The previous week started off with overwhelming humidity and temperatures approaching the 90-degree mark. However, come Wednesday morning, we experienced a welcomed taste of the upcoming fall season — my own, and most other hardcore hunters’ favorite time of year. Unless you’re the sun goddess, lounge out by the pool all day and seriously enjoy soaking up the rays type of person, the recent shift in weather had the feelings of hunting season coursing through your veins.
Sure, it technically is still summer. The hot days are giving way to much cooler nights now. Copious amounts of dew now grace the landscape every morning as the sun begins to rise; with every passing day, the amount of daylight wanes just a wee bit. I now see a few select maples taking on a reddish hue here and there on my weekly travels through the Adirondacks. The time has come. Almost. We hang cameras, scout patterns and practice shooting our bows and so much more in anticipation of the season.
On Friday afternoon, Aug. 21 a photo came through of a big 10-point buck that we have been keeping tabs on and his velvet was clearly dry. The fuzziness had all but disappeared, and the points all looked sharp instead of rounded. It was a very clear, outstanding photo in sunlight, so there was no question about it. On Tuesday the 25th, I received the first photo of a good buck with bloody antlers and peeling velvet. Now if this doesn’t get you amped up for the season I do not know what does!
By this point in the year, all bucks are as big as they will be. What you see right now is what you get for the 2020 season. Shedding time varies vastly between individual animals. I have seen bucks out of velvet in the last week of August (coincidentally almost all have been large mature bucks) and I have seen bucks still in velvet during the third week of September (mainly smaller bucks).
As a rule, it is safe to say that the majority of bucks shed the first week of September give or take a few days. Soon we will be seeing hard-antlered bucks. Now is the perfect time to check out multiple bucks in bachelor groups still feeding during daylight hours before they pull the ol’ Houdini trick come season!
Many of us have already felt the impact coronavirus has had on travel plans, with the pandemic highly affecting typical summertime family vacations. Next up to bat, out-of-state hunting and fishing excursions.
Many of us travel out of state every year to pursue monster bucks in the Midwest, elk in the Rockies, maybe a dream trip to Alaska for moose or a mountain goat hunt. Just how will the newfangled restrictions affect you? Most of us do not have the time nor the funding necessary to take off the required extra two weeks of “quarantine time” like many states are requiring. That makes the typical week- to 10-day hunting trip unfeasible. In general, most of the restrictions will affect all travel without regard to purpose.
The Canadian border is currently shut down for any and all recreational activities for non-residents.
The following is a list of a few states and their specific COVID-19 regulations that we as hunters and outdoorsmen may have plans to venture to in the not so far off future.
Alaska: All non-residents must arrive with confirmed negative COVID test results taken within the prior 72 hours. Pending test results will not make the cut. The option to test on site at the arrival airport or quarantine for 14 days is no longer permitted. See the Health Declaration form for further info on what must be completed when you arrive at the first Alaskan airport. Many towns and villages have additional requirements for non-residents; check with the local government or borough. Ravn Alaska airlines closed their doors, and all flights have been canceled. Find more at ADFG.alaska.gov or State of Alaska Response Page.
Penalties: fines of up to $25,000.
Connecticut: Non-residents, residents traveling to or from states and territories with high COVID-19 rates must comply with two-week quarantine or show a negative result from a COVID-19 test. https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/travel
Penalties: a $1,000 fine for each violation.
District of Columbia: Non-residents, residents traveling to or from more about states and territories. Virginia and Maryland excluded.
Idaho: Non-residents, residents traveling to or from other states are required to self-quarantine for two weeks in effect for Ada County only. https://visitidaho.org/covid-19-travel-alert/
Illinois: No statewide quarantine orders. Chicago has a 14-day quarantine mandate for non-residents, residents traveling to or from other states. https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid-19/home/emergency-travel-order.html
Penalties: Violators are subject to fines of $100 to $500 per day, up to $7,000.
Kansas: Non-residents, residents traveling to or from other states (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida or South Carolina) are required to self-quarantine for two weeks. https://ksoutdoors.com/KDWPT-COVID-19-Updates
Penalties: Violating the quarantine order is a class C misdemeanor with fines from $25 to $100.
Maine: Non-residents, residents traveling to or from other states are required to self-quarantine for two weeks or show a negative result from a COVID-19 test. Travelers from five states, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire, are exempt. https://www.maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine/keepmainehealthy/faqs
Maryland: Non-residents, residents traveling to or from other states and territories are required to self-quarantine for two weeks or until they receive negative test results. https://phpa.health.maryland.gov/Documents/07.29.2020%20-%20MDH%20Notice%20-%20Out%20of%20State%20Travel%20Advisory.pdf
Massachusetts: Non-residents, residents traveling to or from other states (Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and Texas ) are required to self-quarantine for two weeks or show a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. They must complete the Massachusetts travel form if over age 18. Traveling from states with low rates of COVID-19 (currently Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York and New Jersey) is exempt. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order
Penalties: $500 fine per day for failure to complete the form or quarantine for 14 days.
New Hampshire: Non-residents, residents traveling to or from other states outside of New England asked to quarantine for two weeks. https://nj.gov/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/Travel_advisoryFAQs_6-25-2020.pdf
New Jersey: Non-residents, residents traveling to or from other states are asked to quarantine for two weeks. https://nj.gov/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/Travel_advisoryFAQs_6-25-2020.pdf
New Mexico: Non-residents, residents traveling to or from other states and territories required to self-quarantine for two weeks or the length of their stay, with exemptions for first responders and other essential workers. Does not apply to those passing through the state and are asked to only stop for essential services for gas or food. https://www.newmexico.org/covid-19-traveler-information/
Penalties: Executive order declares that those in noncompliance “shall be subject to involuntary isolation or quarantine.”
New York (for friends or family planning to come here): Non-residents, residents traveling to or from 35-plus states and territories with high COVID-19 rates must comply with a two-week quarantine. This does not apply to those passing through the state for less than 24 hours. https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory
Penalties: a $2,000 fine for the first violation, $5,000 for the second and up to $10,000 if the person causes harm. Visitors arriving by air who refuse to fill out the health form may be fined $2,000.
Ohio: Non-residents, residents traveling to other states reporting positive COVID-19 testing rates of 15 percent or higher are asked to quarantine for two weeks. The list currently has six states. https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/families-and-individuals/covid-19-travel-advisory/covid-19-travel-advisory
Oregon: Due to a pneumonia outbreak, all of the Lookout Mountain Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep hunts have been canceled for the 2020 season. https://myodfw.com/COVID-19
Pennsylvania: The state recommends that anyone who arrives from a state “where there are high amounts of COVID-19 cases” quarantine for two weeks. The list includes 17-plus states. https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Travelers.aspx
Rhode Island: Anyone arriving in Rhode Island from with a positivity rate of COVID-19 greater than 5 percent — more than 30 states, plus Puerto Rico must self-quarantine for 14 days. A recent negative COVID-19 test can offer you exemption from the quarantine rule. https://health.ri.gov/covid/travel/
Vermont: Non-residents, residents traveling to other states must quarantine for two weeks if they arrive from locations with more than 400 active COVID-19 cases per million (indicated on an online map, updated every Friday). https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/restart/cross-state-travel
Penalties: Law enforcement may educate violators on the rule.