Far from the madding crowd
On some very special game lands
The Tri-State Region and Upper Delaware Valley offer outdoor enthusiasts plenty of hunting and fishing opportunities when autumn closes in. There are thousands of acres of publicly accessible land available on which to seek out waterfowl, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, black bears, grouse, squirrels, rabbits and pheasants.
When it comes to deer hunting, some hunters still prefer to get away from it all and seek out the more remote and less explored tracts of land. Getting alone and one-on-one with whitetails can be a refreshing and rewarding experience.
State Game Land (SGL) 209 is found butted up against the Delaware River, squaring off against neighboring New York State at Pond Eddy. This is truly a hidden gem among public lands, and a great place to hunt in solitude. Hunters visiting here will find themselves with 4,391 acres to explore and scout. As if this were not already enough land to get lost in, consider the fact that this tract is bordered entirely on the eastern fringe by a section of the expansive Delaware State Forest.
The terrain at SGL 209 contains some rolling upland forest, but is steep along the northern edge, where it runs toward the Delaware River. It takes a fair amount of shoe leather to get around this entire piece of ground, as access is quite limited. If you are looking to hunt away from others, then limited access is what you want to see.
This game land should be on your list for deer season and black bear season as well. The cover here is mixed, and both species find it comfortable to seek shelter among the rhododendron and laurel. There are a couple of wetland areas within the interior, including a pretty good swath of the Bushkill Swamp. This wet area is located northeast from the main access. Pockets of wetland such as this are often overlooked by hunters looking for bears, but sometimes the bears know that and make it their business to be where hunters don’t often disturb.
Grouse are yet another species that like the dense cover, and a few of the pockets on SGL 209 hold birds from time to time. Specifically, in the northwest corner of the tract is a pocket-type wetland that is worth a cruise around for grouse, especially during the late season.
Access to SGL 209 can be found just outside of the county seat of Milford. From Route 84, head east toward town and watch for Schocopee Road on your left. Turn here and follow the road, staying right at the first intersection, and it will turn into Fire Tower Road. Continue to the top of the mountain. This road does not go all the way through to the river, as it may appear to do on your game land map.
We have a strong deer herd in this region, and filing a tag here is only a matter of time.
Whitetails are adaptable creatures, and they thrive in close proximity to man. This is especially true on the Pocono Plateau, where housing communities have altered the landscape, creating new and different habitats and sanctuaries for the rising whitetail populations. Hunters who key in on locations near these deer magnets will find themselves flush with opportunity in short order.
One such location is SGL 312, which lies at the apex of Lackawanna, Wayne and Monroe Counties. SGL 312 contains almost 4,000 acres of habitat, interspersed with a mix of upland and wetland characteristics. This excellent mix of cover is located adjacent to two human Pocono communities, and as such sees its share of transient whitetails. SGL 312 is easy to find on your map. Locate the town of Gouldsboro, and head west on Route 507. The wetland areas within SGL 312 provide excellent cover for deer, and they also help to create funnel areas, steering whitetails around natural boundaries. This is the ideal situation for the hunter looking for a place to hang a stand. The habitat on SGL 312 provides security and cover for whitetails as they travel back and forth between handouts. Locating a good trail and being patient should be all it takes to get close to deer.
SGL 312 contains a rectangle of property that is detached from the main portion of the tract. Just east of the main body of SGL 312 there lies a portion that is wrapped around Big Sampson Swamp, and is sandwiched between two developed areas. Don’t overlook this section as a great spot to try this month.
Of course, deer are not the only thing to hunt this season, and we have plenty of small-game opportunity as well. From squirrels to ducks, from grouse to woodcock, if you do your homework you can truly head home with a mixed bag of small game. If you enjoy a chance to feel the thrill of flushing game birds, then one location you need to investigate is SGL 183 in Pike County. It holds roughly 2,780 acres of prime small-game habitat. The terrain is a mix of bottom lands choked with thick vegetation along with ridges of upland timber. SGL 183 is located off Route 6 just east of Lake Wallenpaupack. Access points are located via Route 402 near the intersection with Route 6, along Route 6 and via Kimble’s Road between Route 6 and the village of Kimbles.
The edge cover between field and forest, wetland and upland provide exactly what grouse are looking for. Bust them once out on the edge, and they quickly dive for the thickest, nastiest habitat. SGL 183 also contains a lot of aquatic habitat. Small-game hunters possessing a Federal Duck Stamp and willing to switch to non-toxic shot can begin or end the day with a round of waterfowl hunting. Both Decker Pond and Decker Creek offer habitat that attracts waterfowl. Being near to Lake Wallenpaupack doesn’t hurt either. Hunters can boat or hike to the northwest corner of Decker Pond to set up for the morning or evening flight of birds. After the flight is finished, a mid-morning hike along Decker Creek can provide some exciting jump shooting.
The primary species to be found will be the beautifully plumed wood duck. Later in the season some mallards, teal and other migrants can also be taken. SGL 183 is also well stocked with pheasants and serves up ample cottontail and gray squirrel numbers. For the small-game hunter, this is the perfect place to take an autumn grand slam of small game hunting opportunity.
Big bucks like cover and often seek the daytime seclusion of really heavy cover to avoid detection. One Wayne County property where you can hang a stand this month to try for deer with your bow is SGL 310, which contains 1,120 acres centered around Silkmans Swamp. Heavy cover located on SGL 310 makes it easier to spot some of the many trails that dissect the cover. These trails come from the surrounding timber to show where deer have been seeking refuge within the heavy vegetation. These trails are great places to try and intersect deer coming back from a nighttime feed or heading out in the evening, depending on which way the wind is blowing. Located near Lake Henry, SGL 310 can be via Route 196 and then several township roads including TR380 and TR372. You can also take Route 590 west from Hamlin, to Route 348.
No matter which side of the Delaware you choose to hunt this fall, great opportunities for a quality outdoor experience abound!