMU begins to build. Again, patience is hard to come by as I anxiously await to receive my self-addressed return envelop with my antlerless deer tag.


In years past, I’ve waited and watched for my check to clear only to wonder what WMU I was awarded out of the 3 WMUs I listed on my application.


However, in more recent years, I’ve learned how you can check the status of your Pennsylvania antlerless deer application. This works whether you’re a PA resident hunter or non-resident hunter.


Checking the status of your antlerless deer tag allows you to not only see if you’ve been awarded an antlerless deer tag, but also which WMU you’ve been awarded a Pennsylvania antlerless deer tag.


In checking the status of your antlerless deer application online, you can help ease your mind in between submitting your PA Antlerless Deer Application and finally receiving your antlerless deer tag in the mail.


Below we’ve outlined how you can check the status of your Pennsylvania Game Commission antlerless deer application status on HuntFishPA.


We’ve also listed how to check the antlerless deer tag availability which includes total allocation, tags sold, and antlerless tags remaining by WMU.

Step 1: Go to the website.

Step 2: Click on ‘Log In to My Account’

HuntFishPA, PA Antlerless Deer Tag Application

Step 3: Log In to your account via one of the various methods i.e. SSN, Customer Number, Driver’s License/ID Number, Visa/Passport, or Username/Password

HuntFishPA, PA Antlerless Deer Tag Application

Step 4: Verify the information you provided and click ‘next’ to continue

Step 5: Check whether you are a PA Resident or Non-Resident hunter.

HuntFishPA, PA Antlerless Deer Tag Application

Step 6: Verify your information and click next to continue.


Step 7: Scroll down on your HuntFishPA home screen until you see the various navigation options i.e. Licenses, Boat Registration Renewals and Launch Permits, Applications and Points, and Harvest Reporting.

Step 8: Within the License Info Box – Click the ‘Purchase History Button’

HuntFishPA, PA Doe Tag

Here you’ll see the status of your antlerless deer application.

If you’ve been awarded an antlerless deer tag, you’ll also be able to see which WMU you’ve been awarded one.

HuntFishPA, PA Doe Tag, PA Doe Tag Status

How To Check PA Doe Tag Availability

pa doe tag availability, HuntFishPA

BONUS: You can also check the total PA Antlerless Deer Tag License availability by WMU, as well as the remaining PA Antlerless Deer Tag availability by WMU on the new HuntFishPA website. Check the PA Doe Tag Availability here.


This is both useful if you got a late start in submitting your 1st round antlerless deer tag application, or if you’re curious how many antlerless deer tags remain for a particular WMU for the 2nd round of resident and non-resident antlerless deer tag applications.


UPDATE for 2021:

According to’s website, THREE-LICENSE LIMIT FOR ANTLERLESS DEER HUNTERS HAS BEEN LIFTEDHunters statewide now have the opportunity to apply for and receive additional antlerless deer licenses, as long as those licenses remain available, and provided that a hunter holds no more than six unfilled antlerless licenses at a time.”

For more information on antlerless deer licenses and applications – visit the Pennsylvania Game Commissions website here.

To shop our full line of hunting, archery, and outdoor gear and accessories – visit us online at, or in person at 1658 Steel Way Drive, Mount Joy, PA 17552.

Top 5 Late Winter and Early Spring Activities for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Off-Season Practice and Preparation

Spring for most, is a date on the calendar. It’s hope for those who spend their winters in offices, homes, and commuter lanes.

It’s as if most of the people you talk to only consider the world to exist when the temperature is above 70 degrees.

That’s when we don’t have to shovel and salt the walkway, put on the coat and tear the house apart to find our gloves before running out of the door.

So many times, you hear “there’s just nothing to do in winter.”

By now you’ve probably archery hunted the late season, had your last shot at geese, and stretched your season out with small game.

Some of us have been busy finding whitetail sheds and tying flies.

Usually around this time of year though it can be tough to find ways to enjoy being outside with limited fishing and hunting opportunities.

