Outdoors Notebook: Big management unit split in two

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In 2010, when the state Legislature commissioned an independent study of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's deer management plan, one of the Wildlife Management Institute's recommendations was that the agency draw smaller, more manageable wildlife management units. One of the largest and most controversial units was split into two at the recent spring meeting of the Game Commission.

New WMU 2H was created through a subdivision of WMU 2G, which took up a big chunk of the northcentral Pennsylvania Wilds. Many hunters complained that deer management practices dramatically reduced the whitetail population in the northern tier. Game Commission biologists argued that deer numbers were growing to suit available habitat. An April 2012 study by the Game Commission concluded that in WMUs 2G, 2D, 3C and 4B, deer populations were increasing. In 2012, 2G had an antlerless allocation of 33,000 tags. From 2011 to 2012 the doe harvest rose from 3,600 to 5,500, while the buck kill held about steady from 6,800 to 6,300.

Splitting the large former WMU 2G was recommended by a board committee headed by commissioner David Putnam. The smaller 2G will be allocated 28,000 tags this season. The new WMU 2H will have an allocation of 6,000, and its official boundaries, seasons, bag limits and other details are expected to be announced soon.

Allocations, seasons

The Game Commission has approved antlerless allocations, hunting seasons and bag limits for the 2013-14 license year, which begins July 1. Total doe tags: 839,000. By WMU: 1A 49,000, 1B 31,000, 2A 49,000, 2B 62,000, 2C 43,000, 2D 61,000, 2E 22,000, 2F 29,000, 2G 28,000, 2H 6,000, 3A 23,000, 3B 39,000, 3C 35,000, 3D 32,000, 4A 28,000, 4B 24,000, 4C 27,000, 4D 35,000, 4E 26,000, 5A 19,000, 5B 50,000, 5C 103,000 and 5D 18,000.

The antlered-antlerless deer season runs Dec. 2-14 in WMUs 1A, 1B, 2B, 3A, 3D, 4A, 4C, 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D. In WMUs 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3B, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E it's antlered only Dec. 2-6, antlered-antlerless Dec. 7-14.

In other Game Commission news, commissioner Robert Schlemmer of Export, Westmoreland County, was elected president. First appointed to the board in 2009, Schlemmer was elected vice president in 2012.

Fly fishing school

If it has to do with fly fishing, anglers can learn all about it at one-day and two-day classes taught by trout guides John Stanton and Leo Vensel and sponsored by International Angler. A beginner fly fishing school ($225 for 1 1/2 days) covering all the basics will be held at the Robinson store and on the water at Slippery Rock Creek. An intermediate school ($150 for each half day, $250 for a combo full day), held on the creek, focuses on nymphing and dry fly fishing. May 4 and May 5; registration by May 1. 412-788-8088, IA2@internationalangler.com.

Pirates hats

Pittsburgh Pirates fans with valid Pennsylvania fishing licenses can get cool limited edition camouflaged Pirates ball caps through a promotion linking the team and the state Fish and Boat Commission. A combined cap and outfield box ticket package costs $25 Sundays through Fridays at Pirates games at PNC Park. Details: www.fishandboat.com.

Outdoors show

Harrisburg's big Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show, canceled in January due to a vendor boycott protesting the promoter's ban on the sale of semi-automatic rifles, will return in 2014 with a new promoter -- the National Rifle Association. An NRA spokesman said they "absolutely" will include semi-automatics and will expand the firearms section of the show.

Slippery Rock cleanup

Butler County's Jennings Environmental Education Center and Paddle Without Pollution will team up to clean the water and shoreline of portions of Slippery Rock Creek, 9 a.m. Saturday. Registration, details: www.paddlewithoutpollution.com/events.

WCO award

Southwest region Wildlife Conservation Officer Rodney L. Burns of Armstrong County was the 2012 Pennsylvania recipient of the Shikar-Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the Year Award, given to recognize professionalism and outstanding performance of duties.



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