PGC stats claim deer harvests went up 6 percent

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, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

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

Of those, 149,460 were antlered deer, according to a report issued by the commission on March 13 – an increase of about 9 percent compared to the previous license year, when the commission estimated 137,580 bucks were taken.

That makes it the largest harvest of antlered deer since 2002, the commission claimed.

Hunters also harvested an estimated 183,794 antlerless deer in 2016-17, the commission reported, which represents an about 3 percent increase compared to the 178,233 antlerless deer the agency said were taken in 2015-16.

Bowhunters accounted for nearly 33 percent of the overall deer harvest, taking 109,250 deer (59,550 bucks and 49,700 does) with archery tackle, according to the commission. 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 hunters during the 2016-17 deer seasons being 2½ years old or older, the commission said. In 2015-16, 59 percent of bucks in the harvest were 2½ years old or older.

Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough congratulated deer hunters on their successes afield during the 2016-17 seasons.

The commission said its 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, the agency explained, estimates provide a more accurate picture of hunter success.

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 were to be considered at the March 28 meeting of the Board of Game Commissioners. Coverage of those numbers will appear in the next issue.

Wayne Laroche, PGC 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 unit as antlerless allocations are considered for 2017-18.

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