For the winter’s last final grip of 4-6 weeks, depending on which groundhog’s prediction you trust, the cure for your restlessness might be to stop by the store.

Continue reading to learn more about our top 5 late winter and early spring activities for outdoor enthusiasts.

1. Shop New Hunting and Fishing Products

Outdoor product manufacturers are always looking toward next season.

In fact, trade shows for hunting and fishing companies are exclusively in the colder winter months when fewer of us are out in the field doing what we love.

That’s when new bows and fishing gear start to arrive so there are few better times in the year to get a jump on what you’ll need for warm-weather activities.

2. Shoot Our Indoor Archery Range and TechnoHunt

Hardcore archers shoot all year long, and the cold icy days of winter don’t have to stop you from shooting with our heated indoor archery range.

Winter doesn’t even have to stop you from spending an afternoon drawing back on elk, whitetail, turkey, antelope, grizzly bears, and even rattlesnakes — all in the same day.

With our indoor TechnoHunt range you and one friend can enjoy traveling the world and testing your archery skills on moving targets.

The scoring of your shots can even lend itself to some friendly competition about who’ll have to buy dinner, or drinks, after you’re done.

Once the days warm up and the woods start to become green again, local sporting and archery clubs are quick to set up the 3-D targets for archers.

Taking your archery skill test on a 3-D course is a perfect way to judge distance and form while out on a hike.

If you’re thinking about a new bow, rest, or release for the fall, there’s few better times to start now and practice all spring and summer. While being fun, it’s a set recipe for confidence in the tree stand this November.

3. Upgrade Your Fishing Rods, Reels, Tackle, and Bait

You also don’t have to wait until the night before the trout opener to look at new rods and reels.

The fishing section is currently stocked with this year’s newest and best.

There’s even a new version of the classics that never need a change to help you reel in your limit this year.

4. Prep For Spring Turkey Season

Turkey season in less than two months.

You probably still have your snow shovel handy, but still now is the time to start shopping and practicing your calls while checking in on your spring hunting gear.

Turkey calling icons Matt Morrett and Eddy Salter will tell you, practice early, often, and in your truck.

Even the best spouse will at some point become, less than supportive of your rehearsing.

Take the time now to sharpen your calling skills, without landing you in the dog house.

5. Grab a New Pair of Hunting Boots

Boots especially take 4-6 weeks to break in, and you wouldn’t want to lose any time chasing long beards because blisters forced you back to the truck early.

Every day it seems, there are more boot and footwear choices on the shelves at the store.

If your boots don’t have the tread they used to, or your socks got soaked on an early morning hunt, now’s the time to take a look at an upgrade.


Winter shopping can lend itself to a more enjoyable experience.

Usually, fewer people are out trying to get the same gear at the same time and more products are in stock and available.

It’s a great reason to get out of the house and put you in a better position when things thaw out in a few weeks.

To shop our full assortment of archery, hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear – visit our website at or stop by and visit us in-store at 1658 Steel Way Drive, Mount Joy, PA 17552.


Pennsylvania Launches HuntFishPA

HuntFishPA, new HuntFishPA website

HuntFishPA: A New Mobile-Friendly Outdoor Licensing Website

The PA Game Commission and the PA Fish and Boat Commission worked together to launch HuntFishPA, a new singular website for hunters, anglers, and boaters in the Keystone State. 

The new site, HuntFishPA, replaces the old Pennsylvania Automatic Licensing System (PALS) website, also known as The Outdoor Shop. 

HuntFishPA serves as a one-stop-shop to purchase licenses, launch permits, check the status of your antlerless deer tag, elk preference points, report harvests, and purchase other items from the organizations such as patches, t-shirts, posters, magazine subscriptions, and much more.

As the world continues to use more mobile devices and the technology becomes faster and smaller – the outdoor community in Pennsylvania felt it was time to update their licensing website accordingly. 

You can now create an account to log in to a personalized page, or checkout as a guest to make your purchases without a customizable account. 

The HuntFishPA site features a more transparent and easier to use system that should help to clear any confusion about what permits are needed and how to get them without having to navigate multiple sites. 

