Fulton County Deer Harvest Looks "Promising"
Sportsmen are in the process of making final preparations for the much-anticipated season opener of the statewide firearms for antlered and antlerless whitetail that will get under way Monday at daybreak.
While the majority of regulations encompassing the firearms season remain unchanged, the biggest change for some local hunters will be the alteration of hunting requirements in Wildlife Management Unit 4B, which in Fulton County lies to the east of Route 522 and north of the Route 30 bypass. Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 4B, according to Fulton County Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO) Kevin Mountz, was one of four WMUs to be selected by Pennsylvania Game Commission officials and approved by the Board of Commissioners earlier this spring to offer an antleredonly season beginning Monday, December 1, and ending Friday, December 5.
The remainder of the season set for December 6 through December 13 will include the harvesting of both antlered and antlerless deer, Mountz added. No changes were made to the season guidelines in WMU 4A, which encompasses the remainder of Fulton County.
In addition to the alteration of season guidelines, another regulation seeing a minor adjustment is the area of mistake kills. Mountz indicated in following past practices, field officers will continue to issue a new tag to hunters who harvested a buck that did not meet the antler restrictions. Hunters will still be required to provide officers with a written statement regarding the killing of the deer, but unlike prior years, will not be permitted to keep the antlered deer.
In addition, a portion of the $25 restitution fee paid by the hunter in connection with the mistake kill will in turn be donated toward offsetting processing costs with Hunters Sharing the Harvest. In Fulton County, Strait's Butcher Shop located at 304 Possum Hollow Road, Harrisonville, is the lone deer processor to participate in the "venison donation program that has been channeling donated venison to local food banks and soup kitchens since 1991."
Furthermore, Mountz reminds hunters all mistake kills must be properly tagged and reported within 12 hours to the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Southcentral Region by calling 814-643-1831.
In regard to the outlook for the 2008 firearms season, Mountz stated it looks "promising" for hunters looking to harvest a deer in Fulton County. "Deer numbers seem to be on the rise this year," said Mountz. "People are seeing more deer with larger groups of bucks, and the crop damage complaints are definitely up this year in comparison to years past."
Even for those veteran hunters in the field, safety continues to be an issue for both hunters and field officers. Requirements state all hunters must wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange on the head, chest and back combined. Having a loaded firearm in a vehicle and not wearing enough fluorescent orange continue to be two of the most common safety issues encountered by officers and deputies in Fulton County as well as a variety of infractions ranging from unlawful taking, possession or transportation of an illegal deer and failure to properly tag big game to hunting overbait.