PA Deer Mismanagement

Below for everyone's reading I have copied several of the feedbacks I have gotten. I have removed the individual’s names and email addresses for their privacy.   These email's are in their words.


I applaud you for your efforts. This was a very disappointing year for me in PA, and even in the urban zones I am seeing very few deer. I fear that someday my son will talk about Deer the way I now talk about Pheasant and Grouse. I would like to join your organization, but I am interested in learning more about what is being done to have your voice heard by the lawmakers. I think more info on your site with regards to the tangible actions that are being taken will help your membership efforts. I am going to try to help awareness all I can. I am fed up with the BS the PGC is feeding everyone.


I live near Scenery Hill, Pa and hunted for a week in archery and 4 days rifle, I heard very little and seen less hunters then before. I talked to the local butchers and they said it was an all time low for them as well. I seen very small deer when I seen any at all, I don't think the weather had as much of the impact as the game commission will tell us, they need to stop or greatly limit the doe licenses. This was an all time low of deer sighting for me and my family, even when I cut my fields this summer I didn't see as many and all the surrounding farmers said the same. We better watch or we will be paying for deer hunts on private land, because the deer are going downhill, maybe some areas are good but most are really bad. I have joined your club for a three year tour, I like that you are the ones fighting to protect this.


This was an email that was started by one individual and received the replies below:

Original email

I got a shock yesterday morning when I drove the half hour from my home to the top of Barclay Mountain to hunt with my son. Mind you, this is all through game lands. I only saw 5 vehicles parked along the road before I reached the Mt. top and the game lands road where we wanted to hunt.

After reaching the game lands road to the area we planned to hunt (Long Valley Road) it's maybe 1 1/2 - 2 miles to the gate at the end. There is usually 20 vehicles or so parked along this stretch, even on the first Saturday, especially with the doe opener for this WMU (3B).

To my complete surprise ....there were only 3 vehicles on this whole stretch of game lands road.
No shooting at all.

I had friends who hunted there the first day of Buck, and they said the shooting was very light, compared to past years, and deer sign was minimal at best… On the first day my son was in a different area of the Mt. on a different game lands road, and said the number of vehicles was minimal compared to past years.

I can only conclude that the hunters are totally fed up with the deer situation on game lands, and are just giving up

1st Reply

But, I'm betting that the PGC will report a remarkably high "estimated harvest" again this year.

I'll probably head back upstate on Wednesday and take the rifle for a walk in the woods for 3 or 4 more days.

2nd Reply

Yes, that seems to be the situation. The old-timers are giving up. And, there are not enough young hunters to fill the void.

The hunters just are not out in the woods. I talked to my neighbor up in Tioga County last night. He said that there were only 2 shots heard all day on Saturday. He did not see any other hunters. The usual spots along pipeline where hunters park their ATV's were empty. And, that's with buck, doe, and bear all open in WMU-3A. For Monday thru Saturday, I know of only one buck, one doe, and a bear cub being taken near my place. It isn't good!!

3rd Reply

Here's the score. There were 14 of us in camp, 4 guys saw a flicker of a tail, 10 of us including me saw nothing! On Monday I saw one other hunter coming out of the woods, one of the guys from my camp. I was out to Cash Pond, saw 3 hunters, one from my camp, heard a couple of shots far off. I was also near the grave yard and out near the stone pillars, saw no hunters in the woods and only a couple on the road. The guys I saw all said the same thing, didn't see a deer. We got fed up and left camp Wednesday morning; we had planned to stay through Friday but just got disgusted. I guess the PGC will say we left because we were afraid of getting trampled by all the deer! This year is the worst I have ever seen and I've been on the Barclay since 1966


