Sunday, December 4, 2011

Time For PGC To Reach Out

Mature Doe Looks For Danger
 At this point the Pennsylvania rifle deer season is one-half over.  Both antlered and antlerless deer are legal game in our area, but except for opening day and Saturday, there seems to be little hunting--at least away from the state game lands.  This was not the case in the old days, when opening day sounded almost like a battle and hunting pressure was heavy at least through Wednesday of the first week, and picked up again on Saturdays.

Doe season was traditionally held on the Monday and Tuesday immediately following buck season and at times was extended if bad weather caused a low doe kill.  Eventually the PGC settled on a three day doe season which ran from Monday through Wednesday and a flintlock season for both buck and doe was implemented, which ran for two or three weeks after Christmas.

The three day doe season continued until  buck and doe season were combined under Dr. Gary Alt's deer management plan, which also included antler restrictions. an early black powder antlerless deer season and an early rifle doe season open only to Jr. and Sr. Hunters. (Note that there are a growing number of wildlife management units where both weeks of rifle season are not concurrent buck and doe, be sure to check regulations before hunting).

The first day of doe season was often a blood bath under the old system as everyone that had a doe tag had to try and fill it in the two or three day season.  With a multitude of seasons to choose from the modern hunter has much less incentive to hunt on a particular day.  Many have grown discouraged with deer hunting because of a scarcity of deer either real or perceived,  lack of a suitable place to hunt, or a host of other factors including a lessening of the desire to hunt with increasing age. These factors combined with fewer youth taking up hunting has led to an impending crisis.

Hunter Tags Fawn Killed In Concurrent Season
It is now hard to believe that in my early years with the PGC, some thought that hunting pressure would increase to the point that one would have to select which type of weapon they wanted to hunt with in a given year and hunt only in that particular season, or that perhaps buck tags would have to be restricted in availability in some manner.  Few worried about subjects like hunter recruitment and retention, but today these are important topics to conservation agencies throughout the nation and none seem to be able to come up with suitable answers to these problems--perhaps because ultimately there are none that will work.

In the meantime, the PGC and most if not all conservation agencies, consistently fails to address the  needs and desires of growing numbers of wildlife watchers, and photographers, or include them in the management of our wildlife. Instead of ignoring or reacting to this growing, potential constituency with hostility, it is time to reach out to the non-consumptive user and find ways to incorporate them into the funding base and the decision making process. 

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.