With the deer hunting seasons almost over statewide, there’s still the late season for archery and flintlock that runs from Dec. 26 until Jan. 14 for antlered and antlerless deer, and until Jan. 28 in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D. If you possess an antlerless tag to hunt in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, you may use a firearm whose season runs from Dec. 26 until Jan. 28. But again, for antlerless deer only. The latter is an attempt to cull the overpopulation of antlerless deer in these areas.
As for as this past deer hunting season is concerned, our traditional annual sampling of deer processing shops came up with these reports as to the number of deer brought in for butchering and processing, when compared to the 2014-15 seasons. They are as follows:
Frable’s Deer Processing, Slatington: According to Jeremy Frable, they took in 170 deer so far this season, which is slightly more than last year. Interestingly, the shop took in 20 more deer during the archery season than the previous year. The largest bucks they processed were two 11-pointers, one had a 27-inch inside spread, the other, a 28-inch spread. Frable believes more sportsmen are getting into archery hence the increase in bow bucks. Frable added that the consensus was the rut was a bit late this year as the bigger bucks came in during the rifle season instead of the bow season. “Their necks were also enlarged which is a sure sign of the rut,” said Frable. The shop also processed five bear this season.
Hartman’s Butcher Shop, New Tripoli: Since they no longer butcher deer, except for those donated for the Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) program, they do take in venison meat for processing into various delicacies such as hamburger, jerky, sausage, slim Jim’s and more. According to Hartman, the beginning of the rifle season was slow because of rain and warm temperatures. But business picked up in the latter part of the season, it put it on par or slightly more than last season. Compared to last season, he did have more venison coming in during the archery season, which could indicate the popularity and success of the early bowhunting season. Hartman added that about a mile away from his Route 309 shop, a coyote was shot after hunters drove an area for deer. In regards to the SHS program, Hartman pointed out that this year they butchered more deer for the program than ever before. That meat gets donated to local soup kitchens for the needy.
Lazarus’ Market, Whitehall: Grant Lazarus reported that they took in a few more deer this year than last year. A good majority of the bucks wore 8-points, one of which weighed 180 pounds field dressed. This seems to show that antlered point restrictions are working.
Bob’s Taxidermy, Orefield: Bob Danenhower, of Bob’s, said so far this year he has taken in 105 bucks for shoulder mounts, or about 30 more deer than last year. The majority of those bucks were 8-pointers with some 10s whose racks rough scored from 110 to 160 points. He mentioned that this year he has seen first time female youth hunters harvest more bucks than first time male youth hunters.
As for the final deer harvest tally, it will likely be some time in spring before the Pennsylvania Game Commission releases those numbers. It appears from these initial local deer processing reports, and if they hold for the entire state, the statewide harvest could be up a bit over last year where the statewide deer harvest totaled 315,813, or about four percent more than during the 2014-15 seasons.
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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.