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Sportsman Outdoors

Pros and cons on PA's DMAP!

Jack Danchak
Posted 9/15/23

Pennsylvania’s Deer Management Assistance Program, better known as DMAP, is available on some state game lands for the first time in the 2023-24 hunting seasons.  

Through DMAP, …

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Sportsman Outdoors

Pros and cons on PA's DMAP!


Pennsylvania’s Deer Management Assistance Program, better known as DMAP, is available on some state game lands for the first time in the 2023-24 hunting seasons. 

Through DMAP, hunters can get permits that allowed them to harvest antlerless deer, one per tag, on the property for which the permit was issued.

“DMAP has been around for years, but previously was offered only on other public lands and private lands to help landowners achieve land use goals and or to limit the spread of chronic wasting disease, but it’s needed on some state game lands now as well,” said Game Commission Forestry Division Chief Paul Weiss.

Forest management conducted on state game lands is intended to create the best variety of habitat for wildlife, a desirable distribution of three age classes, including early successful forest. But over browsing by deer is limiting the success of those efforts.

Weiss said, “We cannot successfully re-establish new age classes and get them through to maturity if we cannot get the seedlings beyond deer browse height.”

Weiss also said, “Dig beneath the ferns and you will find knee-high red maples as big around as your thumb. But they can get no taller before deer browse them back. If that continues, that would-be forest, and others like it elsewhere, will have no future.”  

The Game Commission issued 4,679 DMAP permits for units within 24 game lands, and in the first four days more than 2,400 were sold.

While the DMAP permits for game lands sold at a brisk pace early on, not all hunters believed it was a good idea.

Greg Levengood, who hunts in the northern part of the state, questioned the need for DMAP on game lands since the Game Commission increased the antlerless allocation this year by 147,000 to almost 1.1 million.

Greg said, “I never run into anyone in any part of the state who told me there are so many deer on state game lands that they need to kill more. It’s usually the opposite, it doesn’t make sense.”

Greg went on to say, “The Game Commission should focus more on enhancing the deer herd and propagating game rather than trees. It’s like the opinion of hunters and our input doesn’t matter anymore. On top of all the other questionable actions by the Game Commission recently, this is just one more thing. It doesn’t make sense.” 

By excluding game lands from DMAP previously, it gave hunters an incentive to hunt elsewhere to take advantage of additional tags and opportunities.

Game lands enrolled include only those where every other option to promote successful forest habitat regeneration, from opening roads to increasing deer hunter access to creating deer hunter focus areas to fencing, were first exhausted, according to the Game Commission.

Tony Hudak hunts on State Game Land 57 which had a DMAP allotment of 60 permits. Hudak said he doesn’t understand how any of State Game Land 57 could be included in DMAP.

Hudak said, “I hunted, hiked and biked 57 all of my life and I was very surprised when I saw there was going to be a DMAP unit there. I also know a lot of guys that hunt the exact area included in the DMAP unit, and they don’t see the deer numbers that would warrant DMAP. I’m certainly not supportive of it.” 


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