GAME COMMISSION PROVIDES WHITE-TAILED DEER FORECAST

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Release #88-01
Oct. 10, 2001
For Information Contact:
Jerry Feaser
717-705-6541 (ext. 3106)
PGCNEWS@state.pa.us

GAME COMMISSION PROVIDES WHITE-TAILED DEER FORECAST
HARRISBURG -- Hunting in Pennsylvania in the upcoming deer seasons is going
to be quite an experience for all involved. Never before have so many
hunters had so many opportunities to take a deer in the Commonwealth during
a single license year. Before archers entered the woods this fall, the
Pennsylvania Game Commission estimates the state's deer population to number
about 1.5 million, which is the same as last year at the start of seasons.

"This year, we're expecting an even larger harvest than the 504,600 deer we
took in 2000," said Dr. Gary Alt, agency Deer Management Section supervisor.
"The 2000 harvest - large as it was - only stabilized our population. This
year, with the increasingly progressive package of seasons established by
the agency's Board of Game Commissioners, the harvest should be larger. That
increase should come - despite a reduction in the allocation of antlerless
deer licenses - because of regulatory changes that increase the number of
antlerless deer a properly licensed hunter may take, and because of new and
expanded hunting seasons."

Although he believes the deer population statewide is similar to last
year's, Dr. Alt said that the number of deer hunters seen afield may vary
locally from last year. The availability of fall foods may play a large role
in this. So, too, could hunter distribution.

"We're looking to balance the statewide deer population with its habitat,"
Alt said. "To stay on course, hunters must take more than 500,000 deer.
Anything less will limit, and possibly stall, our efforts to do that. We
must remain committed to taking antlerless deer out of the population if we
ever hope to balance the buck-to-doe ratio, and balance the herd with its
available habitat. The health of our deer herd and our forests is at stake
here. Both need our immediate attention. To procrastinate and do anything
less than what is required would be irresponsible.

"That being said, hunters should find excellent deer hunting in the
Commonwealth this year.  Field reports have been supporting our preseason
population projection. Many Wildlife Conservation Officers, foresters and
hunters are reporting there are large numbers of deer afield. Some are
saying there are more deer now than what there were last year in their
areas."

Alt said that the first day of  the combined buck/doe deer firearms season
this year will really be something different for Pennsylvania hunters.  And,
unless weather impacts the opening day, hunters are going to make a
significant step toward the agency's management goals.

"Deer should move more," Alt said.  "Hunters should have increased
opportunity. And our deer program will make much needed progress."

It is hoped that concurrent buck/doe hunting will sway some hunters to shoot
an adult doe before taking a small buck, giving that young buck a chance to
mature and grow larger antlers. The thinking is that the harvested
antlerless deer will satisfy a hunter's desire to put some venison in the
freezer and will compel them to be a more selective buck hunter. With meat
in the freezer, a hunter hopefully will hold out for a bigger buck, instead
of taking a spike or "Y."

"What we're recommending is a precursor to regulated antler restrictions,"
Alt explained. "It's a voluntary approach hunters can use to help make a
difference in their hunting areas. I understand that one hunter's passing on
a small buck doesn't mean the next hunter who sees it will, too. It's a
personal decision. But every hunter should recognize that his or her
individual actions shape the future of the local deer population. If you'd
like to see bigger bucks, then you should shoot does and you must pass on
small bucks."

Field reports from across the state offer an in-depth view of what's
happening with whitetails. An overwhelming number of agency Wildlife
Conservation Officers, Land Management Officers and Foresters believe local
deer population will provide excellent hunting opportunities. Some believe
their population is bulging and note that hunter access is hurting efforts
to effectively manage it. Some also report that hunting on public lands,
particularly in the Poconos and southeastern counties, is becoming congested
and the crowds are pushing to adjacent private property.

Following is a region-by-region overview of white-tailed deer information
provided by agency field personnel. It includes observations about bucks and
insights about local deer populations, how-to-hunt, where-to-go, and past
harvest information.

