Bow hunting season is upon us in parts of Pennsylvania. Learning some basic safety tips can mean the difference between life and death for both predators and prey.
PENNSYLVANIA STATE | On Sept. 16, 2022, the Pennsylvania Game Commission issued safety tips for the upcoming bow hunting season. Each year, roughly 33,000 hunters pick up their bows and arrows in preparation for archery season, which runs from Oct. 1, 2022, through Nov. 18. Then again from Dec. 26 to Jan. 16, 2023.
Archers hunting whitetail deer in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2B and 5C and 5D, which are around Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, will get an additional several weeks, from Sept. 17 through Nov. 25, 2022, then again from Dec. 26, 2022, through Jan. 28, 2023.
“Pennsylvania’s archery deer season is an amazing time to be afield,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “With autumn’s vibrant colors and increasingly cooler temperatures serving as the backdrop, the season gives hunters the chance to chase whitetails before, during, and after the peak of the rut. It’s clear hunters appreciate that opportunity and are taking advantage of it.”
According to the PGC, here are some safety tips for bowhunters:
- Make sure someone knows where you’re hunting and when you expect to return home. Leave a note or topographic map with your family or a friend. Pack a cell phone for emergencies.
- Practice climbing with your tree stands before the opening day of the season, especially at dawn and dusk. Consider placing non-slip material on the deck of your tree stand if it’s not already there.
- Always use a fall-restraint device – preferably a full-body harness – when hunting from a tree stand. Wear the device from the moment you leave the ground until you return. Don’t climb dead, wet, or icy trees. Stay on the ground on blustery days.
- Use a hoist rope to lift your bow and backpack to your tree stand. Trying to climb with either will place you at unnecessary risk.
- Don’t sleep in a tree stand! If you can’t stay awake, return to the ground.
- Keep yourself in good physical condition. Fatigue can impact judgment, coordination, and reaction time, as well as accuracy.
- Always carry broadhead-tipped arrows in a protective quiver. Know how to uncock a crossbow safely, too.
- If you use a mechanical release with a vertical bow, always keep your index finger away from the trigger when drawing.
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for all equipment and check your equipment before each use.
- Avoid walking with a nocked, broadhead-tipped arrow or bolt.
- Cocked crossbows should always be pointed in a safe direction. Know how to uncock your crossbow at the end of legal hunting hours.
- Always carry a whistle to signal passersby in the event you become immobile. A compass or GPS unit and map, matches or lighter, and tinder also are essential survival gear items to have along. A flashlight with extra bulbs and/or a portable charger for the light and your phone also can be helpful.
A free online safety course, which covers the basics of archery hunting, is also available at www.pgc.pa.gov/HuntTrap/Hunter-TrapperEducation.