Time and time again, we’re reminded that taking shortcuts in the outdoors can be painful, or worse.
It doesn’t matter if it’s hunting and hiking the big, expansive woods, canoeing down the creek or biking a favorite trail, being ill-prepared is a killer.
Getting lost happens. Last week we learned about a hunter and his granddaughter who ventured too far in Centre County, without his insulin, food and a basic flashlight.
Fortunately, skilled Game Commission trackers were able to find them and produce a happy ending. Tragedy averted.
On the evening of Oct. 21, 58-year-old Jeff Cherry of Altoona, and his 17-year-old granddaughter Megan Settlemyer, did not meet up with the rest of their hunting party when expected.
About 11 p.m., wildlife conservation officers and their deputies, state police, fire company members, family and friends began a search.
The K-9 quickly picked up human scent and officers saw signs that someone had recently passed through the area. They followed signs through the woods for about 2 miles to an area with dense vegetation where they thought the hunters might have become disoriented. About 2 a.m., they called out to the hunters, who responded from about 100 yards away.
Cherry and Settlemyer said they had planned to spend the night in the area and try to find their way out of the state game lands in the morning. I doubt they were prepared for the nightlong stay.
Cherry said he accidentally walked a little farther than anticipated. He sought high ground to get his bearings and realized that there was not enough time to make it out of the woods by nightfall.
The hunters made a good decision to stop moving instead of going even farther in the wrong direction. The healthy hunters were safely back with family and friends at 3:30 a.m.
It’s important to tell someone else where you plan to hunt and an expected time of return. That information was key to locating the lost Centre County pair.
Watch for whitetails
Too many Pennsylvanians know you don’t need a hunting license to get your deer.
It’s roadkill season.
With deer feeling the heat of the mating season, the month of November and early December are prime time for collisions with vehicles.
The latest deer claim study by State Farm shows that Pennsylvania drivers have a one in 63 chance of a crash, a 6.3 percent increase from 2016.
That’s too much venison for the grill ... on the front of your car.
The Game Commission reminds us that deer become more active in autumn with the lead-up to their fall breeding season. Yearling bucks disperse from the areas in which they were born and travel, sometimes several dozen miles, to find new ranges. At the same time, adult bucks are often cruising their home ranges in search of does, and they sometimes chase the does they encounter.
Consider too that the fall season sees a number of people taking part in outdoor activities that might flush deer from forested areas or briar thickets, and that deer are more actively feeding to store energy for winter months. It’s a recipe for crunch time.
When daylight saving time ends Nov. 5, there also will be increased vehicular traffic between dusk and dawn — the peak hours for deer activity.
Don’t forget to turn your clocks back, by the way.
A driver who hits a deer with a vehicle is not required to report the accident to the Game Commission. If the deer dies, only Pennsylvania residents may claim the carcass. To do so, call the Game Commission region office representing the county where the accident occurred. An agency dispatcher will collect the information needed to provide a free permit number, which the caller should write down.
The number for the Southcentral Region, which covers Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, Perry and York counties and others, is 814-643-1831 or 814-643-9635.
A resident must call within 24 hours of taking possession of the deer. A passing Pennsylvania motorist also may claim the deer, if the person whose vehicle hit it doesn’t want it.
Those taking possession of road-killed deer also are advised of rules related to chronic wasting disease that prohibit the removal of high-risk deer parts, essentially the head and backbone, from any established Disease Management Area.
To report a dead deer for removal from state roads, motorists can call the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at 1-800-349-7623.
Let’s be safe out there.