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Just how tough is it?

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Just how tough is it?

Old 01-16-2009, 07:14 AM
  #1  
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Default Just how tough is it?

I have learned on here and talking with others from PA about hunting and have come to the conclusion that PA is a really tough place to hunt, let alone kill a mature buck.. from what I gather there are lots and lots of hunters in PA and it is extremely tough to kill deer in general...I know they have some huge bucks, but how hard is it to connect on one...bow or gun?? Im used to hunting here in Va and especially here in South East Va where it is common to see 20-40 deer a day on dog drives and to see 5-20 on a bow hunt...are the sightings a tough bid in PA or just tough to see big bucks...?? I know it can vary on location, but overall, how tough is it?
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Old 01-16-2009, 07:24 AM
  #2  
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Default RE: Just how tough is it?

I am sure it is.. I think PA has more bowhunters then any state..

Try North West Michigan!!!!!
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Old 01-16-2009, 07:51 AM
  #3  
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Default RE: Just how tough is it?

If you ever go to the Northeast forum, you will see alot of Pennsylvania bickering about your topic and deer management in general in the keystone state.IMO some of the Pennsylvania members in the Northeast forumseem to get mad because they don't see multiple deer per hunt, it sems like alot of whining IMO. Then again I have never hunted their either.I know I go weeks without seeing a deer, so i have little pity for that complaint.
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Old 01-16-2009, 07:57 AM
  #4  
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Default RE: Just how tough is it?

I hear Maine is tough as well...but there are times when i don't see deer here in Va and we have well over 1 million of them. when I don't see them, I question my stand placement.
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Old 01-16-2009, 08:35 AM
  #5  
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Default RE: Just how tough is it?

It really depends on where you are hunting in the state. I feel I can speak to this accurately because I've hunted6 different counties in different regions of the state over the last 12 years or so. It's drastically different depending on what region you are in. In general the eastern part of the state is very highly pressured and low deer population with the exception of Lancaster County, which is next to impossible to get access on. Also in general the further north you go in the state the lower the deer populations, because there are a LOT of big woods the further north you go.

I hunt in Northeast/Northcentral PA. An area not really known for big deer compared to other counties further west. I honestly don't know of anyone that has better success than I do in this part of the state. Rob consistently takes bucks about the same size and age class as the ones I'm putting down, and outside of him.......I don't know anyone that is doing this consistently in our part of the state. There are 120"+ bucks. I've seen them, but they are few and far between.

We don't have a shortage of deer at my place. We don't have a shortage of bucks now either after 5 years of whacking 3-5 does for every buck we take. I honestly see about 50/50 split between the two, better than anyone I personally know in PA. The problem is that even with 130 acres, a timber management project to produce the perfect bedding cover, several sanctuaries, and food plots everywhere.................the bucks we are passing are still getting shot elsewhere. We have good enough nutrition now that the 1.5's are 6+ pointers and legal to shoot. I will continue passing bucks that I don't believe are 3.5 years old though, because I know they are out there and you can't shoot one if your only tag is full because of a dink.

Edit - I will add one more thing here that a lot may not agree with. I honestly believe I have a MUCH better chance of killing a mature buck at my place in PA during the bow season. I've only seen two honest 3.5+ year old bucks in the state during firearms seasons over a 12 year period, I typically see that many each year during bow season. When the orange army hits the woods, all bets are off. I enjoy hunting with a gun, but don't spend the time to do it in PA because of this. I'd rather spend that time during firearms season in the big woods of the Adirondacks where you see significantly less deer, but also no other hunters.
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Old 01-16-2009, 08:39 AM
  #6  
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Default RE: Just how tough is it?

There are certainly areas that hold better potential than others. Many would like to blame the PGC and their HR policies, but really in truly, it's more a matter of habitat and pressure. We have one of the highest population of hunters, and plenty of various seasons mixed in throughout the early fall well into early winter. Deer here see lots of pressure, and couple that with much of the Northern tier being less than desirable habitat for growing big deer, it does make it tough. Private land is the way to go, because at least then you do have some hand in managment, although private land hunting can be successful, you just have to put the leg work in like you would anywhere else. The days when there were 50-80 deer in a field in PA are gone, and for good reason. The habitat can't sustain that type of population. Do I think the PGC needs to micromanage more and not use one blanket HR plan on the entire state? Sure. However, the deer are still there, you just need to put the legwork in to find them. That doesn't mean hunt the same trusty stand you've hunted for the past twenty years. Get mobile. Find new spots. Scout harder, travel in deeper, etc.

