When a new season begins Monday for Pennsylvania deer hunters, new hunting grounds will be available to them through additional state forest roads in 18 of the 20 state forest districts.
“When hunters seeking white-tailed deer head out for the opening of the state’s traditional season they will find more than 90 percent of all state forestland is now within one-half mile of an open road,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Acting Secretary Ellen Ferretti. “Since early October, we’ve opened more than 400 additional miles of state forest roads that are normally gated.”
Through the state’s archery season, which closed Nov. 16, and the state’s other deer hunting seasons, running into January 2014, hunters will find more than 3,000 miles of roadway open to them in state forestlands.
“Selective, temporary opening of state forest roads enables our forestry experts to channel deer hunting pressure where they think it is needed to benefit forest regeneration,” said Ferretti. “We’re also offering hunters, who we view as invaluable tools in both wildlife management and forest stewardship, access to sometimes remote areas.”
Ferretti noted some of these additional roads will be open only during deer season and at the discretion of the district forester. Others only will be opened for the second week of the traditional rifle season because they cannot withstand the expected heavy traffic of the first week. Two-or three-month long openings will be in effect only where there is minimal threat of damage or deterioration to road surfaces or forest surroundings.
Many state parks, especially those in the 12-county Pennsylvania Wilds region, offer inexpensive camping and access to top-quality hunting in nearby public forestlands.
Primitive camping on state forestlands also is an option, giving hunters a backcountry camping or hunting experience. Camping permits, issued by the managing forest district, will be required when camping on state forestlands.
Many of these campsites are close to state parks and forestlands enrolled in the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Deer Management Assistance Program, permitting hunters to take one antlerless deer or more when properly licensed. Hunters are advised to check with state forests district headquarters or state park offices about availability.
Hunters traveling to northcentral areas of the state are reminded some hunting areas and travel routes may be impacted by Marcellus Shale-related activities. Some state forest roads may be temporarily closed during drilling operations or other peak periods of heavy use to reduce potential safety hazards. To avoid potential conflicts on state forest roads during times of high public use, DCNR will attempt to limit or restrict truck traffic at the outset of major hunting and fishing seasons.
Also, hunters in Sproul State Forest are reminded a large-scale acid mine remediation project is underway near Renovo with heavy truck traffic. A 1.5-mile section of Boyer Road, a state forest road, will be closed. In addition, Two Mile Road, a public road, is closed from the Huling Branch Parking Lot to Robbins Farm Road. Access into that area will be from Route 144 on either Big Basin or Quarter Mile roads.
Huling Branch, Whiskey Springs and Middle Branch roads in the state forest will be opened for hunter access. Due to project safety concerns, barricades will allow only partial access to Huling Branch and Boyer roads.
More information and a detailed map of the 100-acre Huling Branch reclamation project can be found at www.dcnr.state.pa.us. Select Bureau of Forestry, then “State Forest Roads and Trails Advisories.”
A complete listing of open roads, effective dates and district office telephone numbers can be obtained at www.dcnr.state.pa.us. Select Bureau of Forestry, then “White-tailed Deer in Pennsylvania’s Forests.”
Marcellus Shale information can be found on the bureau page under “Natural Gas Drilling on State Forests.” Camping opportunities and details can be found on both the “Forestry” and “State Park” pages.
Logo courtesy Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources