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Pennsylvanias Deer And Coyote Problem

This post has been carried over from our forum which has since been removed from the site. We’ve pulled over the top 10 forum conversations that were not specific to future content areas which we will be posting.

I was at the Sports Show at the EXPO Mart in Pittsburgh, PA on the 19th. While I was there I stopped at the The PA Game Commision’s booth and I asked him where all the deer are and the one represenative asked me where I lived and I said Somerset County, also Game WMA Unit 2C. He said that they have heard a lot of commplaints from hunters that there are no deer. So I asked him what they were going to do about it. He answered ” we are going to start to work on something in the next few years”. I followed saying that if he doesn’t do anything NOW there will be no deer. Then I ask him where the coyotes came from and he said “they are not coyotes, they are just over sized house cats”. When I heard that answer I thought to myself, there goes the money that I pay for hunting licences down the drain. I’m 15 years old and I know that if they don’t do something NOW we will have no deer in PA. In some areas they are extending deer season, I can tell all of you now that will be even a worse mistake. Please Sportsman of PA help everybody out and think about not purchasing doe licences. I would like to hear some feed back from everybody on there ideas of conserving PA deer population.

thanks for the post, you are 15 i am 58, i live near harrisburg. and yes i agree something has to be done,i have hunted more years than you , i have seen the good times and now the bad times, i am not sure what or where the game commission gets their numbers from. In my years past in rifle season, i would see in excess of 20 day each day i hunted, this rifle season i saw ONE deer, and in bow season i was a total of 6 deer, i do believe the extended doe season and bonus tags has done the deer in, yes there are probably some areas that have lots of deer, but those areas are few and far betwee> I work at BAssPro in harrisburg in the archery dept. and i talk to hunters everyday about the deer herd, and i speak to hunters from all parts of the state, and they all agree the herd is way down. and in trouble, and you can actually go out and see more coyote than deer. I am in agreement, stop buying doe license or buy them and don’t use them. If something is not done, there will not be many deer for you or youngsters like you to hunt. I don’t have the answer, but i am afraid no one else does either. I wish they would stop doe season for a few years, i hope the truth comes out,, it’s probably another one of those goverment secrets, or it’s all about money. I do believe we the sportsmen do have some say, if nothing else, like you suggest, stop buying doe license.

Guys I had a lot of info and commentary regarding this very issue from Jim Slinsky over on the affiliate site at DeerFever.

When I spoke with Jim on the phone it was pretty amazing how similar Pennsylvania and Michigan were in this department. Made for a pretty good chat to say the least…lol.

Doc Wild
Ok, I am on this one. I will contact PGC and find out who the representative was and see if they want to try to tell me about overgrown house cats.

You all know that I am the first person to support sound wildlife managment, and I will also be the first person to take them to the wall when they are snowballing us. This is why I am here, and I think its time they are addressed by someone with some abreviations after their name.

Doc I will appriciate this one very much. Thanks bowhunter on your suggestion and lets hope everybody listens and maybe the people who don’t buy the licence will help the deer herd greatly.

Hey guys listen i agree with every one of you. I am 16 and this was my first year of not killing a deer since i was 12. I barely even got to see any deer let alone get a good shot at one. I bet i only seen 30 deer this year and 3/4 of them were on private property or dead. this is bad this was the first year in like 20 years my dad hasent killed a deer. It is bad if we don’t come together and force the PGC to do someting there aren’t going to be any deer for me and huntin_PA_04 to hunt in future years. I don’t even know if i will spend my money on a license this year it might not be worth spending it. I don’t want to spend my money just to walk around the woods and see nothing. I might as well just hunt on my uncle’s farm w/o a license b/c if something is not done there are going to be NO deer and that is not what i want. Doc i am glad you are contacting the game commision b/c they need to be forced to do something to preserve the wildlife. And we need to kill the coyotes so they aren’t killing the deer either b/c they are not helping the population. Thanks guys lets keep fighting for the deer.

Doc Wild
Ok folks. I spoke to the Pennsylvania Game Commission in both Ligoneer and in Harrisburg yesterday. Among the people I spoke with were a Supervisor of the Regional Office, the Head of Law Enforcement for the Region and then the Deer Biologist for the state in HQ. I found people who were astonished that any representative of their organization would make such a comment, as they fully acknowledge having coyote populations in 67 Counties and even have them being hit by vehicles on the beltway in Philly.

They have no idea why anyone from their organization would have been compelled to make such a comment and they hope that the comment was made to be humorous and that no one would have taken it otherwise. They were seriously concerned about that happening and were trying to figure out whom the representative may have been.

The Biologist I spoke with was very accommodating and gave me answers to every question I had. It appears that with the program the State adopted for their Management plan combined with natural predation has had an affect on the overall herd. They have seen better quality animals at processors and older class animals overall, but are seeing an admitted decrease in total harvest.

