Regular readers of this
column know that over the past almost six years this
writer has made numerous predictions about our future.
Over that same time period, a few of our PGC
Commissioners joked that I must have a crystal ball that
helps me predict our future. They candidly admitted
that they were archiving my columns to one-day look back
and determine if my predictions were accurate.
Fortunately for me, but unfortunately for our great
hunting tradition, my predictions have been dead nuts
accurate. Things are going to hell in a hand-basket
As I write this, our first week of the
much-anticipated 2004 trophy buck season is almost
over. From all indications at this particular moment,
the season has been a dismal failure. As always, I am
certain there are a few private hunting clubs and
private landowners that harvested some nice bucks.
However, the emails that I have received have been from
irate hunters unable to even locate one deer. Stories
of low deer sightings are prominent from all corners of
the state. Butcher shops are reporting a reduction of
incoming carcasses by 50% to 75% compared to last year.
Personally, I have hunted hard everyday and seen does
and fawns taken almost exclusively. Bucks have been far
and few between.
In my circle of friends we speak of the “mop
up operation” being almost complete. We have all long
realized that the Dr. Alt plan was never about improving
our deer or deer hunting; it was always about herd
reduction. We further realized that the poor forest
regeneration story was merely a smoke screen to try to
hide the true agenda. DCNR, driven by special interest
group agendas wants the deer dead in this state. Our
hunters are now harvesting the remnants of our once
great deer herd. In the absence of trophy bucks the
remaining does, fawns and button bucks are falling
victim to our frustrated hunters.
If you were paying attention, you should
have realized there was trouble in paradise for some
time. When the PGC was not bragging about the archery
season and pictures of trophy deer of any magnitude were
missing from the newspapers were both indications that
trophy deer were in short supply.
Another big clue that
the herd was way down was revealed in the recent PGC
press release. Press Secretary Jerry Feaser and Dr.
Gary Alt were advising hunters to look in unusual
places, not the usual places you would normally find
deer. They were indicating that due to many factors,
you may not find deer because they have moved to a new
area. Unfortunately, there isn’t a shred of science in
either of those statements. We have long known deer are
homebodies and will live and die on 600-800 acres.
Bucks may roam a bit during the rut, but deer always
gravitate to their home territory. We have further
established scientifically that once deer are eradicated
from an area it can take five years for the area to
repopulate naturally. Take our deer populations down
too low and it may take 20-30 years to get back to a
vibrant statewide herd. We will all be dead by then and
so will our hunting tradition.
Getting back to my
crystal ball, let me tell you what I think is going to
happen next. After this season is over and a complete
bust (and I truly hope it isn’t) our hunters will
pressure our legislators to close the doe season next
year. The PGC will not willingly do this and will
continue to claim we have a deer epidemic on our hands.
Hearings will be held. The weather will be blamed for
the poor harvest. Even if the PGC compromises and
dramatically cuts doe allocations, the guarantee in the
matter is the loss of millions of dollars for the PGC.
Additionally, we will see a loss of hunter license sales
next season and the loss of additional millions for the
While all of this is
unfolding the PGC will try to slip a license increase
through the legislature to bail itself out. About that
time the PGC civil rights lawsuits will settle costing
sportsmen more money.
the PGC’s weakest moment merger talk will resurface with
some proclaiming we have no choice, but to turn the PGC
over to DCNR.
Actually, our Commissioners have been the
larger dismal failure for allowing this scenario to
arrive at this point. We need to now involve our
legislators to get politics out of deer management.
I find that reality to
be just simply amazing.
Jim Slinsky is the host
and producer of the “Sportsman’s Connection”, a
nationally syndicated, outdoor-talk radio program. For
a station near you or to contact Jim, visit his website