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Discussion Starter #1
Just as the title suggests, it's been every bit of 30 years since I went deer hunting. And that was bowhunting in NJ. Hoping to get back at it this year, unless I'm late to the party.

Looking to use a rifle this time around. Started doing some research earlier this year, and it's like trying to drink from a firehose! Took my PA hunter safety course and have the certificate, so I'm ready to purchase the license. Now to figure out how to best put it to use.

At this stage, I'm open to any and all recommendations. Where? When? With whom? Use a guide? Hunting lodge? Go it alone on state game lands? I'll probably think of a dozen more questions as soon as I hit "Post thread."


A little more about myself, if anyone's interested....
I live in eastern PA. Broadcast engineer by profession. Avid shooter for many years. When not at work or the range, I'm usually at my workbench, building a model airplane or a piece of audio gear out of vacuum tubes, or spending time with the family.

I very much look forward to chatting with everyone.
 

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Welcome to HPA. My suggestion would try your hand at the State Game Lands . Then join a gun club and meet some new friends and maybe get invited to their camp. Feel free to ask questions , because there is a lot of expertise on here and a lot of varied opinions as well.
 

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Do a web search for your recommendations you might find a club with a opening here in the east. If not search the game land maps there are some property owners that work with the PGC and open their property to hunters, most property's are marked with a small orange round ball on the PGC maps. Good luck with your search.
 

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You're not late to the party. Yes get a doe/antlerless tag but you need to pick the WMU (wildlife management unit) you're going to hunt. If there is a game lands close enough to you that you could make some trips to do some scouting I'd start there and do as much deer sign scouting as you can prior. Personally I don't think it's worth scouting for rifle season until mid Oct or so as summer deer often change areas especially as the rut kicks in. I prefer larger game lands to avoid the orange army (of which many have gone AWOL as of late) but some basic map and compass knowledge ( I never use just my GPS) are one of the best skills a hunter can have when covering bigger woods (you learn that fast hunting places like Maine). Learn that well and practice in smaller patches of woods or even the back yard, and you'll have an advantage over 90% of the hunters out there that generally won't go more than a couple hundred yards or so from a road. Oh you'll occasionally run into another hunter, usually a younger one, now and then "back in there" usually just as supprised to see you as you are him/her.
Lone hunters,and older lone hunters, like me, in bigger woods need to plan a bit more for safety being able to build a fire, space blanket, maybe carry a bit of food and water, gives you the means and confidence to go where the game is and take care of yourself should you become lost or injured. Just a FYI you would think these days cell coverage is good in most places..........every large game lands I hunt has no cell signal, I carry a satellite beacon for dire emergencies. Useful should I come upon someone who needs such help also.
The down side is, shoot a deer at 4 PM a mile from the truck could make for a late night.
Of course you could set up 50 yds from the game lands parking lot and get one of those ones that leaves tracks next to the truck or next to your boot tracks you made walking in! It happens.
 

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Hi Curt,
Glad to hear your getting back into it.
I find it helpful to actually speak with someone about what all your asking.
If you send a pm, I would be glad to chat about your concerns.
Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks so much for all the great advice and encouraging words.
I must admit, I was a bit spoiled the last time I was afield. The hunting ground was a 10-acre patch of woods behind my aunt and uncle's house, of which they owned about five acres. Their sons, also avid hunters at the time, had even built permanent tree stands out there. So it was no big deal to park the car at their place and take a leisurely stroll about 100-200 yards into the woods. If conditions got sour, or there just wasn't any deer that day, it was another leisurely stroll back to "base camp" for a hot cup and a sandwich. And the chances of getting lost were next to nothing.

Sounds like some of my preparations this year will involve acclimating myself to being "off the grid" for at least a very long day at a time. I'll need a bit more gear than I did back then, which I sort of figured going into this.

I already belong to a gun club, where I use the range. I don't presently know what they may offer in the way of help. I guess that's what I get for never going to any of the meetings!
 

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First, good luck in your efforts!

Also, don't rule out archery hunting, the gear today is nothing like you used 30 years ago. And, a crossbow is in ways like a gun, aiming and such, so it is easier to learn if you can shoot a rifle. Archery is a longer season and often better weather, lol!

One tip, if you hunt deer then shoot a buck that makes you happy. If a little 6-point makes you happy, great! If you want to just wait for a bigger buck and enjoy the time afield while looking for one, great! The TV shows can cause "Antler Obsession" and some folks can get entrenched on what others should or should not do.

As I grew more into hunting later in life, my bowhunting mentors trophy hunted. In the last year before antler restrictions, I killed a little 5-point the last day. They were thrilled for me, did not look down their noses at my little buck. Any legal deer is a trophy and they all taste good!

Best wishes, hope to see you post something in the Success Thread this year.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The old compound bow is long gone. At this point, I think the money would be better spent on the necessary clothing, gear, etc., of which I have NONE. (Speaking of which, recommendations are most welcome in this department...)
Not looking for a trophy, just the meat for now.
 

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The old compound bow is long gone. At this point, I think the money would be better spent on the necessary clothing, gear, etc., of which I have NONE. (Speaking of which, recommendations are most welcome in this department...)
Not looking for a trophy, just the meat for now.
Except for the orange requirements ... you most likely have stuff already in your wardrobe that you can make work - especially for deer season. Flat natural colors are fine - it doesn't have to be the latest and greatest camo or sitka or first lite gear. I'm not knocking either of those two I mentioned - they're great, but also not truly necessary. When my son was starting out we got a lot of his stuff from Gabes believe it or not. Carhartt jacket, insulated bibs, etc. Thin layers underneath.

As far as places to go ... besides the state game lands ... don't forget about state parks, state forests, army corp of engineers properties, etc
 

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Location helps.

There is a lot of Eastern game land and state forests.

My SF lease camp is in 3D and close to houses.

A lot of the SF has gated roads, some of which are opened just for Deer season so there is access without bushwacking.

The larger Game lands, like those in northern Bucks all have roads too from logging activities [same as State Forests] so you can access areas away from the parking lot with out difficulty.

Don't give up on archery, when I turned 65 I bought my SR lifetime 'combo' that adds Archery and Muzzleloader to the lifetime license and I have obtained a crossbow and plan to hunt the rut for the second time in my life, didn't do me any good last year but I made up for it in Rifle.

Since my father's gang is almost all deceased, I spend a lot of time by myself and I carry a SPOT personal locator for my wire's peace of mind...

If you have the time, plan to hunt some after the opening weekend. Before the Saturday opener, most camps by me are empty by Wednesday morning.

With Saturday and Sunday this year I would expect the camps will be empty by Tuesday so you can hunt in peace until Friday.

While many speak of the Orange Army, It does not compare to the 'good old days'.

When I was 12 the constant amount of autos driving up the road Sunday night and the SF roads had cars parked in every possible place, including a few who needed help getting un-parked.

I remember seeing red woolrich all day long on opening day and spend my time trying to grow antlers on all the does I saw; probably the same few deer being pushed around by all the men. It really isn't the same

Now there are many more homes in the Poconos and I would think a lot of locals that really didn't matter back in the day are now hunting the area but there may be less people driving up from Phila..

We also regularly see more deer coming in and out of the developments and have refocused on these areas.
 
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