Only 17 percent of Pennsylvania deer hunters hunt only on public land. Twice that many, 34 percent, hunt on both public land and private land, while the largest portion, 48 percent, hunt only on private land. This clearly shows how important it os for landowners to allow deer hunting on their properties. Deer hunting would be considerably different without landowners who allow deer hunting. Probably deer hunting could not even exist without access to private lands.
Here by the Allegheny National Forest, by state game lands that cover tend of thousands of acres, and with state forests that measure hundreds of thousands of acres in neighboring counties to the immediate east, we might not realize what a problem access is to deer hunting. But once you get south from Interstate 80 or west of the Susquehanna River, finding a place to hunt without being able to see other deer hunters on all sides is difficult.
This data was derived from one of 87 questions asked in a survey of deer hunters conducted by the Pennsylvania Game Commission in a 2011 survey.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission took a survey of deer hunters to get a good look at our likes and dislikes regarding deer management, and at other deer issues. Results in usable form were received from 3,572 of the 6,000 survey forms that were mailed to hunters, a 61 percent return rate. As surveys go, this is good cooperation.
The Game Commission surveyed deer hunters several times between 2002 and 2010, but a survey in 1995 was the only survey as comprehensive as the 2011 survey.
With several answers supplied for the questions, results are lengthy. I will try to pick out the more interesting questions.
Deer hunters, who averaged 47 years-old, had hunted deer in the Keystone State for 29 years on average. Here is the key to the decline in the numbers of hunting licenses sold each year. Deer hunters as a group are ageing, but in this state that is hardly unusual. We are a very gray state.
No one who lives in this area should be surprised that 50 percent of surveyed hunters consider deer hunting to be very important. This question had five possible responses. Another 23 percent feel hunting is important, 17 percent replied moderately important, 6 percent slightly important, and only 4 percent replied at the other end of the range of importance, that deer hunting is not important. You could not say this about many things.
Half of us are satisfied with deer hunting seasons and regulations, while 29 percent are dissatisfied. The rest answered neither. Many hunters will not believe this, but remember that this covers the entire state.
A little more than a quarter are satisfied with the number of deer seen, while 53 percent are dissatisfied.
As for the number of antlerless deer seen, 37 percent, are satisfied, and 45 percent are dissatisfied. Combining this with the previous question, most hunters are unhappy with the number of deer they have been seeing. No surprise here.
Responses were more equal about the quality of antlered deer seen with 36 percent satisfied, 38 percent dissatisfied, and 26 percent neither. This should mean that hunters are reasonably happy with antler restrictions.
Similar numbers hunt with the goal of harvesting antlered deer only and harvesting any deer. It seems there really are quite a few meat hunters out there.
In the final section which deals with deer management we see that 75 percent agree that "Deer populations should be managed for healthy and sustainable forest habitat," 88 percent agree that "Deer populations should be managed for healthy and sustainable deer population", fewer, only 57 percent, agree that "Deer populations should be managed for safe and acceptable levels of deer-human conflict", and 81 percent agree that "Keeping deer in balance with natural food supplies is necessary".
But, and this seems contradictory, lower deer populations and seeing fewer deer while hunting would be acceptable to only 17 percent if needed to reduce deer-human conflicts". Only 27 percent agreed "If needed to improve habitat conditions", and 29 percent agreed "If needed to improve deer population health".
Given four possible answers for satisfaction with Game Commission performance, 55 percent of respondents are satisfied with archery seasons and regulations, 40 percent with October muzzleloader season and regulations, 60 percent with regular firearms season and regulations, 50 percent with late season flintlock season and regulations, 60 percent with antler restrictions, but only 39 percent with research and science of deer management and 36 percent with overall deer management program.
The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) will have a Walleye Fishing Tournament June 16-17 at Wolf Run Marina. There will be a two-day payout including "big fish. For information, call 723-1834.