I just have a few questions if the game commission states that they understand the low deer numbers by stopping hunting for the first week, then why didn't they cut back on doe licenses? I live in 2A region and while you go to certain portions of Green County you trip over deer, and certain parts of Washington County you will be lucky to see 3 all season. This proves the management methods needs restructured for deer hunting. You might say low hunting pressure but all the people I have talked too states the reason they stopped hunting in because of low deer numbers, they simply say, I am not going out to see nothing again, it’s not worth getting cold for, even if you see a doe and don't shoot it is fun seeing them and a rush. The game commission also states it’s because of posted land, well again from a person that owns land; they post to save the deer and not let the land open for the hunters to wipe out the deer herd like scenery hill area. This year after all the surrounding farmers and myself cut their fields for hay, I went out almost 30 times in the evening and noticed very little deer, I could over look land about 400 to 500 acres surrounded by woods with only seeing 4 to 5 deer, that is bad with all the soybean fields you would think a lot more. I really don't understand how they are getting a proper count most people can’t afford to have the deer processed so they do it on their own, and you would think people are honest and report a harvest but be real about 1/3 probably don't. I have great concerns over hunting in Pa, we are heading down a bad road, deer hunting is pretty much all we have, with all the predators we have no or very limited small game and a total collapse of management for them, someone needs to re-look at the hiring of current biologist and see if they warrant everybody's interest, I don't want to mix things up too much but it seems like dollars instead of management. I hunted all archery when I could and the first three day of rifle and Saturdays and only seen two small bucks and 4 does and my wife only seen one doe, my son 1 buck so, the weather, I don't buy it anymore. Please feel free to use this material, but leave my title out of it and my name, I really don't want any repercussion from the wardens.


This is a letter sent from my brother concerning the d-map area in the Seven Mountains where we have a camp. And as you can see it went to deaf ears, boy that was a master piece the best article written ever concerning d map too bad he didn't get a good answer

Subject: D-map area 1883

Commissioner (name withheld)
I have been hunting and visiting this area for the better part of 35 years. I grew up hunting this area and enjoyed seeing the deer and turkey that were abundant in the area. For the past several years I have noticed a dramatic decrease in the number of deer present in the area. There was a time when you could see 10/15 deer during the 1st couple days of deer season but now you are very fortunate to even see a single deer the entire week. I agree that there was a time when there were too many deer for the habitat to sustain but that is not the case now. The first week of the season this year saw more hunters in this area than I have seen in many years, many of them were unfamiliar with the area and carrying a nice new DMAP tag, looking to kill the last remaining doe left. It is very unfortunate that these people gave their money to the Dept. of Forestry expecting to at least see a deer with the hopes of harvesting one.
Boy, were they misled. Who makes the determination that there are too many deer in an area that it would be designated a DMAP area? These individuals obviously do not spend much time in the woods away from the comfort of the state vehicle to make an accurate assumption. At what point does the PGC or Dept. of Forestry understand that the deer herd in the area has all but been eliminated and the issuance of D-MAP tags needs to end? I had spent time hunting turkey, bear and deer in the area and still have not seen a single deer. And I've covered a lot of ridge tops in the process. I am not trying to indicate that there isn't a single deer in the area because I have seen some nice buck harvested in the past, I also was fortunate enough to harvest some nice deer, but the herd has definitely been reduced too far. I don't expect to see 20 deer a day but I do think that an entire day or days spent afield should produce at least a sighting of a few deer. To make the situation worse, it is very disturbing to see a truck load of barely legal Amish men and young boys conducting drives and shooting anything that comes out. There are generally enough juniors along to tag the illegal buck that someone else shot to get away with it. Thank you for your time and I truly hope that the herd is re-established to the point where I can take my children out hunting and see some deer. The future of the sport depends on the younger generation of hunters, and the current conditions will not hold their interest very long.
Individuals name withheld

Commissioners reply
The D-map program is designed to allow landowners to control deer on the properties to meet their individual needs. While we all understand when farmers use D-map to control deer to protect crops, it is more difficult to understand when foresters do the same thing. For foresters the difference is their crop takes decades to grow rather than a single year.

