December 11, 2023

Hunting And The Pennsylvania Game Commission

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I generally don’t copy and paste articles into my website but I am making an exception today. In the Daily & Sunday Review out of Towanda, Pennsylvania, Bob Furhman submitted an editorial about the Pennsylvania Game Commission, deer hunting and the politics involved. I thought it might generate some interesting conversation. Here is that editorial.

EDITOR: Some hunters are disappointed with the outcome of gun season, and that is nothing new. Tagged deer are a reward of the few. That has always been the case and it, most likely, always will be the case. For some, this has been the greatest season ever. The evidence of mature bucks, in good numbers, is in virtually every taxidermist shop, newspaper and butcher shop in the region — in numbers previously unseen.

Following the close of the remaining “late” seasons the game commission will summarize and publish results. Doesn’t that make more sense than pre-judging right on the heels of rifle season? Why not wait until the final numbers are tallied and then — jump off the cliff?

It is amusing that we notice; “The deer population, at least around hunting time, is off.”

That is not an accident. It is the result of the highly publicized “Herd Reduction” program that has been in place for years and — it’s working. As hunters, we may not agree with those goals but we hunters make up only a small percent of citizens.

Predictably, in all the negative remarks made public, there lacks any substantive observation of habitat condition, agriculture damage, deer-related highway deaths, commercial and residential landscape damage and — deer health.

Where is the editorial comment on: more mature bucks being harvested, regeneration of forests’ secondary growth, reduction in agriculture losses and — the whole other side of the coin? I suspect this is all about — the PGC didn’t provide a deer for me.

Other topics, such as predation, declines in seasonal revenue, loss of existing hunters and lower recruitment of new hunters are all topics with more than one answer — it is not only “deer.”

Coyotes can be hunted 24/7/365. A fur-taker license is not even required. Opportunities to hunt bears have been liberalized by twofold, or more, in recent years.

License sales saw an explosion when post-war Baby Boomers came of hunting age. That “explosion” is over. Aging Boomers also are enjoying other, less challenging activities. When I began hunting in the 1950s the biggest competition for my recreation time was pick-up baseball games and one black-and-white channel on TV. Kids today are literally swamped with choices that keep them at home or school. Get up at 4:30 a.m. to hike in the dark and put on a drive through laurel, in wind, rain, snow or cold —? Don’t count on it.

Hunters no longer flock to the northern tier because it is the only area that holds hunt-able numbers of deer. Deer inhabit, and in some cases overrun, the southern counties.

Do not expect the good old days when hunters had no choice but to come and spend money here to ever return — it ain’t gonna happen.

I agree that, “Game management is a complicated subject.” So let’s not lose track that it is “The Pennsylvania Game Commission” and not — the Pennsylvania “Deer” Commission.

The commission has more than 400 species of wildlife to monitor. They strive to provide a diverse habitat for those species and — at the same time, protect the interest in, and interaction with, wildlife for “all” citizens.

Finally, the absolutely scariest thing of all is the suggestion to bring politicians deeper into the process. There exist committees and individual politicians now that have politicized the very future of the game commission (“our agency”), and hunting, because of fear of LOSING VOTES.

There is an embarrassing and shameful extortion going on in Harrisburg that many may not be aware of. Do not be surprised if in the near future the game commission is dissolved into another mega, state agency, run by politicians who absolutely love the — it’s all the fault of the game commission, squabbling.

In fairness, I have seen Rep. Pickett at Game Commission presentations and I have corresponded with her on a variety of topics concerning hunting. I believe her interest is sincere and her efforts ethical and responsible.

Bob Fuhrman