They cited examples to me of programs that they are working on to help identify what needs to be done, and honestly, they are really on top of it. The pendulum has taken a swing and it will take a bit of time for it to swing back in the direction it needs to go. The best answer is in the middle, but now they have a seriously hard row to hoe labor wise and PR wise.

They have data out there as we speak that they are trying to get compiled to be able to chart a course to fix the problem. They have had budgetary cuts that have crippled some key initiatives and they do not see any type of fix to that problem until they can resolve the one at hand. There is a great deal of reason for them to want to fix this problem and their feet are being held to the fire not only by the Commission and the public, but by their own choice. Even though the people I spoke to did not make the decisions that have been unpopular, they are charged with rectifying the situation. The results they are seeing are not consistent across the state, and the areas that have had a lull are the squeakiest wheels right now.

I am convinced that they are solidly identifying the needs and attempting to adjust plans to resolve all issues. They are not allowing the release of predators in any jurisdiction, nor has their been any accidental releases of predators on their behalf. They do admit to coyotes and bears having a degree of mortality responsibility on fawns and they indicated that they experienced a significant winter kill last year.

Again they are still trying to measure that and other effects that have come about concerning the Management plan.

To alter their sourcing of data (not buying license or destroying license) will adversely affect the accuracy of their work and I would not support either of those ideas. If you feel strongly about not doe hunting, don’t. But allow them to do their job with tag allotments as a primary tool at monitoring population densities, reproductive rates and age class harvest.

While this is not the place to attempt to address all the issues I was able to bring out, I can certainly reiterate that from what I learned from them (in 3 hours of conversation), I am convinced that they are at least working on fixing the issues. They have the hunters best interest in mind (it is what pays their paycheck) and they have posted as much information as they can publicly (website). Its now up to the people of Pennsylvania to hold them to their course and try to find a way to help their herds on as individual a basis as they can. Contact them as well for participation in programs that they are initiating to monitor herds and gather data. Your problem there is significant, not however dire.

This is what I have found and were I in your position I would research and implement as much Habitat and Wildlife Management on my own as I could. You can not hurt, but only help.

Outstanding information there Doc. Although I do not live in Pa. I have been following this thread with interest.

Thanks for the leg work Doc.. I guess time will tell…

thanks for the info Doc. It is good to know someone is watching out for us here in PA.

Doc Wild
Certainly my plaeasure. Glad to do it.

I was sent the following email, which appears in full content, excluding names, suggesting a One And Done strategy in regards to Pennsylvanias deer herd or lack thereof.

Although I cant actually endorse the plan I offer up the information here for some feedback in a public arena. The reason I cannot endorse the plan is simply numbers or statistics. For me to compare the deer herd of today, as opposed to that 40 years ago, in a state I have not even visited, would be nothing more than speculation.

I do however understand the problem. Same as it is here in Michigan but, emphasis always circulates around a growing wolf population for us as we see the numbers of these predators escalate. If hunters in this area had their way it would be an open season on wolves but thats a whole different ball of wax that we wont get into.

Anyway, below is the email so lets hear your opinions as this goes hand-in-hand with the circumstances concerning the deer herd in the state of Pennsylvania.

One and Done

We all know all about our own passion for deer hunting, our love of the great outdoors and of the most popular big-game animal in North America. We understand our desire to pass this legacy on to our children, grandchildren, and future generations. Our future generation of hunters comes from their ability and their desire, but also their success depends upon game availability and we the hunters/teachers.

I am sure you remember the abundance of small game in the 1960’s, maybe? At that time it was not uncommon to flush 10 or more legal birds during one pass through the field. Putting this in perspective with deer hunting, in the 1960’s, it was not uncommon to flush 10 or more deer during a quarter mile drive either. Today we can drive the woods for miles and not see one tail, all due to the over harvesting of our deer. I sure do miss being posted at the end mark of the drive. Hearing the crashing, panting and the smelling of the deer odor, as the heard advances and breaks through, watching and visually anticipating a legal Buck. A heard of twenty or so doe whiz by. My eyes squinting and watering, tears running down the cheeks from the extreme concentration, looking for that legal Buck to fill the tag, but no luck today. During the herd’s full stride through the timber, off in a distance, the adrenalin subsides; the eyes dry, and back to being cold becomes reality. What a story to tell the drivers, as they love to hear that they were successful. Oh I miss that adrenalin surge, but its gone for now. We can change all that, but only together.

As we continue forward we find ourselves with an ever decreasing deer population mixed with the ever-shrinking game lands. The deer are vanishing, just as the small game has done so. We sportsmen need to take notice as it is in our interest and duty to protect our heritage for the new generation of hunters.

We can continue to eradicate the deer by over harvesting or we can enter the world of preservation. Preservation starts with we hunters, “One and Done” regardless where you live.

I have yet to meet a hunter, who consumed all the venison from a single deer harvest in the same year. We sportsmen are not, I hope, harvesting deer just for the fun of it, but harvesting the deer because we enjoy venison, as a challenge for a needy cause and/or that we enjoy the sportsmanship.

