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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First, let me begin by saying I can respect most anyones post that is based on their own experiences afield, or any post that seems to have been given some semblance of thought.

I have been reading many of the no more deer posts, and it has caused me to think... I base what i am about to write based on my own experiences, and the rest is just thought - I cant prove it, i only believe it to be true.

I have been hunting 2A and 2B since 1992. Over those years, I have changed as a hunter, and also seen changes in other hunters. I notice each year when I take my rifle afield, I see fewer deer.... than I do during archery season.

I believe something that has accounted for many of the NO deer posts are from folks who choose to hunt rifle? There are more archers than there were in 1992. Archery equipment is better than it was in 1992. Generally speaking, I believe overall there are fewer people hunting - kids have alternative activities. During rifle, we count on others to move deer. More folks are successful during archery than 1992? less deer will be in the woods come archery time. Less hunters = less pressure.

Urban sprawl has pushed deer from what used to be habitats - I know of several places i used to hunt that are now developed. Less land available = fewer hunting opportunities.

I think there have been effects not related to some greater conspiracy of the PGC at work here. I believe they do the best they can, but they cant control the changes to hunting that i described above.

So what can we do, take up archery, find more private land to hunt, take advantage of state game lands, travel to other areas of the state to hunt, change your tactics, take a youth hunting.... I think instead of constantly looking for someone else to provide the answer, we can find it on our own...

I hunt bear, there are none in Washington COunty, well, not enough for me to hunt. So i head to the mountains. Some years i dont see any, this year i missed one due to bear fever. Regardless, just as with deer, I have an opportunity to go bear hunting, I just need to fine tune my approach.

Finally, while taking a buck does put the icing on the cake, the hunt is the reason for me to continue to go afield. its the overall experience, the anticipation, the possibility, the woods, the birds, the sounds and smells... I hope you folks enjoy it as much as I do...

And finally, I wish everyone a happy new year, and a safe year of hunting....
 

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I enjoy the woods 365 days a year, I live in the woods. However, as much as I enjoy it I realize that what I am seeing first hand and what I hear from the overwhelming majority of hunters simply cannot be ignored. I love the woods and the hunting too much to cover my eyes and pretend there isnt a problem.

It doesnt stop me from hunting turkeys, archery hunting, traveling to other states to hunt, camping, fishing remote streams and lakes...

I buy a license to hunt animals and not have remorse about shooting them. The old.. I saw one deer and killed it will never come out of my mouth because if I see one deer I certainly am not going to kill it. Sounds counter productive right but I base my decision on being in the woods all year long, not rifle season, I dont even really care for it, I would love it if it was more like archery season and less forced movement.

The answer isnt to go somewhere else or pretend that all is well when it isnt. The answer is to look for reasons why and try to find people with enough common thoughts on whats happening to fix it, not continue down the same dirt road.
 

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jlh42581 said:
I enjoy the woods 365 days a year, I live in the woods. However, as much as I enjoy it I realize that what I am seeing first hand and what I hear from the overwhelming majority of hunters simply cannot be ignored. I love the woods and the hunting too much to cover my eyes and pretend there isnt a problem.

It doesnt stop me from hunting turkeys, archery hunting, traveling to other states to hunt, camping, fishing remote streams and lakes...

I buy a license to hunt animals and not have remorse about shooting them. The old.. I saw one deer and killed it will never come out of my mouth because if I see one deer I certainly am not going to kill it. Sounds counter productive right but I base my decision on being in the woods all year long, not rifle season, I dont even really care for it, I would love it if it was more like archery season and less forced movement.

The answer isnt to go somewhere else or pretend that all is well when it isnt. The answer is to look for reasons why and try to find people with enough common thoughts on whats happening to fix it, not continue down the same dirt road.
Fix what?
 

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jlh42581 said:
I enjoy the woods 365 days a year, I live in the woods. However, as much as I enjoy it I realize that what I am seeing first hand and what I hear from the overwhelming majority of hunters simply cannot be ignored. I love the woods and the hunting too much to cover my eyes and pretend there isnt a problem.

It doesnt stop me from hunting turkeys, archery hunting, traveling to other states to hunt, camping, fishing remote streams and lakes...

I buy a license to hunt animals and not have remorse about shooting them. The old.. I saw one deer and killed it will never come out of my mouth because if I see one deer I certainly am not going to kill it. Sounds counter productive right but I base my decision on being in the woods all year long, not rifle season, I dont even really care for it, I would love it if it was more like archery season and less forced movement.

