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!)
There is one tip I have learned over the years in hunting whitetails in late season snow. Do not overlook soybeans left standing on the edges of fence rows, woods, creeks, buildings wherever it might be, this is where the deer will be while the food lasts during late season. December/January will pull deer in from some distance away to feed on the easy to get to food.
I killed one of my nicest bucks off of a very small patch of soybeans that was left after rains created a...