The system has a feature that remembers prior purchases so you can re-order, or even set your account up for an autorenewal. That way if you decide to head out at the last minute you’ll be covered if your local retailer is closed. 

If you still like to go to the store to buy your annual license, like I do, that’s also an option as the new system is used at 750 locations throughout the state

More importantly, if you enjoy buying your license at Kinsey’s Outdoors and taking advantage of the in-store coupons offered – you won’t miss a thing. 

It’s also worth mentioning that a new, more rugged green license will replace those familiar yellow licenses of years past. 

For more information on all of the updates and improvements to the new HuntFishPA website – check out the full details here.

To shop our full line of hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear and accessories – visit us online at, or in person at 1658 Steel Way Drive, Mount Joy, PA 17552.

PA Rifle Season Hunting

Tradition, there’s plenty of it this time of year. The time of year when you look at the calendar a few more times than you normally would. A time of year when you spend those vacation days as carefully as you do your hard-earned dollars. Making that time off last and giving yourself as much valuable time in the woods as you can.


Whether you’re heading up to camp or a stand close to home – this is an exciting time of year. A year’s worth of preparation from spring scouting, through the summer heat, and now opening morning is finally here. Dust off your blaze orange vest and that lucky hat because we’re ready for the deer rifle season in Pennsylvania.


Preparation almost seems like most of the fun the more seasons we take part in. Make no mistake it can be tough with work and school schedules. Carving out precious time to head to the range and make sure your trusted rifle is dialed in and ready when you need it. Putting in the work and knowing our gear is ready for the woods is what makes Pennsylvania hunters the envy of so many other states. We have a long history of serious hunters from Daniel Boone all the way down to our own families.


Understanding the value of the best gear you can afford for yourself is something we understand, because, like you, we know what helps you succeed from the high country up north, to the farm fields in the south. We’ve spent those mornings in the stand learning expensive lessons from cheap gear sold at the big box stores. If you’ve been thinking about replacing a piece of gear that’s seen better seasons or feel like an upgrade would help make your trip more enjoyable this year, stop out to the store. With a wide array of brands to fit what you’re looking for in quality and price, we can help you find what you need because we use it too.


When the temperature drops and you need to be in the stand all day, take a look at the full line of Field Sheer heated jackets and socks. Powered by Mobile Warming technology, it’s the edge you may be looking for at a price that’s far less than what you’ll be willing to pay on a cold cold day in the stand.


Also, don’t forget about our extensive line of blaze orange clothing. Blaze orange can fade over time and actually become illegal making you susceptible to a game warden’s ticket book. If you can’t remember that last time you updated your orange, you may want to stop out to look at updating now, so you don’t have any problems later.


Rifle scopes, binoculars, and range finders are also all great items to take stock of this time of year. With Antler restrictions for most hunters throughout the state, it’s always good to know if that buck coming towards you from a hundred yards out is legal and worthy of a heavy heartbeat. Knowing your distance and knowing you have a clear shot also gives you the confidence you need when you set out for this season.


Finally, don’t forget about our huge footwear section. From hunting to casual, if you need some help keeping dry and warm with new boots and socks, we carry some of the best brands at some of the best prices.


So, for what you need for this rifle season, from the backcountry to your backyard, stop in and take a look at the great products we have in stock. From all of us at Kinsey’s Outdoors be excited, be safe, best of luck, and let us know how you do out there.

PA Pheasant Hunting, pheasant hunting, pheasant

Pheasant Hunting

Putting your boots on in a parking area with the sun just rising over a field, you can see opportunity with every patch of open grass and hedgerow. This is how so many of these hunts begin. When you load some shells in your orange vest, sometimes tattered with generations of thorns, grab your shotgun and start walking toward the tall grass it’s almost impossible not to get a sense of the tradition. Not much has changed, this is how previous generations would have looked, what they would have used, how they would have hunted.

The tactics are simple. There are no calls, no decoys, no waiting for hours on end. Look for where the birds may be hiding in the thick cover and move to flush them into the air for a chance to take one of the most popular game birds in Pennsylvania, the ring-necked pheasant.

