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Consider Hunting PA’s WMU 2B for Expanded Opportunities

August 3, 2015
By COL (Ret.) Grey D. Berrier II , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Planes, trains, car, trucks, and even tugboats pushing barges. I still remember taking it all in from high atop a ridge along the Ohio River within 10 miles of Pittsburgh International Airport, the first time I hunted in Pennsylvania's Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 2B. While the sights and sounds told me I wasn't hunting my normal haunts of intermittent woodlands and farmlands in rural PA, the numerous rubs, scrapes, and well-worn trails clearly indicated that white-tailed deer abounded in the area.

Since I first started hunting in 1975, a very interesting dynamic has occurred in regards to deer hunters and deer in my home state. Traditionally, hunters from urban and suburban areas drove many miles to their camps in PA's Big Woods to hunt deer. Concurrently, deer populations in the urban and suburban areas the hunters were leaving behind thrived to the point that deer were becoming nuisances in many locales on account of frequent deer-vehicle collisions, their over-consumption of valuable landscape plantings, and potentially serving as hosts for ticks that can spread Lyme disease to humans.

Today, Pennsylvania's WMU 2B, which includes the vast majority of densely populated Allegheny County (think Pittsburgh) and portions of surrounding suburban Beaver, Butler, Westmoreland, and Washington Counties has an abundant deer population and is a recognized hot-spot for heavily-antlered white-tailed bucks in the Commonwealth. With very limited public land available in WMU 2B, the challenge has always been finding access to property where you have permission to hunt. With the recent rule changes enacted by the PA Game Commission for the new July 1, 2015 June 30, 2016 hunting year, there is now more incentive than ever before for hunters to consider hunting in WMU 2B and to make a deliberate effort, prior to the opening of archery season, to obtain permission from landowners to hunt their ground. The opportunity to harvest a trophy white-tailed buck or multiple antlerless deer exist for those willing to hunt in what many would deem nontraditional deer woods.

Article Photos

The PA Game Commission expanded deer hunting season in WMU 2B this year and it should prove for more successful for hunters. Dan Sum (left) was able to harvest this nice buck in WMU 2B last season, with the help of Brian Brucker. Photo by Ralph Scherder

The PA Game Commission recognized the need to harvest numerous deer throughout WMU 2B by expanding seasons and providing abundant antlerless licenses for this coming hunting season. This year's PA statewide archery season runs from October 3 November 14, 2015 and comes back in from December 26, 2015 January 9, 2016. Archery hunters in WMU 2B will have six additional weeks: September 19 October 2, 2015; November 16-28, 2015; and January 11-23, 2016. What will make this bonus time afield even more special is that for the first time ever, archery hunters will be able to harvest either an antlered or antlerless deer during these extended periods. In past years, the additional days in WMU 2B, prior to and after the PA statewide archery season were antlerless only. This also means that archers will be able to pursue an antlered deer in PA for six days, September 19-25, 2015; prior to the September 26, 2015 opening of the Ohio archery season. This opportunity to take an early buck may be all the incentive some hunters need to try out WMU 2B this year. (Keep in mind that WMU 2B is part of the "Three Up" antler restriction area found in western PA.)

Archery hunters aren't the only ones who can benefit from hunting in WMU 2B this coming season. With a new rule change, WMUs 1A & 1B, which border on the PA/OH Stateline, will now be antlered only for the first five days of the PA regular firearms deer season, November 28 December 4, 2015 and then both antlered and antlerless from December 5-12, 2015. This leaves WMU 2B as the only WMU in Western PA where both antlered and antlerless deer are legal quarry for the entire two weeks of the PA regular firearms deer season, November 30 December 12, 2105. Flintlock hunters also receive two additional weeks, January 11-23, 2016 to pursue both antlered and antlerless deer in WMU 2B. Just Allegheny County, not all of WMU 2B, also offers firearms hunters an extended antlerless only firearms season from December 26, 2015 January 23, 2016.

White-tailed deer aren't the only quarry available in WMU 2B. While their numbers are limited, black bear are continually expanding their range throughout western PA and WMU 2B is no exception. Every year, several bear are harvested in WMU 2B and the extremely liberal seasons offer plenty of incentive to purchase a bear license "just in case" one would meander through while you are in a treestand.

Fact Box

The PA Game Commission recognized the need to harvest numerous deer throughout WMU 2B by expanding seasons and providing abundant antlerless licenses for this coming hunting season.

Bears can be legally harvested in WMU 2B by properly licensed archers from September 19 November 20, 2015. (November 16-20, 2015 being the PA statewide archery bear season.) Muzzleloader hunters can also potentially take a black bear in WMU 2B with a flintlock, percussion cap, or in-line rifle from October 17-24, 2015. Additionally, there is the 2B special firearms bear season, October 22-24, 2015, which is open to Junior & Senior license holders, active-duty military, and certain disabled persons. Finally, WMU 2B has an extended firearms bear season that runs concurrently with the PA regular firearms deer season from November 30 December 12, 2015. The opportunity exists to hunt black bear from almost mid-September to mid-December in WMU 2B, if you choose to do so. Also remember, coyotes are fairly abundant in WMU 2B, even within the Pittsburgh city limits, and are one of the few species that can be hunted 24/7/365, to include Sundays, in PA.

While the PA antlerless allocation system can be somewhat confusing for both residents and nonresidents alike, there are several key dates to keep in mind. Resident applications were accepted starting July 13, 2015 and nonresident applications open two weeks later, July 27, 2015. The first round of unsold licenses becomes available to both residents and nonresidents on August 3, 2015; while the second round of unsold licenses is scheduled for August 17, 2015. Based on the substantial quantity available, both residents and nonresidents can begin to send for unlimited WMU 2B antlerless licenses starting August 3, 2015. The only limitation is that no more than three applications can be included in each official pink envelope. Starting August 24, 2015, WMU 2B antlerless licenses can be purchased over-the-counter from the county treasurer's office in any of PA's 67 counties. You do not have to drive to the county treasurer in one of the five counties that are geographically part of WMU 2B.

If you are considering hunting WMU 2B this year, please take time to carefully read the applicable rules and regulations found in the 2015-16 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest and also available on the PA Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us). You'll find the details there you need to know to safely and legally hunt in WMU 2B. Be Aware PA Safety Zones are 150 yards around any occupied structure when hunting with a firearm, but are reduced to only 50 yards for archery hunters, except around schools and playgrounds where it remains 150 yards. The 50 yard archery Safety Zone opens up a significant amount of potential small woodlots in residential, commercial, and industrial areas in WMU 2B to hunting; but necessitates ethical shot selection and hunting practices in such close proximity to other human activity.

Why not buck the trend this coming year and when other hunters are heading out from their homes in populated areas and traveling to PA's Big Woods, you can slip down into a woodlot in PA's WMU 2B and possibly be rewarded with some of the best hunting you've ever experienced!

 
 

 

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