Whitetail population appears to be thriving in Pennsylvania
My wife, and I enjoy early evening rides near our home during the summertime that pass through the surrounding countryside of green pastures, growing soybeans, harvested oat and wheat plantings and the woodlots both small and large that edge these assorted fields.
We’re on the lookout for any wildlife that may be visible during these warm evening excursions, but especially deer, particularly those with fawns.
I always hold off for these short trips until July arrives. Experience has taught me that if you want to count fawns, July is the month to begin seeing them regularly. The months of May and June can provide sightings of these young of the year almost as well, but a doe will often hide her new offspring in these months, most likely due to their lack of fully developed running and jumping skills.
And so, on the evenings of July 2nd and 4th we sat in my pickup with a camera and pair of binoculars and headed to the nearby fields and woods close to our home.
Granted, those two days were hot, part of the forecasted heat wave that currently has locked a grip on the Northeast. And when the heat blasts from these type of stalled high pressure systems during the daytime hours, we’re never in the truck before 8 in the evening, assuming that as the air cools in the last hour of daylight, wildlife will move.
The first evening we headed in the direction that would bring us near one of my hunting areas. Over a couple miles we counted 57 whitetails for the trip, with one huge field holding 27 deer alone (a field where I cannot hunt, yet very close to where I can). As difficult as it may be to believe, I could not determine one buck, although some deer were too far away to be certain if they were at least sprouting some growing horns. Does and fawns galore, which is always a wonderful sight.
On the 4th, we headed in a different direction. About a half mile from our home, in a growing soybean field, stood a doe with three fawns and another deer further away. Luck was with me as they held just long enough for me to snap the accompanying photo. Of course, my spouse was overjoyed at seeing three youngsters with a mom, and how quickly they followed mother as she hopped away after my camera clicked.
Driving on, we ended the evening counting 21 deer, but with a distinct difference from two evenings prior, as we saw four with growing antlers. Two spouted short spikes and were standing next to each other, and the two others seen at different spots, appeared to have the typical Y shaped branch on both sides of their heads, although they too were short growths. Most likely bucks with their first ever growth of antler, as all four were not overly large deer.
That’s a bunch of deer for just a couple hours of looking, but in truth, these deer were all on private land. The majority were on fields that are farmed in some manner, and the adjoining woods where they spend their hidden hours were private as well. But every acreage where we saw these deer are lands that are hunted by someone. And although some may experience light hunting in a seasonal year, none may be thought of as a sanctuary. Considering hunting pressure, these lands hold a lot of deer.
From friends with whom I have spoken, deer sighting reports from different places are much the same, and that includes friends from across the state. For myself, spending two weeks in May chasing turkeys and trout in Tioga County and parts of Potter, that provided me with plenty of deer to see, and even included a couple of instances when I saw a doe followed by a very young fawn.
It may contrast the opinions of others, but for the most part, the way I see it, the deer herd in Pennsylvania seems pretty darn good.