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I have never had the luxury of hunting much on private land. Most of my 40 years of hunting in Pa. have been on public land. That was never a problem until about 10 or so years ago. I always saw plenty of deer and was sucessful most years. However in recent years I'm not seeing many deer at all. Even though I love the outdoors and really still enjoy being out there, it sure would be a nice bonus to see some deer.
I guess I'm looking for a reason to not get frustrated and keep my enthusiasm for hunting on public land. Pehaps if I here from some hunters who hunt mainly public land and do well, it would be an incentive for me to keep plugging away with the public land hunting.
Believe me I am not looking for anyone to reveal there spots, I guess I'm just looking for someone to say "I hunt public land and do well".
I live in Southeastern Pa. where the population has grown tremendously and there is increased pressure on the public land, so that along with the liberal antlerless license regulations in this area, I believe are some of the reasons for fewer deer sightings in recent years.
So does anyone have reasonable sucess on pulic land? Please help keep me motivated.
 

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Don't feel alone and the answer may not entirely be public land vs. private land.

I'm in the North West corner of Bradford County and we own almost 80 acres our self that always WAS prime Deer hunting land and have owned it and lived here for over 20 years now. I manage my land for hunting purposes with food plots, selective timber harvest etc. Our land is surrounded by a 450 acre farm which I have full access to hunt and living here I know these woods like the back of my hand and the past 3 years have been the worst for hunting I have seen and I started hunting in 72 and in this same area.

I'm not talking about just the number of Deer either, I'm also and more so referring to "quality of Bucks". I myself am after older Bucks and have selectively been passing small Bucks for years now so I was one that was excited when they implemented the AR's thinking it would be great but I will go on record saying that I saw and killed more and bigger Bucks before the AR's were implemented, since then I'm not convinced it's doing much in this area.
I know of quite a few very good hunters who killed some dandy Bucks over the years who live in this area who will and do tell this same story. Very few satisfied hunters in this area.......:mad:
I've heard all the "you don't hunt hard enough" or the "Big Boy's are just smarter than you" smack talk and I also use trail cam's and numerous ones all over this area and this year I got pictures of nothing but scrub Bucks, NOT 1 legal Buck what so ever all in the very same areas that I used to see and have taken some real dandy Bucks from ?????

I talked to guys from 3 local camps who hunted hard the first few days and these camps typically take some respectable Bucks and all 3 of these camps got skunked this year, nothing and most saw very few Deer. I know 2 guys from a camp that hunted 4 days of Archery season near here during what should have been the rut and they saw 2 Doe between the two hunters in 4 days, and these are pretty darn good hunters who usually are successful most every year.

So,.......while I can relate to your frustration and concern the answer to your problem may not lie entirely with public vs. private land but no argument that in most parts of Pa. public land certainly does see much more pressure than private land.

Just wanted to let you know that your not alone, I feel your pain.
 

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Forgot in my previous post that I have no doubt that in SOME select area's AR's are helping produce bigger Buck's but from what I've seen and heard it is VERY spotty from area to area.

No doubt something needed to be done as far as herd management but the issue is very complex and Pa. is extremely diverse in regard to type of habit and the population.
One concern that I feel needs to be seriously addressed is the size of WMU's and the Doe license allocations. With no control over where hunters are distributed in any WMU to "blindly" throw out any amount of Doe licenses over such huge WMU's as we have is asking for trouble. It clearly shows exactly this as you have a herd that as been hammered hard in areas that receive the most hunting pressure while other areas that receive less pressure still have a decent number of Does and are producing some nice Bucks.

IMO the plan/system needs serious tweaking, I'm sure the PGC wouldn't deny this but it's a start. Deer are quite resilient and can rebound quickly if allowed to. With some proper tweaks in the right places things can change in the next few years. Let's hope they for the best.

Try to hang in there and stay positive, things will get better.
 

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They Moved to the Suburbs!

"No doubt something needed to be done as far as herd management but the issue is very complex and Pa. is extremely diverse in regard to type of habit and the population."- Jeff

Crossbows into Archery Season has/will make it worse. Also if we knew the amount of true poaching going on I feel we would be shocked! The PGC can’t do to much about it this until they have some revenue from a license increase. I feel they should go back to a county system to control the licensing of doe tags.

I also have a few BEST friends that live north on rt6, and they talk and think much like you. Where I hunt in Western PA the AR and HR have worked.

And when I visited God Country I am telling you I am seeing bigger better, healthier, deer than the billy goats I use to bring home.

Now if I lived there way back in the day would I have gotten or seen bigger deer? I don’t know? What type of restrictions does the feds put on the PGC over THEIR National Forrest? I don’t know. What pressures are the PGC getting from the legislature? I don't know? There is MUCH I don’t know? Do You? Do any of us really know?

What do I know? The HR and AR have worked in this area of Western PA.
The PGC has had a pattern of success with their bear and turkey programs. So I'll give em a pass on the deer especially what I have personally witnessed here and up there. No data, just observations and visitations, nothing concrete.
Joe
 

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South east PA.

I am from the south eastern part of the state(lancaster) and let me tell you, I hunted more this year then any year since 1982 and the numbers are just not there. I shot a doe on Sept 19 in the early season and hunted alot of different privite areas that were always good, but I did not see another doe until the last week of archery.

My family has the potental to eat two deer a year. There for my goal is to harvest one doe and a nice buck every year. I have been very blessed to acheive that in 2008 and 2009, but I went for three weeks , hunting 4 to 5 times a week without seeing a deer. Where are they??? In years past at our pro-shop we always had guys bringing in pictures of the bucks they harvested all over the state. NOT THIS YEAR!! Most of the hunters are not even seeing deer, let alone a legal buck.

IMO it always seemed that PA has some of the most pressured deer herds in the US and it is finally showing it. Something needs to change!!!!!!!!
 

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I don't see as many deer as I used to while hunting on public land, but the quality seems a little better.

2008 Public Land-130 1/8"


2009 Public Land-150 1/8"


Both taken on Oct. 29.
 

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Congrat's PAbigbear. Certainly a couple dandy Bucks you've taken there and your one of the few lucky ones and doing something right.

Nice job....:darkbeer:
 

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Those are two fine PA bucks.

I hunt a combo of private and public land. I don't have the time to get out like I used to but my son and I put a decent amount of time in, including a new property that had rubs and scrapes pretty much most places you could walk (in between the boulder fields). I saw 2 nice bucks, (not as big as PAbigbear) but not bad ones, and only a few does while hunting. When you hear the old "you are just not hunting hard enough" or "just sitting by the road expecting to see something", well, we are generally using the same stand sites, with more care about scent than ever before. Places where, in 2007, I saw 4-5 bucks in a day a few different times, last year saw three small bucks all season, and this year at that place, only one. I don't know what it is, but I think more than just the bonus tags are decreasing the population. On the mountain property, I'd think Coyotes might be having an effect, but they were around 10 yrs ago too. I am at the point where I just enjoy getting out. My 15 yr. old son it hanging in there, but it is getting pretty boring for him. NO venison in the freezer this year for the first time in many years.:eek:
 

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I have success hunting SGL's.Actually thats all I've hunted the last year or so.I have seen alot of decent to good size bucks but I had to walk for them.I saw everything from spikes to 10pts.I found that there are spots that nobody seem to know about or don't bother with because of how the terrain looks from the road when really it's a hot spot.You just have to scout and walk around some.I walked around a month or so before and then during the early part of the season to find as much sign as possible and then hunted those spots.I saw a good amount more deer then the guys back in the parking lots that didn't walk far.Its all about finding where the other guys stop and then going past them.
 
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