Game lands access, big buck photos, more news

Posted on: August 31, 2016 | Bob Frye | Comments

Big buck photoPennsylvania Game Commission photo
Big bucks like this one captured on film on public land are being seen all around the state, judging by a trail camera contest.

A roundup of notes from this week’s Pennsylvania Game Commission working group meeting…

= Hunters are soon going to have a chance to weigh in on just how accessible state game lands should be.

Pete Sussenbach, chief of the agency’s bureau of wildlife habitat management, said the agency has been working internally for awhile to figure out when, how and where it can and should make it easier for hunters to get on its property. There are challenges, he noted.

A survey of roads on game lands reveals that some of those behind gates could conceivably handle more traffic, he said. Others are little more than a grassy path through the woods, though.

There’s also the issue of hunter preferences.

Some hunters have no interest in hiking two miles back into a remote property to hunt deer because they can’t or don’t want to drag it back out, he said. Others, though, seek out that kind of experience.

The commission wants to satisfy both desires, he added.

To get public input, the commission will hold six public meetings – one at each of its regional offices – to allow hunters to offer their thoughts.

UPDATE: The early version of this story said the details on meeting dates and times weren’t finalized. Now they are.

The meeting schedule is:

  • Southcentral region: Tuesday, Sept 6, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., 8627 William Penn Highway, Huntingdon.
  • Northcentral region: Thursday, Sept. 8, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., 1566 South Route 44 Highway, Jersey Shore.
  • Northwest region: Monday, Sept. 12, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., 1509 Pittsburgh Road, Franklin.
  • Southwest region: Tuesday, Sept. 20, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., 4820 Route 711, Bolivar.
  • Northeast region: Thursday, Sept. 22, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., 3917 Memorial Highway, Dallas.
  • Southeast region: Tuesday, Sept. 27, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., 253 Snyder Road, Reading.

Comments about game-lands access also are being accepted by email sent to through Oct. 15.

= The photos are coming in and they are impressive.

The Game Commission is running a big buck photo contest. Hunters can submit pictures of deer captured on their trail cameras.

Photos will be uploaded to the agency’s Facebook page, then be judged by the viewing public. Winners each month will receive trail cameras.

Steve Smith, chief of the commission’s bureau of information and education, said the commission has already received more than 100 pictures, with nearly every county represented.

He gave board members a look at some of the bucks captured on film, and there are some impressive animals.

“We’re hoping to get a photo of one that somebody ultimately harvests as well. That would be a pretty neat story,” Smith said.

Details on the contest can be found here.

= Something else the public may soon be more aware of is improvements to game lands.

Sussenbach said his bureau does a lot to create habitat on game lands for all kinds of wildlife. Work is done in specific locations for specific purposes, he said.

Too often, though, the public – hunters and others – aren’t aware of any of that, he noted.

In an attempt to get that information out there, the commission’s regional information and education supervisors are being asked to send out news releases explaining what’s going on. Sussenbach said the hope is to get those started this fall.

= The shooting range on state game land 203 near Wexford – the busiest in the state – has been closed for months for renovations. Those are nearing completion.

The commission originally said it hoped to have the range open by Sept. 1. That’s not going to happen.

But Sussenbach said it will open soon. Specific details will follow in the near future, he added.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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Bob Frye is a storyteller with a passion for all things outdoors. He hunts, he fishes, he hikes, he camps, he paddles, backpacks and snowshoes depending on the season. If he’s not an expert at anything, it’s because he’s passionate to try a little bit of everything.