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Pennsylvania deer harvest up slightly for 2010

From the Pennsylvania Game Commission

-- Hunters harvested an estimated 316,240 deer during Pennsylvania's 2010-11 seasons, which is an increase of two percent from the previous seasons' harvest of 308,920.  
Hunters took 122,930 antlered deer in the 2010-11 seasons, an increase of 13 percent from the previous license year's harvest of 108,330.  Also, hunters harvested 193,310 antlerless deer in 2010-11, which is a decrease of four percent from the 200,590 antlerless deer taken in 2009-10.
The 2010-11 antlered deer harvest is slightly above average based on when the Game Commission began to stabilize deer population trends in most of the state in 2005.  Antlered deer harvests increased by 20 percent or more in Wildlife Management Units 2C, 2F, 2G, 3D, 4C, 4D and 5C. In fact, in WMUs 2C and 2G, the antlered harvest increased by 31 percent.
The decrease in the antlerless harvest reflects the reduction in the number of antlerless deer licenses allocated for the 2010-11 seasons, as well as the shortened antlerless deer hunting opportunities in eight Wildlife Management Units.  Those WMUs were 2C, 2D, 2E, 2G, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E.
With reduced allocations and shortened antlerless deer seasons, a lower antlerless harvest was expected, however antlerless success rates remained near 25 percent which is on average with harvest success rates for the last five years.
Bureau of Wildlife Management personnel are developing 2011 antlerless deer license allocation recommendations for the April meeting of the Board of Game Commissioners.  Calvin W. DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director, said in addition to harvest data, the staff will be looking at population trends, deer reproduction, forest regeneration and deer-human conflicts for each WMU.
Harvest estimates for 2010-11 seasons are based on 111,630 usable harvest report cards (46,680 antlered; 64,950 antlerless) returned by hunters to the Commission, which included 62,684 reported by mail and 48,946 reported by the new online harvest reporting system.  

Reporting rates are determined by cross-referencing these report cards with the data collected from the 23,606 deer (8,461 antlered; 15,145 antlerless) examined by Game Commission personnel in the field and at processors.  
DuBrock noted the reporting rates varied widely.  For antlered deer, the average reporting rate was 38 percent, from a low of 31 percent to a high of 47 percent. For antlerless deer, the average reporting rate was 34 percent, from a low of 26 percent to a high of 46 percent.
For a full explanation of harvest estimating procedures, including example calculations, see pages 55 to 59 in the 2009-2018 Deer Management Plan online. All of the data used to estimate this year's deer harvests are included in the two tables at the end of this news release.  Previous years data sets also are available in deer program annual reports on the Game Commission website.
Yearling bucks comprised 48 percent of the 2010-11 antlered harvest, and 2.5-year-old or older bucks comprised 52 percent. This year's harvest marks the highest percentage of 2.5-year-old or older bucks in the last 30 years.  Since 2003, the percent of yearling bucks in the annual harvest has varied between 49 and 56 percent.  Button bucks represented 23 percent of the antlerless harvest, which is similar to the long-term averages.
The 2010-11 hunting seasons marked the second time crossbows were legal in statewide archery deer seasons for all hunters. In those 19 WMUs outside of the three urban areas, the archery harvest increased 13 percent. The proportion of the archery harvest taken by crossbows in the 19 WMUs increased from 30 percent to 34 percent. Crossbows have been legal in urban WMUs of 2B, 5C, and 5D since 2004.
Season-specific deer harvest estimates - such as archery and muzzleloader and rifle - by WMU for 2010-11 also can be calculated using harvest data from processors and report cards.  
"Although we do not use season-specific harvest data for management purposes, we recognize the public is interested in these harvest estimates," DuBrock said. "For that reason only, we provide estimated deer harvest breakdowns for firearms, archery and muzzleloader seasons, but we only use total deer harvest estimates when making recommendations for each WMU."

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