Saturday, January 16, 2016

PA Doe License Application Schedule Under Review

By Bob Frye
Is this a solution in search of a problem?
Pennsylvania Game Commissioners might change the antlerless deer license application system to allow out-of-staters to seek doe tags at the same time as state residents.
Currently, residents get a two-week head start. In the 2015-16 license year, for example, residents could apply for a doe tag by mail starting July 13. Nonresidents had to wait until July 27.
That led to complaints.
Commissioners said they heard from non-residents — usually former Pennsylvanians who moved away for work but want to return to hunt — who couldn't get a tag. Their wildlife management unit of choice sold out too quickly.
That's nothing new, commission president Dave Putnam said. Commissioners hear that all the time, particularly last year, when they reduced the number of doe tags available.
Even then, it wasn't a huge problem, according to the numbers.
Dot Derr, director of the commission's bureau of administrative services, said only five of 23 wildlife management units sold out of doe tags before non-residents could apply last year. The number was three in 2014, one in '13, zero in '12 and one in '11.
The 18 units that did have tags available for nonresidents last year generally had a lot — anywhere from nearly 2,300 to more than 63,000.
The commission never has sold more than 21,292 nonresident doe tags in a year since 2011, Derr's numbers showed, so everyone who wanted to hunt could have done so somewhere.
“The point would be we're pretty close to where everybody could get one license,” commissioner Tim Layton of Windber said.
People like to hunt specific places, though — such as from family camps — and allowing everyone to apply simultaneously likely wouldn't be a big deal, commissioner Brian Hoover of Delaware County said.
The board might consider such a change at its next voting session Feb. 2.
Derr warned, though, it could bring challenges.
County treasurers alone have the authority to sell doe licenses, but there's no standard operating procedure for how they do it, she said.
Licenses are supposed to be sold on a strict first-come, first-served basis. Some treasurers do that, opening each application and fulfilling that request before going to the next, Derr said. Others have multiple people opening applications, putting them all in a box, then fulfilling them from there.
That possibly could leave resident hunters without a doe tag, as already was the case last year in places.
Bob Frye is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or @bobfryeoutdoors

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