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Area hunters who travel north to New York this year to pursue deer might be disappointed.

Officials at the Department of Environmental Conservation this week confirmed an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease recently in the whitetail deer herd. The disease is commonly abbreviated as EHD and also is known as blue tongue. It is not contagious but contracted from bites of a midge, which is believed to have been blown in with recent hurricane-force winds. Already there are reports of approximately 700 dead whitetails.

The EHD outbreak has been confirmed in seven counties: Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Nassau, Oswego, Suffolk and Ulster. Wildlife officials are also investigating suspected cases in nine more counties: Albany, Jefferson, Oneida, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Sullivan and Westchester. Deer can die within 36 hours of infection and are often found dead in or near water sources.

Southern deer have built some resistance to the disease in recent years. However, our northern deer cannot tolerate the disease. While EHD will not eliminate the deer herd, it can kill off the majority of deer in an area, leading to some poor hunting until dispersal builds back up numbers. With this problem occurring to our north, one would have to think that the possibility of outbreaks in Pennsylvania are possible. If wildlife is found dead or suspected to be ill, contacting the Pennsylvania Game Commission at the nearest regional office is recommended.

  • Archery season is fast approaching, with the opener scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 2. Practicing with your equipment prior to the season will allow confidence to build while also allowing any issues to be discovered and then fixed before hunting begins. Shooting broadheads to ensure accuracy is recommended because an out-of-tune bow will not group field points and broadheads the same. If the difference between the two points is more than a few inches, it would be wise to have an expert inspect your bow and tune it properly.

Through practice, a shooter can determine his or her effective range to consistently hit the vitals of a whitetail. Once this distance is established, shots should not be considered beyond that because, unlike a target, live deer react to the shot, allowing greater chance of a poor hit.

Perhaps the best type of archery practice one can experience is by attending a 3-D bow shoot. A variety of ranges and targets are utilized in a natural setting to provide the most realistic hunting scenarios.

  • The Keystone Sportsmen’s Club will be holding its Hunt of a Lifetime benefit on Sunday. This event will include a 3-D archery shoot, table raffles, silent auction, 50/50 and food. The event is open to the public. All proceeds go to the Hunt of a Lifetime nonprofit organization, which provides kids with life-threatening diseases the chance to experience their dream hunt.

Anyone interested in donating or knows someone locally who could qualify for the program, attend this benefit or contact the organization.