Official deer harvest numbers are in
The much-awaited 2015-16 deer harvest numbers are in and they show some interesting findings.
The entire harvest of 315,813 increased about four percent over the 2014-15 harvest of 303,973. Of that number, 137,580 were antlered deer. That reflected an increase of about 15 percent over the previous season’s harvest of 119,260. And that resulted in a whopping 59 percent of bucks that were 2 1/2 years old or older, which makes it the highest percentage of adult bucks in the harvest in decades, says the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
As for antlerless deer, there were 178,233 taken in 2015-16, which represents about a four percent decrease compared to 184,713 taken in 2014-15 seasons. It begs the question of whether there are less antlerless deer statewide or whether hunters are passing on doe in favor of big bucks.
The PGC said it’s most likely due to a decreased antlerless license allocation, however success rate was still about 25 percent, which has been a predictable number. Travis Lau, PGC information officer, said that a reduced allocation within a Wildlife Management Unit allows deer numbers to grow there.
“Records show it takes an allocation of about four antlerless licenses to harvest one antlerless deer,” said Lau.
Harvest estimates, says the PGC, were based on more than 24,000 deer checked by PGC personnel, and more than 100,000 harvest reports submitted by successful hunters.
Because some hunters don’t report their harvests as they’re supposed to, the PGC has to estimate the harvest. However, the PGC said hunters’ reports increased slightly last year.
The antlerless harvest included about 63 percent adult females, about 20 percent button bucks and about 17 percent doe fawns. The results, according to the PGC, are similar to long-term averages.
The total deer harvest estimates for a local three WMU area are as follows, with 2014-15 in parenthesis for comparison. The A represents antlered deer and AL represents antlerless.
WMU 3D: 3,500 (4,200) A; 3,700 (5,200) AL
WMU 4C: 5,400 (4,800) A; 5,000 (5,000) AL
WMU 5C: 7,400 (8,000) A; 13,600 (22,200) AL
WMU 5D: 2,200 (1,300) A; 5,200 (3,800) AL
Unknown WMU: 80 (60) A; 30 (31) AL
The following is the breakdown per archery and muzzleloader harvests, and per antlered and antlerless deer.
WMU 3D: Archery, 1060 (1,350) A; 980 (960) AL; muzzleloader, 40 (50) A; 520 (440) AL
WMU 4C: Archery, 2,150 (1,840) A; 1,380 (1,240) AL; muzzleloader, 50 (60) A; 620 (660) AL
WMU 5C: Archery, 4,880 (4,790) A; 6,310 (10,210) AL; muzzleloader 120 (110) A; 1,090 (1,490) AL
WMU 5D: Archery, 1,770 (990) A; 3,440 (2,730) AL
Unknown WMU: Archery 0 (40) A; 10 (0) AL; muzzleloader, 0 (0) A; 0 (0) AL
That’s it for the past deer hunting seasons. A four-percent increase is not a massacre and field reports show that restrictions are working by virtue of the larger racks that field reports indicate are being taken.