The Pennsylvania Game Commission reported the official calculation and results of the 2020-21 deer harvest seasons, which closed in January 2021. Hunters took an estimated 435,180 deer that topped …
The Pennsylvania Game Commission reported the official calculation and results of the 2020-21 deer harvest seasons, which closed in January 2021. Hunters took an estimated 435,180 deer that topped the previous year's harvest of 389,431 by about 12 percent.
Since 1993 PA hunters have harvested more than 400,000 deer in a license year 10-times. Twice during this period, deer harvests exceeded 500,000, first in 2000 and then again in 2002, when the state's record overall deer harvest of 517,529 was accomplished.
The statewide buck harvest of 174,780 set a new record for buck harvest in the antler restrictions era. The buck harvest also increased by 7 percent over the previous license year's buck harvest of 163,240.
David Stainbrook, the Game Commission's Deer & Elk Section supervisor said, “About a quarter of the state's deer hunters took a buck in the 2020-21 deer seasons. It's a trend that hunters have maintained over the past three years. The fact that we can maintain such high success rates on bucks year after year demonstrates the sustainability of the deer population in PA.”
The antlerless deer harvest for the 2020-21 deer seasons was 260,400. It exceeded the 2019-20 antlerless deer harvest of 226,191 by 15 percent. The last time the antlerless deer harvest exceeded the 2020-21 was in 2004-05 when 284,910 were taken.
In the 2020-21 deer seasons, the Game Commission set the antlerless deer allocations at levels to reduce the deer population in certain Wildlife Management Units where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been documented as part of its ongoing effort to limit the spread of the disease, and antlerless harvest increased in these units as intended.
Andrea Korman, CWD biologist said, “Obtaining an adequate deer harvest is essential in units in and surrounding the state's Disease Management Areas. Deer hunters remain the first line of defense in PA's continuing efforts to manage CWD. The harvest illustrates the cooperation we hoped hunters would provide to help where CWD threats are at the greatest.”
The percentage of older bucks in the 2020-21 deer harvest report remains high, about 64 percent of the bucks taken by hunters were at least 2.5 years old, the remainder were 1.5 years old.
Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans had this to say, “The antler restrictions have succeeded in providing more older bucks to deer hunters. In place since 2002, they have transformed the smaller bucks that once dominated our deer harvests into a buck population that is the envy of deer hunters everywhere.
“Anyone who has hunted deer before antler restrictions can see the results,” he continued. “But it is important to recognize that these bucks are a product of a well-managed deer herd and their existence hinged on the willingness of deer hunters to support antler restrictions.”
Jack Danchak is a longtime sportsmen and spent 30 years as the President of the Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs of Sullivan County, Inc.
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