Northwest Region - The region posted its highest-ever buck harvest last year
with 36,571, up from 1999's, 33,999. Top buck counties were Crawford with
5,174; Butler, 5,040; Warren, 4,679; Venango, 4,442; and Jefferson, 3,826.
The antlerless harvest last year also was the region's best ever, 61,706, up
from last year's 34,827. Top antlerless counties were Crawford, 8,980;
Warren, 8,202; Butler, 7,293; Venango, 6,771; and Erie, 6,541. In Jefferson
County, WCO Roger Hartless said, "I can't remember a year when so many
hunters have told me of all the nice bucks they've been seeing. And judging
from what I've been seeing, I'd say that I agree!" Crawford County WCO Mark
Allegro said, "The quality of deer in this area has to rank as some of the
best in the Commonwealth. Concentrate on thickets, primarily around farms."
In Erie County, WCO Darin Clark suggested, "Archers may want to check with
the Corry City Police about hunting in and around the city. Corry has
developed a real deer problem. Meade Park and the Airport are two areas that
need the deer herd thinned. Both can be hunted, and information about exact
locations can be obtained from the police." In Forest and Warren counties,
Land Management Officer George Miller said, "Hunters should try the deep
woods or swamps after the first day or two for their best chances at bagging
a deer." Butler County WCO Mario Piccirilli said, "More deer and bigger
deer! Southern Butler County abounds with deer in all 12 townships." Warren
County WCO Dave Donachy said, "Deer populations are lower than they have
been in the easy-access areas. Hunters willing to go that extra mile will be
successful on the east shore of the Allegheny Reservoir near Tracy Ridge."
Lawrence County WCO Jeff Kendall reported, "I have seen many bucks this
summer, but not as many 'big ones' as I have in the past." Venango County
WCO Matt Teehan said, "Hunters should try SGL 39, it's got too many deer."

Southwest Region - The region established a new record for buck harvest
statewide with a harvest of 43,610, up from its 1999 buck harvest of 39,117.
The region's 2000 buck harvest tops a previous high of 40,187 set in 1988 by
the Northcentral Region. Top buck counties were Washington with 6,495;
Westmoreland, 6,322; Indiana, 5,139; Somerset, 4,868; and Armstrong, 4,495.
The Southwest also posted the state's best antlerless harvest with 62,688,
up from 1999's 44,298. The best antlerless harvest counties were
Westmoreland, 8,732; Washington, 8,290; Armstrong, 7,116; Greene, 6,822; and
Indiana, 6,515. The region has led all others in deer harvest statistics for
some time. Its antlerless harvest alone over the past two years totaled more
than 100,000, that's equivalent to more than half of the state's overall
antlerless harvest in four of the past five years. In Cambria County, WCO
Shawn Harshaw said, "The combined season should produce more pressure
allowing hunters to see more deer." WCO Rod Burns said, "Once again, you
can't go wrong if you choose Greene County for your deer hunting. I am
seeing high numbers of deer, with many nice antlered bucks feeding in
fields." In Fayette County, WCO Charlie May reported, "Deer numbers are high
and some good quality bucks are being seen." Indiana County WCO Pat Snickles
said, "Deer populations remain high throughout the county, especially in
some of the agricultural areas." WCO Tom Fazi said, "Westmoreland County
will continue to be one of the premier deer hunting counties in the state
again this year." In Washington County, WCO Frank Leichtenberger said, "Try
hunting private land, after receiving permission. There are very few farmers
who will not welcome a deer hunter. But please ask permission first!" In
Allegheny, Beaver, Greene and Washington counties, Land Management Officer
Doug Dunkerley said, "Deer are numerous and they are big! I've seen more and
bigger bucks this year than any time since I've been here. Most hunters echo
this fact and are anticipating a great season." Field officers and foresters
recommend the following State Games Lands for hunting: SGLs 42, 51; 79; 153;
179; 203; 223; 276; and 296.

