Looking at Pennsylvania's whitetail records...

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Everyday Hunter
 
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Looking at Pennsylvania's whitetail records...

Postby Everyday Hunter » Sat Aug 18, 2012 7:40 am

Someone asked me a couple of years ago to compare the number of mature bucks being killed under Antler Restrictions with the years that went before. It's impossible to do unless we look at the state's record books, which really measure mature bucks more than trophy bucks, since it takes only 115" for a typical to get into the PA archery record book. But to do this study I waited until we had 10 years of AR under our belts so I could compare full decades going back 100 years.

There's an article in the current issue of D&DH on this topic by Bob Frye, but I approached it a little differently because he wrote his piece before the PGC updated the listings. I waited until after. Here is the chart I put together:
RecordBuckChart.jpg
RecordBuckChart.jpg (64.79 KiB) Viewed 6195 times

Certainly this doesn't tell the whole story, because in the early years no one put much emphasis on scoring, the the record book wasn't created until (I think) sometime in the 1960s. Consequently, many of the earliest bucks were probably lost, or information about them was lost. However, as far as I know this is the only data we have to compare the most recent decade with others.

For what it's worth, here is my column: Looking at Pennsylvania’s whitetail records. Even though it's not as easy as it used to be to get a buck in Pennsylvania, all of us have a better chance of getting a buck that has some maturity now.

Steve.
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DaveYak
 
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Re: Looking at Pennsylvania's whitetail records...

Postby DaveYak » Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:01 am

Steve,

I would say that proof is in the pudding, ARs are working in PA! I know I see more mature bucks now than ever before and I am certainly enjoying it! I have 2 deer on the farm I hunt that are approaching the 130" mark and I couldn't be happier! I enjoyed your segment on deer talk now this week! My question didn't get asked to you directlry but the guys talked about it at the beginning of the segment so that was good. I am going to try a mock scrape this year and will keep track of the activity and post and update. Thanks for the advice and the insight on how to use mock scrapes and smokeys to our advantage as bow hunters! Great stuff Steve!!!

Yak
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Re: Looking at Pennsylvania's whitetail records...

Postby Everyday Hunter » Sat Sep 01, 2012 6:31 pm

Thanks, Yak --
I'm going to re-do the stats because the chart I posted has to do with the records, and the minimum for record book entry is much lower for archery than it is for rifle. If a person isn't alert to that it makes the chart very misleading. I'm going to chart the 140" and above bucks, whether from archery or rifle categories, so that will give a better direct comparison. Hopefully I'll publish that somewhere.

But for now, I'll just say that with that new way of looking at the numbers, archery hunters still do well, but not nearly as well as it looks like they do when we compare a chart of 115" and up with 140" and up.

Steve.
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Re: Looking at Pennsylvania's whitetail records...

Postby DaveYak » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:25 am

Steve,

How do you feel about the ARs? Do you think they are working in PA? Do you see more mature bucks now or before ARs were in place? I personally think they are working great, I see more mature bucks now then ever before and it seems to get a little better each year. However, I have only been serious about bow hunting deer since about around 2003 so all I've know really is the AR way. I've deer hunted since 1995 but up until bow hunting I never really saw anything bigger than a 100" buck shot and in those times in that group of guys he was a monster. Now days I pass that size buck every time, because I know I have a few 115" - 130" bucks in the area! That's all I have to base my opinion on but I think it is pretty accurate, from what I've observed the ARs are doing there job.
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Re: Looking at Pennsylvania's whitetail records...

Postby Everyday Hunter » Fri Sep 14, 2012 2:46 pm

It's clear to me that ARs are working. The average age of bucks has gone up, and more mature deer are being shot. It's harder to find a legal buck, but that's not because they're not out there. Trail cameras prove they're there, but with another year or two under their belts, they're smarter at avoiding hunters.

Steve.
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Re: Looking at Pennsylvania's whitetail records...