If you know of anyone looking to get into hunting, or if you’re looking for an accessible hunting experience, this is one of the best hunts for anyone of any skill level. First off, it’s as social or as solo as you would want to make it. Mostly, it’s a group hunt with around 4 hunters per group. Staying together hunting in a horizontal line as a tactic and a means of safety when working your way through a field of bird cover.

It’s a great chance for casual conversation with your group as you stroll along on the lookout for the larger upland game bird. When flushing birds, be ready for the instant chaos that is a skyrocketing pheasant out of the grass or hedgerow before it begins flying off in the opposite direction. Be sure to know your shotgun so you can calmly take the gun’s safety off, shoulder the gun, and aim for the shot. You’ll have time to make the shot if you know your gun and know your abilities. Don’t ever take a shot at a bird low to the ground or if you’re not confident about if you can cleanly hit it.

One of the unique features of pheasant hunting is the use of bird dogs to find, flush, and retrieve birds. Those hunters who make the commitment of bringing a bird dog into their lives know the around the clock responsibility that it is. If you are able to hunt with someone who has a bird dog, by all means don’t waste the chance. More importantly, be respectful of the owner and how they hunt with their dog. Dogs, and their owners for that matter, all have different personalities and it’s worth asking a few questions before you get in the field about how they would like to hunt. Again, safety should be the first thought on everyone’s minds for humans, and dogs.

Pennsylvania does require the purchase of a pheasant hunting stamp ($26.90) in addition to a state hunting license. Most of the birds found on hunting lands in the state have been hatched, raised, and released by the game commission. The price of the stamp is to help offset the costs of operations putting the birds out for hunters.

If you’re asking why we don’t have wild pheasants, the game commission has been working on that. Several areas of the state have been zoned off to no hunting. This is an attempt the get released populations of wild pheasants trapped and brought here from the western United States to take hold on their own.

With seasons in October through February here in Pennsylvania, it’s worth working through the brush to break up your hunting season looking for these birds. Don’t miss the chance at making some great memories hunting one of the tastiest game birds around.

Brandon’s New Compound Bow Upgrade

Buying a New Compound Bow

Buying a new compound bow is a big purchase no doubt about it. It’s something you’re going to spend a lot of time with sharing both successes and frustrations. A fairly serious investment for most of us, you want to make sure buyer’s remorse and disappointment are the last thoughts you have when you open that bow case on your way to the range or the woods.

As fun as it can be, going to the archery shop looking for a new compound bow can be nerve-racking. It’s understandable with all of the different makes and models, features, and available upgrades. Someone looking to upgrade their bow can be easily overwhelmed by all of the options available to them.

When it comes to the bow buying experience, bigger isn’t always better. Many times, archers will find that sacrificing service for selection is the way to go. You shouldn’t feel like you’re just another transaction. You’re spending a good deal of your money, someone shouldn’t be telling you what to do, they should help guide you through the process by answering any questions you may have.

When looking at some outdated and overused parts of my current bow, I realized it had been over 5 years since I had last upgraded and knew it was time for a trip to the archery counter at Kinsey’s Outdoors. Having been a customer before I was a Field Staff member, I knew that I would have a wide array of options and selection for the brands and models of the newest bows. Not only is it the vast bow selection, but it’s also the archery accessories and arrows I need are all available there in the store. No shipping, no substitutions, no waiting.

The service I’ve always experienced is, to me, how an archery shop should be. Even the staff members I haven’t met are always  happy to help me and answer my questions. It doesn’t matter how busy they are, they want to help you be happy with your purchase and shoot better because they are recreational shooters, archers, and hunters themselves.

Walking back to the bow wall, I found the biggest brands and newest compound bows to pick up and check out. You can look at every catalog and website you want, but there’s just no substitute for holding and drawing back a bow for yourself. You might find the bow you’ve been looking at is a little heavy, not quite the size you thought, or just as perfect as you thought it’d be.

