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Early doe season promising for Pennsylvania hunters

| Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, 10:36 p.m.
Hunters statewide took 16,179 antlerless deer during the October firearms deer seasons last year, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission harvest estimates.

Well, why should this be any different?

Pennsylvania has had a rainy year, with the precipitation falling between June and August enough to rank the summer as one of the wettest on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

Now here we go again.

Hunters with muzzleloaders can chase antlerless deer through Saturday, and junior and senior hunters with rifles can chase them Thursday through Saturday. In all cases, they'll have to deal with at least the threat of rain.

The National Weather Service forecast for the greater Pittsburgh area calls for a chance of showers every day this week except perhaps Friday.

If hunters can keep their powder dry, though, more than a few will bring home an antlerless deer.

Hunters statewide took 16,179 antlerless deer during the October firearms deer seasons last year, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission harvest estimates. That was up from 14,964 the year before and 13,754 the year before that.

Muzzleloader hunters — who can use flintlocks or inlines — took about 60 percent of those deer each year. The rest were taken in almost equal measure by the oldest and youngest hunters in the woods.

“In regard to the October rifle season, there appears to us to be a pretty even split between junior and senior harvests,” said Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau.

Those does are part of an antlerless harvest unlike any other in the Northeast. According to information from the Quality Deer Management Association, hunters shot more does in Pennsylvania than any other state in the region in 2011, and more than all but two other states in the country that year. Georgia led the nation, followed by Texas, then Pennsylvania, with Alabama and Michigan close behind.

The state also ranked fourth nationally in antlerless deer shot per square mile, according to the association. Maryland was tops in the country, killing 6.3 does per square mile, followed by Delaware at 4.9, Georgia at 4.8, Pennsylvania at 4.5 and Alabama at 4.0.

“These are astounding harvest rates, and these states are shooting more antlerless deer per square mile than some areas have for a standing crop of bucks, does and fawns combined,” reads the association's “Whitetail Report 2013.”

So put on your best weather-proof gear and get hunting.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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