It's crazy hot outside.
And I know the thought of sitting in a tree stand doing your best to keep your 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.
Pennsylvania’s doe licenses went on sale last week. As usual, they’re selling fast. In other words, if you want to bag a doe this year, you’d better get moving.
Each spring, the Game Commission determines 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 22 wildlife management units. Across the commonwealth, it allocated 748,000 antlerless licenses this year — an increase of 1,500 from last year. In the unit that contains York County, the Commission set aside 50,000 antlerless tags. About half of them have already been sold.
Popular units sold out: Local hunters still have a chance to get their tags. But if you hunt in a handful of units, you’re already out of luck.
Five of the most popular units in the states are already sold out. For example Unit 2G, which includes parts of Potter, Clinton and Tioga counties, had an allocation of just 21,000 tags. They’re all accounted for.
But there’s hope. Deer hunters that weren’t able to get a tag in their preferred unit can try their luck in a different unit or take advantage of a program that is underutilized in the state.
DMAP program: Pennsylvania’s Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) helps landowners keep problematic deer herds under control. The program is simple, but it does take some extra effort by the hunter (which may explain why it's underutilized).
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 their hands on 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 most of us, hunting is not at the top of our minds during the dog days of summer. It’s still too hot to head into the woods, but it’s a perfect time to ensure you have ample opportunities when the weather cools.
If you want a doe tag, you’d better get moving.
Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.