When the rain takes the leaves off the trees in November, it’s time to put on some fluorescent orange and proceed with caution – it’s hunting season. Small game hunters have been on the prowl since September stalking squirrel. As October came glittering in their interests turned to pheasant, rabbit, grouse, and Bobwhite quail. Bow hunters, much like the indigenous people who once hunted here to survive, have also been pursuing deer, turkey, and bear in early fall as the leaves transform to red and gold. Now as winter approaches and trees stand bare, it’s time to head for nature’s very own shooting ranges and re-calibrate the skills needed when firearms deer season officially opens after Thanksgiving.
First stop: Get your hunting license, ammunition, and supplies!
For many, the adventure of where to hunt begins with a trip to Waynesburg to buy a hunting license and pick up Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, a magazine covering every law and safety aspect of hunting in the state. Both can be found in the store that still bears the name of the avid local sportsman who set up shop here in the 1960s.
The deer in the window of Joe Riggs Sporting Goods on 137 E. High Street has a fine story to tell. Yes, that’s a prize-winning rack. Ivan Perry took this “typical white tail buck” December 11, 1974 in Aleppo Township. With a Boon and Crockett score of 184 6/8 it remains a Pennsylvania record. But that’s not the only trophy to be found in this historic, tin ceiling sanctuary for hunters to gather, buy necessities, and tell tales. Every wall and shelf keeps company with other prized catches. Wild fowl descend from the ceiling and a bearskin guards the original hand painted Joe Riggs sign that hangs on the wall. This is where rifles share equal billing with archery, sights get sighted, and bows get sold, traded, and repaired. For those still learning the disciplines of hand-eye coordination and a steady arm, there is a downstairs shooting range to get the feel of the bow and learn the tension of letting the arrow fly true, and the price is right. A faded sign tacked to a wooden shelf shows the going rate for range time is as old fashioned as the ambiance.
Your Guide to the Gamelands
State Game Lands 179 scatters across Gilmore and Jackson Township and is divided by the historic Warrior Trail, a well-documented Native American Trail that crosses the entire width of the county. It is an excellent wooded area with an abundance of deer, raccoon, rabbit and other game. Gravel roads make it easily navigable and can take you to several different hunting destinations in search of various game. The official map of Greene County color codes all tracts and pinpoints the 300-yard rifle range with six uncovered handicap accessible shooting benches on Rinehart Road in Jackson Township.
Another great option to explore near the State Game Lands 179 is Cole’s Greene Acres Farm in Holbrook, PA. The 900-acre farm has several cabins available for rent, including the favorited “Red Onion Cabin,” and visitors are permitted to hunt on the privately owned farm. The farm boasts space for large outdoor gatherings and a summer kitchen! Call (724) 484-3276 to plan your trip now or book your stay on airbnb!
State Game Lands 223 which straddles large portions of Greene, Whiteley and Dunkard Townships contains an excellent 100-yard rifle range, just off of Garards Fort Road in Greene Township near historic Garards Fort and the equally historic White Covered Bridge in Greene Township. The range has a roofed pavilion with benches to fire from, and is also nearly within sight of the historic White Covered Bridge.
Said to be the best hunting grounds in the county, State Game Lands 302 can be found in the northern portion of Richhill Township. Located along the waters of the Enlow Fork, State Game Land 302 contains open woods and wildlife of every variety. Hunting is considered excellent in this secluded valley and so are the spring wildflowers and the many species of songbirds that migrate here to nest. Enlow Fork is stocked during trout season as are the creeks running through nearby Ryerson Station State Park. Approximately 15 minutes from State Game Lands 302, the State Park boasts 1164 acres of hiking trails, swimming facilities, and campsites. Portions of the park are also open for hunting. For more information on Ryerson Station State Park, please visit their website at www.visitPAparks.com.
As always, we ask that any hunters always obey any state and local laws and always respect the rights of the owners of private property. If you’re ready to hunt Greene County, more information as well as the PDF maps of State Game Lands 179, 223 and 302 are worth tracking down on the game commission’s website, www.pgc.pa.gov.