The answer isnt to go somewhere else or pretend that all is well when it isnt. The answer is to look for reasons why and try to find people with enough common thoughts on whats happening to fix it, not continue down the same dirt road.
There isn’t anything wrong with road most of us or that deer management are on.

I also agree with the original post in that deer are there in archery season then sort of disappear or at least get hard to find in gun season. But, now that it is flintlock season, the hunters are once again out of the woods and there is some snow on the ground as of today I am once again finding a lot of deer sign. Now if I can just get close enough to one of them to get a shot.

I also keep records of all my deer hunting hours, sightings of both deer and hunters and also my harvests. Here is that record for so far this year.

Season………..hours………..deer seen………….hunters seen…………deer harvested
Archery……….34.0………….23……………………0…………….2 (both DMAP
Early MZ……..22.5…………..6……………………..7…………….1 (DMAP)
Reg. Gun……..54.0…………..10…………………….8…………….2 (buck & a DMAP)
Flintlock………15.0…………..3……………………..0…………….0

I still have two antlerless licenses (one for each 2F and 2G) and two more DMAP tags so I do kind of expect to harvest another deer or two yet even though most hunters have decided there isn’t anything or reason to continue hunting.

To further support the original post I will add that in 2003 only 22.6% of the buck harvest and 21.3% of the antlerless harvest occurred in seasons other than the regular firearms season. By 2011 those percentages had increased to 32.3% of the buck harvest and 32.8% of the antlerless harvest occurred in seasons other than the firearms season. Those statistics suggest that more and more hunters are harvesting their deer before the gun hunters ever get out in the field.

Dick Bodenhorn
 

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I beg to differ on whether a hunter should be happy with the current deer management "road".

According to Dick's stats, the fact that you've only seen 42 deer all season yet you harvested 4 antlerless and one buck illustrates the problem with PA's declining deer population and exodus of hunters. If you think your area is "overpopulated" and requires that level of harvest to maintain healthy deer, then according to your stats you're not doing a very good job finding them.

Just so everyone on here has some perspective from other areas, below are my stats from North Carolina this season where I now reside:

Total days hunted: 12 half days (either morning or evening) and 2 full days (if I had to convert it to hours it would probably be around 60 hours).
Total deer seen: 162 (2.7 / hour hunted)
Total deer harvested: 2 (one buck, one doe)
% of deer seen that I harvested: 1.2%
Total deer I could legally harvest: 6

Per Dick's stats, he saw 42 deer in about 125 hours, or about 0.34 deer per hour hunted (about 12% of the action I saw). Yet he chose to kill 5 deer, 2.5 times more than me, or 12% of what he saw - a 10X difference of deer sightings / per deer killings. Perhaps that has just a small bit to do with the very low deer sightings per hour of hunter effort???? Or are you going to assume that all of the deer I'm seeing are starving and on the verge of a population crash?

I could go ahead and kill 4 more deer if I wanted, but I actually like to see deer each season in the area I hunt so I just shoot what I know I will use.

I grew up in PA and hunted there for almost 30 years - still travel up to hunt a few days per year. I've also hunted many areas in PA including Huntingdon, York, Fayette, Centre, Cameron, Potter, Sullivan, Luzerne, Tioga, Columbia, and Cumberland counties. It's crazy what PA is doing with their doe harvest, unlike many other states, there's just too many hunters in PA for everyone to be able to take a doe. The end result is a much lower deer population, far below the carrying capacity of the land. Show me someone who has more than anecdotal evidence about the relative "health" of their deer compared to during the heyday. I shot some very fat healthy deer in the 90's during both archery and rifle season. I don't recall any catastrophic winter kills that ever seemed to dent the population, which would be the hallmark of overpopulated range. Now you have a situation where the hunters shoot a very high percentage of the deer they see because they legally can, and because a lot of them want their venison for the year which I can't argue with. The problem is it's the state that is issuing the tags to these hunters.

Many other states want to get their deer populations "under control" but when you look at the stats of number of hunters versus a given state's deer population, PA stands by itself with close to a 1/1 ratio. Most other states have 4/1, 5/1, or more deer per hunter. You can have liberal bag limits with those kinds of numbers and you still won't hardly dent the population.

You guys aren't crazy when you think something might be a little "off" with PA deer management.
 

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That was a great post mirage.

