First and most important – Deer. If you are happy with the number of hunters that buy a license, then keep 1) seasons, 2) bag limits, 3) doe allocations, and 4) statewide concurrent rifle season the same. If you would like to increase the number of hunters that buy a license, then changes to all 4 previously listed items need to be changed.
Statewide Concurrent Rifle Deer Season
- Is it needed?
- Is it good for hunting?
- Why are we here at this point in time?
To point #1. Is it needed? If you want to keep deer populations low (as you do), then yes it is needed. That along with 900,000 doe tags and DMAP tags will certainly not let an increase in deer population occur. Of course with CWD spreading throughout the state, maybe trying to increase deer numbers at the present time is not the best idea. If in the future you might want to increase deer populations, concurrent rifle season could still stay if doe allocations were significantly reduced or season length could be shortened with the appropriate number of doe allocations. I’m sure you are all well versed in strategies.
To point #2. Is it good for hunting? Good for who? DCNR sure is happy, PGC is happy or you would change the regulation, private landowners are happy or they would post their land, kids are happy cause their number of days to hunt are limited, and it seems like most of the adult hunters like it too. But, most hunters are not happy that they don’t see many deer although as soon as they see one, they are trying to kill it. Makes sense to me. At the end of the day, concurrent rifle season was not good management when done in the past. But now that deer numbers are low, we are not sure making hunters agonize for two weeks of buck season when 40% of hunters are tagged out, just to get to a doe season with few deer (and very few adult does) would be a benefit to morale.
To point #3. Why are we here at this point in time? The answer is DCNR! Maybe some of you are aware of this and then maybe some are not. In a meeting of DCNR and PGC, the Secretary of DCNR asked for 1) administration of DMAP and an easy form of distribution, 2) multiple DMAP tags per hunter, 3) some form of extended rifle season. The PGC staff replied by saying, “We can’t succeed with baby steps. DCNR has a gun to its head – Forest Certification.” DCNR also asked for 4) opening the deer season earlier, 5) early muzzleloader season should be open to all weapons, 6) having a September season for does only, and 7) having two more weeks of rifle season. That is how we got to this point in time. Are we in a good place? Not even close to what we could be.
However, trying to figure out what is best for rifle season has changed as archery crossbow (I have one) and early doe seasons have drastically reduced the amount of deer that rifle hunters had a chance for. If a hunter does not have 4 trail cams, multiple tree stands, a crossbow, an inline, or for kids and seniors their favorite deer rifle, that hunter is not in the game. Is it really fair for a hunter to sit in camp waiting for a hit on one of his trail cams, then watch the video, and then decide to go get the buck on the camera? Doesn’t sound ethical to me. Obviously, there are a lot of hunters that like how they can hunt today but there are some 400,000 fewer rifle hunters now than there were in 2000.
Currently, with the CWD situation, you are in the proverbial “between a rock and a hard place”. When the concurrent season was started back in 2000, the commission was not.
Prepared by USP CWD Committee Director Wayne Haas