PGC slightly cuts back on doe tags

Harrisburg — Your chances of getting a doe tag this fall are infinitely greater than your chances of drawing an elk tag, there’s no doubt about that.

But there will be fewer of the former and more of the latter.

Pennsylvania game commissioners scaled back the number of doe licenses available for the 2013-14 hunting seasons while increasing the number of elk licenses.

In giving final approval to seasons and bag limits for the fall and winter seasons, commissioners set deer season at 12 days of concurrent buck and doe hunting in the firearms deer season in the same 11 wildlife management units where that was the case last year.

In the other 12 units, including the newest one, 2H, the firearms deer season will be five days of buck-only hunting followed by seven days of concurrent.

The number of doe tags will be different than last year, however.

The allocation recommendations presented by chief deer biologist Chris Rosenberry featured changes over 2012-13 anyway.

But commissioners tweaked things to their own liking.

Biologists had recommended the board issue 51,000 doe tags for Wildlife Management Unit 2C, for example. That unit takes in all of Somerset County and parts of Westmoreland, Fayette, Indiana, Cambria, Bedford and Blair.

The herd there is down compared to six years ago, but has been relatively stable for the last four, said Rosenberry. The recommended allocation would maintain it at existing levels, he said.

Board President Bob Schlemmer of Export, Westmoreland County – who was not at the meeting, but relayed his suggestions to the board – recommended the commission issue just 36,000 tags for the unit, though.

Not everyone agreed that was a good idea.

“I have some concerns about that,” said Commissioner Dave Schreffler, of Bedford County.

The board split the difference and allocated 43,000 doe licenses for the unit.

The board likewise compromised on Unit 2D, which takes in all of Armstrong County and parts of Butler, Westmoreland, Indiana, Jefferson, Venango and Clarion counties. Rosenberry had suggested issuing 65,000 doe licenses;

Schlemmer proposed 57,000. The board settled on 61,000.

Unit 3D, meanwhile, has long been a “trouble spot,” said Commissioner Jay Delaney, of Luzerne County. It has the second-lowest deer population, in terms of deer per square mile, in the state.

The commission hasn’t been able to change that, he said.

“Very little has worked in 3D, in my opinion,” Delaney said.

He recommended the commission issue 32,000 doe tags there – the same as in 2010, but less than last year’s 39,000 – to address “cold spots” while encouraging landowners to utilize the deer management assistance program, or DMAP, to tackle other areas with too many deer.

The tags issued for some other units are: unit 1A, 49,000; 1B, 31,000; 2A, 49,000; 2B, 62,000; 2E, 22,000; 2F, 29,000; 2G, 28,000; 2H, 6,000; 3A, 23,000; 3B, 39,000; 3C, 35,000; 4A, 28,000; 4B, 24,000; 4C, 27,000; 4D, 35,000; 4E, 26,000; 5A, 19,000; 5B; 50,000; 5C, 103,000; and 5D, 18,000.

Commissioner Dave Putnam said that, in the end, allocating tags is a tricky business.

“The problem we’re faced with in trying to get the right number in some of these wildlife management units is that we have differing habitats across them,” he said.

As for elk, Rosenberry said the state has at least 833, according to a minimum count done this winter. He recommended hunters be allowed to take 86 of them: 26 bulls, or antlered, and 60 cows, or antlerless.

That includes three antlered and 10 antlerless in elk hunt zone 2; two antlered and six antlerless in zone 3; three antlered and two antlerless in zone 4; four antlered and 11 antlerless in zone 5; three antlered and 12 antlerless in zone 6; one antlered and one antlerless in zone 8; one antlered and four antlerless in zone 9; three antlered and five antlerless in zone 10; one antlered and one antlerless in zone 11; and five antlered and eight antlerless in zone 12.

There is no hunting in elk hunt zone 7.

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