I think they increase in the number of archery hunters is causing the deer to be very nervous by the time rifle comes around. Extended bear season and muzzleloader also hurt. Most people are probably moving to those seasons because of dissatisfaction with rifle. According to my sightings and trail cams the deer are almost entirely nocturnal before rifle starts.

Deer don't move when there is too much food per deer. They don't have have to. The amount of food is not that much less than it ever was but each deer now has a lot more to eat so it lives in a smaller area without searching.
 

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The deer never volunteered to get harvested. My non hunting relative saw seven deer in her PA backyard this week.
Some hunters always ready themselves for a domino tournament.
 

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I killed all my deer in October this year. Have had tough hunting ever since. It does seem like the guys who just rifle hunted this year did not have much success. I usually get together with friends and make deer bologna but we don't have to do that this year since they didn't kill anything. I think archery and early mz are the times to put meat in the freezer but it takes more time than most people have.

When I started hunting back in 1976, we would stack them up in a day of doe hunting or maybe two. It wasn't unusual to kill ten deer in a day and now we don't get that many in a season. That was efficiency and the folks that hunted a day or two had about the same odds as the "experts". All that is different now. It is harder for a casual hunter to bumble into deer. I prove that most days I hunt. Ten years ago, I never knew anything about hunting the wind, staging areas, or feeding areas. We just stomped around in the woods driving deer around and shooting them.

Today, many people aren't willing to put 100 hours plus into hunting every year just to kill a deer (or two) and I don't really blame them. So they either hunt a few days and enjoy the outdoors and fellowship with other hunters or they give it up. That will be PA deer hunting for probably the rest of the time most of us have to enjoy it. I don't think it will change much so people might as well adapt to spend more time and effort, accept it for what it is, or find another hobby.
 

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rockyDD said:
I think they increase in the number of archery hunters is causing the deer to be very nervous by the time rifle comes around. Extended bear season and muzzleloader also hurt. Most people are probably moving to those seasons because of dissatisfaction with rifle. According to my sightings and trail cams the deer are almost entirely nocturnal before rifle starts.

Deer don't move when there is too much food per deer. They don't have have to. The amount of food is not that much less than it ever was but each deer now has a lot more to eat so it lives in a smaller area without searching.
Just to add that we are stil below historical highs as far as archery participants. What has changed is that there is a trend here in pa that mirrors stats from across the country that those that particpate in archery hunting seasons are hunting more hours while those that particpate in firearms seasons are hunting less hours.
 

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R. S. B. said:
To further support the original post I will add that in 2003 only 22.6% of the buck harvest and 21.3% of the antlerless harvest occurred in seasons other than the regular firearms season. By 2011 those percentages had increased to 32.3% of the buck harvest and 32.8% of the antlerless harvest occurred in seasons other than the firearms season. Those statistics suggest that more and more hunters are harvesting their deer before the gun hunters ever get out in the field.
Dick Bodenhorn
The above is true but want to point out that participation in firearms seasons has plumetted. We now have about 750,000 folks that say they deer hunt. Of those, almost 300,000 archery hunt(which is still below historical highs). Most archers also gun hunt if they still have tags so in essence, when the "gun hunters" take to the woods, just about 40% are also archery hunters. Soon, we will be at a 50/50 split if rifle participation continues to plummet so the great majority that the rifle crowd once has is just about gone and so is their share of the harvest as the trends point out. Less particpation equals less of the percentage of the harvest along with less deer movement. BTW, those trends have been occuring for a long time.

I feel that when there is a discussion about where the harvests are occuring, it also needs to include how many hunters are actually hunting each of those seasons and for how many particpation hours. I hear too often the phrase "gun hunters" when we are referring to those that particpate in firearms seasons. The fact is that this is not a exclusive season whose particpants only hunt deer with firearms. Many "gun hunters" have many deer interests outside of firearms seasons. We have far less gun only deer hunters than we used to and those that are still in the game hunt less hours.

I often see that some feel our gun hunters are getting a raw deal becuase of harvest shifts. I gun hunt to but the facts only show and support what we know which is far less exclusively gun hunt which is why we are seeing what we are seeing in these trends. If our ranks of gun only hunters rose again to historic levels, and the hunted as many hours as before, the harvest shifts would begin to recede.
 

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And regarding the OP post. No doubt that lack of pressure during rifle seasons has resulted in less deer seen for many. But, with that said, I can sympathize with those that have seen their deer hunting experience go downhill in big ways. Especially those hunting many of our areas of public land. Some remain pretty good, some not so good.

