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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2005 was another good season with this buck coming by at about 11:30 on opening morning. It was a 50 minute slow walk in and before light I was able to get up into my climber and in position. The day was warm and windy, but down in the hollow I was in it wasn't too bad and to tell you the truth by 10:30 I was having a tough time keeping from sawing logs and if it hadn't been for no-where to rest my head, I'd probably have been fast asleep by the time this guy came by. He came from behind me on a brushy bench from up the draw and crossed the stream below me. I had to turn back to my left and followed him with the scope until I was able to stop him completely in an opening at about 30 yards. I shot and he want about 20-30 yards before piling up.

I've shot a buck or two with a larger rack out there, but this was the largest bodied deer I've shot at 127#'s field dressed. The biologist said he was 2.5 years old, but I was thinking 3.5. His chest was 38"...which was MUCH larger than his hind-quarters but I guess he was 2.5. We were able to shoot 3, 2.5 year old bucks on opening day..another 8, and a nice 5 point with no brow tines. We had 14 guys in camp for opening day...a couple of the older guys just sit around camp, a couple walk down the driveway and back a few times, but I'd say about 10 guys actually get out in the woods and "hunt". The 2nd day was pouring rain and windy just about all day, and we left the morning of the 3rd. I haven't heard yet how everyone else did, but a couple of the regulars had not gotten their bucks yet and I'd be very surprised if they didn't get one by the end of season.

We've shot over 180 bucks in about 37 years, and have averaged over 5 bucks a year for the past 10 years, with an average of about 12 hunters of whom about 8 or 9 actually hunt. So, for public land those numbers are not too shabby. We hunt hard, about 70% of the guys are in the woods just about all day, and our success rates have remained unchanged during the last 4 years of AR's. The differance is that almost all of our bucks are at least 2.5 years of age and the camp has been shooting more points per buck than in the past 37 years while maintaining the highest success rates of that history of the camp. Also, yearling bucks weighing 85-95#'s have been replaced by 2.5 year old bucks weighing 110-125#'s with a whole lot more meat. Gone are the days when you could just wander around the woods, even drive the roads and expect to come across a large group of deer with a spike or 4-point to shoot..the large groups are gone and it's illegal to shoot a spike or buck without 3 on a side. But, for those that actually get out and hunt a bit, spend some time getting to know the woods, and improving their hunting skills...the bucks are there for the taking.

Some may think we scout a lot...well, that couldn't be further from the truth. The season opens the Monday after Thanksgiving every year. We arrive on Sat. night before the hunt, shoot the guns on Sunday morning, have lunch, scout for a few hours Sunday afternoon, and then hunt on Monday. Getting away from where you expect other hunters to be, sitting on a nice bench with cover somewhere and a little sign, and being patient seem to be the keys for success. We saw LOTS of sign this year...rubs, scrapes, etc. and although deer sightings were down, mature buck sightings have never been higher and it is awesome to hear the guys talking about the big 10-point, or 8-point that they can't wait to get a crack at the next day.

The biologist admitted that too many antlerless permits were given out in the past 2-3 years because they didn't count on the 50% mortality rates from the heavy winters, but this year had a great acorn crop. Yeah, the deer numbers are down lower than they should be, but the biologist said she was hoping for an increase in deer numbers for next year...but even with the lower than necessary numbers it's great to take part in a truly quality hunt on PA public lands and Lord willing I'll be back again next year for my 14th year. I think some of you guys would really love the hunt and honestly for some of you your time might be better spent on public land in PA, than heading north to hunt public land in MI....even if it meant hunting a shorter period of time. Where we hunt it's about 8 hours from the Waterford/Flint area.

Got to love PA!!

 

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Congratulation Jeff.

There's a guy who looks just like you who is having similar success in the UP and Wisconsin. :yikes:
 

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This guy kills more bucks than stan potts!!! talk about mr. consistency!! and not only do you put a lot of trophy deer down, you post trophy pictures with amazing quality, and your stories almost put me right on the scene.... someone needs to host their own show on the outdoor channel!!! sweet success, nice jeff
 

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A few weeks ago, Ed S. made a post regarding how the approval of AR's has risen with PA hunters over the past 3-4 years. Has anyone seen a PA DNR survey that would support that ? I was not able to find it.

L & O
 

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Liver and Onions said:
A few weeks ago, Ed S. made a post regarding how the approval of AR's has risen with PA hunters over the past 3-4 years. Has anyone seen a PA DNR survey that would support that ? I was not able to find it.
L & O
I have not seen any PGC survey results concerning the AR issue published recently. They actually have a much bigger issue to deal with right now. The debate over AR's has become almost moot in PA due to the controversy over the Herd Reduction plan that Alt instituted. There is no question that the HR efforts have succeeded and most hunters this year saw a lot less deer than they did in previous seasons. In the last two years PA sold almost 2,000,000 antlerless permits. While there have been some indications that they may cut back on the permits in some areas next year it will still be somewhere in the 750,000 permit range.

