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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Posted on Mon, Jan. 24, 2005





Pa. hunters unload over deer policies

By Mark Scolforo

The Associated Press


HARRISBURG -- Unhappy deer hunters packing an auditorium Sunday told the Pennsylvania Game Commission that a five-year effort to control the size of the state's deer herd has worked too well, causing overkill that makes their quarry too hard to come by.

"I'm really fed up, and everybody I talk to is very fed up," said Lebanon County hunter Paul Garman, echoing many others who spoke at the commission's annual public-input hearing. "Carrying that rifle around like a dummy and not seeing nothing -- it's getting bad."

The hearing at the commission's headquarters in Harrisburg was held in advance of Tuesday's preliminary vote to schedule the 2005-06 seasons and set bag limits. Many hunters who spoke Sunday urged the panel to issue fewer doe hunting licenses and to shorten the season.

Somerset County hunter Gregory A. Gerhard said allowing more does to be taken has proved to be a mistake.

"If you have any compassion for our white-tailed deer population, you will not let the tree-huggers take over our great state," Gerhard said.

A survey of fellow taxidermists showed a 50 percent drop this year in the number of deer heads being processed, said Joe Walter, who owns a Centre County sporting goods store. Others reported that their local butchers also have experienced a decline in business.

"The economic impact of this program has been quite significant," Walter said.

Starting in 2000-01, the commission has adopted a series of policies designed to reduce the number of deer in Pennsylvania, a herd currently estimated at 1.6 million. A record number of deer were killed two seasons ago, followed by a drop-off last season. Figures for the current season, which ends Saturday, will not be released until mid-March.

A study released earlier this month by Audubon Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Habitat Alliance concluded that overgrazing by deer was damaging to other wildlife that depend on undergrowth for sustenance and cover.

The commission's chief deer biologist, Gary Alt, said when he unexpectedly retired in late December that the agency was not supporting the deer management changes he had overseen.

At Sunday's meeting, not everyone agreed that the policies should be reversed. Several people said restrictions on killing male deer with small antlers have increased the number of large trophy bucks, and farmers thanked the commission for helping them control crop damage.

"Use good science when making your decisions, and not the opinions of a few shortsighted individuals," said forester Mike Hancharick of Kane.

Lower kill numbers during the current season are in part a function of weather patterns, said Steve Trupe, with the Quality Deer Management Association, a group that aims to balance deer population with habitat sustainability.

"The deer adapted to the circumstances, the hunters didn't. It's that simple," Trupe said.

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NO GAINS FOR HUNTERS,, THEY WILL STILL DO WHAT THEY WANT
 

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GJ,
If the HUNTERS that are doing the most complaining are the same ones that are lining up at Wally World and Gander Mt. the day before rifle season then I don't think the Game Commission should listen. I've stood and watched as they buy everything for the HUNT. I've seen them buy clothes, ammo and some even buy guns for the next days hunt and when they don't see a big rack or they miss with the new gun it's everybodies fault but theirs. I agree that the deer herd in the North is thinner but in the South we still have too many deer. The Game Commission needs to address this problem and the farmers and foresters in the lower tier need to remove some posters and open up the land. Just my .02's worth.
 

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We have doe seasons here in NE, and I think it has been a good plan. Just because everybody didnt wack a deer this year doesnt mean the plan isnt working. They can adjust the # of permits based on harvest results from year to year. We had much the same problem last year (2003) but in 2004 it was a whole different game, saw a lot of deer. I have never understood these states that dont have doe seasons. They end up blasting everything with an antler, and never have any nice deer. When a six inch spike is a monster buck that is sad.

One of the things they did here this year was to split the area I hunt. One part of the area had a ton of deer the other part didnt have as many, so they split it in two and issued bonus permits in the over populated area. Hunters need to realize it is a complex issue but done the right way it works well. Some years they may over estimate but this can be made up in the following year or two.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I can believe you have a problem in the south, but since they have the zones.. they need to do it that way,, not state wide..
Yep, I have seen the same sunday afternoon rush to buy license, ammo, guns, and clothes.. too late to even shoot.. Thats one reason I only hunt where I know everyone or not a all..
 

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I don't know about other areas, but in NY, every hunter I spoke to said very few deer were seen, even less were taken.
I don't know if it is about hunters adapting.
I believe that those people who post their land that DON"T hunt and don't care one way or the other SHOULD open up their land, because the people I spoke to who are in this situation say there is plenty of deer on their properties.
So my guess is that the deer did adapt by finding safer haven, but the hunters are not allowed to adapt accordingly.
My hope is that sooner or later, even these people will remove their posts once the deer become their nuisance.
Ranger
 

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Ditto what big medicine said, as I am from Nebraska as well and don't live too far from him.

I also saw many deer in 2004. One sexy little doe led eight different bucks past my stand. Deer season for me was like this:

Nope, that buck's not big enough. I'll wait.
Nope, that buck's not big enough. I'll wait. (Repeat five more times).

Damn, that one's big enough! BLAM!

To fill out my obligation to the farmer, my hunting partner and I also take a few does. He's happy, and we're happy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Big and 35.. the reason is we used to have a three day doe after buck season.. buck is two weeks gun.. .. not counting archery and flintlock..

Deer was plentyful.. not everyone got one even then,, there was no problem with over crowding, or the size of racks.. taken.. Now I am speaking for my area only.. not the other parts of the state. as we have zones for hunting doe.. ....

I would love just once in my life to sit and pass up one knowing a bigger rack would come along.... Its just not that way here..
I have a friend that hunts racks only.. 8 pt or bigger prefered.. He hunted a total of 7 full weeks and didn't see anything that size to shoot.. He is a hunter,,, not a stand hunter,, he scouts ,, stalkes, and is one of the few diehard hunters left around this area..
 

