Local sporting goods stores are approaching their busiest time of the year as residents prepare to head into the woods on Saturday for the first day of the regular gun deer season.
The season will last two weeks, including an earlier start where the Pennsylvania Game Commission continues with its new Saturday start, a few days ahead of the traditional Monday after Thanksgiving.
Avid hunters in the central Susquehanna Valley have gone to great lengths to prepare for this time of year. Talan Cortelyou, 16, from Herndon, said he spent months getting ready. “I started getting ready early. I’ve had my driver’s license since June or July,” he said.
Though he may have received his license early, Cortelyou said there was still work to be done to get ready.
“I put up tree stands and watched for deer,” he said. “My dad and I went to some of our tree stands that were already able to remove branches that had grown between the years.”
Cortelyou said he’ll probably get ready until the last minute. “We’ll aim our guns and can’t forget to go to Walmart for last-minute stuff.”
Isabella Bolig, 16, of Sunbury, said she is deciding where to hunt and preparing for the brisk weather. “I watched the game cam to decide where to sit for the day,” Bolig said. “I also pull out my warm clothes to ward off the cold!”
While some hunters have already gotten their deer during archery season, they still look forward to spending time with friends or family, said Jason Benner of Sunbury. The season is a time he spends with friends.
“I’ve already shot my deer, but I’m looking forward to the deer camp with my friends,” said Benner. “I help out with the cooking and partying after a hard day’s hunting in the Pennsylvania woods.”
As people try to prepare for the season, local sporting goods stores continue to struggle to get ammunition to sell to their customers. Nichole Young of Youngs Sporting Goods in Northumberland said it wasn’t getting any easier to get ammunition.
“A lot of guys are here looking for ammo that they can’t find,” Young said. “A lot of it isn’t available because of online sales.”
Young said some ammunition companies have started selling directly to the consumer, making it difficult for sporting goods stores to get inventory to sell.
“Remington and Federal both sell directly online and bypass the gun stores, so it’s difficult for us to get hold of them,” she said.
Despite these difficulties, Young said they are trying to find ways to provide their customers with what they need. “We started selling Norma ammo because it’s a company that moved to Georgia,” she said.
Young said she believes people have been more economical with their spending compared to previous seasons. “People seem to be more conservative with their spending this year,” she said.
According to Young, the past few weeks have been particularly busy for local sporting goods stores. “A lot of people wait until the last minute, so we’ve been very busy,” she said. “We definitely sell a lot of licenses.”
As time ticks down, hunters across the central Susquehanna Valley – including Cortelyou and Bolig – are ironing out their plans for day one of where they’ll sit and how they’ll stay warm. All in preparation for the long-awaited moment when they will finally aim.