QDMA report ranks Pennsylvania deer hunting highly; many skeptical in state
It’s amazing how differently Pennsylvania’s deer-hunting situation is viewed by some outside the state compared to many inside the state. That discrepancy was perhaps never clearer than this year.
As most Pennsylvania Outdoor News readers are aware, the Keystone State’s hunter deer harvest, according to Game Commission estimates, was down significatly from last year.
The commission says hunters killed 303,973 deer in 2014-15. That's about 14 percent fewer than the 352,920 the agency says they took the year before.
The buck harvest was reportedly down 11 percent, with hunters taking 119,260 last year. The doe harvest, the commission claims, was down 16 percent, to 184,713.
It’s safe to say many Pennsylvania deer hunters are unhappy with the hunting here, but according to the Quality Deer Management Association‘s annual “Whitetail Report,” things are not so bad.
In 2013-14, according to the report, Pennsylvania ranked fifth nationally in total buck harvest, trailing only Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia. It also produced three bucks per square mile, which also ranked fifth nationally.
The report also said Pennsylvania ranked third nationally in doe harvest and fourth in does harvested per square mile, at 4.9.
The deer harvest estimates recently released by the commission – though down from the year before – likely will rank Pennsylvania among the nation's leaders in harvest again.
But many hunters in the state don’t believe the Game Commission’s harvest estimates and, as a result, are highly skeptical of Pennsylvania’s high national ranking for hunter buck and doe kills.
Many Keystone State deer hunters are convinced deer populations in large sections of the state – especially on the Northern Tier’s vast public lands – are so low that they are nearly unhuntable.
Because fewer than one in three deer hunters report killing deer, the Game Commission uses a peer-reviewed process and formula to estimate deer harvests that seems to be widely respected nationally, but is widely panned by Pennsylvania hunters.
The Keystone State's deer debate shows no sign of dissipating.
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