I am fortunate that I have some good private lands at the moment to hunt. I realize that I could lose all of them tomorrow as well.

There is no doubt in my mind that HR has gone to far as a whole. I support the need and the plan, but I wonder more every year if we will ever see the deer herd begin to rise again as was promised when the habitat recovers. We are at the decade point already.
 

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A lot of the archery growth is the PGC pushing hunting in the urban/suburban areas through long seasons, liberal tag numbers, crossbows, etc.
In rural PA, archery is not as big. It is still a factor. But, not on the scale of the urban areas.
 

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TusseyMtMan said:
A lot of the archery growth is the PGC pushing hunting in the urban/suburban areas through long seasons, liberal tag numbers, crossbows, etc.
In rural PA, archery is not as big. It is still a factor. But, not on the scale of the urban areas.
I would agree but the same can also be said for these areas for firearms seasons. High hunter densities, almost unlimited tags, semi suto slug guns and long seasons.
 

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I can drive through the local sgl any evening in archery and never see more than 6-8 cars parked. First day and first Sat of rifle, 50+. The big woods areas are hard to bowhunt. I'm sure some really dedicated, skilled guys can do it. But, most can't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I might also suggest that i believe that predation has increased and that has had an effect on the deer herd. This year, I managed to fill my by buck tag and one doe tag in early October. I had a doe tag and continued to hunt. Not as hard as I may have if I were still seeking a buck, but i was still out there regularly. I was out throughout regular firearm season, same areas I hunted archery, and I struggled to find a good shot at a doe. I did see a couple of good bucks during firearm season.

In the trail camera forum on this sight, I read posts about folks who put there cameras back out after firearms season. This is my first year owning a trail camera, I always thought it was a lazy way of scouting. But i have had as much fun checking my camera as i have hunting. Anyway, I have seen several bucks after the season ended that i never saw either on camera or in person...

I have enjoyed reading the thoughts of everyone....
 

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As a deer hunter, it always bothers me when someone says that there is a majority of "gun only" deer hunters. The deer seasons are set for all of us, it's your choice to hunt one or all.

In my opinion you can say that there is a majority of "gun only hunters" who hunt other game AND deer, but the majority of "deer hunters" hunt deer in more than one season.
 

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To the OP, well stated! There is nothing to fix but the whining. You wanna see that many deer, buy large lots of land and post it, then shoot nothing and spend all your time trying to keep the PA trepassers out. Can't afford it, welcome to the middle class - me neither. Being a science major (forestry and soils) and a old farm boy to boot, with an inherent "Why?" or "Why not?" attitude to everything, and a love of just being out there enjoying nature with occasionally wanting some meat for the table, I think PA, and now some other states, is at the forefront of sustainable populations for all uses. Perfect?? No, but we'll never have that according to most, and we have less crop damage this way, less residential landscape damage this way, less car wrecks/costs/lives wrecked/lives lost from auto accidents with deer, etc., etc., all of which occur ALL year, when our RECREATIONAL hunting of deer can only take place for a small portion of the same year. We hunters are tools of management, not per se customers of the PGC with market demands to be made in a market place that we control - the rest of PA is affected by the deer herds too. If we don't produce desirable results acceptable to the other 11 million PA citizens, we will be replaced - note what happened in Gettysburg Nat'l Park, not apples to apples, but anti's are pushing for those types of solutions while trying to eliminate ANY harvesting of animals.

I feel blessed that I have opportunities to hunt deer in 3 months worth of seasons in PA, with more of an abundance of State public land than almost any other state, Eastern states especially, and can easily increase that hunting time by taking part in the special reg's seasons if I chose. Seeing deer is not a problem; if it is, MOVE your butt! Cleanly harvesting them with my longbow is tho!!! But there's the challenge I love - not for everyone. If I'm not seeing deer today, I come back tomorrow - if I've done my scouting, and nothings changed since then (are you ever truly done scouting??), they will come. If not, I scout more and move. If you need to see many deer in a day to satisfy your "success" meter, you need to change your attitude and/or your stand location. If other states are more to your liking, and a little more of a "zoo" for your viewing pleasure, go there. The one thing I see in PA constantly, to my chagrin, is other hunters and evidence of them out there. Them I can't scout till deer season.
 

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Kioti,
60% of deer hunters only hunt deer with a gun, 40% of deer hunters hunt with bow and gun. A majority of deer hunter only gun hunt for deer. Most deer hunters do not hunt for other game, however most hunters who persue other game also hunt deer if that makes sense.
 
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