By Tom Tatum
When it comes to favorite months, for outdoor enthusiasts like us, October is by far the best of the best. For people who want to hunt, fish, hike, camp, bike, enjoy the fall foliage, explore our great outdoors, and snuggle up with Mother Nature, October offers nice, cool weather.
Unfortunately, the month got off to a rocky start here this year thanks to the local fallout (winds and cold rain) from the residual effects of Hurricane Ian. Once again, I had planned to start the month by pedaling, rowing and riding in the Marshalton Triathlon, which I have done the first Sunday of the month (with a few exceptions) since the start of the triathlon.
My intended partner this year was again my brother-in-law Daryl Robbins, an avid cyclist and nine years my junior. Although the event went as planned, organizers announced that safety concerns and the possible cancellation of subsequent heats of the race due to deteriorating conditions were paramount.
Given those risky dynamics and due to an abundance of caution (along with nearly two-thirds of those who had entered the triathlon), Daryl and I reluctantly pulled out of the event, but were determined to try again next year. In the meantime, biking, rowing, and walking are still great outdoor activities, but there are plenty of other things to do on our October rate list.
Deer hunting with archery. With the heat and humidity of summer fading in their rearview mirrors, bowhunters should find dry and refreshing conditions more to their liking even though statewide opening day (October 1) in much of the Commonwealth was wet and wild, once again courtesy of the remnants of Hurricane Ian.
As the whitetail rut picks up steam later this month, enamored males and females will be on the move and more likely to stroll through the tree stand than any attentive archers. Statewide, our bow deer season runs through November 18. Here in Wildlife Management Units 5C and 5D (and 2B in western Pennsylvania), the season runs through November 25.
Muzzleloader hunting. Bowhunters will get company in the deer woods when the statewide muzzleloader season for antlerless deer kicks off Oct. 15-22. military and certain disabled individuals runs from October 20-22.
Small game. October also features a wide range of hunting opportunities for small game with juvenile rabbit hunts from October 1-15. For pheasant, the juvenile hunt runs from October 8-15 with the regular season on ringnecks October 22-November 25. Regular Pennsylvania rabbit and grouse seasons begin October 15 and end November 25.
Bobwhite quail season (if you can find them) starts from October 22nd to November 25th. The raccoon and fox hunt begins on October 22 and the hunting season for raccoons, foxes, coyotes, opossums, striped skunks and weasels also opens on October 22.
Duck and pigeon hunting. And as if Pennsylvania hunters didn’t have enough to do in October, our early duck season here in the Southside is scheduled for October 8th through October 15th. The pigeon season, which opened on September 1, remains open until November 25.
Turkey hunting. October also heralds the fall turkey seasons with opening day at the end of the month on October 29 in most Wildlife Management Units (WMUs). The exceptions to this are WMU 5B, which opens on November 1 and closes on November 3. The fall turkey season is closed at WMUs 5A, 5C, and 5D here in the Southeast, where there is no fall turkey season.
Bear hunting. The state archery season at the Pennsylvania Black Bears runs from October 15 to November 5 and from September 17 to November 25 at WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D and from October 1 to November 18 at the WMU 5B. Muzzleloader season for the Keystone State Bruins runs from October 15 through October 22. A special firearms season for Junior and Senior license holders, active duty military and certain disabled individuals runs from October 20 through October 22.
Freshwater fishing. Freshwater fishing is also in the air for October. In Chester County, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is scheduled to stock the Late Harvest Artificial Lure stretch of Brandywine Creek East Branch on October 27.
The PFBC will also be busy in Berks County this month with trout populations scheduled for Scott’s Run Lake on October 18 and Tulpehocken Creek on October 13. 19. In Delco, Ridley Creek will fill on October 27.
Saltwater fishing. Inshore and offshore fishing fleets are still keeping busy off the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland with a boatload of saltwater species still in the mix. I’ll be trying my hand at fall flounder in the back bays of Ocean City, Maryland later this month.
Wildlife observation. And if you’re looking for unique wildlife viewing opportunities, October is the month for you, too. I highly recommend a visit to the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, Pennsylvania, to observe the spectacular migrations of so many species of birds of prey.
An endless variety of hawks, ospreys, vultures and eagles will sail overhead for your viewing pleasure. For more information on Hawk Mountain events and conferences, visit their website at http://www.hawkmountain.org/.
A little further afield (but definitely worth the trip) is the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, Pennsylvania. At this time of year, the bulls should still be blowing horns and chasing cows through the fields. It’s always fun to challenge these hotheaded bulls by calling them your own mix of moose calls. For more information, visit their website at https://elkcountryvisitorcenter.com/ or call them at 814-787-5167.
**** THE AQUATIC YOUTH PROGRAM IS BACK. After a 3 year hiatus, the Young Waterfowl Program returns to our area courtesy of the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance and DelNature. The program invites youth ages 11 to 16 to participate in studies of wildlife management, habitat protection, conservation practices, and wetland values during a comprehensive introduction to American waterfowl heritage.
The program will be held on October 16 and 23 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm daily at the Myrick Conservation Center with lunch included. The cost is $75 per child. The program is led by Jim Jordan, Executive Director of the BRC, with instruction provided by a host of regional experts, including accomplished carvers, dog trainers and world champion waterfowl callers. A BRC or DelNature family membership is required to participate in these programs. For additional information call 610-793-1090. Online registration is now taking place at www.brandywineredclay.org or https://www.delawarenaturesociety.org/.
By Tom Tatum