With the advent of such dramatic herd reduction it is really kind of hard to assess how much of an impact the AR's have had. I did see one statistic from the PGC that claimed that AR's had allowed approx. 9% more mature bucks (2.5+ years old) to advance to the next age class, but it did not include any of the data or numbers to support this claim.

By the way, that does not mean that there are actually more mature bucks out there, it just means that a higher percentage of mature bucks survived the season but due to the herd reduction efforts the actual numbers of mature bucks has probably dropped and will continue to drop in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
"By the way, that does not mean that there are actually more mature bucks out there, it just means that a higher percentage of mature bucks survived the season but due to the herd reduction efforts the actual numbers of mature bucks has probably dropped and will continue to drop in the future."

First off, in the last 4 years a lot of bucks have been saved with the AR's. Even just this year my partner couldn't shoot one because it was only a 2.5 year old 3pt. It had full main beams with only a spike on one side, and a fork on the other with no brow tines. It had a roughly a 15" spread and was a definate 2.5 year old. The food was poor this year, and no-brow tines are typical for the area, but my friend can't wait to be sitting in that same spot next year to try for that buck.

Anyways, doe permits were cut in many areas and with the bumper acorn crop this year the deer herd is expected to remain quite stable and increase next year...in fact the biologist I talked to for our area was hoping it would. We used to see 40 deer a day, and one to no spikes. Now, it is common to see less than 10 deer(I saw 8 total), but see at least 1 2.5 year old buck or older. Several guys in camp saw multiple mature bucks, and very few does. From what we've seen there are both more bucks, and more mature bucks, but a WHOLE lot less deer to the point the biologists are admitting their were too many permits for the unexpected winter severity losses..."The deer took a "double whammy"" is how the biologist explained it to me.

Yes, we see a whole lot less deer and it takes an extra amount of patience to continue the sit in the woods without seeing any deer for hours at a time (which is unusual for out there being you can usually see a couple hundred yards in a lot of areas)....but the odds are MUCH better that when you do see deer, a mature buck is either with them, or not far behind. I saw two groups of does and fawns go by...3 and 4, and I was shocked there was not a mature buck with them because that is a lot of deer to see now days to not have a mature buck with them. I assumed they were does and fawns, but I don't lift the scope unless I see a rack so there could have been a spike or two in the bunch.

There are a lot less deer...but I'm not so sure that saying there are less mature bucks would be acurate, or even less bucks.

Also, it looks to me, at least in our area the herd will be increasing and they will allow it to take place.

GVDoc,

Don't remind me about the rifle! Last year my rifle buck in WI was shot at 25 yards after almost going with only my bow..this year I took my bow, got nervous when I set my stand, took my rifle and shot the buck at 25yards after watching him at 10 yards to make sure there wasn't a bigger one in the group behind him(saw lots of points but it was a 2.5 year old 10 that was too young in our area). My rifle buck in the U.P. I shot at 10 yards, and then this PA buck was shot at 30 yards with the rifle. Although you can get 150 yards shots fairly easily in PA, the majority of my bucks have been shot at 30 yards or less..with a rifle. One of these years I will probably go "all-bow"...but just hate the thought of a monstor walking by just out of bow range and I'm still happy to take one with a rifle..but have to admit I'd rather shoot them with a bow.
 

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NorthJeff said:
First off, in the last 4 years a lot of bucks have been saved with the AR's.
I don't think anyone would argue that point, over the four years of AR's antlered Buck harvest is down 39%.

NorthJeff said:
Anyways, doe permits were cut in many areas and with the bumper acorn crop this year the deer herd is expected to remain quite stable and increase next year...in fact the biologist I talked to for our area was hoping it would. .... From what we've seen there are both more bucks, and more mature bucks, but a WHOLE lot less deer to the point the biologists are admitting their were too many permits for the unexpected winter severity losses..."The deer took a "double whammy"" is how the biologist explained it to me.....
Also, it looks to me, at least in our area the herd will be increasing and they will allow it to take place.
Antlerless permits were cut back in some areas in 2005 but the decrease for the whole state was only 15%. The final harvest statistics for this year should be compiled by January and then the PGC will issue the antlerless allocations for next year. It will be interesting to see whether they substantially decrease the antlerless allocation.

