Deer Harvest Slightly Up -Inside the Outdoors- Dec. 5, 2008

Compared to last year, when rifle deer season started off with a rainy Monday, cold and dry temperatures may have helped deer stay put rather than take to the hills. At least that is what customers of Golden’s Market, in Ligonier are telling the owners upon bringing the harvested animals to be processed.

“The kill is about the same as last year,” reported Barbara Golden, “with a take of over 150 deer the first several days of the first week.” As part of approximately one-half dozen Westmoreland County registered meat processors for the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) program, six deer were reportedly donated to the Westmoreland County Food Bank (WMFB) from this outlet.

But if one were to ask Sam Monteparte from Custom Deer Processing in New Alexandria as to whether he has taken in more deer this year than last, he would tell you, “The kill is up from last year.” When questioned as to why, he replied, “Because it didn’t rain on the first day.”

So far, Monteparte said hunters brought in 60 deer as of Wednesday morning. He, too, is registered with the state as a participant with the HSH program. So far, individuals have donated six deer from his place of business as well. Monteparte wanted it disclosed that even though the state requires $15 to process deer, he will cover this expense, so there will be no charge concerning donations made.

So what did other processors experience the first couple days of this season?

Mark Zimmerman, from Hoffer’s Ligonier Valley Packing, saw a rise in deer kill this year. After approximately three days, he took in over 213 animals, an increase of nine deer over last year. It was revealed last year that previously to 2007, the company would average 350 whitetails after the first three days of rifle deer season.

By further questioning him, he remarked, “We are seeing that a good many deer have nice racks and many are two and one-years old and older,” the HSH contributor pointed out.

Going beyond this county, Scott Cunningham of Cunningham Meats in Indiana was contacted. Reportedly, his organization did so much better this year than the previous one. Most everything he detailed was of positive nature. The animals were bigger, they had much larger racks and were much older. They ranged from two and one-half to seven and one-half years old. “Some of the really old deer had antlers on them like tree stumps,” he related. He seemed to feel that there were definitely more bucks brought into his shop.

Not all meat processor representatives were as enthusiastic about the harvests this year.

Gary Buckles, owner of The Buck Stops Here, New Florence, expressed his dismay with deer rifle season. “We are losing a lot of young hunters,” he said, “because they are not seeing deer. They’re finding it more entertaining staying at home watching videos.” He also criticized the deer management programs. “We have to go back to the old ways of hunting,” he stressed. “It’s not right that farmers be allowed to shoot a deer a month on their lands.” He then brought up the subject of game versus private lands. “People are not seeing deer on gamelands. It’s terrible!” he exclaimed. “Hunting is good on private land. Posting is saving both the does and the bucks.” Finally, the entrepreneur explained, “We don’t have enough does. If we continue to shoot them, we’ll drive away the bucks. As a result, we will not have enough deer where they are supposed to be.”

Shirley Stana, from Billy’s Country Smoke House indicated that the take this year is about the same as last, 65 to 70 deer over a two-day period. Last year, she made the statement, “Usually, hunters will have brought in a couple hundred by Wednesday. We’ve even done a whole lot better than that.”

And a representative from G. Karas Packing in Export who wished not to be identified also expressed that the amount of deer being brought in this year is also about the same as last year. “The only difference is the bucks have much bigger racks,” she said. There is another positive note here. G. Karas Packing customers have donated 20 deer to the WMFB.

When Latrobe’s Jim Reschick was approached and asked about his hunting experiences he responded, “I saw 18 deer the first day, most of them doe. I caught sight of one buck, but it was not large enough to shoot.”

Mark Boerio, owner of the Army/Navy Store in Latrobe, also told of his sightings. “There are just far too many does and not enough bucks,” he said.

But don’t try to convince that to eleven year-old Brett Batsa. The Latrobe youngster killed his first deer, a four-point, at 8:15 a.m. on the first day. Mentored by his father, the lad harvested the animal near the airport in Indiana County. Brett is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Batsa, 350 American Legion Rd.

Article by:
Paul J. Volkmann (December 3, 2008)
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