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Outdoors: Deer hunting season results

The Pennsylvania Game Commission released the results from the 2023-24 deer hunting season and it shows that the overall harvest was up two percent over the 2022-23 season.

According to the PGC, hunters harvested an estimated 430,010 deer of which 171,600 were bucks and 258,410 were antlerless deer.

The 2022-23 season had a harvest of 422,960 deer that is 4 percent higher than the total harvest seen as a three-year average.

Harvests are calculated from harvest report cards by hunters along with deer checked by crews at processors across the state. The PGC says that last year 31 teams visited more than 400 processors across the state during the firearms season to collect data such as age, based on tooth replacement and wear, and that included more than 24,000 whitetails.

Hunters reported taking more than 134,000 deer via the PGC’s online reporting system which accounted for 74 percent of all reports. Another 18 percent of deer harvest reports came from mailed-in report cards while 8 percent were made by phone.

Overall, 27 percent of deer hunters harvested a buck. That was a slight increase over 2022-23’s 26 percent success rate, and up significantly from the 15 percent success rate seen as recently as 2007-08.

PGC reported that the majority of bucks harvested are older than in decades past, too. Before antler point restrictions, most of the bucks harvested were yearling deer, meaning those 1.5-years old. In 2023-24, 64 percent of bucks taken were at least 2.5 years old.

As for the 2023-24 antlerless deer harvest, 69 percent of the harvest was adult females. Another 16 percent were button bucks and 14 percent were doe fawns. Those too, are in-line with long-term averages claims the PGC. Added to that, about one in four antlerless deer licenses issued for last season resulted in a harvest. Like most years, the regular firearms deer season accounted for the largest part of the 2023-24 deer harvest. Firearms hunters took an estimated 254,710 deer, with 86,260 of those bucks and the remaining 168,450 were antlerless. Bowhunters accounted for a little over a third of the total harvest taking an estimated 154,850 whitetails (83,370 bucks and 71,480 antlerless deer) with either bows or crossbows. The estimated muzzleloader harvest was 20,450 (1,970 bucks and 18,480 antlerless deer).

The following are total deer harvest estimates for the firearms season and for the most local Wildlife Management Units for 2023-24, with 2022-23 figures in parentheses and (A) representing antlered deer and (AL) representing antlerless deer:

WMU 3D: 6,200-A (5500), and 7,300-AL (7,400).

WMU 4C: 8,200-A (6,900) and 6,700-AL (8,200).

WMU 5C: 9,100-A (7,200) and 13,100 AL (16,700).

WMU 5D: 2,900-A (2,500) and 6,700-AL (6,700).

Unknown WMUs accounted for 600-A (1,090) and 410-AL (1,470).

The Archery and muzzleloader harvest totals are as follows:

WMU 3D: archery, 2,630-A (2,260) and 2,020-AL (2,030); muzzleloader, 70-A (40) and 480-AL (770).

WMU 4C: archery 4,220-A (3,450) and 1,770-AL (2,170); muzzleloader, 80-A (50) and 430-AL (830).

WMU 5C: archery 6,470-A (5,020) and 6,200-AL (8,040); muzzleloader 130-A (80) and 600-AL (760).

WMU 5D: archery 2,480-A (2,0 80) and 4,560-AL (4,760) and muzzleloader 20-A (20) and 140-AL (140).

Unknown WMUs accounted for archery 240-A (100) and 140-AL (90); muzzleloader, 0-A (0) and 20-AL (0).

Contributed photo Pennsylvania hunters took an estimated 254,710 deer over the 2023-24 hunting seasons.