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Pennsylvania hunters posted their highest overall deer harvest in 15 years when they took 389,431 deer during the state’s 2019-20 hunting seasons, which closed in January, the Pennsylvania Game Commission reported today.

The 2019-20 deer harvest topped the previous year’s harvest of 374,690 by about 4 percent. The last time the total deer harvest exceeded this season’s total was in 2004-05, when 409,320 whitetails were taken.

The statewide buck harvest saw a generous bump of 10 percent, coming in at 163,240. In the 2018-19 seasons, 147,750 bucks were taken. In the preceding license year, 163,750 bucks were harvested. The largest harvest in the antler-restrictions era – 165,416 – occurred in the first year.

“One of the highlights of the 2019-20 deer harvest was deer hunters continue to experience antlered harvest success levels comparable to historic highs in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” noted Christopher Rosenberry, Game Commission Deer and Elk Section supervisor. “In recent years, about 17 to 18 percent of all hunters harvested an antlered deer, and we look for this trend to continue.

The antlerless deer harvest over the 2019-20 seasons was 226,191, which includes 10,461 taken with chronic wasting disease Deer Management Assistance Program permits. The 2018-19 overall antlerless deer harvest was 226,940, which was about 10 percent larger than the 2017-18 harvest of 203,409.

Except on Deer Management Assistance Program properties and in Wildlife Management Areas 2B, 5B and 5D, antlerless deer hunting with firearms doesn’t begin until the first Saturday of deer rifle season. That has limited antlerless deer hunting to seven of the rifle season’s 13 days.

Still, hunters took a good number of antlerless deer, mirroring the 2018-19 antlerless deer harvest.

“Keeping harvest pressure on antlerless deer is critical in our ongoing efforts to address the risk of chronic wasting disease (CWD), particularly in Disease Management Areas,” explained Rosenberry. “That hunters took over 10,000 antlerless deer with DMA DMAP permits illustrates the cooperation we need from deer hunters to help whitetails where CWD threats are at their greatest in Penn’s Woods.”

Across the 23 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) used by the Game Commission to manage whitetails, the antlerless deer harvest decreased in almost half of them. The largest harvest declines occurred in WMU 2H, 39 percent, WMU 3A, 23 percent and WMU 1B, 20 percent.

WMUs posting the largest antlerless deer harvest increases were WMU 3B, 23 percent; WMU 4D, 21 percent; and WMU 4B, 20 percent.

On the antlered deer side of WMU-level harvests, the buck harvest dropped in only three units: WMUs 2C, 2H and 5D. The largest increases in antlered deer harvest were in WMU 2G, 29 percent; WMU 3C, 22 percent; WMU 4C, 21 percent; and WMU 3A, 19 percent.

The percentage of older bucks in the 2019-20 deer harvest remained amazingly high. About 66 percent of the bucks taken by hunters were at least 2½ years old. The remainder were 1½ years old.

“Pennsylvania deer hunters consistently continue to take 2½-year and older bucks over younger antlered bucks – by a two-to-one margin – in the Commonwealth,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “If you hunted deer before antler restrictions, you know how significant this is. Most of us have waited a lifetime for deer hunting like Pennsylvania has today!

“The whitetail bucks roaming Penn’s Woods today are a product of an intensely managed deer herd,” Burhans noted. “But their existence also hinged on the willingness of deer hunters to sacrifice shooting spikes and small fork-horns for bucks with substantially more headgear!”

About 69 percent of the antlerless deer harvest was adult females; button-bucks comprised 16 percent and doe fawns made up 15 percent. In the 2018-19 seasons, adult females comprised 66 percent of the antlerless deer harvest.

Bowhunters accounted for about a third of Pennsylvania’s 2019-20 overall deer harvest, taking 145,908 deer (74,190 bucks and 71,718 antlerless deer) with either bows or crossbows. The 2018-19 archery buck harvest was 54,350, while the archery antlerless deer harvest was 56,369; unseasonably warm weather and rain impacted many fall bowhunting days in 2018.

“That bowhunters added 35,000 more deer to the overall archery deer harvest suggests bowhunters continue to improve their harvest success,” Rosenberry said. “Overall, though, bowhunters still are responsible for about a third of the statewide overall deer harvest, which is similar to the 2018-19 seasons.”