Postby charlie 01 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:35 am

I'm from Illinois and I oppose antler restrictions, but that's just me. I'm curious, what exactly are your antler restictions? And how many antlered deer are you allowed for archery deer hunting?
I see that you are passing on small bucks, what was the score of the last two years of bucks that you shot bow hunting? Are you a hunting family group, and if so, how many are in your party and how many of those harvested an antlered deer? I'm just trying to get an overall picture on how you and your's are doing with ARS personally.
With these days of trophy deer hunting, more hunters are passing on small bucks naturally, therefore makeing your study of records not as accurate as you would think. In other words, they are not passing on small bucks because of ARS, but by choice alone.
I look at this with a little different twist. With ARS, and in heavily hunted areas, and with hunters with limited hunting time having to pass on bucks that are unshootable, are going to shoot more does, therefore creating a lopsided doe to buck ratio that also could produce a smaller fawn crop than expected, and leading to smaller doe herds. This is very possible. I would have to wonder what your total deer (buck & doe) harvest is per hunter in the years before ARS and after. I seem to recall seeing posts last year about hunters complaining about seeing fewer deer sightings in your state. With ARS, I have to feel sorry for the young hunter who is unable to shoot his very first buck, and having to watch it walk on by. And then the meat hunter who is seeing small bucks but less, or no does, because more are being shot by frustrated hunters dealing with ARS. After all, how many chances does one get?
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Re: Looking at Pennsylvania's whitetail records...

Postby Everyday Hunter » Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:49 pm

charlie 01 wrote:I'm from Illinois and I oppose antler restrictions, but that's just me. I'm curious, what exactly are your antler restictions? And how many antlered deer are you allowed for archery deer hunting?
I see that you are passing on small bucks, what was the score of the last two years of bucks that you shot bow hunting? Are you a hunting family group, and if so, how many are in your party and how many of those harvested an antlered deer? I'm just trying to get an overall picture on how you and your's are doing with ARS personally.
With these days of trophy deer hunting, more hunters are passing on small bucks naturally, therefore makeing your study of records not as accurate as you would think. In other words, they are not passing on small bucks because of ARS, but by choice alone.
I look at this with a little different twist. With ARS, and in heavily hunted areas, and with hunters with limited hunting time having to pass on bucks that are unshootable, are going to shoot more does, therefore creating a lopsided doe to buck ratio that also could produce a smaller fawn crop than expected, and leading to smaller doe herds. This is very possible. I would have to wonder what your total deer (buck & doe) harvest is per hunter in the years before ARS and after. I seem to recall seeing posts last year about hunters complaining about seeing fewer deer sightings in your state. With ARS, I have to feel sorry for the young hunter who is unable to shoot his very first buck, and having to watch it walk on by. And then the meat hunter who is seeing small bucks but less, or no does, because more are being shot by frustrated hunters dealing with ARS. After all, how many chances does one get?

I doubt Illinois needs antler restrictions, but pressure on the deer herd in Pennsylvania is very different. With nearly a million deer hunters in PA carrying rifles for two weeks, 85% of our harvested bucks before AR were only 1½ years old, so I don't see how it can be shown that hunters were passing on small bucks by choice.

Antler restrictions require (in most WMUs) a buck to have at least four points to a side. That was the criterion most easily followed by most hunters.

Most of your specific questions are not relevant to my specific hunting habits, and one hunter's results are irrelevant to the whole picture. I hunt with bow, rifle and muzzleloader. I don't shoot a buck every season. Other than twice last season when I mentored my nephew, the only time I've hunted with a group in the last two years is opening day in New York -- if you can call that hunting in a group. We all go into the woods separately and come out separately.

Nowhere did I vouch for the accuracy of the numbers I presented. I simply distilled the only available numbers into a chart. Certainly they do not tell the whole story, but they are the only factual data available. They're not my facts; I'm only reporting them.

You mentioned that hunters with limited time to hunt are going to shoot more does. That is not what governs the doe harvest, and no one is complaining that AR has reduced the deer herd. I only mentioned the other facet of Pennsylvania's deer management program, which is Herd Reduction. We have deliberately, dramatically (and severely in some places) reduced the herd through higher antlerless allocations, not through AR.

You mentioned you "feel sorry for the young hunter who is unable to shoot his very first buck, and having to watch it walk on by." You don't need to feel sorry for them. Junior hunters (up to age 16) can shoot any antlered buck. Unlicensed mentored hunters younger than 12 can even have an antlerless tag transferred to them so they can shoot a doe. The kids actually have it pretty nice.

Steve.
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charlie 01
 
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Re: Looking at Pennsylvania's whitetail records...