The change that you should be seeing over the next couple of years is an increase in body weight within a given age class. The herd reduction should create an environment where there is a lot more available food per individual deer and this should be expressed in increased body weight and antler development due to better nutrition. Another interesting statistic to watch for will be if the percentage of yearling bucks protected by AR's goes down, as better nutrition creates larger numbers of yearling deer with legal minimum antler growth. According to the PGC 48% of last years yearling crop met the minimum legal size so it will be interesting to see if this number increases with the herd reduction efforts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
In our area the antlerless permits have been heavy for at least 6-7 years. What we've been told by area biologists is that the body weights by age class have been increasing for at least 5-6 years and the 2.5 year old buck that I shot this year was the biggest by age we have ever had in our camp....last year was out 2nd largest at around 125#'s.

In our area we have basically mature timber with little undergrowth. They can harvest all the deer and that shaded understory will not develop until logging, fire, wind damage, or disease takes those trees and opens up the canopy. I'm not sure this is typical of all public land property, but in our area the best food sources occur when there is mast production...and can be fairly lean otherwise, even with very few deer. So, our yearlings typically are small spikes, or spikes with a fork or two. Most of the guys in camp though aren't even really looking unless they actually see a rack nowdays though so we might be missing some chances at zooming the scope up on 10X and finding a 3rd little point somewhere.

Should a be a great year next year with both body size and antler size because of the acorns, not to mention the amount of mature bucks available for harvest. This year the rubs and scrapes were incredible and it's only been getting better.

I'm really looking forward to next year!
 

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Congradulations on your buck and I am glad to hear you are still happy with AR's in PA. But, here is what other PA hunters have been experiencing as a direct result of Dr. Alt's plan.

A camp in Monroe Co. with 2 SM of land and 34 hunters that normally averages 12-15 buck /yr. didn't harvest a buck during the first 3 days and only harvested one basket rack 8 pt the whole first week.Two adjoining camps with 3 SM of land and 40 hunters only harvested 2 buck in 3 days.

I hunt SE PA that is mixed farmland and woodlots with a goal of 6 DPSM and our group of six hunters have only seen two AR legal buck in 3 years and one of those buck was a half rack barely legal 3pt. cripple that the local farmer ask me to put down. While we have past on many non-legal bucks over the past 3 years , AR's have done nothing to improve the quality of the buck in our area.

It appears that the 2005 buck harvest will be down by around 45% compared with 2001 and that we will harvest fewer 2.5+ buck in 2005 than we did in 2002,the first year of AR's.
 

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Nice job Jeff. I hunt in Unit 3C, extreme NE corner of PA bordering NY to the North and East. 605 miles & 10 hrs door to door from White Lake/Waterford.

Last year took a 8 pt, this year a 7 pt that looked like his son or cousin. I agree ARs do not seem to be a problem, maybe you can't shoot bucks off your porch anymore but in the woods all is well.



Both were 1.5 yrs but had nice spreads, my local herd seems in fine shape as doe sightings are also plentiful. 3C is 3 pt / one side minimum; not as much public land as the 'Big Woods' areas of North Central PA.

I postponed my trip due to the opening day / 2nd day weather forecast (55 deg, heavy rain) , on Monday Dec 5 a week after the opener we had temps in the 20s and fresh snow on the ground. 7 hrs in the tree and Bang! at 2:15 PM. No other hunters anywhere near my small parcel so there is nothing to push these deer around, just wait til they are ready to mosey down the mountain on their own good time.

My deer was in great shape, lean and fit but not much fat stored up, same as last year's. Good news is at that late date he had surely bred out and passed the 'rack genes' on to next year's fawns.

I have an unused doe tag for the after Xmas flintlock season, if I am lucky I will get 3 hrs to poke around amid 'in-law season.'
 

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jmoser said:
Last year took a 8 pt, this year a 7 pt that looked like his son or cousin. I agree ARs do not seem to be a problem, maybe you can't shoot bucks off your porch anymore but in the woods all is well.



Both were 1.5 yrs but had nice spreads, my local herd seems in fine shape as doe sightings are also plentiful. 3C is 3 pt / one side minimum; not as much public land as the 'Big Woods' areas of North Central PA.

My deer was in great shape, lean and fit but not much fat stored up, same as last year's. Good news is at that late date he had surely bred out and passed the 'rack genes' on to next year's fawns.
Congrats on a couple of nice bucks. I'd point out a couple of things. Since both of your bucks were 1.5 year olds, AR's played no part in them. As far as them breeding, maybe, but after 4 years of AR's there should be a plethora of Mature Bucks running around doing most of the breeding. In a healthy, age balanced herd most 1.5 year olds should be relegated to the sidelines when it comes to doing much breeding.