Being 58 years old, i can relate to every part of this e-mail, under our old regulations taking one deer was success, now it seems that the number of deer one takes is the important thing, i was talking to a fellow at work the other day and he said he killed 6 deer in 04, what would a man with one wife and one child in college, do with all that deer meat??? As the email said small game use to be so abundant, not any more. I don’t know what the problem or answer is, all i know is there is a problem, i am tired of hearing the deer are out there, only smarter, why did it take them 2004 years to get smart to where we don’t see any anymore? I am already hearing of guys not buying hunting license, or not hunting deer this year. I believe as sportsmen in pa. we need to ban together, and speak out, or stop buying doe license, if things continue just seeing deer will be a successful hunt, taking one will be a blessing…

To address small game, I’m on the side of the bridge that believes the fewer numbers are less reflective towards hunters as it is towards the ever-increasing need for higher agricultural output. People got to eat so farmers got to feed them.

One and done sounds reasonable I guess. In diminished herds where the deer are few. Even so wouldn’t such things as not buying doe tags make the states management program kind of hard to hold? It’s like saying no, we don’t trust you in knowing what your doing. I imagine the state gets an overall view and then comes up with management plans, such as how many tags to issue over a given year and in what areas to issue them in. Like Doc said.

To alter their sourcing of data (not buying license or destroying license) will adversely affect the accuracy of their work and I would not support either of those ideas. If you feel strongly about not doe hunting, don’t. But allow them to do their job with tag allotments as a primary tool at monitoring population densities, reproductive rates and age class harvest.

Possibly uncontrollable circumstances like weather, disease or predication are more the culprit in a diminished herd than over hunting. I would also like to believe that if things get to the point where the numbers get so low the state would not issue any tags at all until the numbers are recovered.

Now then is that possible? Would a state take on that much conservation as to forfeit the revenue of an annual deer-hunting season? Would merchants be willing to forfeit a year’s profit on hunting supplies to give the herd a break and time to build? Just take a look at the World news section of this site, Hunters Give Shot In The Arm To Local Economies.

If it could ever be the possibility between economy and conservation then I wonder what side would win. This going back to no’ we don’t trust you, the state, in knowing what the right thing to do is.

I know I can ask some really dumb questions at times and I still have a lot to learn about deer and what not but doesn’t the state see this side of the issue also and do it’s very best to avoid such circumstances. Wouldn’t their management practices reflect this? Don’t they have a good estimate on the numbers of hunters and the number of deer that could be taken each year?

I don’t think they would cut their own throat would they?

If ya shoot it, then by God you better eat it. That, I agree in.

Well I can relate to Bowhunter and the guy who shoots 6 deer in a season for a couple of people but, I also know people who more-or-less live on venison for the year not because they cant afford beef but because they love venison and eat every bit of it.

Honestly. The email stated that the author had yet to meet a hunter, who consumed all the venison from a single deer harvest in the same year. That is not a lot of venison to consume in a full year at all and I would speculate that the number is actually relatively low given that a field dressed deer weighing 165 pounds will normally yield between 60 to 70 pounds of edible meat after factoring in any waste. Thats only eating 1 pound every 5 days and a deer weighing 165 after field dressing is not an average deer. Its fairly big.

I also remember seeing 10 to 20 deer during a drive of a relatively small parcel and back then I thought man, this is great. In reality that many deer in one small area can lead to problems such as in-breeding which has detrimental consequences on the herd in the long run. Doc is an expert in that area and should have some input on that subject and possibly some personal experiences.

We see the same thing here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in many areas. I went “all firearm season” without seeing a single deer yet there were over-the-counter doe tags left over that anyone could use for this very area. In fact I heard very few shots throughout the year and I am literally within walking distance of state land that is loaded with hunters. Yet I do know of isloated areas where friends were seeing 20 deer per evening and had their choice of bucks less than 30 minutes from here.

Get your doe permits and chuck them in the garbage is the general response we hear but hey, thats up to you and isnt going to help game management in the long-run. “One and Done” may sound good when the herd is low in numbers but, you still have to see that “One” deer and in the event that one deer is a doe, I’m going to have my doe permit ready.

I may not be from Pennsylvania but I have been talking about this same subject for years here. As I mentioned earlier when Jim Slinsky and I spoke on the phone it was shocking to see how similar the number 1 and number 2 states for generating hunter revenue were in their game management, or lack thereof as some would say, practices.

Doc Wild
Great dialog folks. It’s good to see opinions and participation. Here are a few considerations, however, to digest.

1) “One and Done” This theory has legs, as it was the way things were done for a very long time and the herds showed numerical prosperity. It also showed a declining genetic quality animal in many areas and even over population in select GMU’s. (Game Management Units). New complications are now at hand from those in 1960. There are a greater number of land-locks and liabilities to landowners that deter them from allowing open hunting on their lands. Those dynamics change annually with land acquisitions. More and more farm lands are converted to Industry or Housing or are laying untilled for pay by the Government. These issues change the Management strategies regualrly.

