Indiana, PA - Indiana County

ZEKE WILSON: Pennsylvania tags a bargain

on July 29, 2014 10:10 AM

With a nonresident brother, I have recently been versed in the extra effort and expense in obtaining Keystone State deer tags.

Nonresidents pay more than residents, but at $26.70 for an antlerless deer tag and $260.70 for an elk tag, there’s no room to complain. This year many western states will charge nonresidents $300 for deer and $400 to $600 for elk tags, making Pennsylvania tags a bargain.

The necessity to order licenses online rather than at a local agent can add a week to month to receive the license and more importantly the antlerless application envelope.

So far three WMUs have already sold out of antlerless tags. With nonresident applications now being accepted, 2E and 2F will have few, if any, available for the second round of resident appications on Monday.

Although archery season is still two months away, most deer hunters will have their tags ready and waiting. Early muzzleloader and special rifle hunts for antlerless deer offer an early option for those who just can’t wait until Dec. 1.

• Getting youth familiarized with their weaponry sooner rather than later only makes sense. I shot my compound bow all last week, and sore muscles quickly revealed the routine was long overdue. Holding at full draw as a buck or bull pauses behind an obstruction can make for some long waits. Having the strength to hold another 30 seconds is worth the effort and easily could be the difference-maker on filling a tag.

Many believe they are ready to hunt after only shooting a handful of times. When the adrenaline of having a whitetail within 10 yards sets in, I prefer to know muscle and memory will prevail.

• Rain in the region should have streams and rivers on high flow, allowing for better kayak and canoe travel in the days to come.

The abundance of wildlife along the watercourses during the summer months is evident almost endlessly. Conservation has allowed for seeing young wood ducks on the local streams, and mergansers, kingfishers and blue herons are spotted easily.

Big fish, beaver, muskrat and even an otter can swim by at any moment, and when you’re low to the water in an unpowered craft, things can get exciting. Snakes seem to be magnetized to the paddle and can at times need much discouragement to seek dry land rather than the vessel.

Vegetation is also in its glory and can at times impede progress, much like low water. Downed trees on smaller streams can make for tough going, and often exiting the water is necessary.

While it might take a little bit of planning depending on flow, taking a float trip is possible.

• Purchasing an elk tag chance is possible until the Thursday, and if not successful the applicant receives a preference point, bettering the odds for next year. Last year the odds of drawing were 1-in-2,000.

The $10 chance is money well spent. Regardless of whether I get lucky this year or 20 years from now, the chance to hunt elk in Pennsylvania is something many only dream of doing.

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