The most anticipated hunting season is about to open Saturday, Nov. 26 when approximately a million orange-clad hunters take to field and forest for the opening of Pennsylvania’s statewide firearms deer hunting season.
This year the season includes a Sunday, Nov. 27 hunting opportunity for a season that continues on Monday, Nov. 28-Saturday, Dec. 10 and includes both antlered and antlerless deer.
It’s been a long-standing tradition that most schools are closed for the first day of firearms deer season as some teachers take off to hunt as do fathers who take their sons and daughters as the first day was traditionally on a Monday after Thanksgiving. And for veteran hunters who travel to their upstate deer camps on a Friday night, the Sunday date gives them an extra day to get lucky.
As seasoned hunters know, most bucks are taken on the first day of the season, and in the past, it was the first Saturday after the opener as well. So this earlier start should have more hunters in the woods to move the deer.
Not only is Pennsylvania known for large bears, it’s also known for a lot of deer.
Proof of that are the following statewide harvest estimates for the states Wildlife Management Units for the 2021-2022 season for all hunting mediums and with “A” representing Antlered deer, “AL” denoting Antlerless deer, and “T” for totals.
1A, 6,000A, 13,200AL, 19,200T; 1B, 9,300A, 12,600AL, 21,900T; 2A, 6,800A, 10,600AL, 17,400T; 2B, 5,200A, 12,100AL, 17,300T; 2C, 9,300A, 15,400AL, 24,700T; 2D. 11.500A, 19,900AL, 31,400T: 2E, 5,900A, 9,500AL, 15,400T; 2F, 8,900A, 10,200AL, 19,100T; 2G, 6,200A, 4,800AL, 11,000T; 2H, 2,500A, 1,900AL. 4,400T: 3A, 5,400A, 5,400AL, 10,800T; 3B, 6,700A, 7,600AL, 14,300T; 3C, 7,600A, 9,400AL, 17,000T; 3D, 4,700A, 6,300AL, 11,000T; 4A, 4,900A, 10,300AL, 15,200T; 4B, 3,500A, 8,400AL, 11,900T; 4C, 5,700A, 6,400AL, 12,100T; 4D, 7,200A, 10,300AL, 17,500T; 4E, 7,900A, 11,800AL, 19,700T; 5A, 3,100A, 7,200AL, 10,300T; 5B, 7,800A, 17,100AL, 24,900T; 5C, 6,600A, 14,700AL, 21,300T; 5D, 2,600A, 6,300AL, 8,900T; Unk, 20A, 90AL, 110T for a gender total of 145,320A, 231,490AL and an overall total of 376,810 deer taken during last season.
For hunters looking for a more productive hunting area, the top three WMUs were 2D, followed by 5B and 1B.
For our local 5C, there was a 10 percent decrease in the total deer harvest estimate going from 23,600 (combined) in 2020-2021 to 21,300 in 2021-22 season. This is a bit less in comparison to 24,015 (combined) in the 2018-19 season.
But locally, bowhunters in 5C scored a statewide second highest in the overall archery deer hunting season with 4,700A, 6,890AL taken for a total of 11,620. The top WMU was 5B with 5,040A, 7,280AL for a total of 12,320.
It’s been reported that the bucks are generally larger, rack size, compared to some past years. According to Bob Danenhower, of Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy in Orefield, he has been getting in a lot of thick tined 8-pointers with several 10s and 12-pointers to mount. Bowhunters have been telling him they saw more large racked deer this season than they have in the past. Firearm hunters will likely capitalize on them as they can reach out considerably farther than a bowhunter can on the biggies that were out of range for their bows.
If you’re hunting from an elevated tree stand, don’t forget to wear a safety belt. The PGC points out that this is the time when most falls from tree stands occur.
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.