Additionally, the swing in ratio of Small Game to Big Game changes the dynamics of predator prosperity. This also shows a varying toll in populations.

2) “Tag Boycotting or Destruction” An example of how this process can be detrimental would be in a given year where many sportspersons were to “band” together and take a toll on the tag allotment and ultimately the harvest. Two situations could possibly arise. The following year, harvest quota’s would need to be skewed upward, as only a percentage of allocated license are expected to harvest and, lets say this year, there is no “movement” to boycott the license allowing a very high number of tags to get filled. Again, a huge slam to the overall population. The second possibility would be in the chance that persons carrying multiple tags harvest animals quickly and the Game Commission determine it is critical to end the season early (and we have seen this in other States) as to not decline the herds. Thus many people lose their opportunity to harvest even one animal in the process. (not that they would eat it all anyway, right? Whack)

There is a problem in Pennsylvania with the Deer herd. That is recognized and admitted. There are people in place and processes in place to fix the problem. These processes are going to require Regional attention and focus versus Statewide focus. No single technique is going to give a favorable global result
The result of Dr. Aults plan has shown spotty success in areas and desperation in other areas. The Commission has everything to gain in fixing the situation.

Bottom line, things have changed, continue to change and so must Wildlife Management. There will be wins and there will be loses. What matters, is what is learned and set as an example of what to do or not do.

This is not a time, in Pennsylvania, for taking matters into your own hands in ways other than your own Habitat Improvement initiatives. Organizations that publicly call people to duty with them for their own initiatives appear as radicals and lose their integrity with Governing entities, when these organizations actually have a great deal to offer, and harbor the truest of best intentions.

I receive articles from Jim Slinksy each week that are mainly used over at DeerFever but lo-and-behold this one pertains to this very subject and is posted below. It would seem that maybe the author also took the time to contact, or email, Jim with the original article.

I invited the author to discuss the problem here on an open forum and also informed him that we have a very “tied in” resource here with Doc but, even though the author has registered and visited he has yet to make a post. Sorry guys but I invited, and welcomed, any of his friends along as well to take part. All I can do is give the resource tool – cant make anyone use it. Honestly, if it were me trying to rally support or create a larger presence, I would make use of any respectable resource but then again, thats me.

Heres Jim’s Article:

One and Done

This writer wishes he could take credit for the latest deer management buzz, “one and done”, but he can not. Actually, I heard those words used months ago, originally directed at Governor Ed Rendell. Evidently, there is a growing group of disgruntled sportsmen laying the blame for our deer genocide on our present Governor. All I can say is things will certainly get ugly when you “awaken the sleeping giant”.

The statewide meetings sponsored by the Unified Sportsmen of PA have been nothing short of a smashing success. I am honored to be their guest speaker for these events. It was in York, the second meeting of the statewide blitz, that I explained the details of “one and done” in deer management. My emails have since exploded with agreement.

It was about 18 months ago when Mike Tonkovich, Deer Project Leader for Ohio was my radio show guest. From that interview, “Ohio Does It Better” became a column. I recall vividly discussing deer seasons and bag limits with Mike on air. “Our system is based on fairness. We don’t want a situation where one hunter tells us he didn’t see a deer and another hunter says he killed three” were Mike’s exact words. Thank you, Mr. Tonkovich.

The core of the Ohio system is a “one and done” philosophy. Hunters get a deer tag, not a buck or doe tag, but a deer tag with their license. Hunters get to choose whether they want to shoot the first doe they see or hold out for a buck. However, when you decide to release that arrow or pull that trigger, you are out of the woods and done for the season. There are problem areas and Ohio will provide a doe permit(s) in addition to the basic deer tag. We will need to do this as well, but hopefully it will be the exception and not the rule. With nearly a million hunters we still must be careful. We can over-harvest our herd even with a “one and done” paradigm.

Dismissing the happy talk, deer are not an infinite resource. They breed once a year and studies have proven lengthy gun seasons can bring them to extirpation. My hunch is we can harvest 300,000 to 400,000 deer per year and still have a consistent size herd to hunt every year. In other words, only about a third of our hunters will be successful each year. With that in mind, it is unacceptable to allow multiple kills by one hunter as the core of our system.

In the deer management game there are a few truisms you must come to understand. If you want to protect your buck herd and increase their survival for the next year, adopt “one and done” and give hunters a choice. If you want to protect your doe herd and don’t mind exploiting your buck herd, go back to our old system of 2 weeks for buck and 3 days for doe. If you want to annihilate your deer herd, then implement buck and doe concurrency and throw in some additional gun seasons and call it “extra opportunity.” I suppose you know where we are.

