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The Roving Sportsman… The Pennsylvania Bowhunter’s Triple Crown

Next week, from Monday, October 29 through Saturday, November 3, bowhunters throughout the state will have a unique opportunity. For that six-day period, whitetail deer (antlered and antlerless), black bear, and wild turkeys will all be in season for archery hunters statewide.

The statewide archery antlered and antlerless deer seasons run from September to November 12 and opens again from December 26 to January 12. The black bear season is split up into seasons for archery hunters and for rifle hunters and the fall turkey season varies a bit based on the WMU you might hunt. But next week, the “stars all align” for bowhunters and they are presented with a chance to take all three big game species during that week.

It used to be that the Pennsylvania Game Commission awarded the “Triple Trophy” to a licensed hunter who was successful in taking all three in a single hunting season, but that award has not been offered for some years. Nonetheless, a hunter can still have the personal satisfaction of accomplishing this feat if he is patient, persistent, and perhaps most importantly — lucky!

The common factor for all three species is that they are focused on feeding in an attempt to develop a fat layer that will carry them through the upcoming winter months. Farm fields of corn and soybeans are a frequent target for all three and are often a real nuisance for farmers. If you can locate an area farmer who is being bothered by bears tearing up his cornfields, there is a good chance he will welcome you to hunt on his property.

Turkeys, deer, and bear will travel more this time of year in search of food sources and will generally remain in an area until that food is depleted, and then move on. It is critical for their wintertime survival that they layer as much fat as possible to get through those days of deep snows or ice that may prevent them from getting food for days on end.

Acorns from both red oaks and white oaks are a preferred food source this time of year, and area reports are that the acorns have been falling the past few weeks; thus ridges or pockets of oaks will provide a good place to hunt deer, bear or turkeys.

While many hunters tend to hunt the first few hours after sunrise and then again the last few hours of remaining light just before sunset, all day hunting can be very productive now. Deer and bear will be feeding not just at night but will be moving throughout the day. Turkeys will remain on their roost for a short while after sunrise, but they too will be moving throughout the day in search of food. Whether you are in a tree stand with a great vantage point, are in a well-placed blind near an established feeding area or are more apt to be a spot-and-stalk hunter who likes to move slowly through the woods while keeping a keen eye on the horizon for any game, this week is when you need to maximize your time afield.

At the last look, the weather forecast for the six days is daytime temperatures in the low 50s, nighttime temperatures in the low 40s, with light winds and a 40-60% chance of showers each day. Layer up to keep warm and include an outer shell of rain gear so that you will stay dry and feel like remaining out for the entire day.

The week ahead will provide a bowhunter with perhaps their best opportunities. The bear will be on the move, feeding as much as possible. The turkeys will also be on the move, feeding throughout the day. And, the deer will not only be moving to locate feed, but the rut or at least pre-rut activity should be underway.

Good luck, hunt safely, and I hope you get your “Triple Crown”!

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