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Gunjunkie,
Did they have a statewide free for all? I just figured it was like here where a given area that has a deer problem may have extra permits, or 100% either sex tags. Other areas may only offer 20% either sex tags. I do think that the Game Comm here does a pretty good job with control of the deer. they will create areas for special hunts if needed and limit # of permits in other areas if needed. Some times I think they like the money, but overall they do seem to listen to input.
 

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Gunjunkie, I know what having to shoot the first halfway decent buck you see is like. I am in graduate school as well as working for a living, and sometimes I don't have much time to hunt. Then, as friend Dave says, "if it's brown it's down." This fall was really busy, but I thought, "dammit, I'm taking the whole weekend off. I've earned it." That Saturday of the opener I saw more deer than any year since 2001.

I hunt in a pretty prime area, and overall this is the best spot I've had for deer hunting since I started going 23 years ago. You really need to hunt a spot like this at least once in your life. Not all the time, because then you'd be spoiled, and never really appreciate it. Believe me, I do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have been through NE beautiful state for sure,, Icould live there ok :D
 

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I used to hunt in Clearfield County Pa. with my mom's relatives. Even in the 70's and early 80's deer were not too easy to get a shot at. I never did like the season set-up. There were about 2 weeks of bucks only hunting followed by 3 or so days of doe only season. Out of a group of 10 or so of us, usually only 3 to 5 folks got a buck. Usually a "dink". I am not well versed on the changes Alt made. But an any sex season and an antler restriction sound like a better way to manage the herd. I always saw about 50 does per buck in PA.
I live in Ohio and here we have an either sex first tag, then up to 3 others available depending on hunting meathod and area of the state hunted. There is not too much different in habitat between us and the neighbor next door (Pa.). I don't know why the same system we have would not work for them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thats the problem.. not so much the restriction on antlers.. but the two week doe slaughter for the last few years .. now you won't see doe either.... Some are just shooting at brown and if not legal or they don't have tag.. letting it lay.. Yep it has always happened some, but not to the magnitude that it its now.. I support the antler restriction for the most part.. if they would put the doe season back to three days or elimintate all togethere for a few years now to build the herd back up.. .. The can even keep it like it is in the south,, but our area.. Clearfield, Center, Blair, Cameron need back the way it was..
 

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Gunjunkie,
Help me out, I don't get it. Maybe I am just a dim bulb--- been said before and will again I am positive! :oops:
The states goal is a finite number of deer. You now have an either sex season with tags available for lots of does?? and a buck. The herd is getting a better balance of bucks to does. Also, with the antler restriction, you are getting some mature animals. But there is a problem with the way the system is working? If there are too few deer -- is the PFG commission giving too many doe tags? It sounds to me (and again I don't know-- been years from my last Pa. tag) like the system should work. Can you explain it to me again so a small child (me :shock: ) can uderstand?? Thanks in advance!!
 
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I've said this before but I guess one more time won't matter.

There are some areas of Pennsylvania that have deer problems, mainly in the southeast (Phila) area and the southwest (Pittsburgh) area. Not enough deer are killed there and all because of posted land and lack of enough open space to hunt safely. So what the PGC did was to paint the entire state with the same brush and issue almost unlimited tags statewide. "We need to kill more deer". The overabundant deer are still in the SE & SW but most of the remaining areas have been decimated of deer. Some special interest groups, as the lumber and insurance industries, like the direction we're heading but most hunters are firmly against current PGC policies. Now, with their leader, Gary Alt, out of the picture it should be interesting what will be proposed for next season.

I would personally like to see no doe season for at least one year but doubt that will happen. Also, if we passed on three points to a side or larger and only shot smaller bucks for one season I bet the trophy potential would grow very quickly. Then everyone should be happy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I am all for no doe season for a couple years except in Philly and Pittsburg areas.. that would be a plus for it for sure..
 

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Thanks for the clarification guys! My work takes me to Pittsburgh and to Altoona several times per year and I always see some deer on route 22. But we used to count the number of auto hit deer by the road along route 80 from the ohio line to DuBois. We used to get between 25 to 30 along the roadside going back to hunt. I have not made the drive in about 10 years -- so I can not compare the population now to 35 years ago. But Pa always had tons more deer than Ohio. We got-em comming out our ears here now! But alas we have to use slug guns state wide :evil: . I hope the situation gets fixed for you folks real soon!
 
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I just got off the Game Commissions web site and the tentative regulations for next season are going to be the same as the season just over. Although the number of doe permits hasn't been determined yet they will know by the April meetings. Sounds like 1 deer per square mile will become a reality soon, but it will be a trophy buck!! How aggressive are bucks in the rut when they can't find any does? And in a state with 20-30 hunters per sq. mi. it should be interesting in coming years.

Anybody want to buy a couple of 30-06's?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
We need state wide campaign to not buy any License Huting or Fishing for one Year. that will set them on the ear when they start getting laid off cause of no money..
 

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GJ
I'm not sure that would help, with damage to crops and property, cars as well as landscapes, the state would hire some one to come in and thin the herd.
I'm in the landscape maintance industry and you wouldn't believe the number of people who feed deer in their backyard then complain when Bambi starts bringing her friends and they begin to eat the flowers and shrubs. then I'm supposed to stop the damage to the landscape but not hurt the deer.
In years past, hunters would buy the doe tags and have a tag burning when everyone got to camp. This might be the way to go in counties that are in "the big Woods" but not for those in the southern end of the state.
I guess you read that they are thinking of an extended season in the southeast corner.
I think that in my area, York County, the hunters and farmers need to work together to lower the deer population. I'm a firm believer that deer can read because when I see them they are all on posted ground. :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I know I may buy all the doe tags I can and not use them.. just to try to help here some..
 
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