Deer: Hunters more success
Deer hunters enjoy more success in '12 BY P.J. REILLY, Staff Writer
The deer hunting in Pennsylvania just keeps getting better, according to the state Game Commission.
For the third season in a row, deer hunters in the fall increased their kill over the previous year.
Hunters tagged an estimated 343,110 deer during the 2012-13 season -- up from the 336,200 they took during the 2011-12 hunt, according to agency figures released Monday.
Last season's tally includes 133,860 antlered bucks -- up from the 127,540 shot the previous season -- and 209,250 antlerless deer, which was an increase over the 208,660 shot in 2011-12.
"This year's antlered deer harvest is slightly above the average harvest since 2005, when agency efforts began to stabilize deer populations in most of the state," said Carl Roe, the Game Commission's executive director.
The agency's deer-kill figures are estimatesrather than exact counts, because not every hunter reports every deer he or she bags.
A formula that accounts for unreported deer kills helps the agency arrive at its harvest totals.
According to the agency's figures, the overall deer kill in Wildlife Management Unit 5B, which includes Lancaster County, increased last season.
Pennsylvania is divided into 22 WMUs.
Hunters in WMU 5B shot 8,500 bucks -- up from the 7,200 taken in 2011-12.
And they shot 12,500 does, which was down from the 12,900 taken the previous season.
The figures also indicate substantial increases across the state's northcentral WMUs, where many Lancaster County hunters have camps.
In WMU 2F, last year's buck kill was 7,100 and the doe kill 6,100, compared to 5,400 bucks and 6,700 does the previous year.
In WMU 2G, last year's buck kill was 6,600 and the doe kill 6,500, compared to 6,300 bucks and 5,500 does the previous year.
In WMU 3A, last year's buck kill was 4,300 and the doe kill 6,700, compared to 3,300 bucks and 6,700 does the previous year.
And in WMU 3B, last year's buck kill was 5,800 and the doe kill 8,700, compared to 5,900 bucks and 7,700 does the previous year.
Those figures surprised Joe Keffer, owner of The Sportsman's Shop in New Holland.
"It certainly is not what I would have expected to hear, based on the comments from the hunters who come through" the store, he said.
"Those hunters are telling us, 'It's never been this bad.' "
Most hunters who head to northcentral Pennsylvania and frequent The Sportsman's Shop reported seeing few deer, according to Keffer.
"They're talking about not seeing anything," he said.
Former Pennsylvania Game Commission board member Stephen L. Mohr of Bainbridge doesn't dispute the agency's tally.
But he said hunters generally aren't satisfied with the state's deer hunting.
"I'd be interested to know how many of those deer were taken on private property versus public land," he said. "The hunters who have to hunt public land are not at all satisfied.
"And if that many hunters aren't satisfied, that tells me the deer herd is not right."
Mohr is chairman of the board of the organization Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, which has opposed the Game Commission's deer-management program for years.
The group believes the agency has worked to reduce the statewide deer herd to an unsatisfactory level.
Game Commission officials have said they manage the herd to promote a healthy forest and healthy deer.
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