old question but worth reviving, WMU 3D in Pa. is a tough spot for hunters who must hunt public lands, i.e. state parks and gamelands- those areas are very heavily hunted, with relatively sparse game populations to begin with. Long gone are the 20-30 deer herds, or even 10 deer herds, a big herd is 5-6 deer now. I've lived in 3D for 50 years, and my family has lived here for over 100 years. It used to be you saw deer every time you went hunting up until about 1980. Now almost ALL the private land is posted, and you have a 95% chance of NOT seeing any deer when hunting. Almost NO ONE gives permission to hunt on their land, except to family, with few exceptions. If you have permission from someone already, consider yourself very lucky. Hunting in 3D has become a sport for landowners, not the average hunter who lives in a house on a 1/2 acre lot somewhere. When I was a kid you could hunt everywhere and anywhere, the farmers and landowners used to wave at us as we hunted their fields and woods. Not anymore. Much of it has been developed for housing tracts, what was not developed is posted by a new generation of landowners. If it's not posted, you can legally go in, but I'd expect to get kicked out, or find a nasty note on my vehicle when leaving that says "don't come back again", i.e. it happened to me twice. This on plots of land with no homes nearby, no obvious owners nearby, not posted, but somehow they'll find out, or have someone watching the property, and issue you a warning note on your car windshield. Much of the land is owned by out of state people who don't even live here, bought during the housing boom on speculation to develop it- (that has now crashed dramatically, but is another story). The area has become a suburb of NYC, Philadelphia, NJ urban areas.
If you own some acreage, you're in and will enjoy some very good hunting, provided there's not too many hunters on it for the acreage size, otherwise it becomes a 2 day season, i.e. after the 2nd day of rifle season, the deer realize what's up, and move on- and the rest of the 2 week rifle season becomes a waste of time sitting in your stand, staring at the trees. Let too many hunt and it goes south quickly due to hunting pressure. Lots of deer go nocturnal here. You'll hear a big buck snorting around your stand at 6:00 AM when you can't a thing, and he'll vanish by 6:30 AM when it's light enough to have seen him.
the deer are really spooky because of the hunting pressure. The trend now is towards very high hand built wooden stands, 2x higher than what you would buy at Cabela's or Dick's in a ladder stand, these are home made with wooden walls all around, and roofs, so the deer can't see the hunter at all- visually it's a box in the trees, The ladder stands with platforms 12' to 15' high don't do so well anymore, like a worn out coyote call that scares coyotes away, my gut tells me the deer have learned to look up at them, and see a hunter in the platform ? Sounds crazy but that's what I've noticed and experienced. The hand built wooden stands are 25-30 feet high, sometimes 35 feet high, and those hunters do quite well. It's the only way to get the scent high enough, and be concealed enough, so the deer doesn't know you're there. Now the kicker, I've seen hunters with similar height exposed steel platform stands with added ladder lengths, with no sides, still get skunked. Just my observations the past 5 years.
the 6 week long early bow/muzzleloader season, and mentors/youth hunts, have taken a heavy toll of the deer population- now the goal is to "tag out" during bow season, i.e shoot a buck and a doe, before the regular rifle season even starts. Then don't even hunt the rifle season at all. It's becoming a warm weather deer season. This is not a good thing. A rifle-only hunter doesn't get in the woods until Monday after Thanksgiving holiday, and by then half or more of the big deer are taken already by bow, and a lot of guys are now using scoped crossbows. We are also finding quite a few deer the past few years, that died and rotted in the woods, because they were hit with crossbows, and the hunter didn't bother to track them. See what's happening ? Rifle hunters that were accustomed to stopping them in their tracks with a 30-06, lack the tracking skills to find a deer wounded by a bow, that runs a few hundred yards or more- instead of just 100 feet.
they need to cut back the doe season, and shorten the bow season. The 6 week bow/muzzleloader season was too much of a good thing.
I firmly believe the PGC is in cahoots with the auto insurance companies, and was lobbied to cut back the deer population, so the insurance companies saved millions $$$ by not having to repair so many deer hits on vehicles. Why else would they have a virtual blitz on the deer population, to the point where it's very sparsely populated with game- and you pay $30 for a license, and never see a deer. At this rate we'll have to hunt them by plane or helicopter just to see one, or buy your own 200 acre game preserve.
One last point, the few guys I know who do own land, 50 to 200 acre plots, shoot a lot of small doe and young buck, not trophy buck. The PGC is giving out doe tags like candy, they obviously want the deer population nearly extinct. I got 2 doe tags this year without hardly trying, but may refrain from filling them- and I know others who have gotten 3 tags. It used to be difficult to get just one doe tag, years ago when I started hunting.