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It’s tough to think about hunting season

OUTDOORS WITH JAKE

It has been a trying week for many residents of the Greater Pittston area. I sit here with a very heavy heart trying to write an upbeat story while many local people are still scraping the mud off of personal belongings. I close my eyes and see the piles of furniture, muddy carpets and ruined clothing lining the streets of our area. Much of my time this week was taken up by flood coverage. It was hard to look in the faces of the people who lost everything and some without flood insurance. The flood waters and its devastation have consumed their lives not just their property.

For me it’s flashbacks to 1972. I was twelve years old at the time and like most people I felt helpless despite the fact that my home was blocks away from the flooding. The facial expressions on the victims who experienced the ravaging flood waters back then looked as tired and frustrated as the faces on the latest victims.

The magnitude of this disaster is unprecedented and has left many of us searching for a way to help. Churches have been feeding the hungry workers and families, businesses are donating services and supplies, and people have been volunteering with countless hours of shoveling, scrubbing and lifting. There is a way to make a donation for local flood victims. It has been set up through the local Red Cross. Readers can donate to the "Red Cross Local Flood Relief" at P.O. Box 526, Scranton, PA 18501. You can also donate online at localfloodrelief.com. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone directly or indirectly affected by the flood of 2011.

Archery Season

The opening day of the 2011 archery season is two weeks away. The six week season begins on Saturday, October 1, and closes on Saturday, November 12. If you haven’t been scouting or practicing with your bow and arrow then the next two weeks are critical for safety and success. The recent hurricanes and floods may have played havoc with your trails and treestands. It is important to check out your hunting hotspots. Make sure the steps on your treestands are safe to climb. This should be done well in advance of the opening day. Be sure to check your permanent stands before hunting out of them. They may have weakened or they may have pulled away from the tree. Many trees have fallen victim to the storm. Be sure the tree itself isn’t cracked or partially uprooted.

Many hunters I know 4-wheel drive or ATV to their stands. I strongly recommend that these travel routes are explored during the daylight. The last thing you want to do is happen upon a major washout or dangerous overhang. Many of the Pennsylvania Game Land roads have been washed out or even destroyed by the recent flooding. The conditions are so bad that the Game Commission was forced to cancel its Game Land tours set for early October. Officials tell me that they are working to get as many roads passable for hunters as possible. Once again be sure to check.

It is my experience that most deer trails are used from year to year however be sure to check them in advance in case the winds toppled a few trees changing the path of the deer. You may also be surprised to find newly created water holes to hunt over or obstacles blocking the view from your stands or ground blinds. The key is to get out if you can and check your hunting spots.

It is not too late to get the bow out and practice. I would first make sure the screws are all tight and your string is in good condition. I would also be sure that your arrows are still in good shape before hitting the archery target. The next thing is practice, practice, practice. Be sure you can hit the mark before shooting at a deer.

There is one change to the mentor hunting seasons that I want to make sure you are aware of. But first a little background. Under the program, a mentor is defined as a properly licensed individual at least 21 years of age, who will serve as a guide to a youth while engaged in hunting or related activities, such as scouting, learning firearms or hunter safety and wildlife identification. A mentored youth is identified as an unlicensed individual less than 12 years of age who is accompanied by a mentor while engaged in hunting or related activities.

Mentored youth can participate during any established season for woodchucks (groundhogs), squirrels, spring gobbler, coyotes and antlered and now antlerless deer. They can also take part in the general squirrel season, spring gobbler season, the junior-only squirrel season (Oct. 9-15) and the junior-only spring gobbler day (April 23).

For antlered deer, the mentored youth must use legal sporting arms for that season; for example, a bow or crossbow must be used during archery antlered deer season and they are required to follow the same antler restrictions as a junior license holder, which is one antler of three or more inches in length or one antler with at least two points.

What’s new for this year is the ability for a mentor hunter to shoot an antlerless deer. In order to harvest an antlerless deer, an adult mentor may transfer one of his valid antlerless license to an eligible mentored youth upon the harvest of an antlerless deer, and a mentored youth may only receive one antlerless deer license each license year. The antlerless deer license transferred to the mentored youth must be for the Wildlife Management Unit in which the adult mentor and youth are hunting.

The regulations require that the mentor-to-mentored youth ratio be one-to-one, and that the pair possesses only one sporting arm when hunting. While moving, the sporting arm must be carried by the mentor. When the pair reaches a stationary hunting location, the mentor may turn over possession of the sporting arm to the youth and must keep the youth within arm’s length at all times. All other safety rules apply to both hunters. I like the changes in this law. I wish they had it when I was growing up. Good luck and be safe if you’re going out.

Be sure to watch Pennsylvania outdoor Life tonight at 6:30. We’ll take you to a Tioga County lake for a bow and arrow carp hunting adventure.

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