Pennsylvania hunters posted their highest overall deer harvest in 14 years in 2018-19, but the buck harvest seemed to take a hit because of bad weather on opening day, the Pennsylvania Game Commission said.
The game commission said hunters killed 374,690 white-tailed deer during the 2018-19 hunting season, which closed in January. The deer harvest topped the previous year’s of 367,159. The last time the total deer harvest exceeded this season’s total was in 2004-05, the game commission said.
Although the total deer harvest was not greatly diminished by downpours on the opening day of the firearms deer season, the buck harvest seemed to take a hit, the game commission said. About half of the firearms season’s overall buck harvest typically occurs on the season’s opening day, when hunter participation is usually at its highest.
“This year’s opening-day antlered harvest was down significantly from last year’s harvest,” said Christopher Rosenberry, Game Commission Deer and Elk Section supervisor. “Although the rest of the firearms season’s daily harvests were similar to or above last year’s, they did not make up for the low opening-day harvest.”
After four years of successive annual increases in buck harvests, hunters killed 147,750, which placed fourth overall since the start of antler restrictions in 2002. The 2018-19 buck harvest represents a 10 percent decline from the previous year’s harvest of 163,750. The largest harvest in the antler-restrictions era — 165,416 — occurred in the first year.