Northcentral Region - After increasing for two years, the region's buck
harvest slipped in 2000. Last year, hunters took 36,675 bucks, down from
1999's 37,617. The region still posted the state's second best buck harvest.
Top buck harvest counties were Clearfield, 6,202; Tioga, 5,008; Centre,
4,955; Potter, 4,660; and Lycoming, 4,370. The region's antlerless harvest
was 48,890. In 1999, the antlerless harvest totaled 28,451. Top antlerless
harvest counties were Clearfield, 7,755; Tioga, 7,668; McKean, 7,098;
Centre, 6,658; and Potter, 6,409. In Clearfield County, WCO Dave Carlini
said, "Deer hunters will be very happy with the amount of deer and the size
of the racks bucks are sporting." WCO Chris Ivicic was more to the point.
"One should expect to harvest a deer this year in Clearfield County," he
said. Clinton County WCO John Wasserman reported, "The deer population has
been on the rise here for several years due to reduced antlerless license
allocations. Mild winters and good mast crops have helped both reproduction
and antler growth." In Elk County, WCO Doty McDowell said, "The amount of
large bucks seems to on the increase." In Potter County, WCO Bill Ragosta
said, "There are literally deer everywhere. Bucks are being seen everywhere,
but I've not personally seen many trophies." McKean County WCO Tom Sabolcik
said, "Deer numbers are somewhat higher than the last few years with nice
bucks being reported. Naturally, hunters will not tell you where the really
big ones are, but they do let me know that they are out there." Tioga County
WCO Rich Shire said, "The deer are here and in good numbers. Deer hunting
will be good on public lands and excellent on private lands. Townships that
border New York state have especially high numbers of deer." Centre County
WCO Terry Wills said, "High densities in Brush, George's and Penns Valley
this year have affected many area farmers who would be glad to have
hunters." In McKean and Elk counties, Land Management Officer John Dzemyan
reported, "Deer supplies in both counties are at levels as high as last year
or a bit higher. Big racks are scattered in a few spots where habitat feeds
and hides them." Field officers and foresters recommend hunters try the
following areas for deer hunting: SGLs 14; 25; 28; 30; 59; 75; and 176; and
Centre County's Bald Eagle Valley.

Southcentral Region - The region's buck harvest dropped slightly last year,
but 27,555 was still the second best ever for the Southcentral. In 1999, the
buck harvest was 28,002. Top buck harvest counties were Huntingdon, 4,999;
Bedford, 4,934; Blair, 2,732; Perry, 2,621; and Franklin, 2,507. The
region's antlerless harvest more than doubled from 1999 (21,824) to 2000
(45,049). Top antlerless harvest counties were Bedford, 8,566; Huntingdon,
8,394; Perry, 4,798; Blair, 4,361; and Fulton, 3,719. In Franklin County,
WCO  Kevin Mountz said, "Big racked bucks have been seen all over the
county." Huntingdon County WCO John Roller said, "Instead of people asking
me what happened to all the deer, now they are asking me why are there so
many deer." Bedford County WCO Jim Trombetto said, "Most farmers in this
area welcome hunters. Several trophy-sized bucks have been sighted along
with numerous other good bucks." In Mifflin County, WCO Jeff Mock said, "The
ridges and valleys of the county are holding good numbers of whitetails this
year. Quality bucks have been seen throughout the county." Cumberland County
WCO Tim Grenoble said, "There are numerous, larger deer in the valley and
fewer, but substantial numbers in the heavily-hunted mountain areas." Fulton
County WCO Steve Leiendecker said, "Areas where private hunting clubs border
agricultural lands are the areas of thickest deer densities, however,
securing access to hunt these areas continues to be a difficult task." In
Blair County, WCO Scott Thomas said, "Try the agricultural areas of Sinking
Valley, but please do ask for permission to hunt." Juniata County WCO Dan
Clark said, "Poorly scattered mast crop has forced deer into agricultural
areas." Field officers and foresters also recommended the following areas
for deer hunting: SGLs 41; 53; 65; 73; 112; 198; 251; and 281.

Northeast Region - The region posted its best buck harvest ever in 2000 with
33,368, up from 31,899 in 1999. The leading buck harvest counties were
Bradford, 6,416; Luzerne, 4,206; Susquehanna, 4,149; Wayne, 3,733; and
Columbia, 2,531. The region's antlerless harvest totaled 32,010, up from
26,599 in 1999. Top antlerless counties were Bradford with an incredible
10,181; Wayne, 4,613; Columbia, 4,573; Luzerne, 4,132; and Susquehanna,
4,086. In Bradford County, despite last year's large harvests by hunters,
all field officers are reporting excellent deer hunting opportunities. "Many
counties are blessed with a large population of deer; this county is one of
them," said WCO Vern Perry III. Fellow WCO Matt Grebeck concurred by saying,
"Deer populations are excellent throughout all townships." WCO Frank Dooley
reported, "If there's a better place to hunt whitetails, then they have me
fooled. Excellent deer hunting awaits anyone who ventures into the woods of
northern Wayne County." WCO Tom Swiech reported, "The white-tailed deer
population in Luzerne County is busting at the seams." In Carbon and Luzerne
counties, Land Management Officer Ed Zindell reported, "There seems to be
more larger racked bucks available this year than in the past." Lackawanna
County WCO Dan Figured recommended, "Hunters should consider obtaining
permission to hunt the Waverly area where deer populations are extremely
high." Many field officers in the region noted that hunter access is a
problem in their counties. These counties included Carbon, Columbia, Monroe
and Pike. Some officers also noted that public lands receive incredible
pressure in the Poconos. Pike WCOs Bob Johnson and Bob Buss both made note
of the situation. "Deer numbers remain excessively high on private lands
where hunting is not permitted," Buss said. "Pubic lands have had modest
populations for several years now because hunters are concentrated on them."
In Monroe County, WCO Victor Rosa said, "Deer have taken advantage of the
food and security of the large developed area in the county. Many of these
areas are looking for responsible hunters to help them with their problems."
LMO Keith Sanford, who works in Columbia, Montour and Northumberland
counties, reported, "Deer are very plentiful in the three-county area with
many nice bucks being observed singly and in bachelor groups." Field
Officers and foresters also recommend the following areas for deer hunting:
SGLs 13; 57; 70; 127; 159; and Monroe County's Long Pond area.