The muzzleloader harvest – 29,604 – was up from to the previous year’s harvest of 23,909. The 2019-20 muzzleloader harvest included 1,260 antlered bucks compared to 1,290 bucks in the 2018-19 seasons.

Total deer harvest estimates by WMU for 2019-20 (with 2018-19 figures in parentheses) are as follows:



WMU 1A: 6,400 (5,800) antlered, 13,200 (12,400) antlerless;

WMU 1B: 8,700 (8,000) antlered, 12,700 (15,800) antlerless;

WMU 2A: 6,900 (6,000) antlered, 9,900 (10,900) antlerless;

WMU 2B: 5,500 (5,000) antlered, 10,400 (12,000) antlerless;

WMU 2C: 9,400 (9,600) antlered, 14,069 (11,787) antlerless;

WMU 2D: 13,000 (11,800) antlered, 18,888 (20,958) antlerless;

WMU 2E: 6,400 (6,300) antlered, 9,473 (9,701) antlerless;

WMU 2F: 9,000 (7,700) antlered, 9,724 (7,973) antlerless;

WMU 2G: 8,100 (6,300) antlered, 6,105 (7,402) antlerless;

WMU 2H: 2,400 (2,500) antlered, 1,100 (1,800) antlerless;

WMU 3A: 5,700 (4,800) antlered, 5,700 (7,400) antlerless;

WMU 3B: 7,600 (7,000) antlered, 10,300 (8,400) antlerless;

WMU 3C: 9,400 (7,700) antlered, 12,800 (12,200) antlerless;

WMU 3D: 6,000 (5,200) antlered, 4,900 (5,700) antlerless;

WMU 4A: 6,000 (5,100) antlered, 7,924 (8,230) antlerless;

WMU 4B: 5,700 (5,300) antlered, 8,285 (6,916) antlerless;

WMU 4C: 7,000 (5,800) antlered, 8,300 (7,200) antlerless;

WMU 4D: 8,700 (8,300) antlered, 10,955 (9,081) antlerless;

WMU 4E: 7,300 (7,000) antlered, 9,500 (9,300) antlerless;

WMU 5A: 3,400 (3,100) antlered, 5,000 (4,600) antlerless;

WMU 5B: 10,200 (9,200) antlered, 15,345 (14,608) antlerless;

WMU 5C: 7,600 (7,600) antlered, 14,427 (16,415) antlerless;

WMU 5D: 2,500 (2,600) antlered, 6,700 (6,000) antlerless; and

Unknown WMU: 340 (50) antlered, 496 (169) antlerless.



Season-specific 2019-20 deer harvest estimates (with 2018-19 harvest estimates in parentheses) are as follows:

WMU 1A: archery, 3,240 (2,530) antlered, 4,320 (3,150) antlerless; and muzzleloader, 60 (70) antlered, 1,680 (1,150) antlerless.

WMU 1B: archery, 3,960 (2,750) antlered, 3,230 (2,790) antlerless; muzzleloader, 40 (50) antlered, 1,170 (1,210) antlerless.

WMU 2A: archery, 3,140 (2,050) antlered, 2,540 (2,040) antlerless; muzzleloader, 60 (50) antlered, 960 (960) antlerless.

WMU 2B: archery, 4,150 (3,520) antlered, 5,500 (5,760) antlerless; muzzleloader, 50 (80) antlered, 700 (640) antlerless.

WMU 2C: archery, 4,230 (3,400) antlered, 3,939 (2,378) antlerless; muzzleloader, 70 (100) antlered, 1,854 (1,315) antlerless.

WMU 2D: archery, 5,800 (4,540) antlered, 4,085 (3,472) antlerless; muzzleloader, 100 (60) antlered, 2,701 (2,274) antlerless.

WMU 2E: archery, 2,540 (1,950) antlered, 1,944 (1,601) antlerless; muzzleloader, 60 (50) antlered, 1,252 (1,205) antlerless.

WMU 2F: archery, 3,340 (2,520) antlered, 2,006 (1,216) antlerless; muzzleloader, 60 (80) antlered, 1,534 (998) antlerless.

WMU 2G: archery, 2,540 (1,430) antlered, 1,381 (1,341) antlerless; muzzleloader, 60 (70) antlered, 1,321 (1,060) antlerless.