Over the years I’ve shot and hunted with Mathews, Bear, and Hoyt. All three were available with some additional brands like Bowtech to try out as well. I personally feel comfortable shooting a Hoyt and wanted to try out their new Torrex bow. So, in no time at all one of the staff was happy to hand me a few arrows, a release, and walk me over to the test range. There you have nothing to worry about but drawing and shooting at a target roughly 10 yards away.

After a few arrows, Kinsey’s Outdoors Pro Staff member, Doug, was helping me fit my previous sights and rest from my old bow onto my new compound bow. A process that’s not only educational but easy. For the next 20 minutes or so, I just got to hang out and chat about all things hunting with other members of the staff.

Not long after that, it was upstairs to the indoor archery range to sight the bow in at 20 yards. A few adjustments later it was dialed in and ready for the woods. For me, the bow’s weight was perfect, it’s accurate and draws easily from the early season to the late season. That’s all I really ask of my hunting bows and this one delivered on all accounts.

I decided to keep my old bow as a back up in case I need it. You certainly don’t have to and Kinsey’s Outdoors wants to help you sell your old bow if that’s what you need to do in order to buy a new bow. It’s a service I’ve used in the past and they’ll handle all of the details of selling your old bow on consignment. For me, it has helped bridge the gap getting a new bow when I didn’t really want to keep my old bow.

You may know what you want, you may not. Whether you want or need a new compound bow it’s definitely worth the trip to the easy-going archery counter at Kinsey’s Outdoors. They hunt, they shoot, and they have the experience to point you in the right direction to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Three Sundays to Hunt

No matter on which side of the conversation you were on, history will be made this hunting season in Pennsylvania. For the first time ever, hunters will be legally allowed to hunt deer and bear on a Sunday expanding opportunities for hunters whose time is at a premium with work, school, and other family activities.

You may have seen the headlines back in the spring and even sifted through an article or two when the announcement was made. Now that historic change is close on the calendar, some may not know when, and what can be hunted these first Sundays.

The final approval was given to the dates of November 15 for archery deer hunting, November 22 for firearms bear hunting, and November 29 for firearms deer hunting. This three-week span undoubtedly provides an enormous opportunity for green or seasoned hunters and their families to make the most out of limited time afield.

The first Sunday during archery season for deer is not only an extra chance to fill that tag alone, it also occurs during a coveted, although debated and always changing, timing of the whitetail breeding season known to archery hunters as the rut. Bucks consumed with the yearly focus on breeding with receptive does tend to throw caution aside and come out of hiding providing an opportunity to hunters at larger bucks who most of the year spend their time hiding and moving at night.

November 22 brings a gift in the form of a firearms bear hunting opportunity, which if you’ve never participated in hunting for bear here in the keystone state, try to make friends with someone who’ll take you. The experience to hunt these elusive animals in some of the state’s prettiest country is a challenge well worth the effort. Having that first Sunday really opens things up to hunters who may have limited vacation time to use on an already limited season.

Finally, the tradition of traditions in Pennsylvania, the firearms season for whitetail deer. Generations of hunters can search back through some of their favorite memories of hunting with family and friends, here and gone, on those frosty mornings waiting for that shot. Corkboards in camps across the state are filled the pictures of past seasons. Cherished memories hanging there with every thumbtack.

Now hunters young and old have a chance to make more of those memories. Especially those families with limited time to spare, that in recent years elected not to go at all because a single day wasn’t worth time and money to go. This also benefits those communities in the state that rely on hunter dollars coming in as a result of this tradition. Revenue that had been declining hopefully now, will be infused back into these communities as hunters can justify spending money on a trip to the woods.

Whether you’ve had these dates circled on your calendar, or didn’t know about them, try to take advantage of this historic opportunity. This change has come after decades of debate in a state with a rich hunting tradition and an incredible opportunity for game on abundant public and private land. This is something a lot of individuals and organizations fought to achieve in the newspapers and the halls of the state capital. You’re likely to interact with other hunters and non-hunters out there who may not know the new regulations. Be safe and respectful, we as hunters get to see and take part in a lot of incredible things while hunting not everyone understands.

