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 on Mar. 19.
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. 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. The 2018-19 overall antlerless deer harvest was 226,940, which was about 10 percent larger than the 2017-18 harvest of 203,409.
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.
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 the state 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 harvest was 56,369; unseasonably warm weather and rain impacted many fall bowhunting days in 2018.
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.