I got my doe license.
Those are two sentences I hear a lot this time of the year. The answer to the question could easily determine the fate of a hunter's season.
I understand it's hot out and sitting in a tree stand doing our best to keep our toes from freezing is far from most of our minds. But if you want to put some extra meat in your freezer this year, you'd better pay attention.
Doe licenses are selling fast. Some units will be sold out very soon.
Each spring, the Pennsylvania Game Commission sits down to determine what it believes is the optimal antlerless deer harvest. It looks at last year's harvest data. It reviews biologist reports. And, contrary to popular belief, it takes input from hunters.
It then sets a license quota for each of the state's 23 wildlife management units. Across the commonwealth, it allocated 746,500 antlerless licenses for this season — a reduction of 33,000 from last year. In the unit that contains York County, the Commission set aside 50,000 antlerless tags. It's an increase of 1,000 over last year's allocation.
But here's the important part. The tags are selling fast. Tens of thousands of tags have been sold across the state since the Commission began selling them on Monday.
Under-utilized program: One of the most popular units in the states, which consists of Potter, Clinton and Tioga counties, has just a few thousand tags left in its allotment. Once they're gone, doe hunters are out of luck. They'll have to try their luck in a different unit or take advantage of a program that is under utilized in the state.
Pennsylvania's Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) helps landowners keep problematic deer herds under control. The program is fairly simple, but it does take some extra effort by the hunter (which may explain why it is under utilized).
The program works by allocating a set number of antlerless tags to a property owner based on the size and use of his land. The landowner then allows hunters to take one of the tags and harvest a deer.
The trick for the hunter is to get one of the tags. To do that, they have to log on to the Commission's website and search the DMAP database of landowners. Then they must contact the owner and get a coupon for the property.
Again, all it takes is a bit of legwork. But in the end, everybody wins. A hunter gets a shot at a hunting opportunity he may not have had without the program and the landowner keeps the herd under control.
For deer hunters, it is an anxious time of the year.
It's still too hot to head into the woods, but it's a perfect time to ensure you have ample opportunities once the weather cools.
Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.