HARRISBURG – In an attempt to balance the Pennsylvania Game Commission's program of deer management between the recommendations of staff biologists and input from hunters, the board of game commissioners gave preliminary approval at Tuesday's quarterly meeting to expand the split, five-day antlered deer season and seven-day concurrent season to a total of 11 wildlife management units during the statewide firearms season for the 2011-12 hunting and trapping seasons.
Preliminary approval was given by the board gave to include WMUs 2A, 2F and 3B with 2C, 2D, 2E, 2G, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E for five days of antlered deer hunting only when the season opens, Monday, Nov. 28, continue through Friday, Dec. 2, and have concurrent antlered and antlerless hunting open Saturday, Dec. 3, and continue through the Saturday, Dec. 10, close of the season. Concurrent antlered and antlerless hunting will continue to be held during the entire two-week season in the other 11 WMUs of 1A, 1B, 2B, 3A, 3D, 4A, 4C, 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D.
Hunters with Deer Management Assistance Program antlerless deer permits may use them on the lands for which they were issued during any established deer season, and will continue to be permitted to harvest antlerless deer from Nov. 28-Dec. 10 in WMUs 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3B, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E. Fees for DMAP permits are $10 for residents and $35 for nonresidents.
In other action effecting deer hunting, the board gave preliminary approval to extend the statewide late archery and late flintlock muzzleloader seasons. If approved at the Tuesday, April 12 quarterly meeting, these late seasons will open Monday, Dec. 26, and conclude Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, to include the Martin Luther King holiday.
Public comments on all proposed 2011-12 seasons and bag limits, as well as other board actions, can be made between now and the Monday, April 11, opening of the next quarterly meeting. Antlerless allocations for the 22 WMUs will also be made by the board following staff recommendations at the April meeting, as deer harvest estimates for the 2010-11 seasons will not be available until mid-March.
On motion by newly elected board vice president Ralph Martone, preliminary approval was also give to a regulation change in the antler restriction definitions in the current four-point area in the western WMUs of 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2D. If approved, hunters in these five WMUs would need to identify "three up," not including brow tines which are to be assumed – and essentially requires three points on the main antler beam for a buck to be legal.
"The idea of changing antler restrictions in the four-point area began a year ago when commissioner Bob Schlemmer and I were hearing from many sportsmen about the difficulty of seeing brow tines," Martone said. "Recently, when Bureau Director for Wildlife Management Cal DuBrock reported on research showing that such a change would affect only a small percentage of antlered deer, commissioner Schlemmer and I asked executive director Carl Roe to prepare language eliminating the need to identify brow tines in the four-point areas for inclusion in the agenda for January's Board meeting."
In other action relating to deer, on Monday the board received a report on the PGC's deer population estimating methodology and release of deer population estimates, which is consistent with the Wildlife Management Institute's recommendations on the agency's deer management program, as outlined in the 'The Deer Management Program of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, A Comprehensive Review and Evaluation,' which is commonly called the "Deer Audit."
Release of this information was proposed by past board president Jay Delaney at last October's quarterly meeting. This report can be viewed by going to the agency website at www.pgc.state.pa.us  http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/  and clicking on the "White-Tailed Deer" icon in the center of the homepage, then selecting "Monitoring Deer Populations in Pennsylvania" in the "Research Publications" section.
Also approved was preliminary approval to bring back the concurrent bear and deer seasons in specific WMUs and portions of WMUs, as well as extending the traditional statewide bear season to four days. If approved in April, again this year there will be a statewide five-day archery bear season, from Monday-Friday, Nov. 14-18; a four-day statewide bear season that will open Saturday, Nov. 19, and continue Monday-Wednesday, Nov. 21-23; a concurrent bear/deer season to be held Monday-Friday, Nov. 28-Dec. 3, in WMUs 3A and 3C and portions of WMUs 2G and 3B; and a concurrent bear/deer season in WMUs 3D, 4C, 4D, 4E, 5B and 5C, Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 30-Dec. 3.