DMAP coupons available for hunters
The Steelers don't play their first regular season game until Sept. 12, but the opening of training camp has some fans thinking about a return to the playoffs.
Likewise, the first chances to hunt deer are weeks away. Already, though, sportsmen are trying to sort out opportunities to harvest an extra antlerless deer or two.
Proof of that is the way the phones have been ringing in Bureau of Forestry offices across the state. Hunters have been calling early and often, trying to get information about deer management assistance program coupons.
"There's a tremendous amount of interest out there," said Merlin Benner, wildlife biologists for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which manages state forests and parks.
There are lots of DMAP coupons to be had. Preliminary figures from the Pennsylvania Game Commission put the total at 47,280, an increase of almost 16,000 over last hunting season.
The DCNR has about 25,000 of those, courtesy of having enrolled more than 720,000 acres of forest and park land -- or about one-third its entire land holdings -- into DMAP. A 3,043-acre portion of Ohiopyle State Park is in the program, as is a 1,751-acre portion of Forbes State Forest around Mt. Davis and a 2,440-acre portion of Gallitzin State Forest in Cambria County.
Hunters can apply for those coupons, which will be given away on a first-come, first-serve basis, beginning Aug. 23. Applications can be found at www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/dmap. Hunters can also apply in person or by mailing a letter with their name, address and back tag number to the district forest or state park office responsible for the tract they want to hunt. No phone applications will be taken.
Soon, DCNR's Web site will also include maps of the various DMAP tracts and other information meant to help hunters get to where the deer are. Already there's a "Frequently Asked Questions" section detailing things like how DMAP hunters did last year.
Hunters bought 10,654 of the 16,312 coupons available, killing 2,343 antlerless deer for a 21 percent success rate. That resulted in an average reduction in the deer herds on DMAP areas of 3.3 antlerless deer per square mile.
Interestingly, some of the highest success rates -- up to 7.43 percent -- were achieved in some of the least-hunted areas.
"That kind of flies in the face of what we've heard from some people, that the remote areas don't get hunted because there aren't any deer there," Benner said. "Actually, there were probably more deer available to hunters in those areas."
Allegheny National Forest, meanwhile, has another 12,250 DMAP coupons to give away, spread across three zones: unit 134, which lies north of Route 59 and the Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative; unit 1356, south of Route 59 and the KQDC; and unit 148, which encompasses the rest of the national forest.
Allegheny National Forest is making its coupons available immediately on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applications -- available at 34 licensing issuing agents in Elk, Forest, McKean, and Warren counties or on-line at www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/allegheny/recreation/hunting/dmap_online_application.html -- will be taken via mail, e-mail, fax or in person. No phone requests will be accepted.
The Game Commission, meanwhile, is listing participating DMAP landowners on its Web site. Go to www.pgc.state.pa.us and click on "DMAP" in the Quick Clicks section to bring up a map of the state. Click on an individual county to learn about DMAP properties there and how to contact the landowner.