PA Game Commission Reports Deer Season Results, 22% Of Hunters Tag Antlered Deer

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ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now) – The Pennsylvania Game Commission Thursday reported results from the 2021-22 deer seasons, which ended in January.

Hunters harvested an estimated 376,810 white-tailed deer. The statewide buck harvest was estimated at 145,320 and the antlerless harvest at 231,490.

That take, overall, is down about 13% compared to 2020-21, when hunters recorded the largest deer harvest in 16 years, harvesting around 435,180 deer.

That’s not cause for concern, said Game Commission Deer and Elk Section Supervisor David Stainbrook. The 2020-21 season was above average, and the 2021-22 season is back on track with previous years.

22% of hunters took an antlered deer, which is right in line with the previous four-year average and better than in years past.

“When corrected by the number of hunters, success rates are higher today than in the past, even with antler-point restrictions,” Stainbrook said. “That our hunters are able to replicate that level of harvest speaks to just how sustainable our deer population is here in Pennsylvania.”

The 2021 firearms deer season featured two weeks of buck and doe hunting for the first time statewide in more than a decade, yet with the number of antlerless tags available down compared to the year before, the overall harvest was lower.

Of the deer taken by hunters, many of the bucks harvested were older. Sixty-two percent of antlered deer taken by hunters were 2.5 years old or older; only 38% percent were 1.5 years old.

That’s an almost complete reversal of how things were even two decades ago. Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans credited that to how hunters have embraced antler restrictions, in place since 2002.

“Pennsylvania is routinely producing some really impressive deer, on both public and private ground,” Burhans said. “We see that in the entries coming into our Big Game Records Program, in the photos smiling hunters share, and in the deer we see when our staff visits deer processors to collect harvest data.

“We couldn’t have any of that without a well-managed deer herd and cooperation on the part of our hunters,” he said.

Meanwhile, 25% of antlerless tags issued resulted in a deer harvest this past season. That’s right in line with previous years.

Among antlerless deer harvested, 69 percent were adult females, 16% button bucks and 15% doe fawns. All of those figures are consistent with long-term averages.


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