The Game Commission will read this and declare “one and done” will not provide high enough harvests to control the growth of our herd. Bullpucky. When there is the will there is a way. We have known for decades that hundreds of thousands of our hunters are quite satisfied killing a doe. This is a good thing, but we are going to stop them from killing multiple does. We need to build a new system based on fairness.

I will be very frank with you. The writer has no intention of supporting any license increase for the PGC without a fair and equitable deer management program. I don’t know a hunter who wants a deer behind every tree. That criticism is a flat-out cheap shot. Our hunters do want a reasonable, huntable population of deer with a sustainable harvest that will ensure participation by hunters young and old for generations to come. Deer management is not black magic or rocket science. If we can decide on the final product, a program to get us there can be developed.

If the powers to be do not heed our call, we should put “one and done” into action, ourselves. One term and done for Ed Rendell, one last month for Vern Ross, one last month for our Commissioners, one last month for Mike DeBernardinis and so on.

I’m confident you are getting my point. I truly hope they do.

I think the “one and done” is a good thing. It would certainly help the deer herd in Pennsylvania if the PGC would hgappen to use it. The many hunting season’s that we have like the JR. and SR. early doe hunt should be eliminated, also the late archery season. I know if these season’s would be taken out people would be highly upset, but it would help the deer herd. After a couple of years then we could put the early seasons back in. It’s only a sugestion, I guess anything that would help we should try. Doc what would your suggestion be?

I wrote this yesterday and thought I would post it in response to some of my One and Done comments. I then decided not to because I always get in the middle of a hissing contest. I read the comments today and thought why not, Sooo!

Vanishing Deer

We have all drawn our own conclusions on why the deer are vanishing, and we must all conclude that the over harvesting of the deer can only be the primary reason. We can blame the predators and the weather but it still remains that we hunters are the real cause of the deer heard being drastically reduced. We can point to reasons supporting the reduction of the deer heard, such as to many deer create genetically inferior deer, deer harm the big woods timber industry by browsing, deer cause excessive automobile insurance claims causing increased payment cost and, the deer eat our crops. There are so many pro and con’s to the problem that I believe we/all sides point out their favorite cause to support their own personal position. We all overlook the true reason of low deer count. To me, the root cause of low deer count is the over harvesting of our deer in PA and is caused by our deer management team’s desire to do so. The lower the deer count the less pressure on the management from the majority population. The sprawling population eliminated the small game sport in eastern PA and now threatens the deer season. We are victims of our own demise, evolution.

Our concerns must be the preservation of our deer as the time passes by very fast. Urban sprawl removes once sacred hunting areas. Developers find cheap acres in the Big Woods and build housing developments in our favorite areas and prohibit hunting. Families do not want us hunting in their back yards so we again loose our hunting areas. Preservation societies scream when deer control is used to reduce the heard in the suburbs. We can not win and I am sure in the years forward, hunting deer will be just like small game, a memory to us all unless changes are made now to increase the size of the public game lands and deer heard. We should dedicate the big woods as Outdoors Recreation and not allow any development without compliance with the outdoors policy, Hunting Permitted! Thats a long shot, but a thought!

In PA the hunters are only 8% of the population so we are at a severe disadvantage in getting support from our management team and the general population. We hunters need to make our voice heard and sometime it does take a threat of not purchasing doe licenses and other methods to gain attention to the problem, however I do favor a One and Done policy. If a hunter needs 5 licenses to enjoy venison, so be it, but only one harvest! One and Done may not be the best solution to places with too many deer such as Valley Forge and others, but this is a manageable problem that can be addressed by the local residents.

Yes we hunters are only 8% of the population but we contribute more dollars per capita to the well being of our state than any other organized group and we deserve consideration and space to enjoy our sport. Without we hunter’s taxes would surely rise for everyone uniformly, not a pleasant item we wish to hear about. If Eddy would be serious about a Greener PA, and would guarantee Outdoors Hunting space in the big woods areas and more deer, then I don’t believe the hunters would mind a surcharge increase in license fees to cover the purchase of additional game land.

Jim, I appreciate you stepping up to the plate with your response. I dont make claim for this to be the most valuable website on the internet by any means but it is respected and I’m happy to see you make use of the resource.

As you mention everyone will have a response as to “why” the deer are disappearing but I have a question for anyone here from Pennsylvania. Here in Michigan I have seen the herd sightings, for my area, decline each year to the point of which I mentioned before. No sightings for the entire 2 week firearms season. But with as much news as I cover every single day for the homepage here I see the same thing: Where are the deer in Pennsylvania. I never see any reference as to a diminishing herd from previous years.

As this doesnt seem like something that would happen in a single year, when has everyone noticed a decline in deer sightings or harvests? Should something have been done years ago or wasnt it at the extreme for anyone to take notice?

Thanks for your welcome; with this post I will now inhale for awhile.

