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Pennsylvania harvest estimates released

From Pennsylvania Game Commission

-- During Pennsylvania’s 2011-12 seasons, hunters harvested an estimated 336,200 deer, an increase of six percent from the previous seasons’ harvest of 316,240.

Hunters took 127,540 antlered deer in the 2011-12 seasons, an increase of four percent from the previous license year’s harvest of 122,930.  Also, hunters harvested 208,660 antlerless deer in 2011-12, which is an increase of eight percent from the 193,310 antlerless deer taken in 2010-11.

“This year’s antlered deer harvest is slightly above average harvest since 2005, when the Game Commission began efforts to stabilize deer populations in most of the state,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director.

Antlered deer harvests increased in 13 of the state’s 22 Wildlife Management Units. Antlered deer harvest increases were seen in WMUs 1B, 2A, 2B, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4D, 4E, 5A, 5B and 5D.

Bureau of Wildlife Management personnel are developing 2012-13 antlerless deer license allocation recommendations for the April meeting of the Board of Game Commissioners.  Staff members are looking at deer health measures, forest regeneration and deer-human conflicts for each WMU.

Harvest estimates for 2011-12 seasons are based on 114,000 harvest reports submitted by hunters to the Game Commission. Of the reports submitted, 49 percent were done using the long-time report card mail-in system, 47 percent were done through the agency’s online reporting system and only three percent were received through the agency’s new toll-free telephone system.

Reporting rates are determined by cross-referencing these reports with the data collected from the 26,000 deer examined by Game Commission personnel in the field and at processors.

DuBrock noted that reporting rates varied widely.  For antlered deer, the average reporting rate was 37 percent, from a low of 31 percent to a high of 45 percent. For antlerless deer, the average reporting rate was 33 percent, from a low of 19 percent to a high of 45 percent.

For a full explanation of harvest estimating procedures, including example calculations, see pages 55 to 59 in the 2009-2018 Deer Management Plan.

The plan is available on the Game Commission’s website at

Click on the White-Tailed Deer icon then scrolling down to the Deer Management listing.  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’s website.

“These data and the explanation and examples found in the deer plan provide the public with the opportunity to see exactly how deer harvests are estimated,” DuBrock said. 

Comparisons between the current year’s harvest and historic antlered deer harvest often do not consider hunter participation levels.  In 1986, there were roughly one million deer hunters in Pennsylvania.  This past year, around 700,000 license buyers participated in deer hunting seasons.  When viewed in this context, harvest success rates are comparable to the past.

Also, yearling bucks comprised 50 percent of the 2011-12 antlered harvest, and 2.5-year-old or older bucks comprised 50 percent.  Prior to the start of current antler restrictions in 2002, yearling bucks comprised about 80 percent of the antlered harvest.

“Current antler restrictions have achieved their objective to protect most yearling bucks from harvest and allow them to reach at least 2.5 years of age,” DuBrock said. “In recent years, the composition of the antlered harvest has hovered around a 50:50 split between yearling and 2.5-year-old and older bucks.” 

Hunter success rates for antlerless deer remained at 25 percent of the number of antlerless licenses issued, which is on average with recent years.  Button bucks represented 21 percent of the antlerless harvest, which is similar to the long-term averages and falls within the annual range of 21 to 24 percent for the past 15 years.  As for the remainder of the antlerless harvest, 60 percent was adult does and the remaining 19 percent were doe fawns, which falls within the annual range of 18 to 20 percent for the past 15 years.

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