The herd reduction may have played a role, however, in your 1.5 year old bucks being a 7 and an 8 point. Smaller herd = better nutrition = better antler development. This would have occurred without any AR's being instituted.

Once again, congrats, nice deer.
 

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Munster - my point was not that these bucks are proof of ARs working, only that there are still plenty of opportunities for a nice buck. Too many will cry in their beer about the good ol' days before ARs; in my area they seem to be in full swing now.

As you said, these racks on 1.5's seem to indicate a good overall balance and healthy mature breeding herd. These are real woods bucks too; no corn fields to glut on.

This guy was chasing 2 does down the hill late in the season; hopefully he got to stick it in somebody before I popped him. If he couldn't fight his way into at least one doe I guess that says better things about the bigger bucks who beat him out.

In May I was Turkey hunting on the same hill when a small skinny yearling buck walked by me at 12 feet - could see his 2" velvet stubs already dividing. Curious if we met again this month - that would be pretty cool.

As North Jeff said - PA is not a bad deal for MI hunters. Out of state license gets you statewide tags for spring and fall turkey [no lottery] plus one buck [rifle season] all for $110 or so. Extra $36 for Bear tag [statewide - no lottery] and $26 for a doe tag [by unit - lottery.] Muzzleloader stamp is $25 or so; gets you extra Oct and after Xmas seasons.

PA state line is 275 miles from my house, plenty of good opportunities statewide.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Jeff...that is great! Glad to hear you take advantage of such a fine hunt as well. I find it interesting so many people here in MI like to comment on PA with no experience and it's refreshing to hear from someone that actually travles there and hunts. To me the hunting is night and day compared to MI. No ATV's driving through public land, no bait, no blinds (at least where I hunt), and large sections of public land to wander to your hearts content! The less mobile hunters stay by the road and wander a bit, and the "young and dumb" like me can wander for miles, sit all day an hour back, basically while seeing very few hunters.

It's a great hunt and all I can say is if you live in MI...don't knock it tell you try it, and if you live in PA, well, try hunting MI so you can further appreciate what you have in PA.

This wouldn't have been my 13th year in a row if I didn't feel it wasn't worth the time and my friend that comes to PA from the U.P. can't wait to get there every year.

Anyways, good to hear of your experience!
 

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The nice thing about WI and PA being so close is that hunters can drive there if they prefer that type of hunting, and/or stay in MI to hunt this great state. Further reinforces the need to not force there rules and regs on MI hunters (plus not all is so good, based on number of comments).

Swamper
 

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I hunt in PA each year with my family. In the last 4 years of AR I have taken a nice 8 point, 18 inch spread. I also still hunted to within 50 yards of 2 other bucks that I could not get a bullet to. I hunt state game lands (Can not remember the SGL# right now), just north of Route 8 in Venango county. Tough to get close enough and insure that the bucks are legal while still hunting! But fun as heck.... This year I had a BIG 6 point, had about 20 inch spread. I also so this deer the year before with the only difference being he was not as wide and antlers were not as heavy... Had him at 40 yards, actually bedded in front of me after walking into the area I was still hunting, but could not get him to grow those brow tines to make him legal:) :( .

I have to agree that PAs public land management system is head and shoulders above Michigan's system. I love the no wheeled vehicles and the fact that land is set aside for hunting and fishing first and foremost. I know they (non-hunters) are crying about this and some changes will are happening... But still beats the snot out of our system here in Michigan.

Jeff-
NICE buck- hope you continue to see good results. Where in PA do you hunt?

PA buck
 

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The other side of the story.

While I'm sure that many hunters continue to have success in PA I have also read anecdotes from many other hunters who are not at all pleased with the direction that deer hunting has taken in PA. This thread on Ohio Sportsmen, about hunting in PA, is representitive of what I've seen on a number of other whitetail forums. Makes for some interesting reading.

http://www.ohiosportsman.com/forum/showthread.php?threadid=10000
 

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Congrats a nice deer.

NorthJeff said:
But, for those that actually get out and hunt a bit, spend some time getting to know the woods, and improving their hunting skills...the bucks are there for the taking.
That is what I love about MI.
 

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Munsterlndr said:
The other side of the story.

While I'm sure that many hunters continue to have success in PA I have also read anecdotes from many other hunters who are not at all pleased with the direction that deer hunting has taken in PA. This thread on Ohio Sportsmen, about hunting in PA, is representitive of what I've seen on a number of other whitetail forums. Makes for some interesting reading.

http://www.ohiosportsman.com/forum/showthread.php?threadid=10000
Seems like their posts are mostly in reference to a substantially decreased population, not necessarily about AR's
 
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