Published: December 6, 2012
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For hundreds of thousands, Monday is the beginning of the end for hunting for the 2012 calendar year, with the statewide firearms deer season coming to a close Saturday.
Research has shown that while the popularity of archery hunting is showing an upswing, and there is a hard corps of devoted flintlock muzzleloader hunters, the majority of Pennsylvania's deer hunters consider themselves "rifle hunters." As such, those who have yet to fill a tag will be heading afield as much as possible during the upcoming week.
Some of those hunters will, of course, also join the thousands who participate in the winter seasons hunting everything from deer to squirrels. For many, the special appeal to these seasons is that with vacations and school closings it is the ideal time to hunt with youngsters, other family members and friends.
Other than Christmas Day, statewide, squirrel and rabbit seasons are open from Dec. 10 through Feb. 23. For archers and flintlock hunters, statewide deer hunting opens Dec. 26, and continues through Jan. 12.
In Wildlife Management Unit 5C, the archery and flintlock season is open through Saturday, Jan. 26. Also, for those with antlerless tags for 5C, doe may be hunted with any legal sporting arm from the opening of the late archery and flintlock seasons through Jan. 26.
For many hunters, the Christmas break is also a time for hunting at pheasant preserves or purchasing live birds and stocking them for hunting. Once again, as is usually the case following an election, anti-hunting groups are attempting to make inroads with legislators to stop all hunting of stocked birds - including those by the Pennsylvania Game Commission - under the guise of outlawing pigeon shoots.
True, pigeon shoots have little to do with hunting. But - as was documented here in detail last year - in states where antis have halted pigeon shoots, it was the first step in outlawing the raising of any and all birds that are raised to be stocked for hunting. In addition, the antis are once again attempting to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency ruling that protects the right of sportsmen to use lead ammunition and anglers to use lead fishing tackle.
While the population of the Bald Eagle is on the rise - with the financial support of sportsmen helping that situation - antis claim the use of lead ammunition is killing off our National bird. Fortunately, organizations such as the National Shooting Sports Association and the the National Rifle Association, the anti's favorite villain, are on the frontline in defense of sportsmen's interests.
With the winter holidays a time for family and friends, there is no better time to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere that is the late archery and flintlock deer seasons and those for the various species of small game. And there is no better way to enjoy those season than by introducing them to a new hunter, no matter if they are a youngster in the Mentored Youth Hunting Program or a long-time acquaintance who has been away from the field too long.