Using the state of Pennsylvania as a perfect example of how the archery deer take has increased since the use of crossbows are allowed throughout the entire archery seasons. Pennsylvania held its …
Using the state of Pennsylvania as a perfect example of how the archery deer take has increased since the use of crossbows are allowed throughout the entire archery seasons. Pennsylvania held its first statewide archery season in 1951; this year’s hunt is the 71st in a row since it started. It lasts for seven weeks, and includes a Sunday, to give hunters the chance to be afield during warmer weather and during the peak of the whitetail rut.
The state’s first archery season drew a little more than 5,500 hunters. The Game Commission said in 2020 that they sold a record 373,700 archery licenses to Pennsylvania residents as well as hunters from other states. This amounted to an increase of 9% over 2019 when 341,847 licenses were sold and of nearly 29% over 2010 sales of 289,414.
David Stainbrook, chief of the Game Commission’s Deer & Elk Section, said that it is the trend all across the country. The participation in archery is increasing, and as a result, so is the overall percentage of deer harvests taken by hunters.
The National Deer Association surveyed state and provincial wildlife agencies across North America to determine the percentage of the total white-tailed deer harvest taken with a bow & crossbow and calculated the three years from 2017 through 2019, archers accounted for about 25% of all whitetails harvested nationally. In the 13-state northeast region, archers took about one-third of the deer harvested in that time. According to Pennsylvania Game Commission data, archers accounted for 32% of PA’s total deer harvest in 2017, 30% in 2018 and 37% in 2019. Last year they accounted again for 37% or 160,480 deer, which included 80,130 bucks.
Chief Stainbrook said that those figures represent a shift in the total of deer harvested, rather than additional deer harvested, since many archers are rifle deer hunters and if they take a deer in the early archery season, they will not be participating in the regular firearm season. They are just taking advantage of the deer seasons available and filling their deer tags earlier in the fall with a bow or crossbow, than they might have done otherwise with a firearm.
The National Deer Association statement read, “Expanded opportunities, like that offered by archery deer seasons are great for the future of hunting. They help even occasional hunters stay engaged, enhance hunting opportunities to young hunters and help aging hunters to keep enjoying the sport of hunting.”
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