Vanishing Deer 2

Yes the deer have been slowly on a decline in PA for at least 15 years or more. The deer count is now at an all time low. Because our hunting space is being limited and the deer count is low in the game lands our outcry has finally received some attention, thanks to USP and Jim Slinsky. It is hard to point out one single cause of the problem without disenfranchising some sportsmen. Lets take Skiing. Years ago the ski slopes were primarily used by the purist, two skis. Today the slopes are shared with a multitude of other navigation methods. Snowboarding has taken over the majority of the slopes because of the extreme navigation and fun. This leaves the purist with an ever-shrinking population. We certainly don’t want to eliminate any sport but we would also like the purist to continue to grow in numbers.

It is the same with deer hunting. Since the introduction of Bow and Muzzle loading seasons and the increase in doe harvest, the deer have begun to diminish in the Game lands. Along with those additional sports the population has been crowding out our sporting area. However in the suburbs the deer continue to multiply and become a nuance so we hear their complaints that there are to many deer and only now do we begin to hear the hunter’s complaints there are not enough deer. Yes there are to many in the suburbs but just come to the game lands and see if these lands are over populated, this will change anyone’s mind in a hurry. There are to few deer for the purist (old timers), and to entice the new generation to make the trip to the big woods.

I don’t believe we need to reduce the sport to the purest level only but we do need to be much smarter in how we expand our sports. In Skiing if the slopes get to crowded someone will purchase a mountain and open a new slope. This is great but also detrimental to the hunters. Since there is an overall ignorance of firearms in our society the population would rather see a Ski slope than a hunting club occupy the space. Maybe special zones and times for each hunting sport would revitalize the sport, not overlapping and not type of arms inclusive but limited to specific area, time and type. In any area only the designated type can be used, Rifle in R, Muzzleloader in M, and Bow in B areas. This I know would revitalize the deer heard and reduce the overpopulation of deer in the suburbs.

In PA we open new seasons and distribute deer permits to satisfy the cries of the special interest including the uninformed public. The bad rap Guns have received in the last 20 years makes it almost impossible for hunters to gain the support from the general public. Therefore the PGC tries to eliminate the deer and in my mind the sport as a whole. If there is no wildlife to hunt then why is there a need for Guns? We really need to protect our sport.

Doc Wild
Without the need to bring other recreational industries to point, we realize that you are experiencing the effect of over-harvest and in some areas overpopulation due to the absence of any available open lands to harvest animals. (Metropolitan areas).

Your agency elected to follow a Management plan that is now proving to have had areas of very limited success and areas of greater detriment.

The issue I find interesting is that the experience of not seeing Deer spans not only the public, but private sector. There are conclusions that can begin to be drawn from that.

I appreciate the position of organizations that want to get involved and believe that in many ways they have a great deal to add to fixing the problem. What I don’t support is unification to pressure Management objectives without a scientific basis for that position. Not only would that be reckless it would augment the already reckless actions that have been taken. Time has shown that the powers that be will ultimately follow the advice of their Managers, whom they pay to work with these issues every day. The position of the involved resource consumer will need to be one of working with the Biologists to fix the issues.

I believe a unified voice to demand holding public meetings and even regional meetings to evaluate true “at hand” issues in those locales is a definitely needed and should be expected. This way, all issues can be brought out, reviewed, discussed and plans of action can be initiated that are not blind-siding either party.

This interaction, if successful would allow for better direction of combined effort to the common cause. It would take patience on the part of some (Sportspersons), open-mindedness on the part of others (Wildlife Managers) and this can often be challenging. However it is the kind of “holding their feet to the fire” that needs to happen.

Just as an example of something that could be initiated would be: (and this is based on several year old personal information, from having been from that area)
There (previously) has been an imbalance of Deer in Alleghaney County, for example, for many years due to Urban sprawl and limited access. That situation could possibly be Managed with limited technique harvest (archery) and could provide a very valuable trophy management area for the Commission to set aside as a premier hunting area with the right landowner co-op’s in place. This would mean certain perks to the landowner in exchange for a degree of access to Hunters for trophy animals. This could become a “Trophy Management Area” that special permits could be placed in the hands of a group like USP to raffle or to auction for dollars to put back into Deer Management. This would help to create a binding effort with the two organizations. It could open possibilities for those who seek Trophy animals only and relax that drive statewide, which contributed to your problem at hand.

Perhaps this is already in place in some way, I have no idea looking at this issue from Denver. But I can see clearly that dragging down the process of getting things done with metaphors of skiing and speculations of consumption rates as well as a call to band to apply pressure that may ultimately be heard and disregarded, only to follow “plans in place” citing a lack of scientific substance.

Many of these idea’s (one and done, no doe, no hunting, no less than 3 points) all have some merit, but will need to be utilized in conjunction with Principals of Wildlife Management and Ecology. This can only be done with the buy in of people like Dr. Rosenberry and his Biology staff. If you choose to unify to address these issues, choose your “Voice” carefully. To accuse the PGC of trying to eliminate Hunting is, well, not reality based, and is implying their desire to eliminate themselves.

