So, this brings me to my question that I've been wanting to ask the HuntingPA membership: What percentage of the deer present in the area you hunt, do you think you actually see while hunting?
Depends on a number of factors as to how many deer I see when hunting, as a percentage of how many are actually in the area.
While in the woods, a small percentage, because I no longer cover as much ground as I once could.
Driving around on summer evenings when deer come out to feed, or spotlighting in the fall: A much higher percentage. Having hunted the same area for over 50 years, pretty much know where to see deer at those times.
Plus I've kept track of deer seen under those
conditions for the past 35 years, on exactly the same routes, so I have a constant baseline to "guess" at deer populations in my area.
Have gone from 120-130 deer seen on good evenings in the late 90s, to a low of around 60 to 70 in the years immediately after HR came about. Now back up to 80-90 again, on the "best" evenings, which is about how many we might've seen in the mid-1980s.
Given that the route covers roughly 2 square miles on average, that's a pretty good indication of how many deer are around, based on the assumption that while we've seen quite a few deer out, we haven't seen 'em all.
Also tend to spend time driving around and glassing areas where I know deer tend to gather at various times of the year, so that also gives a good idea of how many deer are around. It's also allowed me to see newborn fawns in the spring and bucks with decent antlers coming, in the summers.
While glassing during deer seasons, I have seen hunters walk close to bedded deer and never see them, when those deer held tight. Have also seen deer run far ahead of drivers, circle around and often come right back to where they were, without having given drivers a glimpse of them.
In both cases, those hunters would've had the impression that there were no or few deer there, without having known what had actually been the case.
My opinion, is that many hunters never really have much of a clue, as to how many deer are really around. If I've seen tracks, evidence of browsing, pellets, rubs and scrapes, then I know there are deer in the area. Whether I get to see many of them, is often another story.