Ask Before You Hunt | columns

According to Internet weather forecasts, autumn is about to arrive in all its splendor. The honeymoon we’ve been enjoying is about to end.

It’s a depressing thought, but we knew it was coming. Geezer Season, which is a special season for big hunters, and just about the only concession the Game Commission makes to big hunters, is just around the corner. That’s when I expect to hunt. I still have some balance issues from COVID, but I have a strong cane. I might have trouble taking out a deer, but I have my son to help me out. I also have friends who say that all I have to do is call.

On another front, this is the time of year when many of us are planning our deer hunting seasons and looking for places to hunt. The bottom line is that while we have a lot of public land to hunt on, much of the hunting in Pennsylvania is done on private land. This makes the relationship between landowners and hunters a vitally important issue.

With more and more “No Trespassing” signs being posted each year, we are forced to deal more and more with the problem. Sometimes these signs mean that you will not hunt on a piece of land. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t. Some landowners will allow you to hunt if you ask their permission. This gives them a way to keep track of who is on their premises.

However, you must remember that the owner has the final say in the matter, and if the answer is “no”, then you just have to accept it. Don’t get into an argument or a shouting match; just go politely. It just doesn’t make sense to give anti-hunters extra ammo to use against us by being nasty.

In my personal opinion, it’s a good idea to ask permission to hunt on private land, even if there are no signs. It shows good manners and common courtesy on your part. It can also improve the positive image of the hunters in the eyes of the landowner.

If you are given permission to hunt on someone’s land, out of clamor, do not abuse the privilege, and it is, in fact, a privilege, not a right.

Do not trample or run over crops, break fences or block access roads. Do not harm or disturb livestock or family pets. And whatever you do, don’t litter. Someone who is kind enough to let you hunt on their land shouldn’t have to clean up after you. In fact, it’s a good idea to carry a garbage bag with you so you can clean up after any wanderers who have come before you on earth.

These may seem like common sense items, but a surprisingly large number of hunters ignore them. I personally know a farmer who shot a prized and very expensive cow in a deer season. I’ve also come across garbage items that were simply too big to take out, even if you bring a garbage bag to clean things up. You may be one of the people who would never litter on someone’s land, but you still have to pay the price of those who do. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.

And finally, wildlife diseases are making the news more than ever. We are cautioned to wear rubber gloves when cleaning any game. Of course, CWD is at the forefront, although it’s probably not transmissible to humans. Other diseases, such as tuberculosis and tularemia, are. Even small game can be affected, especially if it has a cut or other open wound.

Better safe than sorry.