I am providing a link for review of what the PGC has initiated for your review. You can copy and paste it to your browser or find it directly at the PGC website. Is this an adequate start? If I were a consumer of the PGC, I may ask that question and ask it of my fellow members in my organization. I do find it interesting that the post date coincides with my call regarding their plans.


Still nobody with any input on when this problem began to show signs? This all of the sudden sprung up in 2004?

I could research previous harvests myself but since there are a number of concerned hunters from Pennsylvania I would think there would be some sort of numbers or observations available right here on the board.

Bowhunter wrote:

Why did it take them 2004 years to get smart to where we don’t see any anymore?

That seems to say that there was no problem, or at least not a big enough problem to get sportsmen concerned enough to do something, in 2003. Was there a record harvest, diseases in amongst the herd, etc, in 2003 that created the problem today? All I am saying is that a single year of hunting didnt create the damage you see today and if nothing was done in previous years then who is the blame.

Doc Wild
Great observation Fitter. Exactly what I would expect from the Admin. As you know, I cant speak to that one, but I remain here trying to do what we set out to do for the group. I do, however feel like I am repeating myself. Please let me know if I am being unclear. Would not want to be categorized as part of a movement to eliminate something I work so hard to promote.

I’m glad Jim Slinksy is involved. He will be an asset to their position.

The Hunters in PA are the eyes and ears on this one. Lets hear from ya.

As far as a decline, it started years ago, at least in the area which i hunt, public land, I have hunted the same ridge since 1976. From that time on up, i would say i started to notice a decline 5 years ago, give or take a year or 2. When bonus tags came out to take more than one doe, shooting on my ridge sounded like a war, each bow season I have seen fewer and fewer deer. The ridge I hunt this year was covered with acorns, mostly white, and they were there all fall, and they are still laying there to this day. In prior years I would find places where deer made a buffet out of the mast.

As most know our doe season went from 3 days to 2 weeks, that made a dent in the herd. I believe even with the use of the internet, and computers, there is now more knowledge, more people are talking just as we do here. Before there was only talk, word of mouth, an article in the paper, but now this subject is all around us in all forms of media.

As I believe i said, last bow season, i saw 3 doe 4 buck, and in rifle season i saw one doe.
My son and his father in law hunt out of a camp in huntington county, and saw little or nothing. Working at bass pro, i talked to fellows everyday about this problem, and hardly anyone saw deer last year, i know the numbers reported killed every year some how don’t go along with the problem, why that is I don’t know.

I spent a fair amount of time scouting my ridge, since 1976, i know this ridge like the back of my hand, the deer just are not there, if they are I don’t know where.

The bottom line is years ago I saw deer on my ridge all the time, scouting, just walking around, turkey hunting, now i see little to nothing. If there are lots of deer in pa, as the game commission where did they go? Or have we killed most of them off with our bonus tags. There are so many thoughts and opinions on this issue, i don’t believe it will be solved in the near future…

Dont get me wrong here. I am all for helping support my fellow outdoorsmen and women in any other state but, who was complaining, or taking a look at the future of the herd, when everyone seemed to be scoring on their buck or doe every year? I think the general response would be thats what our game managers are for so most people simply enjoyed the “times of plenty” or whatever label you’d like to hang there.

I dont see the entire scope of the problem because there are many different instances. Since this thread started I have received emails from other people in Pennsylvania who prefer not to join the forum with their own remarks. A lot of them are saying we “hear” about the problem in certain areas but where “we” hunt there are plenty of deer. Too many in fact. Their concern is also that a plan like “One and Done” will have an adverse affect for their future hunting and or quality of deer. Several others stated that they havent seen or noticed any increase or decrease but rather things in their area have been stable for years.

Thats the type of people we also need to hear from and have them voice their own concerns over game management laws for specific regions and units.

If you know anyone with a different side of the coin send them over. Hell, anyone for that matter. It’s a discussion between sportspersons that should be a concern for everyone in the state.

The Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania has organized a series of deer conferences for various locations throughout the state. All hunters are invited to attend. The objective is to discuss the state of deer management in PA. Syndicated radio-talk show host, syndicated columnist Jim Slinsky will be the guest speaker. Slinsky will take questions from the floor regarding deer management, forestry practices, predator problems, the commissioner system and the pending PGC license increase.

The fifth meeting is Friday, March 18 at the Club 1402, Comfort Hall Bingo, 1402 N. 9th Street, Reading, PA 19604. Doors open at 6 PM. The meeting will commence at 7 PM. For additional information contact Greg Levengood at 610-367-4232.

