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PA's Deer Harvest Report!

Jack Danchak - Columnist
Posted 3/26/20

Pennsylvania's deer hunters took their highest overall deer harvest in 15 years when they harvested 389,431 deer during the state's 2019-20 deer hunting seasons, which closed in January.

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PA's Deer Harvest Report!

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Pennsylvania's deer hunters took their highest overall deer harvest in 15 years when they harvested 389,431 deer during the state's 2019-20 deer hunting seasons, which closed in January.

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

The statewide buck take saw an increase of 10 percent, coming in at 163,240, compared to the 2018-19 buck take of 147,750. The largest harvest of bucks occurred in the first year that antler-restrictions were instituted, when 165,416 were taken.

The Pa Game Commission's Deer & Elk Section supervisor Christopher Rosenberry said, “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 1990's and early 2000's. 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 (doe) deer harvest during the 2019-20 seasons was 226,191, which includes 10,461 deer taken with chronic wasting disease (CWD) Deer Management Assistance Program permits.

About 69 percent of the antlerless deer harvest was adult females, 16 percent were button-bucks and doe fawns made up 15 percent of the take.

Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said, “Pennsylvania deer hunters consistently continue to take 2 ½ year & older bucks over younger antlered bucks by a two-to-one margin. 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 our woods today are a product of an intensely managed deer herd. But their existence also hinged on the willingness of deer hunters to sacrifice shooting of spikes and small fork-horns for bucks with substantially more headgear.”

One negative aspect was expressed by many Pa deer hunters about the Pa Game Commission issuing an excessive number of antlerless (doe) permits in areas that do not warrant them.

Jack danchak is the President of the Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs of Sullivan County.

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