From all of us at Kinsey’s Outdoors be excited, be safe, best of luck, and let us know how you do out there.

Dove Hunting

It’s always impossible to know exactly how a first hunt is going to play out, but my first dove hunt experience was far from how we had anticipated things going when we started that morning.


My friend from work and I found ourselves deep on state game lands in a secluded field, and having one of the best wing shooting days of our lives. Neither of us had ever hunted doves before and wanted to give it a shot.


The day that started sunny and perfect turned when the edge of a tropical storm moved in. Flocks of doves kept coming past so we stayed despite the downpour and we ended up having the time of our lives.


We ended our hunt in the middle of a downpour and soaked standing just inside a tree line. It also didn’t help that I was two hours late from meeting up with my wife and I was running out of shells. Don’t worry, this isn’t usually how dove hunting goes; but it can be that fun if you’ll hunt through a rainstorm.


The decision to hunt mourning doves for most in our area is an easy one. If you grew up hunting them with friends and family you know how enjoyable the challenge is. An easy walk in warm weather to sit for a few hours and pass shoots at a large resource of birds that make a great meal.


This hunt checks a lot of boxes for hunters that haven’t had the chance to chase much game over the summer months. If you have never hunted doves before here, you can usually be easily persuaded into giving it a try for those reasons.


You don’t need a lot of gear to get started. More than likely, you already have everything you need to hunt doves. A shotgun with a choke tube that’s a modified or improved-cylinder, warm weather camo clothes, boots, and a bucket or small travel chair to sit on gets you in the field. A quick stop into Kinsey’s Outdoors to grab a box (or a few) of 7.5-8 shotgun shells and you’re on your way.


The Pennsylvania Game Commission actually creates and manages some areas specifically for doves. These areas can be found on their interactive map. In our area, almost any state game lands with some open grain fields is a great place to start.


By this point, these crops may have been cut which is even better as the doves can mill around the grain on the ground. If you can hunt by a body of water that helps your chances as doves usually tend to start and end their day at the water.


Dove hunting is one of those activities that local farmers tend to have no problem with throughout the year. If you know of such a farmer or see a field that looks like it could be good, don’t be afraid to knock on a door or two and ask to hunt one or two evenings. You have nothing to lose and only a hunting spot to gain.


As you find you enjoy this early season hunt, stepping up your involvement doesn’t cost a lot of time or money. When I started, I got 10 decoys for around $20 from Kinsey’s Outdoors which can always help to sell a set up to a flock passing by.


You’ll need a migratory game bird license ($3.90) if you don’t already have one. You can pick it up at the counter when you pay for your items.


Dove hunting can be one of the most enjoyable hunts of the year. Try not to get too frustrated if you end up missing shots. Try leading a little more than you may think you need to, and bring a few more shells than you may be willing to confess to.

Big Woods Whitetail — Interview with Beau Martonik

Gear Up for the Big Woods

Big woods whitetail hunting is about as challenging as it gets.  Not only do hunters have to deal with long treks across mountainous terrain, but the lack of agricultural food sources and typically lower deer densities test even the best woodsmanship.  There’s no one piece of gear available that equates to automatic success in any hunting situation, but the combination of the right mentality and quality equipment can increase success ratios by leaps and bounds.  Hunting in the big woods takes a lot of persistence, the ability to adapt, and great patience to be successful and one knows this better than Beau Martonik.

Martonik, a native of Pennsylvania’s vast Alleghany National Forest region, grew up hunting whitetails in one of the United States’ most storied big woods settings.  Beau has spent his entire life perfecting both his strategy and gear list so as to be able to locate, pursue and kill mature bucks in some of the most challenging conditions in the country.  Consistently punching tags in this terrain takes a purposeful and detailed approach and so I asked Beau to break down the process and system that leads to venison in the freezer and antlers on the wall, year after year.