WMU 2H: archery, 690 (480) antlered, 230 (270-) antlerless; muzzleloader, 10 (20) antlered, 170 (230) antlerless.

WMU 3A: archery, 2,080 (1,180) antlered, 1,400 (1,320) antlerless; muzzleloader, 20 (20) antlered, 800 (780) antlerless.

WMU 3B: archery, 3,160 (2,160) antlered, 2,590 (1,630) antlerless; muzzleloader, 40 (40) antlered, 1,710 (1,170) antlerless.

WMU 3C: archery, 3,370 (1,940) antlered, 2,860 (1,820) antlerless; muzzleloader, 30 (60) antlered, 1,740 (1,280) antlerless.

WMU 3D: archery, 2,250 (1,660) antlered, 1,470 (1,410) antlerless; muzzleloader, 50 (40) antlered, 830 (590) antlerless.

WMU 4A: archery, 1,610 (820) antlered, 1,696 (1,338) antlerless; muzzleloader, 90 (80) antlered, 1,313 (991) antlerless.

WMU 4B: archery, 2,350 (1,760) antlered, 2,551 (1,598) antlerless; muzzleloader, 50 (40) antlered, 1,070 (627) antlerless.

WMU 4C: archery, 3,550 (2,350) antlered, 2,960 (1,900) antlerless; muzzleloader, 50 (50) antlered, 1,240 (800) antlerless.

WMU 4D: archery, 3,120 (2,430) antlered, 3,287 (1,796) antlerless; muzzleloader, 80 (70) antlered, 1,618 (1,002) antlerless.

WMU 4E: archery, 3,420 (2,550) antlered, 2,750 (1,890) antlerless; muzzleloader, 80 (50) antlered, 1,250 (1,010) antlerless.

WMU 5A: archery, 1,580 (880) antlered, 1,880 (1,220) antlerless; muzzleloader, 20 (20) antlered, 620 (480) antlerless.

WMU 5B: archery, 6,420 (4,640) antlered, 7,400 (5,401) antlerless; muzzleloader, 80 (60) antlered, 1,438 (1,365) antlerless.

WMU 5C: archery, 5,330 (4,690) antlered, 7,075 (7,238) antlerless; muzzleloader, 70 (110) antlered, 1,042 (1,272) antlerless.

WMU 5D: archery, 2,180 (2,080) antlered, 4,460 (3,790) antlerless; muzzleloader, 20 (20) antlered, 240 (210) antlerless.

Unknown WMU: archery, 140 (40) antlered, 164 (0) antlerless; muzzleloader, 10 (0) antlered, 94 (0) antlerless.
 

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Cue the "I don't believe it" comments......
 

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WOW. All the people in 1A that I talk with, which are many throughout the entire area ,thought the rifle kill would be an all time low because there was NO shooting at all!! I know our group of 4 heard a total of 6 shots the first day. We took a long ride on Monday at lunchtime and very few hunters out.
 

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An interesting statistic, we shot as many 2.5 or older buck in 2019 as the total buck kill in 2009. Another statistic Bow hunters took 45% of the total buck kill. Taking the 16% b.b. from the antlerless side and adding
to the buck side we killed 190001 doe and 199430 buck.
 

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Another statistic Bowhunters took 45% of the total buck kill.

Wow, 45%, never thought we would see numbers like that for archery. .
 

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What a joke, yea I've waited my entire life to shoot a two-and-a-half-year-old buck. He can't be serious.
 

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I never would have guessed it would be an increase this past year. Weather, seeing fewer vehicles, and talking to my small group. Personal observations aside because we all only hunt in a tiny part of the state at one time, I am still surprised.

I guess the multi years of data supports the estimate trend. I still trust the trend but would like to see the full report that includes reporting rates and sample size. Just because I am like that. Waugh!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The Saturday opener was a bust where my camp is (NW corner of Tioga), as far as shots heard and hunters out. However, on the Saturday doe came in, I had a visit from our Game Warden.

When I mentioned how quiet things were around my area, he said several miles west, over in the parts of Bingham Twp. Potter County that he'd patrolled opening day, there were lots of hunters out and lots of deer taken. Same for that Monday.

Things had picked up a bit on "doe Saturday" around me, probably because some of the local camps had hunters in, unlike for opening day of the season.

