Pennsylvania hunters posted their highest overall deer harvest in 14 years when they took 374,690 deer during the state’s 2018-19 hunting seasons. But the buck harvest dropped.
The 2018-19 deer harvest topped the previous year’s harvest of 367,159 by about 10-percent. The last time the total deer harvest exceeded this season’s total was in 2004-05.
After four years of successive annual increases in buck harvests, hunters posted a buck harvest of 147,750, which placed fourth overall since the start of antler restrictions in 2002. The 2018-19 buck harvest represents a 10 percent decline from the 2017-18 buck harvest of 163,750.
Although the total deer harvest was not impacted by downpours on the opening day of the firearms deer season, the buck harvest seemed to take a hit says the PGC. About half of the firearms season’s overall buck harvest typically occurs on the season’s opening day, when hunter participation is usually at its highest. However steady rain in most of the state persisted through the morning which affected the buck harvest.
Said Chris Rosenberry, PGC Deer and Elk management supervisor, This year’s opening day antlered harvest was down significantly from last year’s harvest, although the rest of the firearms season’s daily harvests were similar to or above last year’s. Still, hunters took plenty of antlerless deer, which was anticipated with a 2018-19 allocation of antlerless deer licenses that exceeded the previous license year’s.
The 2018-19 overall antlerless deer harvest was 226,940, which is about 10-percent larger than the 2017-18 harvest of 203,409.
Across the 23 WMUs used by the Game Commission to manage whitetails, the antlerless deer harvest decreased in only five units: WMUs 1A, 2B, 2H, 4B and 5D. The largest harvest increases - 48-percent - occurred in WMUs 2C and 3A.
On the antlered deer side of WMU-level harvests, the buck harvest dropped in all but six units: WMUs 2B, 2H, 3D, 4A, 5A and 5B. The largest declines were in WMU 2G, 23 percent; and WMU 4D, 22-percent.
The percentage of older bucks in the 2018-19 deer harvest remained amazingly high. About 64-percent of the bucks taken by hunters were at least 2 1/2 years old. The remainder were 1 1/2 years old.
About 66-percent of the antlerless deer harvest was adult females; button-bucks comprised 17-percent and doe fawns made up 17-percent.
Bowhunters accounted for about a third of Pennsylvania’s 2018-19 overall deer harvest, taking 110,719 deer (54,350 bucks and 56,369 antlerless deer) with either bows or crossbows. But the buck harvest also was down in the 2018-19 archery seasons, by 13 percent. The previous license year, bowhunters took 62,830 bucks.
The muzzleloader harvest - 23,909 - was similar to the previous year-s harvest of 23,490. The 2018-19 muzzleloader harvest included 1,290 antlered bucks compared to 1,310 bucks in the 2017-18 seasons.
Total deer harvest estimates for local WMU-s for 2018-19 (with 2017-18 figures in parentheses) are as follows:
WMU 3D: 5,200 (4,700) antlered, 5,700 (4,200) antlerless;
WMU 4C: 5,800 (6,800) antlered, 7,200 (6,500) antlerless;
WMU 5C: 7,600 (8,800) antlered, 16,415 (15,600) antlerless;
WMU 5D: 2,600 (3,300) antlered, 6,000 (7,500) antlerless; and
Unknown WMU: 50 (50) antlered, 169 (76) antlerless.
Season-specific 2018-19 deer harvest estimates (with 2017-18 harvest estimates in parentheses) are as follows:
WMU 3D: archery, 1,660 (1,550) antlered, 1,410 (1,230) antlerless; muzzleloader, 40 (50) antlered, 590 (570) antlerless.
WMU 4C: archery, 2,350 (2,770) antlered, 1,900 (1,800) antlerless; muzzleloader, 50 (30) antlered, 800 (700) antlerless.
WMU 5C: archery, 4,690 (5,800) antlered, 7,238 (6,890) antlerless; muzzleloader, 110 (100) antlered, 1,272 (1,210) antlerless.
WMU 5D: archery, 2,080 (2,770) antlered, 3,790 (4,890) antlerless; muzzleloader, 20 (30) antlered, 210 (210) antlerless.
Unknown WMU: archery, 40 (40) antlered, 0 (60) antlerless; muzzleloader, 0 (0) antlered, 0 (0) antlerless.