Outdoors photo

Spring green-up is just around the corner and whitetail survival is far better than most realize.

Photo by Charlie Burchfield

Spring is just around the corner. That’s a topic of conversation these days. It’s a good feeling and one of renewal watching nature rebound from the rigors of winter.

When compared to winters’ past, so far conditions haven’t been all that bad. Such was not always the case.

In the March 2018 issue of the PA Game News, associate editor Joe Kosack developed an account and history of when winters were not so forgiving.

The historical accounts documented from firsthand knowledge were provided by GameWardens John Dzemyan, John Wasserman, and the late Norm Erikson. The articleoutlines times when winter conditions were so severe that deer slid from frozenhillsides to their death.

The story and photos of events such as those occurring in 1963-64, 1978-79, and 1981-82, were recorded as some of the worst for deer. It was a time many sportsmen today remember.

The winters described in the Game News feature were in a word, brutal. Fortunately winters such as those described are infrequent at best. Even so, deer will die during the months of winter. But how many? The numbers may surprise you.

Researchers from Penn State, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and the Pennsylvania DCNR Bureau of Forestry will carefully monitor deer populations and changes in the species mix and growth rates of plants in the study areas.

In a recent report compiled by Duane Diefenbach, a wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and one of the researchers conducting The Deer-Forest Study in Pennsylvania, the subject of the white-tailed deer winter mortality was addressed.

The report reflected data from 2013 through 2017. Diefenbach noted that during this period 375 radio-collared deer were followed for a total of 2,884 monthly intervals from February through September. Within those 2,884 intervals, only 27 deaths occurred.

The data showed that outside of hunting season deer have a greater than 99 percent rate of survival. However winter mortality is a natural occurrence.

When extremely severe weather conditions set in, winter mortality can and most likely will increase.

But the white-tailed deer is a survivor. It is amazing to learn just how resilient this animal can be. Now it’s time for spring.


Trout stockings occur year-round. Anglers commonly view the beginning of stocking season as March 1, when adult trout stockings begin for Stocked Trout Waters in preparation of the opening day of trout season.

After opening day, in-season stockings continue for these waters. In addition to adults, fingerling trout are also stocked throughout the year.

To view the stocking schedule go to the PA Fish and Boat Commission’s home page http://www.fishandboat.com. On the main page click on “2018 Trout Stocking Schedules”. Within this area the statewide trout stockings can be accessed. Begin your search at #1 and select from the dropdown box the county to be searched. Let’s say “Clearfield”; the next two steps filter the information by date. Or go to step #4 and click “search”.

The search will provide the stocking schedule from the first of this month through mid-April.

For those who are willing to participate, meeting sites and times are provided where volunteers are to meet with the PF&BC personnel and the stocking truck.

Those who choose to help with trout stocking should dress for the weather. And by all means have gloves and appropriate footwear. It’s also a good idea to have a change of clothes on hand “just in case.”

Stocking trout is fun and helps to build the excitement of opening day. Besides, it’s just another great opportunity to introduce youngsters to the outdoors.


A number of PA Game Commission Hunter-Trapper Education Classes are beginning to be scheduled.

For example, in northern Jefferson Co. a class is slated for March 24.

Youth and adults planning to purchase a hunting license for the first time must take and pass a PGC class prior to purchasing the license. Students must be at least 11 years old to take the class.

To sign up locally and across the state, go to the PGC’s website www.pgc.pa.gov, click on Education then Hunter Education. Within the Basic Course listings, click on “hunter-trapper education class calendar”. Here, a full listing of HTEC’s is provided. Next use the handy zip code tool that provides a listing of classes offered near you.

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Charlie Burchfield is an active member and past president of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, an active member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, Outdoor Writers Assoc. of America and the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers. Gateway Outdoors e-mail is GWOutdoors@comcast.net.

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