Deer harvest numbers for the 2019-20 season are officially in with some surprises.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission reports that the buck harvest was up 10 percent and the overall harvest was the highest in 15 years.
During the 2019-20 seasons that ended in January, hunters took a total of 389,431 deer. This topped the previous years harvest of 374,690 by four percent, says the PGC.
The statewide buck harvest jumped 10 percent with 163,240 taken. Of that total, about 66 percent were at least 2.5 years old while the remainder were 1.5 years old, which, reports the PGC, is a two-to-one margin. During the 2018-19 seasons, a total of 147,750 bucks were taken.
According to Chris Rosenberry, PGC Deer and Elk Section Supervisor, “In recent years about 17-18 percent of all hunters harvested an antlered deer and we see this trend to continue.”
As for the antlerless harvest, it resulted in 226,191 were harvested and that includes 10,461 that had chronic wasting disease (CWD) for hunters holding Deer Management Assistance Program permits.
For comparison purposes and during the 2018-19 seasons, there were 226,940 antlerless deer harvested, slightly more than this past season. And about 69 percent of antlerless taken were adults females while button bucks comprised 16 percent and doe fawns made up 15 percent. In 2018-19 the percentage was 66 percent.
In regards to antlerless deer, Rosenberry says “Keeping harvest pressure on antlerless deer is critical in our ongoing efforts to address the risk of CWD, particularly in Disease Management Areas.
Interestingly, and across 23 Wildlife Management Units (WMU), the antlerless deer harvest decreased in almost half of them. The largest decline, says the PGC, occurred in WMU 2H, 39 percent; WMU 3A, 23 percent; WMU 1B, 20 percent; WMU 4D, 21 percent; and WMU 4B, 20 percent.
For antlered deer, the buck harvest dropped in WMU’s 2C, 2H and 5D. The largest increases in bucks taken were in WMU 2G, 29 percent; WMU 3C, 22 percent; WMU 4C, 21 percent; and WMU 3A, 19 percent.
Bowhunter success was affected somewhat by unseasonably warm and rainy weather but still managed to take 145, 908 deer of which 74,190 were bucks and 71,718 were antlerless deer. That accounts for about a third of Pennsylvania’s 2018-19 total harvest but pales somewhat to the 2018-19 seasons when they took a total of 165,069 deer.
For local deer harvests, the following are the closest WMUs to the Lehigh Valley with antlered deer represented by “A” and for antlerless, “AL.” In parenthesis are the harvest numbers for the 2018-19 seasons.
*WMU 3D: 6,000-A (5,200); 4,900-AL (5,700).
*4C: 7,000-A (5,800); 8,300-AL (7,200).
*5C: 7,600-A (7,600); 14,427-AL (16,415).
*5D: 2,500-A (2,600); 6,700-AL (6,000).
For the archery and muzzleloader seasons, the totals are as follows.
*3D: archery, 2,250-A (1,660); 1,470-AL (1,410); muzzleloader, 50-A (40); 830-AL (590).
*4C: archery, 3,550-A (2,350); 2,960-AL (1,900); muzzleloader, 50-A (50); 1,240-AL (800).
*5C: archery, 5,330 (4,690); 7,075-AL (7,238); muzzleloader, 70-A (110); 1,042-AL (1,272).
5D: archery, 2,180-A (2,080); 4,460-AL (3,790); muzzleloader, 20-A (20); 240-AL (210).
The PGC also lists unknown WMU harvests at: archery, 140-A (40); 164-AL (0); muzzleloader, 10-A (0); 94-AL (0).
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.