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Hunters prep for first day of deer season

Chip Ward talks about sighting-in his rifle Sunday at the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Scotia Shooting Range in Halfmoon Township.
Chip Ward talks about sighting-in his rifle Sunday at the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Scotia Shooting Range in Halfmoon Township. psheehan@centredaily.com

Chip Ward, 78, spent about 20 minutes on Sunday afternoon sighting-in his rifle at the Scotia Shooting Range.

“We want to make sure that when you pull the trigger that the projectile goes where it’s supposed to, and in order to do that you start before the season opens and you practice,” said Ward, of State College, who’s been hunting since he was 15.

It’s so he doesn’t wound a deer instead of killing it.

The shooting range — maintained by the Pennsylvania Game Commission — was bustling with activity in preparation for the first day of rifle deer season, which starts at sun up on Monday.

The first Monday after Thanksgiving is recognized as an unofficial holiday in Pennsylvania, with hundreds of thousands of hunters heading into the woods each year.

Ward said he’ll be out first thing in the morning near Zion.

“I believe that everybody has an instinctive desire to produce food for themselves,” he said.

And harvesting a certain amount of the deer herd helps it to thrive, Ward said.

Last season, Pennsylvania hunters harvested about 333,254 deer in total, a 6 percent increase from the season before, according to the game commission. Of those, 149,460 were bucks.

Safety is a priority when hunting or just enjoying the woods. You must wear 250 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange on your head, chest and back, combined so that it’s visible from all sides.

Take a buddy or let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return if you’re going solo.

The game commission also encourage hunters to think SMART when using a firearm:

▪ Safe direction — Keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction at all times.

▪ Make sure — Positively identify your target.

▪ Always check — Know what’s beyond your target before shooting.

▪ Respect firearms — Treat all firearms as if they are loaded.

▪ Trigger caution — Don’t touch the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.

Rifle deer season ends Dec. 9.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz

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