Buck numbers are up
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has released the 2017-18 deer harvest report and it shows the buck harvest has increased 10 percent. And that’s not all. Their report also shows the overall deer harvest was up 10 percent.
During the past deer hunting seasons, hunters took an estimated 367,159 deer, which surpassed the overall deer harvest of 333,254 during the 2016-17 seasons. The PGC points out that over the 23 Wildlife Management Units, the deer harvest decreased in only three units.
Interestingly, the 2017-18 buck harvest totaled 163,750, for a 10 percent increase over 2016-17’s harvest of 149,460. It is, says the PGC, the second largest buck harvest since antler restrictions were enacted in 2002. Overall, the current buck harvest ranks as the 10th best since the PGC began using calculated harvests in 1986.
For some historical information, the PGC reports that back in the 1987-88 deer seasons, 16 percent of deer hunters took a legal buck. Ten years later, that rate increased to 19 percent. During the 2007-08 seasons, 15 percent of deer hunters took an antlered deer, whereas during this last season, more than 20 percent of deer hunters took an antlered deer.
As for antlerless deer, their estimated harvest also increased totaling 203,409, for an 11 percent increase over 2016-17 that saw a harvest of 183,794. That harvest, admits the PGC, was by design since they increased the license allocation by about 7 percent over the 2016 allocation.
The PGC says about 64 percent of the antlerless deer harvest was adult females while button-bucks comprised 19 percent and doe fawns made up 17 percent.
Bowhunters according to the report took about a third of the overall harvest taking 118,110 deer of which 62,830 were bucks, 55,280 were antlerless. All total, the archery harvest saw a 10 percent increase over the 2016-17 total harvest of 109,250.
Muzzleloader hunters took 23,490 deer (1,310 bucks) for a 10 percent increase over 2017-18.
Another interesting stat was that about 57 percent of bucks taken were at least 2.5 years old, while the remainder were 1.5 years old.
Deer harvest totals (firearms, archery, muzzleloader) per our local Wildlife Management Units of 3D, 4C, 5C and 5D are as follows with last season’s numbers in parentheses and A for antlered and AL for antlerless:
WMU 3D: 4,700 (4,300) A; 4,200 (4,200) AL; Archery: 1,500 (1,470) A; 1,230 (1,060) AL; Muzzleloader: 50 (30) A; 570 (440) antlerless
WMU 4C: 6,800 (6,400) A; 6,500 (5,300) AL; Archery: 2,770 (2,570) A; 1,800 (1,380) AL; Muzzleloader: 30 (30) A; 700 (620) AL
WMU 5C: 8,800 (8,300) A; 15,600 (15,600) AL; Archery: 5,800 (5,300) A; 6,890 (6,990) AL; Muzzleloader 100 (100) A, 1,210 (1,010) AL
WMU 5D: 3,300 (2,900) A; 7,500 (6,500) AL; Archery, 2,770 (2,280) A; 4,890 (4,180) AL; Muzzleloader: 30 (20) A; 210 (220) AL.
In their harvest report, the PGC says their deer management plan was recently rated one of North America’s best by Simon Fraser University in their study that measured scientific soundness and transparency of varied state and provincial wildlife management plans. Pennsylvania tied with Wisconsin for the highest scoring deer plans in North America among states that participated in the research.