Postby charlie 01 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:13 pm

I can't say if Illinois "needs" ARs or not. There has been talk of it. What I do know is, of the many hunters that I know and others I have talked to that hunt in all parts of the state, had the poorist deer sightings last season than any season ever.
I was curious as to how many antlered deer you are allowed for archery season. And also total deer harvests in years before ARs and totals with ARs.
By group, I didn't mean group hunting persay, I simply meant you, your family, and your circle of hunting friends and their harvests. Like I said before, I'm just trying to get an idea of you and yours personal harvests with ARs. In other words did you and people you know fill their tags this past season?
I'm saying that "these days" a certain percent of hunters with ARs in place are passing on small bucks by choice, not because of ARs.
I'm not saying that hunters with limited time under ARs and shooting more does is what governs your doe herd, but they will certainly add to the reduction. Unfortunately, there is a pecentage of people that think just because they purchased a license, they are going to shoot something. With not seeing shootable bucks, does will be shot ( not that they are not entitled to) just saying more of a reduction to the doe herd, and leading to a smaller deer herd state-wide. The question is, by how much, and, how much is too much.
I was refering to young hunters in general, and there are plenty 17 and up that I still will feel sorry for, chances don't come that often.
Steve, I can see where you are coming from with all those 1 1/2 old bucks being taken, and ARs being the answer, and I do hope that it all works out for the best. My wonderment is the long range deer herd outcome. Unfortunately or fortunately, only time will give that answer.
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Re: Looking at Pennsylvania's whitetail records...

Postby BAPAKuss » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:20 am

Sorry to re-hash old threads, but being new to this forum i am looking through older posts. I hunt primarily in WMU 4D (roughly central PA). The antler restriction here is 3 points to one side. I am a fan of the AR, because where I am from, many people hunt with the "if it's brown, it's down mentality". a trip to hunting camps that have been around a while quickly reveal this fact as they are littered with spikes on the walls. When the AR went into effect 11 years ago, they also expanded doe season to two full weeks of our rifle season. Years prior to this, i believe, it was 3 days of rifle season you could shoot a doe. The PGC also issued roughly 30,000 to 40,000 anterless tags in my WMU every year since then. You couple that many tags with the "if it's brown, it's down" mentality and you have a recipe for disaster. The doe population has taken a major hit in the last decade. The AR only being 3 points to one side eliminated spikes from the equation, but still left in a lot of 1.5 to 2.5 year old bucks that sported a basket rack 6 point. Many of them get killed every year. Then you hear many people complain about not seeing deer, but they are many of the ones who buy the anterless tag and shoot the first doe that walks past them every year. then complain, repeast this process for 10 years. The reason given for much of this was that Gary Ault (SP?) concluded that we had too many doe (a study completed primarily near the cities that do have a lot of doe and much fewer hunters). His claim that the buck to doe ratio was too high and needed to be brought within a certain level to maintain the health of the heard. I hunt public land 99% of the time. and i can tell you that i put miles upon miles on hunting every year. an average archery season for me produces sitings of roughly 30-40 doe and maybe 10-15 bucks. but please keep in mind this is spread out over nearly 150,000 acres of public land. I can also state with first hand experience that i saw as equally big bucks before the AR as after and also the same amount = 2 before and 2 after (by big bucks I mean 130" or better). on public land. It's crucial to ephamsize the public land aspect of this. They have FINALLY started to reduce the doe season in our area (tags issued remain the same). What has always puzzled me is that near the more urban areas of the state there is a 4 point AR where the deer population is much better and there are fewer hunters. Yet where i am from, we have a ton of hunters, fewer deer and less restrictions. I am truly a fan of the AR in my area because it forces those with the "if it's brown, it's down mentality" to hold off on those spikes, i just wish they would take it to a 4 point AR. Then i think you would really see some nice bucks on average and more of them. The doe hunting could be even further restricted, IMO, to one or two days of rifle season. Me personally, I have never killed a doe. Reason is, that since i really have been a dedicated hunter (2001) the deer sitings are terrible. Since then I have taken up archery (2005) and i have passed on a number of juvenile 6 points. I refuse to shoot one. they would be great for a kid or someone who is new to hunting and never killed a buck before, but overall there are fewer and fewer new hunters and too many that maintain the "if it's brown, it's down mentality. I am fully aware that one cannot eat the horns, however, i believe a hunter is to be disciplined and ethical in their outings. If you are aware there is a problem, just because it is legal, doesn't mean you have to kill. Remember, the PGC is overseen by a board that is made up of a lot of people involved in the car insurance industry. We are to be stewards of our sport that help maintain it for generations to come. Even if that means our tags go unfilled for a season.

My personal harvest record: 2002 2.5 year old 8pt, 2007 2.5 year old 8pt, 2011 3.5 year old 8pt (125inch)
hunting group harvest record: 2002 4.5 year old 9pt (135inch), 2007 2.5 year old 8pt, 2008 2.5 year old 8pt, 2008 3.5 year old 8pt (125inch) 2010 2.5 year old 8pt

Hunting group is comprised of (including myself) 6 guys, one of whom has yet to ever see/kill a buck in the woods during hunting season (he has been hunting for 5 years)


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