Reading, PA
Friday – March 18th. – 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:00 PM)
Club 1402 / Comfort Hall Bingo
1402 N. 9th St.
Reading, PA 19604

Erie, PA
Sunday – March 20th. – 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:00 PM)
Perry Highway Hose Company
Erie, PA

Coudersport, PA
Sunday – April 3rd. – 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:00 PM)
Coudersport Fire Company
Coudersport, PA

Nanticoke, PA
Thursday – April 7th – 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Auditorium 132 Educational Conference Center
Conference Center Building
Luzerne County Community College
1333 South Prospect Street
Nanticoke, PA 18634

New Stanton, PA
Sunday – April 10th. – 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:00 PM)
New Stanton Fire Company
New Stanton, PA

Huntingdon, PA
Sunday – April 24th. – 4:00 PM (doors open at 3:30 PM)
Smithfield Fire Company
Huntingdon, PA

Good news for Pa Whitetail hunters, the news paper has a big article titled “Commision Cuts Doe License”. They cut the 880,000 last year to 720,000 this year. This is a huge relief to our hunters. I know this will help the deer population alot. Thank you PA Game Commision, you made alot of hunters happy.

Have you noticed the lack of understory in the PA woods? When we have people managing our wildlife but NOT the resourse (habate) we have a very big problem.

For instance our hunting lands in potter county are all mature trees, you can get rifle shots up to 200 yards, in the 50’s & 60’s this was not possible, it is interesting to note Pa has a game commision a fish commision and a natural resource dept. Most state do all this in one dept. which has got to increase the communication across the different areas. After ww 2 you were only allowed to shoot 6 deer per camp even if you had 30 hunters! But we had habate!!! Hopefully we will get back to that point. PA grouse study confirms this, as we don’t have habate to support wild birds and small game!!

Doc Wild
Other than encroaching development, to what do you attribute the loss of habitat?

I guess I am trying to understand the point, and what I get from your posting is:

1) In the 50’s and 60’s we had a restriction on harvest quantity of deer per camp, and you wish we had that back.
2) During that time frame we had better Habitat for our Deer and Birds, and more under-story.
3) Now we have a decrease in grouse, due to under-story loss because too many organizations exist that do not communicate with each other well and none of them are managing the Habitat.

If I am getting the point that there is a decrease in the deer herd (noted) due to over harvesting, how is a lack of browsing and grazing reducing the habitat? If logging were suggested to open the canopy, would there be an outcry?

Too often there is a great deal of focus on what is wrong, and a lack of promotion to fix it. This is not reinventing the wheel. It’s Wildlife and Habitat Management. Problem is, would everyone be willing to give up what would be needed and roll up their sleeves and do the work to make it all right? Where is the leadership to identify and direct the initiatives?

Ecologically balancing would require: (based on your specific and brief description for your area)
1) More deer to balance nut crop production (curbing new hardwood and canopy growth through intake)
2) Opening the canopy. Either by natural mature forest die off and regeneration or manually.(controlled logging)
3) Allowing downed debris from the timber to create cover.
4) Promotion of grouse through a reduction of harvest
5) Controlled to limited access during molting and fawning.
6) Promotion of predator control (trapping, day and night hunting)
7) Pollution control in water sources. (everyone is down-river of someone)
8) Re-vegetation of extirpated berry-producing crops.
9) Buffer areas that allow natural movement and migration for bloodline interaction
10) The return of the very limited crop producing fields in your heavily forested area, that are paid to remain un-tilled.

The sports groups in Bedford County that spent their money on an independent fly-over survey, and now feel they are able to look at the Commission and say “I told you so”, have gained what? Was there any action on their findings? Negative Identifying an area and thoroughly canvassing the area with orange spray paint, marking every scat pile and later returning and counting new piles could have yielded a more accurate survey. The cost would have been in volunteer hours and a few dozen cans of paint. What did the fly-over gain? Buck to Doe ratio? Fawn count?, visual observation of animal health? Negative.

To what degree could have the funds, time and energy expended on that project done to further better management initiatives like the ones listed above?

Normally I am not particularly interested in resurrecting old forums posts but all the talk last year has not replicated in any form this year.

Whats happening here? How does the herd look? Any stats or comments?


  1. Brutor
    December 29, 2009    

    I’ve had it and I’m pissed off. My brother and I have been hunting the same land for 20 years. Every year between the two of us we would take a nice buck. For the last five years we haven’t seen a buck not to mention many doe either. I got sick and tired of watching “doe boys” slaughter pregnant deer mostly out of state hunters too. The PGC can shove their license up their A** They are deliberately reducing the herds down to a couple of deer per 5 sq miles. I believe the insurance industry has strong lobbyist greasing the palms of the PGC. Going into a Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops is a joke. There is no frontier left in Pennsylvania. THANKS FOR RUINING MY ONE TRUE LOVE…TROPHY HUNTING

  2. Kingstern
    January 1, 2010    

    Yeah me too. tehm damn pgc dudes are against us. seriously how stupid does that sound now. if you had any idea how difficult it would be to reduce the deer herd down to a couple deer per square mile u wouldnt be running ur mouth. pick up the pieces of ur shattered deer hunting existence on move where the herd is larger. i did it in penna when it seemed all was lost but then again i dont cliam to be a trophy hunter. ur comment seems more targeted at starting a fight than anything.