Doubt the reporting rate has changed much due to hunter apathy, but Rosenberry and crew know what they're doing. No problem here accepting what they come up with each year for estimates. Their system has been reviewed and accepted as valid, by their fellow wildlife biologists around the country.

I didn't contribute to this past season's success rate, either. Wasn't for a lack of deer locally, although it was the first season in many years, that I never saw a legal buck. Plenty of 'em around, just none seen in the season. Multiple opportunities to take a doe close by in the first week, had it been legal..
 

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Mling got 8/10ths of a percent of the total buck harvest. Time to approve that 7th week the archery org deserves.

Yup, us muzzleloader guys always have the best of everything. :grin2: Best time of year to hunt, no wait, that's the bowhunters, longest seasons, no wait, that's the bowhunters, we can kill a buck in Oct.. no wait, that's just for the bowhunters. For some reason its okay for the deer herd if a buck dies by crossbow bolt but bad for the herd if its a lead ball that kill it. Ah well, better give them that extra week, they need it. >:):grin2:
 

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Ah well, better give them that extra week, they need it. >:):grin2:
Good plan!

Actually if they gave flinters a week sometime/anytime before rifle season, I'd be all for it. I'd also buy stock in flinter company's cus everyone in pa would buy one. It'd be like a week of rifle season, except with misfires....

I made some comments in the "concurrent seasons" thread about lots of deer in 1A, some took issue with that claim. Once again this year 1A killed over 2x the amount of antlerless deer as they did antlered deer, just like every year recently. Aside from the sra's and their unlimited tags, 1A is the only unit that can claim that, and 1A can also claim an increased buck harvest which indicates an increasing overall population. Killing more than twice as many antlerless as antlered, every year, and deer numbers and harvests keep going up, 1A is the true pa deer factory.
 

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Anytime the antlerless kill is over 2x the buck kill that should start to reduce the herd. I was one that took issue with you but I can see where you are coming from now.
 

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Actually if they gave flinters a week sometime/anytime before rifle season, I'd be all for it. I'd also buy stock in flinter company's cus everyone in pa would buy one. It'd be like a week of rifle season, except with misfires....
.

Yeah, maybe. But unlike cross bows, flintlocks, as you mentioned about misfires, have quite a learning curve. Many guys buy them and they end up sitting in the gun cabinet because lots of hunters find them a pain in the butt and don't like them. Why do you think inlines are so popular for early muzzy. Because like a crossbow you can just load and go. You might not be able to hit much but at least the crossbow and the in line will fire even if you have no idea what your doing.

And if it did become very popular than all it would mean is buck tags filled earlier. I'd say, oh, how about the last week of Oct. :grin2: That sounds like good time for it. Nothing to important going on then. :grin2:
 

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Wow, 45%, never thought we would see numbers like that for archery. .
Success rates for both archery and rifle on antlered deer have hovered around the same for many years now. As we lose rifle hunters and gain archery hunters, the percent harvest by each has got to change. Since archery hunters are now about 45% of all deer hunters, them taking about 45% of the antlered harvest is to be expected.

If we still had 1.1 million deer hunters, the percent harvest by archery this past season would be in the low 30%, based on known success rates.

What has changed is the demographics of our deer hunters and the total number of deer hunters. Both of which have affected when deer are taken. The harvest is swinging to earlier in the year because hunters that used to primarily hunt later in the year are hanging it up.
 

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Success rates for both archery and rifle have hovered around the same for many years now. As we lose rifle hunters and gain archery hunters, the percent harvest by each has got to change. Since archery hunters are now about 45% of all deer hunters, them taking about 45% of the antlered harvest is to be expected.

If we still had 1.1 million deer hunters, the percent harvest by archery this past season would be in the low 30%, based on known success rates.

Okay I get that. What I meant was, if you had told us back in 1975 or 1980 that 45% of the bucks would be taken by bowhunters we would have laughed.
 

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Okay I get that. What I meant was, if you had told us back in 1975 or 1980 that 45% of the bucks would be taken by bowhunters we would have laughed.
For sure. I still can't believe we have went from 1.1 million deer hunters in this state to around 700,000 in a relatively short period of time. And of those 700,000, many are hunting less than they used to. In another 30 years I worry what we will have left.
 
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