The Board recently made changes to restrict the damp program. Now each landowner, including public landowners like state forests, must provide a deer management plan that is approved by the PGC. In a place like you are hunting, the state forests may need a reduction in deer for a decade or more to allow new oaks and cherries to get a solid start. If these trees don't regenerate, the forest will not only produce less desirable trees like maples and birch but these trees provide little or food for wildlife.

It is difficult to tell a landowner they cannot do what they want with their own land. My suggestion is to contact the DCNR about their use of damp in a particular area.
Commissioners Name withheld

Individuals reply
Thanks for the reply. In short, the Forestry Dept. or DCNR says that there are too many deer in a particular area and the numbers need to be reduced in order to re-establish the habitat, hence the need for all the deer enclosures around the timber harvests areas. What agency conducts the deer count and who would verify that the counts are relatively accurate? Is this the responsibility of the PGC or Dept. of Forestry? Thanks
Individual name withheld

I have not had a reply back yet to my last message.


This was also an email between an individual and one of our commissioners: And his blind response. They just don't get the big picture here.

Individual email
Well I for one, and I think I can speak for many, honestly get tired of not seeing a deer when I go to the mountains. I have been turkey, bear, and deer hunting this year and can count on one hand the amount of deer seen in the woods. And then to have these what I call" city hunters" stopping to ask if this is a D-map area, looking to kill the last doe in our area, frankly pisses us off....... Many of the camps in our area have an unwritten agreement, don't shoot doe.
This is the only way to bring back the population. I have been hunting in this area for 20 yrs and can remember the days of going for a walk and seeing 2-3 deer taking the kids out and showing them a deer. Try it now.

I'm not asking to see 20 I’d be happy with 5 but at the rate the game commission is going, my children will no longer want to hunt, and the deer population in these D-map areas will be nonexistent. Again take me and show me 7 deer in a day, I’ll even buy you lunch if you can.
Thanks, (name withheld)

Commissioner Reply)
I appreciate you taking the time to write.

The current deer program is based on mistakes of the past when hunters saw 20-50 deer in a day. While that made for exciting hunting it was not realistic.
Across most of Pennsylvania we did not have the habitat to support that many deer. Eventually, the whole system would have crashed leaving us with habitat that could not recover.

Our current program is designed to make certain there is adequate habitat to support deer and deer hunting in the future. Yes, it means a sacrifice now, but it will insure there are better habitat and more deer in the future.

I want a forest that will hold deer for our grandchildren and am willing to sacrifice my hunting today to get it. It bothers me that some hunters are willing to ignore the future to get what they want today.

You mention posted property. Posted property is a problem that is out of the PGC control. Fifty years ago when there was very little posted property, it was much easier to hunt deer and be successful. Now as soon as the season starts and the pressure is on, deer head to the areas where they are not pressured- posted property. That changes the whole face of deer hunting, but is completely out of the PGC control.

Thank you for your comments.

-Commissioner (Name withheld)


Here in western Clinton County as most of wmu2g, we have very few doe left. I and our family are leaving what doe we have left go. This is first year in my life that I have not seen doe first week of deer.
The second week I saw 3, this second week in comes the Philly hunters. They are after doe, to my shock all of these 5 hunters already got 2 doe, then they shot 2 of my doe in my area with 2g doe tag, this is not right. Then come back and use their buck tag to kill a doe in my area again in late muzzle loader season. Unreal we even have any deer left here in wmu2g, then throw in DMAP TAGS too and get another doe.

We need doe hunting to be 2 days in Clinton county and only county doe tags. I could go on but that is latest thing that has my blood boiling mad.


3A is still two weeks of killing the does. We saw a couple of doe's 2 illegal bucks and no doe hunting signs are starting to go up. My wife just started hunting 5 years ago and is quite disgusted with it. You feel guilty if you shoot a doe anymore, and rarely see a legal buck. I don't know what the game commission is try to prove anymore. Mr. Mohr knew what was going on. More and more hunters are going to give it up. I'm thinking of it and going out of state.
What has this become???


