If you're not an archery hunter, you might want to become one.
Bowhunters are reaping an ever-increasing share of the bounty when it comes to taking antlered deer across Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission released deer harvest estimates for the 2012-13 hunting seasons Monday. They show the harvest was 343,110, an increase of 2 percent over the 2011-12 take of 336,200.
Breaking that down, the commission believes hunters took 133,860 antlered deer this past season, or 5 percent more than the 2011-12 kill of 127,540. The doe kill also increased, though just by a fraction of 1 percent, from 208,660 in 2011-12 to 209,250 last season.
“This year's antlered deer harvest is slightly above the average harvest since 2005, when agency efforts began to stabilize deer populations in most of the state,” said commission executive director Carl Roe.
About 51 percent of the bucks were 2 1⁄2 years old or older. The other 49 percent were 1 1⁄2 years old.
Roughly one in four doe tags resulted in a dead antlerless deer. That's typical compared to past years, Roe said.
Those “doe” included 61 percent adult females, 22 percent button bucks and 18 percent doe fawns. Those, too, are typical, he added.
What has been changing in recent years is the time when bucks are being killed.
Between 1999 and 2008, the reported archery buck harvest increased from 19 to 28 percent of the overall buck take. Since 2008 — when crossbows became legal statewide — and continuing last year, archers have been taking 31 to 32 percent of the total bucks reported killed in a given season, said Chris Rosenberry, chief deer biologist for the commission.
Buck hunters, whether with rifle or bow, did particularly well in Western Pennsylvania last year. According to the commission's report, the buck harvest went up in 12 of the state's 22 wildlife management units. Of those 12, eight are in the western half of the state.
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