Game Commission: Deer harvests increased statewide

The Pennsylvania Game Commission says hunters harvested an estimated 333,254 deer in 2016-17 - an increase of about 6 percent compared to the 2015-16 harvest of 315,813. (AP)
From staff reports

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s buck harvest increased 9 percent, and the overall deer harvest was up 6 percent, in the 2016-17 seasons, which closed in January, the Pennsylvania Game Commission reported Monday.

Hunters harvested an estimated 333,254 deer in 2016-17 – an increase of about 6 percent compared to the 2015-16 harvest of 315,813.

Of those, 149,460 were antlered deer – an increase of about 9 percent compared to the previous license year, when an estimated 137,580 bucks were taken. It’s the largest harvest of antlered deer since 2002, the Game Commission said.

Hunters also harvested an estimated 183,794 antlerless deer in 2016-17, which represents an about 3 percent increase compared to the 178,233 antlerless deer taken in 2015-16, the Game Commission added.

Bowhunters accounted for nearly 33 percent of the overall deer harvest, taking 109,250 deer – 59,550 bucks and 49,700 does. Meanwhile, 20,409 deer – 1,350 bucks and 19,059 does – were harvested during muzzleloader seasons.

The percentage of older bucks in the harvest remained high, with 56 percent of bucks taken by Pennsylvania hunters during the 2016-17 deer seasons being 2 years old or older. In 2015-16, 59 percent of bucks in the harvest were 2 years old or older.

“This has been quite a year for Pennsylvania deer hunting,” Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough said. “Not only was there an increased deer harvest and a significantly higher buck harvest, I saw hundreds of photos from hunters who took their buck-of-a-lifetime this past season. Among them was a hunter whose Clearfield County harvest shattered the state record for nontypical bucks taken with archery tackle.”

Harvest estimates are based on more than 24,000 deer checked by Game Commission personnel and more than 100,000 harvest reports submitted by successful hunters. Because some harvests go unreported, estimates provide a more accurate picture of hunter success, the commission said.

Antlerless harvest

The antlerless harvest included about 64 percent adult females, about 20 percent button bucks and about 16 percent doe fawns. The rates are similar to long-term averages.

Agency staff currently is working to develop 2017-18 antlerless deer license allocation recommendations, which will be considered at the March 28 meeting of the Board of Game Commissioners.

Wayne Laroche, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director, said that in addition to harvest data, staff will be looking at deer health measures, forest regeneration and deer-human conflicts for each WMU as antlerless allocations are considered for 2017-18.

Total harvests

The total deer harvests for the Wildlife Mangement Units 1A, 1B, 2F and 2D are as follows with the 2015-16 figures in parentheses.

WMU 1A – 6,500 (6,000) antlered, 10,400 (9,100) antlerless.

WMU 1B – 7,900 (6,900) antlered, 8,200 (7,700) antlerless.

WMU 2D -12,800 (12,300) antlered, 16,400 (15,700) antlerless.

WMU 2F – 7,700 (7,000) antlered, 6,700 (5,400) antlerless.