I feel the need to comment on the efforts to obtain good deer management in PA, that you are presently involved in with the Allegheny County Sportsmen's League. I am an avid hunter and have been since 1966. I have hunted in many states for a variety of animals but mostly deer. I personally am not a hunter who parks my vehicle in the same area, year after year, hunts out of the same stand nor do I stay within a quarter mile of my vehicle. I hunt in other areas of western and central PA and feel like a competent witness (even if not possessing the "scientific" credentials) to say that I agree with the hue and cry that "we don't have the deer, anymore", position. I am presently active in the Clarion County Federation of Sportsmen (soon to not be affiliated with The PFSC statewide organization) as a delegate from my local club. I am aware of deer management programs in other states as well as our so-called program under the PGC. While the feedback that I have received from my own club, other clubs, other hunters and from the statewide PFSC (please don't consider my statements as an official position of them or our local clubs) is certainly in agreement with smaller deer populations, all opinions are not necessarily based on good science. Most of the people I have talked to want a new program as I do.

However, I wish to quote an unnamed source who is a warden with DOW in Colorado (Dept. of Wildlife) who said the following when he was talking with us on this subject. "We in Colorado game management and regulation have for years, as other states have, looked to PA programs as ones to emulate. Now everything we hear is that PA has become a laughing stock of management programs." He went on to say that while "looking at other ways to come up with scientific, honest and non-self serving programs to manage deer populations is important, that allowing the solution to be turned over to a bureaucratic and politically motivated entity like state government (not all legislators, of course) would and as the case with Colo. have bad consequences on having your programs run by politicians".

In other words he said; "If you think your program is bad now, watch out if you let it slip away to the legislature". I realize that this is only one man's opinion but the thought has merit and I hope this has already become a concern as you move forward in your efforts for better deer management.


These are just a few of the complaints we at USP have been listening too over the last several years.   When you read them, you see the replies from the commissioner, just an example of them not taking the sportsmen issues seriously.    I will keep adding them on as the come in.   I feel everyone should have a chance to read them not just me.


I have just watched Mr. Santucci’s interview on “Ted Nugent-Spirit of the Wild”. I can’t agree more! I am 43 years old and have been hunting since I am 12. The last 7 or 8 years have been pitiful. I grew up in Berks county and had lived in Centre county for nearly 15 years, returned to Berks a few years ago. I have hunted in both areas and even Tioga, Potter, Clinton, Clearfield and Schuykill counties. Public hunting lands, in many areas, do not even show signs of deer. When I was growing up it was common to see deer herds of 20 + deer. Now if you see 20 in a season your doing well. I tell my 2 sons stories of deer hunting and hope that they don't lose interest. My oldest son, who is now 21, scored with a 6 and 4 point buck when he was 12 and then 13 and hasn't seen buck while hunting since. I have 5 acres of property in farm country surrounded by posted land, now we primarily archery hunt at home because we stand a better chance than going to the SGL's. I have begun to make annual trips to Ohio. Ohio hunting is incredible compared to my home state of PA. I know as an organization you are trying to get the Game commission into management instead of selling licenses, I commend you for that. What can we do as private citizens to get our lawmakers to understand that what the Game Commission and current game policies are doing is destroying deer hunting and our hunting heritage? The policies have extended beyond even deer hunting-try to find a pheasant that hasn't been stocked an hour before. There are many reasons for the overall poor hunting in PA, predators, farming practices, urban sprawl and so on but the losing interest in deer hunting adds to this because there are less people interested in predator hunting and trapping. Turkeys and bear have seemed to thrive lately but if you think about it, the seasons and bag limits have basically remained the same during my hunting life. I have written my local representatives and I hope that others do also. I am considering joining your organization, and hopefully numbers speaking to Harrisburg will get their attention.


