The 2021 Woodchuck hunting season was spent almost exclusively in Bradford County this year. This was mainly due to rainy weather, constant visitors post COVID, and a ton of woodchucks
Our most productive days were during the 3rd week of June, just after the 2nd cutting of hay. I had a few friends come up from Tennessee to break in their rifles and boy did they have a good time. During the 4 days we hunted, they shot 18 woodchucks on a single 90 acre field. While these numbers aren't quite what they were pre-2000, it's a vast improvement from the 2012-2018 seasons.
Woodchuck Numbers and Predators
Woodchuck numbers are up on our hunting properties due to a few main factors. One, coyote populations seem to be dying off. Turkey numbers have been down as well as Whitetail deer. This drop in food source has lead to smaller litter sizes according to our local PA Game Warden Officers. Two, Bald Eagle populations have dropped as well or at least appear to have. Eagles, in 2018 would fly down and lift off with shot woodchucks moments after killing them. It was quite a sight. However, if they were doing that to shot ones in the summer months, one can bet good money they were picking up the newborns in the spring. Last but not least, Fishers. Over the last decade fisher numbers seem to have dropped pretty hard. We haven't seen a single fisher along any of our creeks or waterways in a few years. In the early 2000's, Fishers were attacking and killing infant woodchucks regularly.
Another topic of note, which will be discussed later in more detail, fracking has been a major event in Pennsylvania since 2012. For those who are reading that aren't up to date, fracking is a form of natural gas production that uses water to fracture shale to so the gas may be harvested. There are now thousands of natural gas pads around rural Pennsylvania. These pads do require consideration when hunting around them. Sending a projectile into a working area or possibly even worse, a storage tank, would be catastrophic. If you are reading this and thinking about varmint hunting in Pennsylvania, please ask your land owners if there are any gas pads around the areas you plan to hunt. Be responsible out there.
Calibers used this summer included: 20, 22, and 6mm dashers, 204 Ruger, and a 6mm Ackley Improved. Many of these calibers can be found on our Favorite Calibers list on our varmint hunting page. You can check that out here for more reading material. We use DOA shooting benches due to their comfort and relatively easy mobility.