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Deer Wars

Science, Tradition, and the Battle over Managing Whitetails in Pennsylvania

Bob Frye

Publication Year: 2006

The story of deer management in Pennsylvania is as complex as it is controversial. From the disappearance of deer in Pennsylvania forests at the beginning of the twentieth century to the population explosion that occurred in the latter half of the century, the balance between herd size and a healthy forest has long been a difficult one. In Deer Wars, Bob Frye examines this controversy and the effect that herd management has had on all of the citizens of Pennsylvania; farmers managing deer invasions and property rights, hunters dealing with changing herd densities and ever-complex restrictions, state agencies juggling the rights of hunters with the needs of commercial interests, all with stakes in the success and health of the deer herd. Now with deer harvests decreasing, Chronic Wasting Disease becoming a potential threat, and forests showing serious signs of trouble, the need for compromise from all of the players is essential, but is it possible? This well-researched and engrossing book explores that question.

Published by: Penn State University Press

Series: A Keystone Book ®


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pp. iv


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xiii

Deer management influences all of us—whether you hunt or not, whether you’re trying to grow shrubs in the suburbs or in a country garden, whether you’re a farmer, a forester, or just trying to drive across our state. Restoring white-tailed deer to their previous range in the early 1900s, after being exterminated from many areas during a century or more of overexploitation, has often been touted...

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pp. xv-xvii

To my way of thinking, the white-tailed deer, more than any other animal, speaks to wilderness, at least here in Pennsylvania. I know they flourish today amid our housing plans and city parks, and they often end up dead along our roads. But it’s easy to see with the mind’s eye a Native American or an early pioneer stalking a white-tailed deer or carrying one home for the table, its meat and bone and...

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1 How Much Is Enough?

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pp. 1-27

The door of the one-room schoolhouse burst open with a bang, quieting in an instant the normal before-class chatter. Goosebumps rose on the flesh of the students, in part because of the icy blade of cold air that knifed through the room. More than that, though, it was the look on the face of their classmate. Eyes wide, hair askew from ripping off his cap, out of breath from running through ...

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2 The Nature of Overabundance

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pp. 29-56

Arthur Stewart sounded like a happy man when we talked in the fall of 2004. Superintendent of Valley Forge National Historical Park, he was less than three months away from retirement and was looking forward to getting away. He wasn’t sure where he and his wife might end up. They were debating whether to stay close to the park, move to an area of Maryland he’d been eyeing, or perhaps go to...

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3 When You Can’t See the Forest for the Deer

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pp. 57-80

John Dzemyan is tall and lanky, with a loose-jointed, limb-swinging gait. The first time I saw him walking across the parking lot of the Game Commission’s maintenance building near Ridgway, he immediately reminded me of Shaggy, Scooby Doo’s laid-back sidekick. Like that cartoon character, he was friendly, easygoing, quick to smile and laugh. When he took off his hat, revealing a bald spot that he...

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4 Too Many Mouths in the Grocery Aisle

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pp. 81-103

It was almost perfect, really, in a twisted sort of way. We were standing at the edge of a cornfield on Sheldon Brymesser’s farm in Boiling Springs, Cumberland County. The corn was green and lush, row after row of stalks taller than my six foot one. The woods beyond the field, the grass sprouting from the tractor tire–rutted dirt where we had walked, the farmhouse lawn in the distance, all were just as...

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5 At Home in the ’Burbs

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pp. 105-132

It was the reference to “Mad Dog,” I remember, that surprised me. Michele Clarke is a middle-aged mother of two who stands a hair shy of five feet, I’d guess. Dressed in business-casual clothes and the kind of shoes that I think my wife refers to as “flats,” she had led me down a carpeted hall flanked by clean white walls to her office. It’s one room in a nice building with big glass doors, a woodlot...

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6 Bambi Versus the Buick

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pp. 133-151

The first time I tried to set up a meeting with Lou Calandrella, he turned me away. It wasn’t that he didn’t want the company, he said. The rejection was for my benefit. The muggy heat of August—when corpses swell, flies buzz, and maggots crawl—is not the best time to play sidekick to a professional roadkill collector. Those aren’t quite the words Calandrella uses to describe what he does for a...

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7 Heroes or Goats?

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pp. 153-179

We were in the car, my father and I, going I don’t remember where. I do know that it was spring and that I had fishing on the brain. My dad did not. Fish that have yet to be fooled, whether by fly, lure, or worm, hold little appeal for him. He prefers I asked why. He had tried fishing, he said, but just once. When he was a child, his parents took him and his four brothers to a state park for a picnic and some...

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8 Questions and Answers

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pp. 181-199

Standing at the edge of the road, looking up at the hill that started on the opposite side of the ditch at our feet, I felt a little nervous. Man, it looked steep. I had worn my leather boots to keep my feet dry from the dew and a sweatshirt over my T-shirt to keep the early morning chill at bay. Now, though, I was secretly wishing...

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9 Getting to the Point of Managing Deer Correctly

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pp. 201-226

Josh Schrecengost’s words—“From this point on, we’re pretty much silent”— belied the chaos that was to come. Schrecengost and three other members of a deer capture team were walking up a forest road, Greg, Marrett Grund, and me in tow, headed for a clover box trap that held a whitetail. Their task was to put radio transmitters and ear tags on...

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10 In the Eye of the Storm

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pp. 227-255

Gary Alt doesn’t look like your prototypical leading man. If Pennsylvania deer management was a James Bond movie, the folks in casting would probably take one look at him—short, bespectacled, with less hair than any action hero this side of Bruce Willis—and make him agent 0031/2. Alt’s appearance, though, belies a startlingly intense passion for Pennsylvania’s natural resources....

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11 A Wild Card in the Deer Management Deck

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pp. 257-280

Dressed in his camouflage jacket and overalls and his knee-high rubber boots, Jim Loree looked as if he had just walked out of a John Deere catalog when Greg and I met him. That was appropriate, I guess, considering that Loree is both a...

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12 A Look to the Future

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pp. 281-305

It was midsummer and Mandy, Derek, Tyler, and I were in Harrisburg. I was so glad to be there. We’d spent the past three days camping at Assateague Island National Seashore with Greg, his wife, Jill, and their son, Jared. It had had its moments of fun—camping on the sand, waking up to see sika deer wandering past just outside the tent, getting out of the ocean to see wild ponies napping near...


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pp. 306-310

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780271053172
E-ISBN-10: 0271053178
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271028859
Print-ISBN-10: 0271028858

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 39 b/w photos
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: A Keystone Book ®