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Pennsylvania’s Opening Day of Rifle Season!

Pennsylvania’s Opening Day of Rifle Season 2019!

The holidays are here and for Pennsylvania hunters, but not all holidays mean gathering around a large table for a feast with family. Hunter’s holidays are spent gathering around small camp kitchens and bonfires. They find presents and treasures from high up in trees early in the morning, instead of looking under them. They have different days circled on the calendar. Counting down the days until they can trade in the cozy couch for a frosty tree stand builds exciting anticipation only few of us understand. It’s equally a rite of passage and return to the familiar. Just like the holidays, it only comes once a year. One day to reference for generations when you got your first one there, and grandpa got that one there. There’s nothing like celebrating our whitetail rifle season’s opening day.

Arguably the same, if not more than other holidays, preparation goes into getting ready for that first dawn. This year you got new boots or a new coat, so you don’t freeze like you did last year. You put a new scope onto your old reliable rifle. The trail camera you’ve been checking all summer is paying for itself over and again with the secrets it’s telling you about where that buck lives. It’s all part of continuing the tradition of the chase.

Whether you’re hunting by yourself or with friends or family, the excitement of the experience is the same. The community of taking to our woods searching for an elusive game animal has been handed down to us from the stories and experiences of the generations before. That’s why it’s so valuable to us and why we put such time and effort into it. It’s why we get the best gear we can. No one jumps at the chance to tell the story every year about the one we missed, or about leaving the stand early because they got too cold. No, Pennsylvania hunters aren’t only tough, they’re smart. They know how to dress and how to hunt the weather in our home state. There’s no half-hearted effort on opening day.

Respect for the animal also is the highest. You can see that by all the cars and trucks at the range the weeks prior to opening day. Sighting in rifles, tuning new scopes, trying new ammunition for a single clean shot and kill. When the deer is down, they go to work with the sharpest knives and knowhow. Maybe you use your grandfather’s old knife, or maybe you’ve got a new one for yourself this year. Eating the venison that comes from the whole deer has been the tradition as long as hunting has in Pennsylvania. Little to nothing is wasted. With recipes new and old, no crockpot, grill grate, or oven doesn’t see its share of work over the winter months with the treasured animal protein.

There are those who argue it’s a barbaric pastime where something has to die for an individual’s enjoyment. Glorifying the kill in a time and place where food scarcity hardly exists. That argument has no value, and hunters know it. The experience teaches a respect for the animal, for the land, for the benefit of hard work. You’ll appreciate that deer every time you share the story, long after the meat in the freezer is gone.

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Tips for Public Land Deer Scouting in Pennsylvania

Public land Deer Scouting and Hunting in Pennsylvania 

The dog days of summer are here. Hot temperatures and humidity have most people wanting to stay inside and stay cool. These days, however, are when deer hunting success, this fall, can be earned. Having success while deer hunting on public land in Pennsylvania does not come easy. PA has lots of hunters, so you will be up against the competition. But, for those who decide they want to put in some hard work during these summer days, some amazing hunting opportunities are available. The hunters you know or see being successful during the fall are often they ones that put in hours of work during the summer to put the odds in their favor during the fall. Follow these tips this summer for scouting whitetails on public land here in the keystone state. 

  1. Utilize maps before physically scouting 

Whether you use a GPS, map, topo mapphone app, or google earth, utilize it before going there in person to scout. This is how you can “scout from the computer.” Look at topography of the area. Look for potential feeding fields, ridges, river bottoms, access trails, parking areas, funnels, pinch points, and whatever else you can find. Doing these things ahead of time can save you so much time and energy. Learn as much about the piece you plan to scout, before you even step foot on it. This will put you ahead of the game when you do go to scout the area.  

2. Get away from pressure 

This probably sounds familiar, but it is one of the most important things to keep in mind. Most deer in general, but especially smart deer, will avoid areas that have the most human pressure. This is where using your maps to mark parking areas and access trails becomes even more important. When you mark those things on a map, you can start to narrow down areas that are going to be the hardest to access. Cross off areas that look like they are easy to get to and popular for hunters. Look for those back corners, overlooked spots, and hardest to reach places. The less pressure it gets from other hunters, the better chance you will have at seeing deer there during daylight.  

