Pennsylvania Rifle Deer Season Begins December 2nd
Part of a letter I wrote the PA Game Commision Regional Office.
I am excited about our state's effort to improve the quality of our deer herd. I strongly support the antler restrictions. It's a start! However, perhaps we have not gone far enough.
At the age of thirty-eight, I have seen changes in the local deer herd and changes in the attitudes of the hunters. Just outside of Emporium, I maintain and hunt on the same land my grandfather was born and raised on some 86 years ago. True, the forest 50 years ago is different from that of today. The forest was dense with high brush just taller than the deer my grandfather told me. However in my area, there is no doubt that total deer numbers are far less than those of ONLY 25 years ago. In the 70's it was common to see herds with 25 deer running together. Now, at the very best, I have seen only ten. (Half of which are yearlings!) More often than not, it is simple family groups of one doe and her fawns.
I gather as much information as I can on all the deer taken out of my valley. I am startled at the number of small deer taken each year. The game commission states that in some areas "90 percent" of the bucks are shot every year and the average age of bucks is under 3 years old. In my quarter of a century I have seen, shot and joked about the small "Pennsylvania racks" on our deer. (Who in his right mind would seriously want to come to Pennsylvania to bag a trophy.) Sorry, I know you have heard this over and over again.
So, where am I going with this? Any major decisions anyone person makes in life should be based on INFORMATION. Whether the decision is to merry the woman of our dreams, have a baby, buy a new house or go to war, we all need quality information. In the case of our deer herd, we/you still need MORE INFORMATION. I seriously doubt that every hunter turns in a report card. (And there is nothing to it! Actually, we don't ask enough questions.) So, if you are a true sportsman and managers of our overall deer herd, why not get and give all the information you possibly can? We have bear and elk check stations. We should have deer check stations for our deer.
We have fewer deer in my area. FACT. Everyone around here last year and this spring talked about the tons and tons of acorns. Thus, maybe the hunters got fewer deer, but the racks I saw were "thicker" overall than usual. (By the way, this past season I shot the biggest deer of my life. A nice eight pointer!) From everything I read, the quality of the herd is based mainly on FOOD. There were no acorns this Fall. AND, we let all those deer that we "just" shot in the last 2 weeks eat the food…all Fall…that the remaining deer could be eating for the next 3 months! Maybe if the season were earlier, we could thin the herd sooner and leave more food for the rest. The decisions and information concerning the deer herd in Cameron County is much different than…..lets say Allegheny County. (Even the weather is very different!)
Jim Zumbo, Craig Boddington, Ron Spomer and Wayne Van Zwoll are all solid contributers to the modern hunting literature. Through their gifts (both hunting and writing) they make us better hunters. Whether it is letting us learn from their mistakes or by teaching us new techniques,they help us harvest more game. But I suggest looking to the oldies, the fathers of the outdoor writing craft, to learn tricks that you might have not used.
I chose to shoot the 270 winchester because I grew up...