The rains of the past two days have brought much-needed relief to fields and forests across the region.
The rain is expected to arrive soon enough for agricultural crops and native food sources, although some damage has likely already occurred.
Hunters would be wise to keep in mind the drought and heat in the fall, as some areas may not be as productive as in previous years. Food and water are essential to wildlife and good hunting is often found where the two overlap.
While it is still difficult to navigate through the vegetation, scouting for potential hunting areas will allow for better success this fall. Checking for tracks around water sources will give you an idea of what wildlife is in the area. My favorite grove to train coonhounds has a big mud pit at the entrance to a gas well, a road and every time I let the dogs out there I inspect the mud for animal tracks. Bear, deer, turkey, coyote, raccoon, groundhog, rabbit, and squirrel all use the water source, and sometimes it can be hard to tell them apart.
Game trails show up well this time of year, and to avoid the thick brush, hikers will eventually find themselves on one. The trails are more pronounced as they approach food or water and less defined closer to suitable bed habitat. Driving through an area at a slow pace will show where the trails intersect with the road and give you a better idea of how the game navigates the terrain.
Keeping notes on summer scouting is smart because it can take months before the information is used. Although my favorite time to explore an area is late winter, any time spent in the backcountry offers an opportunity to discover or learn something new.
Ticks are a serious risk when entering the forest and care must be taken before each exit to avoid the possibility of a bite.
Perhaps the best preparation one can do in the summer months is to confirm and obtain permission to hunt and trap on private property. Finding an owner at home during the day or in the garden is easier when the days are long and the weather is nice.
The antlerless deer license application process is underway, and those who still need to apply for the first round should do so soon. The second round of applications will begin on August 1. The Pennsylvania Gaming Commission’s Summary of Rules and Regulations provides all the information you need to apply for an antlerless license. A pink envelope provided by the PGC is required for the antlerless application and can be obtained from any licensing agent.
If you are new to deer hunting, hunting deer is an important part of becoming a better deer hunter and can only be done if you have tags. The current male to female ratio is such in our area that one is more likely to have an opportunity with an antlerless deer than with an antlered deer that meets the point restrictions. Having one or two antlerless tags in your possession will allow you to harvest deer when hunting deer.
Mentors and parents should make the effort to apply so their young hunter can hunt an antlerless deer or two this year. Unfortunately, supply chain issues continue, and it would be wise to take inventory of the equipment needed to harvest and process venison now.
The deadline for drawing moose is fast approaching. Hopeful hunters have until the end of the month to apply for any or all three seasons. While the chances of getting a tag are slim, the quality of the hunt and the potential for a world-class trophy are worth the cost. Applicants accumulate points with each year they apply, allowing for better odds of getting a label in the future, though a lot of luck is still needed.
Exploring the elk range or attending the annual elk show provides entertainment in the summer months.