If you have a longing to hunt in an area where deer numbers are similar to what they were during the peak years, it can be done. I am not suggesting that any area in Pennsylvania now has deer density as great as the densest areas from the mid-1960s through the 1990s, but there are places nearby that are at least as good, and probably more, that the average areas of the Allegheny Highlands during those years that so many older deer hunters are pining away for.
Now, of course there will be some deer hunters who will not believe this, which is fine because I would just as soon that not everyone takes advantage of the opportunity I am about to describe. This is for you hunters who have some faith, some positive feelings.
Information about the Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative has appeared several times in this column, including the subject of this column. But hardly anyone has taken advantage of it.
Why are so few deer hunters taking advantage of this?
Deer hunters, as a group, are traditionalists. Many of us will hunt the same place year after year and stubbornly complain about the lack of deer even though they can plainly see that the habitat has changed. Even if the habitat has not changed, it is stubborn to continue to hunt in the same place when deer have become scarce.
During the decade I have worked with the Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative I have become much more aware just how much deer hunters are creatures of habit. In the parts of the KQDC where most hunters like to hunt deer, densities have been reduced to very low numbers, less than five per square mile in some areas. I have driven a roadside deer count through this area for 10 years, and during the past few years it has not been unusual to see no deer on the 22-mile route.
At the same time deer density is approaching 40 per square mile in some places where hunters have not been going.
Much more detailed information is available at the KQDC web site. Pay particular attention to the maps page. That will show you exactly where deer are most dense, and how to get there.
Several ANF roads that are usually blocked by gates are unlocked for hunters. Roads on private lands in the KQDC also are unlocked for hunters. Signs have been posted on roads to let hunters know they are allowed to hunt there. Yet hunters have been hesitant to hunt on the KQDC private lands.
Hunting this area with more deer is not easy. The ANF maintains forest roads in reasonably good driving condition. Roads on private Lands may be fewer and in poorer condition.
The area with the greatest deer density on the KQDC is basically just to the west of Bradford on lands owned by the Bradford Watershed and Collins Pine. There are at least a couple of ways to get into this area. One is a road that is off Route 346 just downstream from Bradford Reservoir No. 3, also called Marilla Reservoir. Another starts by turning off Route 321 onto Forest Road (FR) 176 or FR 137. Both of these roads connect with FR 173 which gets you to the area with the greatest deer density.
I will have no sympathy for anyone who tells me they hunted the area and did not see many deer. It is a difficult area to hunt for at least a couple of reasons. Considerable timber cutting in this area had produced a lot of dense cover. Also, if few hunters are there to mover deer toward you, the best you may do is see tails.
Good luck. If you go I may see you there. It is a good place to find nice big woods bucks.
Do not forget County Council benefit clays shoot
Next Sunday, Oct. 3, is the benefit sporting clays shoot for the Warren County Council of Sportsmen's Clubs at Kalbfus Rod and Gun Club. Think about all of the things the council does for kids, then ask yourself if you have an excuse for missing this shoot. Or just consider the fun you will have. You can have the fun of rubbing it into me how much you out-shot me. Sign-up 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Also on Sunday is the Charles Anderson Memorial Shoot at Pine Grove Sportsmen's Club, a benefit for their youth programs. This will be a 50-target program of wobble/handicap with protections to follow. Sign-up noon to 3 p.m.