The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

November 25, 2012

Safety first while hunting

State’s rifle deer season opens Monday

— Hordes of blaze orange-attired hunters will take to the woods and fields at daybreak Monday for the opening of Pennsylvania’s two-week rifle deer season.

We wish everyone success in their endeavors afield.

“In addition to being a rich part of our state’s heritage, deer season is critical in managing Pennsylvania’s whitetails,” Carl G. Roe, Pennsylvania Game Commission’s executive director, said in a press release.

We also urge hunters to put safety before their shots.

Several basic rules that are enforced by the game commission are:

* Hunters must wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined at all times while hunting.

* It is illegal to hunt, chase or disturb deer within 150 yards of any occupied building without the occupant’s permission when hunting with a firearm.

* If you harvest a deer, you must fill out the harvest tag you received with your hunting license and attach it to the deer’s ear – not the antlers – before moving it.

* Always identify your target and be aware of other hunters.

* If you shoot a deer, don’t parade it through town tied to your hood or trunk lid. Instead, deliver it to a processing facility as soon as possible in order to keep the meat from spoiling.

All rules and regulations can be found on the game commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us.

* If you have health issues, avoid overexertion while afield.

And speaking of health issues, hunters should check themselves for ticks at the end of their time in the woods.

“They are bad. They are really bad,” forester Michael Barton told our reporter Kathy Mellott for a recent story about the bloodsucking insects.

Some ticks have been associated with the spread of Lyme disease in humans and animals.

In addition, hunters also must be aware of antler restrictions in the wildlife management unit in which they are hunting.

Another regulation to remember is that in this area, there is a split-season structure. The first five days of the season – Monday through Friday – are open for antlered deer only. The remaining seven days – Saturday through Dec. 8 – are open for antlered and antlerless deer.

Motorists should be on high alert during the two-week deer season because increased pressure by hunters will push deer in every direction, sometimes across heavily traveled roadways.

Adult hunters should always set an example for younger hunters by practicing gun safety, being respectful of other hunters and property owners and never mixing alcohol with firearms.

And for those who remember the former TV cop series “Hill Street Blues,” commit to memory Sgt. Phil Esterhaus’ trademark phrase: “Let’s be careful out there.”

*    *   *

Hunters who are lucky enough to bag a deer this season may want to consider donating all or a portion of the venison to “Hunters Sharing the Harvest” (HSH).

The statewide program, instituted in 1991, helps to deliver about 200,000 meals to food banks, churches and social services programs.

Hunters are asked to take their deer to a participating processor and identify how much of the venison is to be donated to HSH.

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