I have been, for years looking for some organization that supports what I support in the subject of deer management in PA. I have written many, many letters and emails to the PGC on my own opposing strongly their decimation of our deer herd and the policies that lead to that decimation. I have also done the same opposing, again STRONGLY, the antler restrictions and associated policies and direction of the PGC. My opposition has been on many fronts. Scientifically, it is evident that antler restrictions do not result in what the goals of the PGC stated. As a matter of fact, I believe there are more "spike" bucks than ever before. I have my theories on why that is the case, but they are too detailed for an email writing. My primary opposition beyond the scientific reasons was twofold...first I believe that the intent of the antler restrictions was misguided, particularly in PA. PA hunting is about tradition, family, the hunt and most importantly, the non-hunt part of the hunt. That sounds stupid, but I will explain that later. The idea of "trophy" hunting and formulating deer herds for trophy hunting is exactly what deer hunting in PA is NOT about. Secondly, deer hunting in PA is about the youth and passing along the strong hunting traditions in families and among friends. Trophy hunting sends the wrong message. Most importantly, I agree with you 100% in your take on the youth interest in hunting and its relationship to the disseminated deer herd. My son just turned 12 last November. I've been waiting for that day all my take my son hunting. I can tell you that his enthusiasm for hunting has waned in the years leading up to this season. I've been "grooming" him for years for his hunting career and hoping with all my heart that he has the love of the outdoors and hunting heritage that I have. He does....but again, his enthusiasm for going to the woods is at best limited. This is due solely to the idea of not seeing deer in just about every outing. We saw 1 deer on the first day of buck season this year....all in a pouring, cold rain. We held out, because that is what we do, but to say he was / is discouraged, is an understatement. Please note, this is not the first year I've taken him into the woods. He has accompanied me on many outings....all with the same deer!!!!! I could care less if I ever kill another deer to be honest....I've killed plenty in my life. However, the continuation of hunting in PA is dependant on our my son and I can tell you that the interest from that group is declining and fast!!! We (as a group) have already lost two of my best friends son's due to lack of interest....they would rather sit at home and play video games than and I quote...."sit in the woods and freeze and not see anything"....sad state of affairs, as you well know.

Sorry about the long email, but with all that said, I was just ready to click the submit order to join USP when I thought to peruse the website a bit more, where I found your on-line newsletters. With all that I agree with you on the deer management of PA and that it must change, I cannot and will not support a group that supports Sunday hunting. This goes back to what PA hunting is all about.....tradition. This is where the non-hunt part of the hunt comes in. We love to be in the woods, we love the hunt. However, Sundays are the best part of the weekend trips to our cabin. Sundays are reserved as rest days, shooting days, reminiscing days. After a good Saturday hunt, we as a family take Sundays to enjoy the hunt. I cannot in all my heart see starting a deer season on Sunday...that day is for walking the woods to find a spot, sighting in guns, meeting with friends from other camps, etc., etc. Yes, you can say..."don't participate", but that is disingenuous....please see your name..."United". I would hate to tell my son that we are preserving our traditions when the woods are full of hunters.....maybe taking opportunities we would have if we were in the woods.

Sorry, but as much as I agree with your position on PA's deer management and hope you continue to fight the fight, I can't be a member of an organization that touts the tradition of the hunt, but then supports taking away some traditions.



I'm 64 yrs. old and I'm a resident of Sinnemahoning, Pa., a small north central community in the heart of the Pa Wilds. For ten years now, I've watched our deer hunting in this area go from the envy of the country to this year, the worst in its history. Hunters that used to stay a week in camp now leave in less than a day and a half, and do more road hunting than ever before. This area no longer supports a viable hunting population of deer, and won't in my lifetime, but DOES maintain a thriving Elk population in an area designated by the PGC as "deer poor habitat". The local WCO recently told me he counted 55 head in one field adjacent to our house, and this is a common occurrence thru-out the area. If I saw that many deer anywhere here, you would not be receiving this communication. What the PGC has done is beyond incompetent and irresponsible, its criminal. and they should be held accountable. Which brings me to the purpose of writing this:.