Narrow The Search

Big woods bucks are crafty and unpredictable.  Being travelers of long-distance makes these bucks especially hard to pattern.  Instead of seeking out single-season patterns, Martonik stresses the value in looking for year-to-year patterns.  “Bucks tend to do the same things season after season”, Beau elaborated, “So using trail camera data from prior years is a great way to make logical assumptions about what they will do in following seasons.”  Quality trail cameras, with extended battery life, strategically placed along key terrain features, or social areas such as primary scrapes, are a great educational tool for the big woods hunter.  Even in big woods settings, Martonik is still looking for an edge.  He stresses that bucks in the big timber interact with edges much the same as they do in agricultural settings, but those edges look a bit different.  Creeks, clear cuts, thickets, and benches are all examples of the types of edge that these bucks like to use for travel.  Rut funnels such as ridge tops saddles also make for great cruising corridors in the mountains.

To locate these features, a quality mapping application is useful.  Martonik employs the use of OnX to pinpoint locations he will later check during his scouting efforts.  Remote and overlooked areas become quickly recognizable with the use of aerial and topographical maps; as do terrain funnels and vegetation changes that create the edges that big bucks love to use.

Gear Up

The challenge of hunting big woods whitetails will test your resolve, but it will also quickly show you any chinks in your gear “armor”.  In this environment, quality equipment not only makes the hunt more enjoyable, but it can, indeed, improve success ratios.  Once a hunter narrows the expanse of timber to several high percentage locations, having the right gear for the job is the next step in the process.  “When it comes to this type of hunting, a beneficial piece of gear to have is a high-quality frame pack- if you are successful it will carry your kill out,” Beau said.  “A ‘rut pack’ is also a huge benefit in the big woods; something that can integrate with a stand and sticks to get all the gear you need to the tree for an all-day sit.”

Martonik is also a huge proponent of high-level performance apparel systems.  Mountain hunters have long been pushing the envelope in the testing and development of new and better layering systems and the concept has begun to show its value in the whitetail woods as well.  He uses moisture-wicking base layers such as fast drying synthetics or natural merino wool fibers which retain their insulation capabilities even when they become damp from perspiration.  The key, though, is to reduce the amount of sweat, period.  To do this, Beau wears only a lightweight synthetic or merino layer when walking several miles to remote stand locations.  And that quality pack referenced above?  That holds the heavy outer layers that will be applied immediately after he cools down in his stand.  Going deep into the timber and pursuing big woods ghosts requires pack-ability and thermal regulation.  As such it is hard to overstate the importance of both a pack system and the apparel you choose.


            Even with the advances in cell phone technology, if you are pushing the envelope and going where others aren’t willing to go, you will find yourself outside of cell phone service from time to time.  This is an area where Beau takes no chances.  “I am never not attached to the tree with a lineman belt or a safety line with a prusik loop attachment,” Beau said.  Staying tied off 100% of the time is imperative when doing this kind of hunting.  In fact, having two safety ropes often makes it easier to ensure you are tied in at all times, even when you are transitioning into and out of the treestand.  Hunters should be aware of suspension trauma, a very serious and potentially lethal phenomenon that occurs when hanging for an extended time from a harness.  Pooling blood in the suspended hunter’s legs can cause unconsciousness and unless rescued, eventually lead to death.  For this reason, and others, Beau has started to carry a GPS phone which allows texts to send via satellite even from the most remote locations.  Texts can include GPS coordinates for rescuers to use to find a hunter more quickly.  These devices are worthwhile investments, and hunters with western aspirations should especially consider them to be a necessary purchase.


            The hunt in the mountainous timber of the Appalachian Mountains is, in itself, a challenge.  However, having success in this environment is when the real work begins.  Dragging a deer over two miles of rugged terrain is a grueling task and quite a time commitment.  That’s why Martonik chooses to combine more western philosophy into his whitetail hunting and pack out his kills.  Using the gutless method, Beau is able to get all the venison, cape, and his gear out of the woods in two trips.  The aforementioned frame pack shines in this application.  He carries a “kill kit” consisting of the tools he needs (game bags, knife, garbage bag, flagging tape, paracord) to skin and process the deer on the ground.  With the gutless method, the abdomen of the deer is left intact and all the meat from the quarters and loin is removed and packed out with the frame.  Beau’s go-to for skinning and processing in the field is his Havalon replaceable blade knife, and with this process, he is able to make quick work of a deer after the kill and get out of the woods faster and with less physical exertion than the traditional “deer drag”.