3. Scout for bedding 

When you go to scout a piece of public land, one of the most important things to do is identify where the deer in the area are bedding. Yes, it is important to find feeding areas, trails, benches, funnels, and pinch points, but the number one thing to find is bedding areas. Successful public land hunters are usually the ones that are hunting closest to where the deer bed. Deer on public land probably won’t move far from their bedding areas during daylight. Hunting as close to that bedding as possible, without being detected, will give you the best opportunity to get a shot during legal shooting hours.  

4. Use trail cams as an extra tool, not your replacement for scouting.  

Trail cameras are becoming more and more popular as time goes on. I can’t stress enough how useful they can be when they are used right. They can do some work for you while you are not even there. They can teach hunters what caliber of deer are in an area, how many deer are in an area, the times of day they are moving through a certain area, and the list could go on. There are so many benefits. All that being said, it is important to not let trail cameras actually replace the importance of physically scouting an area. Trail cameras will never tell hunters the full story. Hunters need to know where bedding is, where travel routes are, where feeding areas are, and everything else about the areas surrounding their trail cameras or hunting areas. Don’t simply walk into the woods, set up a few trail cams, and walk back out without learning anything about the area.  

5. More is better 

When it comes to public land deer scouting in the summer, the more you scout, the better your chances will be. There are certain situations on private land, or when scouting or hunting during the fall where overkill will have a negative effect. But during these summer days get out there and hit it hard. The season is still a couple months away, so get out there and learn as much as you can now, before hunting season comes. Don’t just go out in November hoping to get lucky, get out there now and earn your fall success right here in August! 

summer trout

Tactics and Tips for Catching Summer Trout

Summer Trout Fishing Tips, Tactics, and Gear 

Once June comes to an end, many trout fishermen put away the rods until next spring unfortunately. Warmer temperatures start to set in and can make fishing a little tougher. For fisherman that want to keep after it, great days of fishing can still be had. Use some of these tips and tactics this summer to catch more trout.

Find the feeder streams 

When water starts to warm up a little bit, trout are going to look for the coldest water they can get. Feeder steams will be dumping cold water in and trout will congregate at them. Finding a big feeder stream will usually put you in front of a lot of trout in July and August. Fisherman should keep in mind that trout will become more stressed in warmer water. Always handle fish gently and be sure to get trout that are caught back into the water as soon as possible if practicing catch and release.  

Cover the water thoroughly 

This is sometimes a concept that might be overlooked by many. When water temperatures start to rise, trout are not going to use any unnecessary energy to chase after food that is far away. They will wait where they are for food to come to them. This is why it is crucial to cover the water you are fishing very thoroughly. Whether fly fishing, spin fishing with some bait, or throwing a lure, be sure to cover that water. When attacking a stretch of water, run, or pool, start at the bottom and the side closest to you. Make casts at this same level as you just out the creek farther. When your casts reach the other side of the creek, make your next set of casts up a little farther and just repeat across the creek again. Keep going until you have reached the top of the pool you are trying to cover and then move to your next stretch. Using this tacticyou will try to ensure that you are putting your bait, fly, or lure directly in front of fish. Many fly fishermen have the mentality that they want to drift their fly right into a trout’s mouth without them even moving. Having that mentality will force you to cover the water as thoroughly as possible.  

Fish Deep 

This one is simple, fish the deepest water you can find. Deep water is going to be much colder in temperature at the bottom. Trout are going to find this deep water and stay towards the bottom. This is where previous knowledge and time spent fishing comes in handy. If you were out during the spring a lot, return to places where you noticed big deep pools. Chances are that trout will be congregating in those areas.  

Focus on fishing early and late 

It’s no secret that the best times of the day to catch trout during the summer will be early in the morning and at the end of the evening. These will be the coolest parts of the day with the least amount of sun, and when trout will be most likely to feed. As a bonus, it’s much more pleasant for us to be out there during those times of the day anyways. Fly fisherman can still find good surface feeding action during the summer months in the evenings and lure fisherman can find more aggressive fish during these hours.  

Avoid fishing pressure 

Trout have now been fished for several months by fishermen. They will become more educated, wary, and overall can be tough to catch. This is especially true in easy access areas that get fished the heaviest. Think outside the box and try to hit some spots that are tougher to access, or creeks that weren’t so popular among fisherman in the spring. Finding trout that are quite as educated will increase your odds of success drastically.  

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