You speak of a Sportsmens alliance with 120 clubs and 200,000 members, but what good are the numbers if not mobilized to act? What do I mean by this? As an individual, I've e-mailed and phoned the PGC, my legislators, etc., until I'm blue in the face, but its nothing more than ""spitting in the wind". For ten years, they have placated, threatened to form committees, set-up an "A Governors Advisory Council"[ a disguise for doing nothing and a farce], and so on, yet nothing has changed. Mobilizing 200,000 members to do this would have an impact unlike anything they have ever seen before. As an organization, you can tell them [legislators, governor, etc.,] that you represent this number, but unless they actually hear from them individually, it means NOTHING. Almost every Sportsmen's group I know of now has e- mail addresses for all their members, and could easily send out survey requests to be completed/returned [batched] and then delivered to the appropriate party's. Liaisons from your organization and others could/should also be visiting all of the clubs in the North Central region and beyond in an effort to encourage/galvanate and promote the real sportsmen's issues rather than the clubs focus on their bottom line [money].

Just my thoughts for what its worth!

Thanks for listening, Name withheld


You may publish the attached e-mail if you wish. I originally sent it out to my family and fellow deer hunters. Hopefully you and your organization can get the serious deer hunters in Pa. to quit doing the Game Commission's dirty work for them. Everyone should get as many doe permits as they can but not use them. I really don't understand this overzealous hunting and killing of the does. Surely that many people don't need the meat to get through the winter.

Doe season should be separate from all other deer seasons and only run one to three days - to be determined each year , and the number of doe permits closely regulated/monitored. It should be mandatory to report a deer kill/harvest to the Game Commission. No more estimates on deer harvested.

Name withheld



Well it looks like Sunday hunting in falling short again, from what I've read it won’t make the house. It appears that the farmers Assoc. is holding it back, I can’t understand they make up only 1/3 of the vote and yet they determine the outcome for all, its not a bias opinion at all, if you farm you farm everyday, and Sunday is no different and if Sunday is a day of rest, well then you are a hobby farmer to say the least. Another thing is that the Game commission is saying the deer harvest are low because the hunters are low, and that's a bunch of crap, hunters stopped because of no deer in areas and yet based on what I've discovered they will give the same doe tags again this year with the same season. Deeply concerned with the hunting future in PA!!! please withhold my name and title

Thanks,  Name withheld


    Thought I would provide what I have seen hunting in Clinton County and reasons for lack of deer here.   Will make it to point.     Here we go.    No order in any of this, week of inline Oct doe, week of doe in gun season, crossbows allowing more doe to be killed in archery, DMAP tags, excessive doe tags over years hunters shooting any doe now including fawns, coyotes, large WMU's allowing hunters to hunt in many counties increasing more doe killed left by locals

    Here is other things that make you mad.   Mentoured youth, daddys shooting bucks for kids at 4 years old and up at cost of 3 dollars for tag poaching ,no WCO in western clinton county crews [adults] shooting bucks without looking at horns as long as kid is in crew, kid tags the buck via radio.      Road hunting in dark of mornings in archery, shoot the deer, come back later and stick arrow in hole.     Hunters getting doe tags in other WMU's, getting 2 doe there THEN come to clinton county and kill another doe with 2g tag.

Name withheld


After never missing a first day of deer season for forty six years, and a result of never seeing a deer in three years. This sixty year old has given up. I believe we have to make the best of a bad situation. The reduction of the deer herd and the number of hunters has been such an overwhelming success, now is time to reap the rewards. I would like to propose a fifty percent reduction in game commissioners. Since our main season has always been deer, when the deer herd is reduced by two thirds, I cannot imagine why we need as many game commissioners. I would like to propose one Game Warden per county. In counties where we have been a great success like Jefferson and Forest counties I would think one officer would be able to watch the few deer that remain in both counties. I suspect that Governor Rendell had increased political jobs while the deer slaughter was progressing. Now is time to lay off every game warden hired in the last ten years. I am still not happy but this would make me feel better knowing we not wasting money on game wardens that have no deer. Things will look brighter I promise.

Name withheld




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