Southeast Region - The region's buck harvest has improved annually for the
past seven years. In 2000, the buck kill totaled 24,957, up from 23,369 in
1999. Top buck harvest counties were Berks, 4,414; Schuylkill, 3,817; York,
3,802; Chester, 2,165; and Bucks, 1,920. The region's antlerless harvest
jumped in 2000 when hunters took 41,477, up from 28,080 in 1999. The
region's largest antlerless harvests were taken in Berks, 6,840; Schuylkill,
6,065; York, 5,857; Chester, 4,776; and Bucks, 3,520. In Berks County, WCO
Bob Prall said, "Deer population levels remain very high. The real trophy
bucks are in the farming areas." WCO Dave Brockmeier added, "Hunting private
property is the key to success in Berks County, but please get permission
first." Schuylkill County WCO John Denchak reported, "We should expect to
have another fine year afield hunting deer. Many bucks are seen running
together, many have trophy-size antlers." Fellow WCO Steve Hower added,
"Deer are plentiful in Schuylkill County and large racks are constantly
being seen and reported." In Bucks and Montgomery counties, Land Management
Officer Dave Mitchell reported, "I don't ever remember seeing as many deer
as I am this year. For a hunter willing to walk, SGL 168 and 217 have good
hunting opportunities. SGL 205 always has high deer populations. Get in the
thickest cover available and hunt all day." Lehigh County WCO Mike Beahm
said, "SGL 217 has good deer hunting above the Leaser Lake area and west.
Excellent deer hunting opportunities exist in the southern portion of the
county." Lancaster County WCO Tom Grohol said, "Farm-fed deer, sporting
large antlers can be found throughout the county. Sightings of some
exceptional bucks have been reported." In Dauphin County, WCO Mike Doherty
said, "Deer are abundant for those willing to get away from the roads."
Officers in Dauphin, Delaware, Montgomery, Chester and Bucks counties all
note that obtaining permission to hunt private property will increase a
hunter's opportunities. In Philadelphia County, Jerrold Czech reported,
"This past year, more than 250 deer were taken in the archery season within
the city limits." Field officers and foresters also recommend the following
areas for deer hunting: SGLs 46; 52; 80; 106; 110; 156; 210; 211; 217; 257;
and 264.

#   #   #
 

bigmandude

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GEE WIZ WALLY,

we are supposed to have 2 million deer (supposed to)  but the state says we killed just over 150,000 last year... how do you guys do it?
 

Brian S

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That sounds great, too bad I'm about 2500 miles west of them. I think we need to introduce whitetails to southern California. They ought to be here naturally in another 80 or 90 years at the pace they're moving westward. I'll be going back to Connecticut next month, there I will be issued 2 tags an antlerless and an antlerless or buck tag. Sounds like they are working to the same goal to balance the herd.
Brian S
 

gizz

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My 2 cents:
Lot of our young buck get killed in PA. I'm hoping for some type of antler restriction or another way of increasing the AGE of our bucks here in PA. I'm all for taking more doe but PA hunters need to get past the "DID YA GIT YER BUCK" mentallity. If a person wants meat take a big fat doe (2 of them if you hustle and get yer second tag before they run out) but leave the younger buck to grow another year and let's see what the results are in 2 years. That's all I'm asking - "Antler restrictions for a trial period of 2 years to see if we can get the age of some of our bucks to 2 1/2 or 3 1/2 years old". I think the attitude towards buck hunting would be a little different.
 

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