Frye: Never-ending debate flares up
By Bob Frye
Published: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Deer harvest figures in Pennsylvania are like grainy, out-of-focus, black and white photos of large hairy animals.
Two people look at them. One sees evidence of a real-life Sasquatch, the other sees a guy in a gorilla suit.
Everyone's got their own conclusion, and there's no changing anyone's mind.
The Game Commission comes up with its annual deer kill estimates by counting the harvest cards hunters turn in, then compare that to what they find when they visit butcher shops across the state. They check about 25,000 deer a year.
Some, like commissioner Dave Putnam of Centre County, believe the agency's estimate is pretty reliable. Others disagree, and probably wouldn't believe any figure the agency came up with anyway.
How to address that has been the subject of long debate. Never does a season go by that someone doesn't offer up an idea to improve things.
Last week, state Rep. Bob Godshall of Montgomery County told commissioners he intends to introduce legislation that would require hunters to say whether they killed a deer before they could buy a hunting license the following year.
Putnam pointed out there's already a mandatory reporting mechanism in place. Hunters who kill a deer are required by law to report it, either online, by phone or by mailing in a postage-paid card.
Less than four in 10 do.
Would Godshall's plan change that? Not necessarily, as a hunter could say, truthfully or otherwise, he did or didn't get a deer just to get a license.
There's a bigger problem, though.
Now, the commission provides estimates of the fall deer harvest the following March. That's a few weeks prior to deciding how many doe licenses to make available for the next season.
Under Godshall's plan, a hunter who killed a deer with a bow in Allegheny County in September wouldn't have to tell the commission about it until the following summer, at least.
That would leave the commission in the spot of having to decide how many doe licenses to make available one year not knowing how many deer had been killed the year before.
At least we're not alone in this.
Like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin is a huge whitetail hunting state. There, for decades, hunters have been required to report taking a deer in person at a check station.
Starting next fall, that's going by the wayside. Instead, hunters will have to report their deer — wait for it — online or by phone.
Hunters there may believe the count. But Pennsylvania's history says they should expect otherwise.
Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Frye: Questions remain for Allegheny River walleye
- Thinning hares raise concerns across Pa.
- Outdoor notices: March 1
- Outdoors notebook: Sewickley Creek to be stocked with trout
- Outdoors notices: March 2
- Big trout key to Yough River stocking effort