Sorry, I'm ranting. In short:

Will PA ever have the mature bucks of the midwest? No. Is it hard to hunt for mature whitetails here? Yes...isn't it everywhere?
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:01 AM
  #7  
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Default RE: Just how tough is it?

Call me wrong, but I believe any place with big open hardwood stands is gonna be relatively tough to hunt. PA is one of those places.
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:03 AM
  #8  
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Default RE: Just how tough is it?

PA is tough, and like many said, quite varied. Over the years I've hunted everything form the central "big woods" to the western suburbs. Not familiar with the east side if the state at all, other than what I read. I'm fortunate in that most of my areas still hold very good numbers of deer. But finding a mature buck on accessible land is VERY difficult. Private land helps, but is certainly no guarantee. From my experiences besides the relentless hunter pressure, people pressure in general really make things difficult. I know deer adjust to human pressure, but that's when its everyday routine.(someone walking thier dog, etc) I run into random people pressure that kills me. There's no patterning that.

Add in the mentality of the majority of PA hunters, that if its legal is HAS to be shot and you still get very few bucks reaching maturity even with our AR's. It's almost like a race for people to get thier buck as quick as they can by any means neccesssary. Poaching and roadkills take thier toll as well.

I laugh on here when people talk about "pressure". Spend a season in PA and then we'll talk "pressure".
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:13 AM
  #9  
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Default RE: Just how tough is it?

ORIGINAL: Rick James

It really depends on where you are hunting in the state. I feel I can speak to this accurately because I've hunted6 different counties in different regions of the state over the last 12 years or so. It's drastically different depending on what region you are in. In general the eastern part of the state is very highly pressured and low deer population with the exception of Lancaster County, which is next to impossible to get access on. Also in general the further north you go in the state the lower the deer populations, because there are a LOT of big woods the further north you go.

I hunt in Northeast/Northcentral PA. An area not really known for big deer compared to other counties further west. I honestly don't know of anyone that has better success than I do in this part of the state. Rob consistently takes bucks about the same size and age class as the ones I'm putting down, and outside of him.......I don't know anyone that is doing this consistently in our part of the state. There are 120"+ bucks. I've seen them, but they are few and far between.

We don't have a shortage of deer at my place. We don't have a shortage of bucks now either after 5 years of whacking 3-5 does for every buck we take. I honestly see about 50/50 split between the two, better than anyone I personally know in PA. The problem is that even with 130 acres, a timber management project to produce the perfect bedding cover, several sanctuaries, and food plots everywhere.................the bucks we are passing are still getting shot elsewhere. We have good enough nutrition now that the 1.5's are 6+ pointers and legal to shoot. I will continue passing bucks that I don't believe are 3.5 years old though, because I know they are out there and you can't shoot one if your only tag is full because of a dink.

Edit - I will add one more thing here that a lot may not agree with. I honestly believe I have a MUCH better chance of killing a mature buck at my place in PA during the bow season. I've only seen two honest 3.5+ year old bucks in the state during firearms seasons over a 12 year period, I typically see that many each year during bow season. When the orange army hits the woods, all bets are off. I enjoy hunting with a gun, but don't spend the time to do it in PA because of this. I'd rather spend that time during firearms season in the big woods of the Adirondacks where you see significantly less deer, but also no other hunters.
Agreed. I hunt about 45 minutes SW of Matt, and can attest to the rifle season differences. There is significantly more people in the woods during the two weeks (ok, maybe the first two days ) of rifle than throughout the 6weeks of archery. You will hear about 80% of the shooting in our area occur within the first two hours of daylight on the Monday opener, and the final two hours of the opener. At times, it literally sounds like a war zone.
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Old 01-16-2009, 10:01 AM
  #10  
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Default RE: Just how tough is it?

Does the pressure during gun season drop off after the first week?

I've been to PA for several years, Potter County, bow hunting the first week. haven't been in several years, but thinking of going back.

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