There is always more than one way to skin the cat, as they say.  Martonik’s approach has evolved over his years in the timber through trial and error; and no doubt that kind of person who has the thirst for new adventure is the same kind of person who continually seeks new and better ways of doing things.  But, when it comes to locating and killing big woods deer, the whole Martonik family is proficient, to say the least, and Beau has a systematic approach and his gear list pretty dialed in.  So, I asked Beau what he believes is one of the biggest mistakes made by industry personnel when advising and instructing people on their gear choices for this “big woods” type of hunting. He replied, “From my experience working in retail, and now as someone who helps advise people on gear choices, I think the biggest thing people overlook is making certain that you understand the consumer’s intended use of the product.  I am going to advise someone entirely differently if they are planning to walk several miles in hill country versus walking a couple hundred yards to hunt a field edge.  It’s important to know their goals, and sometimes you have to be able to understand that maybe even better than they do themselves, so that you can make the proper recommendations for each individual hunter’s situation.”

To find more information on Beau Martonik, follow him on Instagram at @beau.martonik . He also produces a popular podcast series called East Meets West Hunt Podcast and runs the Instagram page @EastMeetsWestHunt. His website is


Author: Reuben Dourte

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

Deer hunting in Pennsylvania is calling on you to help save it. It’s calling on you to save it for future generations like hunters did at the turn of the 20th century when herd numbers were decimated by overhunting for sale on the open market.

With the recent expansion of Chronic Wasting Disease Management Area #4 in Lancaster County, from 397 square miles to 746, many hunters are seeing an uncertain future literally at their doorstep.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a disease that has been found in the neurological systems of deer species. The species at risk in Pennsylvania are our whitetail deer and elk populations. It causes deer infected with the disease to lose motor function and not eat so they literally waste away until they ultimately succumb to the disease.

This neurological disease afflicting whitetail deer (the state mammal and arguably most hunted species) is always fatal to the deer. Now more than before legal, physical, and cultural demands are being placed on Pennsylvania’s hunters.

It’s similar to Mad Cow disease, so the discussion seems to circle back to can humans consume these deer and become sick themselves? Currently, the answer is no. There are no documented cases of animal to human transition.

Experts strongly recommend that no human consume deer that has positively identified as having CWD. This is the start, and strangely the end of the discussion, because if the disease spreads and we can’t eat CWD positive deer, why bother hunting them? That sentiment is what has generations of a strong deer hunting culture in this state up at night.

No hunter wants to endanger the lives of family and friends, and no hunter wants to lose the deer hunting way of life as well. So rather than giving up on the patient, hunters in these areas of the state are being called on to help turn back and defeat the disease.

Looking into this subject can overload almost anyone with information. The biggest thing to remember is if you kill a deer in one of the DMA zones, do not, under any circumstance remove the deer’s high-risk carcass parts from that area. This is mainly the brain, eyes, spinal column along with the spleen and lymph nodes.

Not moving these parts to areas of the state that are unaffected is one of the biggest ways to turn this around. Every DMA will have meat processors and taxidermists available to take care of your deer, and the game commission will have dumpsters located for you to leave the head for testing free of charge. This way you can be sure of whether or not your deer actually even has CWD.

You can keep your antlers, you can keep your meat, and you can keep hunting all while helping to fight to keep this tradition alive by using some tactical protocol. It’s worth taking a few minutes to prepare for this year’s upcoming deer season and find out if you hunt in one of these areas across the state. is a great resource that answers a lot of questions most hunters have.

Thanks to the hunters who answered the call when deer herds were decimated, we’ve had over a century’s worth of opportunity for memories at camp, early mornings with friends and family to build and strengthen bonds through hunting whitetails.

Hopefully, as this generation of hunters answers the call to fight back CWD, we’ll have another century to enjoy.